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India is set for the next big act in physics after the CERN experiment

Friday, 26 July 2013 12:58 Written by 

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Science and technology

The ILC: A design of the 30 km long International Linear Collider that Japan has agreed to construct on the outskirts of Tokyo

Not just theoretical justification, Indian scientists now say they will contribute technology to the upcoming next generation physics project, the International Linear Collider that Japan has offered to host. Rohini Godbole from Bangalore is leading India’s charge along with scientists from Delhi, Mumbai, Indore and Kolkata


After participation in the 10-13 billion dollar global CERN project at Geneva involving the discovery of a particle similar to the Higgs Boson to study the origins of the Universe, and in the nearly two billion dollar Thirty Metre Telescope project involving construction of the world’s largest optical telescope at Hawaii to explore dark matter, planetary formations, Indian scientists are now part of the nearly 7-8 billion dollar next generation particle physics collider, the International Linear Collider (ILC) or Linear Collider Collaboration (LCC) project, an extension of sorts of the CERN project, that is tentatively set to come up in Japan, on the outskirts of Tokyo, to study with greater precision the Higgs Boson. The Indian foray in the ILC is being led by Bangalore particle physicist from IISC Rohini Godbole and her colleagues at the institute, Amit Roy, Director of Inter-University Accelerator Centre (IUAC), New Delhi, and Atul Gurtu, Particle Physicist from TIFR, Mumbai and other scientists from Indore and Kolkata.


Very recently, the technical design report of the linear collider was submitted to the International Linear Collider Board headed by Lyn Evans, who had also headed the CERN project at Geneva. While the final design report submission happened at Tokyo, Japan, USA, Switzerland, China, Korea and India were all video-linked live to the event at Tokyo to not only witness submission of the report but make presentations on what each country will bring to the project. Talk was part of India’s live video participation - with Japan and USA and the world particle physics community present at Tokyo - organised at IISC, featuring scientists Rohini Godbole, Amit Roy, Atul Gurtu and colleagues from the Centre for High Energy Physics (CHEP) of the institute.


Talk was also witness to Roy’s live presentation at IISC to the world particle physics community on India’s role in the ILC project. Roy made it clear to the global community and to Talk that “India did not want to only offer inputs to the project, but actually become a partner to the project. We Indian scientists want India to be a partner in the ILC and we will be telling our government that we desire and need to be a partner. This means we will have a substantial contribution to make to the ILC project.” Godbole told Talk: “Indian scientists are now preparing a document to present to the Department of Science and Technology on how India should pitch in, in the linear collider project. We will first convene a meeting of all scientists, propose the contribution we can make and then prepare a document to present to the Government.” On the nature of contribution, Roy told Talk that India was in a position to not only offer theoretical justification for the linear collider that may come up in Japan, but also technological know-how to build the collider.


“India can make a technology contribution to the linear collider project because not only are Indian scientists in the know of the technology that will go into building the collider, but actually have built, fabricated and deployed the technology that will be used for the international linear collider in India’s own/domestic accelerator programme. Since we use and deploy that technology in our domestic programme, we are in a position to deploy it in the international project as well. We are therefore pitching for a technology partner status in the international project.”


India’s leading accelerator physicist, Roy, described to Talk the specific technology India is capable of sharing for the linear collider. “The international project will use what is called the super-conducting radio frequency technology to build the collider, a technology India has mastered in the last few years. In lay man terms, this technology is the ability to generate high electrical fields for the collision of particles spending as little energy/power as possible. A specific cavity is built within which the beams are accelerated and collide using lowest possible energy, which itself is enabled by the super conducting material that will imposed upon the cavity/vessel. In simple terms, India is now able to generate electrical fields, accelerate particles, build the cavity within which the particles collide and fabricate the material and super conducting coating necessary to cool the high temperatures that are produced.


Infact we have built such cavities and are running them at our Delhi centre. We are in a position now to offer technology to build cavities for collision of particles.” There are many advantages in India making a technological contribution say particle physicists – India’s and Indian scientists’ academic and technological knowhow credibility goes up, India begins to have greater say and influence in global particle physics projects, India will attract intellectual talent and financial support for particle physics projects within the country and generically India will be recognised as one among the leading science powers in the world. India, scientists say, will also be part of future cutting-edge projects and at the forefront of world science discoveries – a reason Japan is anxious to host the linear collider. Japan, apart from electronics and computers, is seeking status as a leading country for science, trying to catch up with USA and staying well ahead of China and Korea.


