International Linear Collider

The International Linear Collider will be a necessary tool for unlocking some of the deepest mysteries about the universe. The ILC will complement CERNís Large Hadron Collider, allowing physicists to precisely explore extremely high-energy regions. Consisting of two linear accelerators that will stretch approximately 35 kilometers in length, the ILC will smash electrons and their antimatter particles, positrons, together at nearly the speed of light. Colliding nearly 14,000 times every second, the electrons and positrons will create an array of new particles that could help answer some of the most fundamental questions of all time: What is the Higgs boson? What are dark matter and dark energy? Does supersymmetry exist?

Superconducting cavities are the core, the heartbeat of the International Linear Collider. The current ILC designs call for superconducting cavities with a gradient of 35 MV/m (megavolts per meter). Each cavity will be a necklace of nine cells, and eight of these cavities will fit into a cryomodule. When complete, Fermilabís prototype accelerator will have six cryomodules.

Artist's impression of a particle collision inside the ILC. (Credit Sandbox Studio)

Making the superconducting radio-frequency cavities is a difficult task because they must be almost flawless. Their production and assembly must take place in clean rooms. The slightest irregularity or even a speck of dust would throw a cavity off kilt. Companies and institutes around the world are required to build at least 16,000 of these cavities for the ILC and each one needs to be exactly like the other.

For more than twenty years, Fermilabís Tevatron has long been the most powerful tool in collider research. With discoveries that include the Top quark, Bottom quark and Tau neutrino, the Tevatron serves as a research home to more than 2000 scientists, engineers and students from around the world. Even though the Tevatron will end its run later this decade, Fermilabís renowned expertise and expansive technical infrastructure will contribute to future advancements in the field of particle physics. Regardless of where the ILC is built, Fermilab will play a major role in the development and construction of this proposed global project.