LHC Report: LHC smashes collision records

The Large Hadron Collider is now producing more than a billion proton-proton collisions per second.


The LHC is colliding protons at a faster rate than ever before: approximately 1 billion times per second.

Since April 2016, the LHC has delivered more than 30 inverse femtobarns (fb-1) to both ATLAS and CMS. This means that around 2.4 quadrillion (2.4 million billion) collisions have been seen by each of the experiments this year. The inverse femtobarn is the unit of measurement for integrated luminosity, indicating the cumulative number of potential collisions. This compares with the total of 33.2 fb-1 produced between 2010 and 2015.

The unprecedented performance this year is the result of both the incremental increases in collision rate and the sheer amount of time the LHC has been up and running.

This comes after a slow start-up in 2015, when scientists and engineers still needed to learn how to operate the machine at a much higher energy.

“With more energy, the machine is much more sensitive,” says Jorg Wenninger, head of the LHC operations team. “We decided not to push it too much so that we could learn about the machine and how to operate at 13 TeV. Last year we had good performance and no real show-stoppers, so now we are focusing on pushing up the luminosity.”

Astonishingly, 2.4 quadrillion collisions represent only 1 percent of the total amount of collisions planned during the lifetime of the LHC research programme. The LHC is scheduled to run through 2037 and will undergo several rounds of upgrades to further increase the collision rate.

by Sarah Charley