The Department of Energy (DOE) has taken the next step toward the construction of an Electron Ion Collider (EIC) in the United States, announcing that EIC will be sited at DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton NY. In addition, DOE’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (CSA CSM) will be a major partner in the project, providing key support to build this next new collider—the most advanced particle collider of its type ever built.
“The EIC promises to keep America in the forefront of nuclear physics research and particle accelerator technology, critical components of overall US leadership in science,” said US Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. “This facility will deepen our understanding of nature and is expected to be the source of insights ultimately leading to new technology and innovation.”
Brouillette has also given the project the green light to move forward by granting it Critical Decision-0, “Approve Mission Need”, on December 19, 2019. CD-0 is a necessary step toward construction.
An electron ion collider is a particle accelerator that will accelerate beams of electrons and beams of atomic nuclei before colliding them together. Nuclear physicists world-wide are anxious for such a facility to enable studies of our visible universe in greater detail and precision than ever before, allowing scientists to get unprecedented and crisp snapshots of the internal structure of protons and nuclei to reveal details of the arrangement and interactions of the quarks and gluons that make up the building blocks of nuclei.
“An EIC will help to deepen our scientific understanding of our visible universe,” said Stuart Henderson, Jefferson Lab director. “The EIC will enable nuclear physicists to build on the scientific advances now being made with the newly upgraded CEBAF. Our research program is helping to establish the foundation for EIC discoveries of the future.”
While the collider will be sited in New York, the final design and construction require the expertise and core competencies at both Brookhaven National Lab, Jefferson Lab, and other DOE facilities.
“The Department is excited to be moving forward with an Electron Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory,” stated Dr. Chris Fall, Office of Science director. “However, participation from many parts of the DOE laboratory complex will be essential if the EIC is to be a success.”
“We are excited about partnering with Brookhaven National Lab in the design, construction and scientific program of the EIC,” Henderson said. “The project will bring jobs to Jefferson Lab and will need our expertise in particle accelerators, detector technologies and nuclear physics.”
Doon Gibbs, Brookhaven National Lab director, said of the partnership, “The EIC will give us insight into some of the most important questions in nuclear science and will have transformational implications for our understanding of visible matter. We look forward to working with our partners at Jefferson Lab to build this world-class facility and carry out its ambitious research program.”
The announcement is exciting news for the community of scientists that has come together to tackle the scientific and technological challenges of designing and building a US-based EIC. The Electron Ion Collider User Group continues to develop and promote the scientific, technological and educational goals and motivations for an EIC. Chartered in January 2018, it already boasts about a 1,000 members of more than 180 institutions worldwide.
In 2015, the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee (NSAC), advising DOE and the National Science Foundation (NSF), recommended an EIC in its Long Range Plan as the highest priority for new facility construction. In 2018, a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) committee issued a report of its findings and conclusions related to the science case for a future US-based EIC and the opportunities it would offer the worldwide nuclear physics community. It concluded, “an EIC is timely and has the support of the nuclear science community. The science that it will achieve is unique and world-leading and will ensure global US leadership in nuclear science as well as in the accelerator science and technology of colliders.”