India is already making fairly substantial contribution to the CERN experiment at Geneva and Thirty Meter Telescope project at Hawaii. For CERN, Indian companies Crompton Greaves and Kirloskar Systems have manufactured and supplied components including magnets for construction of the 27 km circular accelerator under Geneva. For the Thirty Meter Telescope, Bangalore-based Avasarala Technologies is manufacturing and supplying 1500 actuators (a type of motor for moving or controlling a mechanism or system). It is operated by a source of energy, usually in the form of an electric current,hydraulic fluid pressure or pneumatic pressure, and converts that energy into some kind of motion) that will enable the telescope to act on the environment it is studying – say galaxies. India is also providing primary mirror segments and complete segment support system to the telescope apart from nearly 3,000 edge sensors from Puduchery and the observatory control software.


In the Linear Collider project, India is pitching for technology contribution in the form of fabrication of cavities within which collision of particles will take place. On the theory and experiments front, nearly 15 groups are involved from India in the CERN project, while atleast five national institutions are involved in the telescope project featuring more than 25 scientists. The linear collider project has four Indian institutions involved in both theory and technology contributions, with theory contribution coming in from IISC Bangalore, and technology contributions from IUAC, New Delhi, TIFR, Mumbai, Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology, Indore and Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre, Kolkata. “There is a substantial Indian presence in global science projects. /p>

Our contribution is reasonably good though it can be far better,” says Roy. In the linear collider project, India has now contributed in the form of theoretical formulations and inputs to the overall final technical design report which was released on June 12. Rohini Goldbole, who is a member of the ILC Board and Detector Advisory Group, explains: “Three physicists from IISC, Bangalore, B Ananthanarayan, Sudhir Vempati, myself, and two research students, Monalisa Patra and Jayita Lahiri have contributed to an earlier version of the final design report exploring some theoretical prospects of the linear collider. I have also contributed a critique. These papers were part of earlier version of the design report, elements of which have been incorporated in the final design report. We can say we have explored the theoretical justification for the collider.


” Godbole, who has set up the ILC India Forum and has been organising meetings, workshops and schools and is co-ordinating the Indian effort, says theoretical justification for the project is crucial. “We should ask, much before we begin work on the design and then the construction of the collider, what questions will the collider answer, what will it tell us that we don’t know, what formulations it can bring up, what issues it will address in the realm of physics. Gaining clarity on the physics part of the collider programme is the first step in going ahead with it. We always begin by asking what is the physics potential of a project like CERN or ILC, what can it and should it do, how much it can help theory and enhance knowledge.


We ask what issues we need to study and if we want to study particular issues, then what type of collider will we need? If we want to study dark matter, what type of collider will we need? And if we conceive of a collider, what type of collisions will be needed and what will their results be? What will those results lead us to? What physics investigations can be done by a particular collider? What questions will a particular type of collider answer? Very fundamental physics questions have to be answered. So we have to make a physics case for the project before we commence design and construction. Before the technology contribution comes in, the theoretical justification has to be made and made with reasonable feasibility and accuracy.


This is how I have been involved with my colleagues here.” Roy chipped in and said: “Theoretical physicists and phenomenologists are leading the campaign for India to be part of the linear project. Experimentalists and accelerator physicists will come in too, with their technology and experiments inputs, but once the physics case has been made.” One of Godbole’s inputs to the linear collider design has been to show certain effects of collision, which could be avoided by designing the collider differently. “I worked on how interaction of particles can create certain backgrounds and signals that we need to avoid to study the collision with more precision and in greater clarity and detail. To avoid these backgrounds and signals, as a theorist, I would suggest the collider beam be designed differently. By this I don’t claim to have designed the collider itself, but I make a suggestion on how the design can be changed to avoid certain effects.


These are the ways we theoretical physicists come into the project.” Godbole says the international linear collider is an extension of the CERN accelerator with some crucial characteristics that necessitate the project. “The CERN accelerator is a general purpose discovery machine. It helps discover particles. The linear collider helps study the properties of the discovered particle with great precision and in great detail. It is a precision measurement machine, an accuracy machine. While the CERN machine offers a broader view, where you get to see the birth of a particle, the linear collider offers a telescopic view of the particle – you get inside the particle to see what its properties are. The CERN machine does not offer such minute and nano precision. In effect, while the CERN machine discovered the Higgs Boson like particle, the linear collider will measure the boson with greater precision and accuracy, get inside it and take hold of its properties and characteristics.


