Scientists in China are embarking on a project to construct a new particle collider, the Super Tau-Charm Facility (STCF), with the aim of testing the Standard Model of particle physics in greater detail. The project, estimated to cost 4.5 billion yuan (US$618 million), is set to begin construction in three years. The collider will be designed to generate a large number of subatomic particles, such as tau leptons and charm quarks, to enhance our understanding of how these particles interact to form larger structures of matter.
The STCF aims to establish China as a leading force in tau-charm physics and related technologies. It will address fundamental scientific questions, including the nature of strong interaction and the dominance of matter in the universe. The collider will work similarly to the existing Beijing Electron Positron Collider (BEPC) by accelerating electrons and positrons to near the speed of light and colliding them to produce various subatomic particles.
While the BEPC has enabled significant scientific breakthroughs, its limitations in expanding to higher precision prompted the proposal for the STCF. With a similar design but larger scale, the STCF will have a linear accelerator of 400 meters and two rings for storing electrons and positrons with a circumference of approximately 800 meters each. The new facility is expected to increase collision rates by up to 100 times, enabling it to collect data at a much faster pace than the BEPC.
In addition to improving our understanding of the Standard Model, the STCF is expected to open up new frontiers in the study of particle physics by exploring uncharted energy regions. This may lead to the discovery of new physics beyond the Standard Model. Key technologies, including high-power electron and positron sources, superconducting magnets, high-precision detectors, and ultra-fast signal readout electronics, are being developed to ensure well-controlled collisions within the STCF.
The project team aims to complete the development of these technologies by the end of 2025 and begin construction during the 15th Five-Year Plan period (2026-2030). Several potential sites are being considered for the facility, including Hefei, Shaoxing, and Zhengzhou.
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– Particle Collider: A scientific instrument used to accelerate and collide particles in order to study the fundamental properties of matter.
– Standard Model: A theory in particle physics that describes the fundamental particles and their interactions.
– Tau Lepton: A subatomic particle similar to an electron but with a larger mass.
– Charm Quark: A type of elementary particle that is one of the building blocks of matter.
– Subatomic: Referring to particles smaller than atoms.