CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is an international laboratory for particle physicists, providing some of the most technologically advanced facilities for their research into the basic building blocks of the Universe.
Founded in 1954, the CERN Laboratory sits astride the Franco–Swiss border near Geneva. It was one of Europe’s first joint ventures and now has 20 Member States.
To study the basic constituents of matter — the fundamental particles — CERN houses specialist facilities that would otherwise be difficult or impossible for individual nations to build. They include the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments like detectors, particle accelerators, such as the LHC (Large Hadron Collider), and facilities for the production of exotic forms of matter, including antimatter. Accelerators boost beams of particles to high energies before they are made to collide with each other or with stationary targets. Detectors observe and record the results of these collisions. By studying what happens when these particles collide, physicists learn about the laws of Nature.
Most of these specialist facilities are operated at cryogenic temperatures. For instance the particle accelerator LHC is the largest cryogenic system in the world and one of the coldest places on Earth. Such a cold temperature is required to operate the superconducting magnets that keep the protons on course. To maintain its 27-km ring (4700 tons of material in each of the eight sectors) at superfluid helium temperature (1.9 K, –271.3°C), the LHC’s cryogenic system has to supply an unprecedented total refrigeration capacity — some 150 kW for refrigerators at 4.5 K and 20 kW for those at 1.9 K. At present CERN is one of the absolute world-wide references for large-scale cryogenics infrastructures, in terms of both installations and technical knowledge available on site.
CERN is one of the world’s largest and most respected centres for scientific research. It has established a reputation at the forefront of research, proven through its experiments, past and present. The Laboratory is a vibrant meeting place for discussion and debate; around half of the world’s particle physicists come here for their research. This is reflected in the experiments, which are usually run by international collaborations, bringing together teams of physicists from different institutes towards a common goal.
Main tasks in EuHIT: Within the EuHIT consortium, CERN provides and manages access to external users from the turbulence research community to some of its unique cryogenic helium installations, for dedicated fundamental studies on the physics of free turbulent flows.