The collisions inside the linear collider will be simpler, at lower energy levels and in linear fashion, not circular like in the CERN machine. And a smaller bunch of particles will be deployed for collision. The linear collider is a cleaner environment for precision measurement.” An ILC note says that while the Large Hadron Collider at CERN is producing exciting results like the discovery of a new particle that could be the Higgs boson, there is consensus in the scientific community that the results from the LHC will have to be complemented by a collider that can study the discoveries in greater detail by producing different kinds of collisions.


Some 2000 scientists — particle physicists, accelerator physicists, engineers — are involved in the ILC, and often in both projects. They work on state-of-the-art detector technologies, new acceleration techniques, the civil engineering aspect of building a straight tunnel of at least 30 kilometres in length, a reliable cost estimate and many more aspects that projects of this scale require. The Linear Collider Collaboration ensures that synergies between the two friendly competitors are used to the maximum.





ILC would complement the Large Hadron Collider at CERN and shed more light on the discoveries scientists are likely to make there in the coming years.The International Linear Collider will give physicists a new cosmic doorway to explore energy regimes beyond the reach of today's accelerators. A proposed electron-positron collider, the ILC will complement the Large Hadron Collider, a proton-proton collider at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland, together unlocking some of the deepest mysteries in the universe. With LHC discoveries pointing the way, the ILC – a true precision machine – will provide the missing pieces of the puzzle.


Consisting of two linear accelerators that face each other, the ILC will hurl some 10 billion electrons and their anti-particles, positrons, toward each other at nearly the speed of light. Superconducting accelerator cavities operating at temperatures near absolute zero give the particles more and more energy until they smash in a blazing crossfire at the centre of the machine. Stretching approximately 31 kilometres in length, the beams collide 14,000 times every second at extremely high energies – 500 billion-electron-volts (GeV).


Each spectacular collision creates an array of new particles that could answer some of the most fundamental questions of all time. The current baseline design allows for an upgrade to a 50-kilometres, 1 trillion-electron-volt (TeV) machine during the second stage of the project. There are also plans for a staged approach starting with a 250-GeV Higgs factory to study the properties of the particle discovered at the LHC in 2012 and then upgrading to 500 GeV.




In the past century, physicists have explored smaller and smaller scales, cataloguing and understanding the fundamental components of the universe, trying to explain the origin of mass and probing the theory of extra dimensions. And in recent years, experiments and observations have pointed to evidence that we can only account for a surprising five percent of the universe. Scientists believe that the remaining 95 percent is a mysterious dark matter and dark energy, revealing a universe far stranger and more wonderful than they ever suspected.


The global particle physics community agrees that a precision machine – the proposed International Linear Collider – will answer these questions about what the universe is made of and provide exciting new insights into how it works. Using unprecedented technology, discoveries are within reach that could stretch our imagination with new forms of matter, new forces of nature, new dimensions of space and time and bring into focus Albert Einstein’s vision of an ultimate unified theory.




Approximately 31 kilometres, plus two damping rings each with a circumference of 6.7 kilometres. Will be straight, not circular like the CERN collider. There’ll be only one collision as different from several in the circular collider at CERN.




Japan has offered to host the collider on the outskirts of Tokyo and has committed to 50 per cent of the cost. The rest will have to be a global contribution. No final decision has been taken yet




From the senior physicist to the undergraduate student, about 2000 people from more than 300 universities and laboratories in over two dozen countries are collaborating to build the ILC, the next-generation particle accelerator. More than 700 people are working on the accelerator design, and another 900 people on detector development. The accelerator design work is coordinated by the Global Design Effort, and the physics and detector work by the World Wide Study.




Between electrons and their antiparticles, positrons, in bunches of 5 nanometres (5 billionths of a metre) in height each containing 20 billion particles and colliding 14,000 times per second




Up to 500 billion electronvolts (GeV) with an option to upgrade to 1 trillion electronvolts (TeV)




16,000 superconducting accelerating cavities made of pure niobium

Read 9349 times Last modified on Friday, 26 July 2013 14:25

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