New FAIR Partner

The UK joins unique international accelerator facility in Germany

Dr. Janet Seed (STFC), Prof. Boris Sharkov (FAIR), Dr. Beatrix Vierkorn-Rudolph (FAIR-Council, German Reseach Ministry), Prof. John Womersley (STFC), Prof. Günther Rosner (FAIR) (from left, Photo: Gaby Otto for FAIR)

Representatives of UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) now signed an official agreement for the UK to become an associate partner of the Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research in Europe (FAIR), a new 1.6 bn EUR particle accelerator facility which is currently being built in Darmstadt, Germany. Once the facility is completed in 2018, scientists from more than 50 countries worldwide will use FAIR to investigate the evolution of the universe and gain insight into the building blocks of matter. In addition to providing a centre for basic research, FAIR will also be used to develop new medical therapies and diagnostic procedures, as well as energy-efficient, high-performance computers and new materials, for space missions, for example.


The international Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research (FAIR) will be built on a 20-hectare site using 35,000 tons of steel and 600,000 cubic meters of concrete. The work horse of its modularised start version is a ring accelerator (SIS100 synchrotron) with a circumference of 1.1 km. Associated to this synchrotron is a complex system of cooler and storage rings, and large-scale experiments. The new site is located next to the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research; their accelerators will be used as injectors.


Professor John Womersley, Chief Executive at STFC, said: “The advances in technology that will result from our scientists’ work on this hugely challenging project will be a real asset to the UK in terms of economic and societal benefits. The UK’s associate member status at FAIR will ensure that we play a leading role in the development of this ground-breaking international project, and that our researchers will have access to the latest, most advanced research facilities. STFC is the UK sponsor of nuclear physics and this milestone helps keep the UK science programme at the forefront internationally. FAIR will be the world’s most important nuclear physics research facility for many decades to come making this a very exciting time to be involved in this area of research.  It will most certainly provide vital inspiration for our young nuclear physicists and engineers of the future.”


Professor Boris Sharkov, Scientific Managing Director of FAIR, expressed his satisfaction about the accession of the UK to FAIR: “The tremendous progress of the construction of the facility, its accelerators, and experiments during the last years is very exciting. The UK joining FAIR promises further expansion of the FAIR user base.”


Professor Günther Rosner, FAIR’s Research and Administrative Managing Director, seconded from Glasgow University to work at FAIR, says: “It is a great pleasure to welcome the UK as the first Associate Member of FAIR, the world’s largest project in Nuclear Physics. The UK has been one of the driving forces of the project right from the start. Important contributions to the large-scale experiments NUSTAR and PANDA have been initiated and are being built by UK Nuclear Physics groups, all experts in their fields. So welcome on board indeed.”


Ten UK institutions contribute to two of the four large experiments at FAIR: NUSTAR and PANDA. NUSTAR (NUclear Structure, Astrophysics and Reactions) aims, for example, at finding out in detail how elements heavier than iron are produced in the Universe. This could happen in cataclysmic events such as supernovae (giant star explosions) or neutron star collisions. PANDA (Anti-Proton ANihilation at Darmstadt) searches, for example, for exotic hadronic matter such as heavy “glueballs” that are predicted to be formed exclusively from energy.

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