15 countries give green light for new EUR1.2 billion accelerator facility
Representatives of 15 countries signed on 7 November in Darmstadt, Germany, a joint communiqué giving the go-ahead for the construction of the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research
(FAIR). With the help of the ?1.2 billion facility, researchers will try to answer some fundamental questions of physics.
‘FAIR is an important element of the ongoing implementation of the European Research Area and will offer scientists from Europe and all over the world an extraordinary opportunity to do
research on the structure of matter and the universe,’ the joint communiqué states, welcoming the European Commission’s support of new research infrastructures under the Sixth and
Seventh Framework Programmes (FP6 and FP7).
‘FAIR will bring the physics of the universe into the laboratory. This new international accelerator facility will offer researchers from around the world the possibility to explore new
dimensions of matter, including antimatter and hot stellar matter,’ says Horst StÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¶cker, scientific director of the German Society for Heavy Ion
Research (GSI) in Darmstadt, where FAIR will be constructed.
According to the GSI, the facility will consist of an accelerator capable of generating antiproton and ion beams of an unparalleled intensity and quality. An underground double-ring accelerator
of 1,100 metres in circumference will be at the heart of FAIR with existing accelerators serving as pre-accelerators.
This structure, with a complex system of storage rings and experimental stations, will enable scientists to address the mystery of why the universe is almost completely devoid of antimatter,
while there is matter everywhere. Researchers also hope to discover new forms of matter and take a closer look at dark matter, which makes up more than 90% of the matter of the universe. The
experiments will enable physicists to understand how atoms and heavy elements formed to create matter following the big bang.
If everything goes according to plan, construction work will start in winter 2008/09 and be completed by 2015 at the earliest. Germany, together with the State of Hesse, where the facility will
be situated, will bear the main share (75%) of the costs. The current partner countries, namely China, Finland, France, Georgia, UK, India, Italy, Austria, Poland, Romania, Russia, Sweden,
Slovenia and Spain, will jointly contribute the remaining 25%.
The GSI initially submitted the proposal for FAIR in 2001. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) finally agreed to provide funding in 2003 under the condition that at
least 25% of the costs should be covered by international partners. Since then, more than 2,500 scientists all over the world have already been working on the development and the planning of
the new accelerator and experimental facilities.