Brookhaven National Lab chosen for new particle accelerator facility

Inside the control room of the Collider-Accelerator Complex at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, scientists are using the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, known as RHIC, to understand the basic structure of matter. For the past two decades, this has given researchers a one-dimensional look at how atoms are composed.

But a new, multibillion-dollar high-speed facility will act as an electron microscope for scientists to take 3D pictures of the internal structure of the building blocks of atoms and study the strongest force in nature that holds them together.

Associate laboratory director Berndt Mueller said the new project is called the Electron-Ion Collider.

"Which is a new type of collider and accelerator that collides different types of particles—electrons with protons and atomic nuclei more generally in order to explore the internal structure of the atomic nucleus and the forces that hold it together," he said.

The current collider will continue to operate for the next five years while work on the new one is underway. After that, the plan is to shut down the existing collider to install new components. The goal is to finish the project by 2030.

The U.S. Department of Energy chose Brookhaven National Lab to host the EIC in part because of its existing collider. It will create thousands of jobs and will be a step in establishing Long Island as the center of innovation and technology.

"It opens up the possibility of many applications," Mueller said.

Building this accelerator may lead to other advances in medicine, national security, and other types of technology.


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