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CLIC – the Compact Linear Collider – is a study for a future accelerator that will reach unprecedented energies for electrons and their antimatter twins, positrons. When they come into contact in the collision they will annihilate each other, liberating all their energy for the production of new particles.
Electrons and positrons are fundamental particles, and their collisions can provide extremely detailed information about the laws of nature. So CLIC would offer significant fundamental physics insight beyond that available from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and a lower-energy linear electron/positron collider, as a result of its unique combination of experimental precision and high energy.
At these high energies, electrons and positrons would lose a huge fraction of their energy circulating in a ring collider like the LHC. So the particles have to be accelerated in two linear accelerators facing each other, such that the beams collide in the central physics detector. This implies that the particles have to gain their energy in a single passage through the accelerating cavities.
CLIC is designed to be built in stages of increasing collision energy: starting from 360 GeV, around 1.4 TeV, and up to a final energy of 3 TeV. In order to reach this energy in a realistic and cost efficient scenario, the accelerating gradient has to be very high - CLIC aims at an acceleration of 100 MV/m, 20 times higher than the LHC.
This drive beam is decelerated in special Power Extraction and Transfer Structures (PETS), and the generated RF power is transferred to the main beam. This leads to a very simple tunnel layout without any active RF components (i.e. klystrons).
The feasibility of CLIC has been demonstrated and documented for the accelerator and the detector in the CLIC Conceptional Design Report. The design is currently being further optimized and adapted after the discovery of the Higgs boson at the LHC. CLIC is one of the options for a future accelerator built at CERN, which will be decided depending on future LHC physics results.