photo of NA62 RICH (Image: CERN)

Scientific activities

Experiments at CERN

The current experimental programme at CERN is summarized in the electronic version of the Grey Book database.

The experiments listed there use one of the following machines: the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), with energy up to 14 TeV, the most powerful accelerator in the world; the 400 GeV Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS), which now acts as an injector for the LHC, but also hosts fixed-target experiments and provides test beams; the 28 GeV Proton Synchrotron (PS), including the Antiproton Decelerator (AD) for slow antiprotons and the ISOLDE facility for short-lived ions. R&D projects aim at developing new detector technologies and data acquisition systems for the LHC experiments are also listed.

In addition there are Recognized Experiments that complement CERN's scientific programme, typically in astrophysics or non-accelerator experiments. A recent addition to the programme is the Neutrino Platform, which hosts R&D on detectors for future neutrino experiments around the world. Studies are also in progress for physics at possible future accelerators beyond the LHC: FCC.

Activities in EP

The participation in the major LHC experiments is organized in groups for ATLAS, CMS, LHCb and ALICE.  The participation in non-LHC experiments is coordinated via the Small and Medium Experiments (SME) team, which includes direct participation in NA62, COMPASS, the AD experiments, ISOLDE, CAST and CLOUD. The Neutrino Group (NU) acts as a focal point for neutrino physics. 

A significant aspect of the scientific work in EP involves the development and installation of detectors, their readout electronics, and the software to exploit them for physics. Support groups for Detector Technologies (DT), Electronic Systems for Experiments (ESE) and Software Design for Experiments (SFT) provide support to the scientific activities across the experimental programme.

Activities in EP

R&D on Experimental Technologies

EP department has launched an R&D programme on new Detector Technologies. This initiative, which spans a 5-years period from 2020 onwards (with a possible extension by another 5 years), covers detector hardware, electronics and software for new experiments and detector upgrades beyond LHC phase II.



ATTRACT initiative

On 1st of August 2018, the EU-funded ATTRACT initiative has launched a call for breakthrough ideas in the domains of detection and imaging technologies. About 65 proposals were submitted by teams either led by or with participation of EP staff. In March 2019 ten of these teams received the good news that they were selected for funding. Every selected project receives 100 kEUR of funding over a period of 12 months.


The European Commission is expected to launch, later this year, a call for a  new funding instrument, dubbed H2020 Innovation Pilot. Preparations of a project proposal for this call are under way. This proposed project, focusing on detector technologies at accelerators, can be interpreted as a follow-up project of AIDA-2020.

We consider this an excellent opportunity to raise additional resources for detector R&D and to foster work with external groups.

EP staff has been encouraged to send Expressions of Interests, first to the department (contact person Konrad Elsener), and after approval, to the proposal preparation About 40 EoI were received and approved. Two thirds of them are directly related to the new EP R&D programme.