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The SuperB Factory, a major international research centre for fundamental and applied physics will be built on the campus of the University of Rome ‘Tor Vergata’. The project proposed by the INFN is the first on the list of the 14 flagship projects of the National Research Plan of the Italian Ministry for Education, Universities and Research (MIUR). The announcement was made last week by Roberto Petronzio, President of the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics. 300 physicists from all over the world gathered in Elba island (Italy) for the kick-off meeting of SuperB, which marked a crucial milestone on the road towards realization of the accelerator. The project involves the construction of a large underground electron-positron collider which will occupy an area of approximately 30 hectares on the University of Rome ‘Tor Vergata’ campus and be closely linked to the INFN Frascati National Laboratories, located nearby. The SuperB, which will ultimately cost few hundred million euros, obtained funding approval for 250 million euros in the Italian government’s CIPE Economic Planning Document.
The physicists’ objective is to cast light on some of the great questions of contemporary physics: on the mechanisms which led to the disappearance of antimatter shortly after the Big Bang at the dawn of the history of our Universe, for example, or on the forces which hold the fundamental components of matter together. The SuperB research programme can be seen as complementary to that of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), since the two accelerators deal with two different frontiers of experimental subnuclear physics: intensity and energy. The SuperB will concentrate on increasing the rate of the particle beam collisions which produce extremely rare physical phenomena that have not yet been fully explored, while the LHC, which has enormously increased the energy at which collisions take place, investigates the new physics with this different method. The leap forward in the luminosity (the number of collisions produced) of the SuperB is based on ideas developed in Italy and experimented at the INFN Frascati National Laboratories, using the Dafne collider.
However, the same infrastructure will also provide new technologies and advanced experimental instruments for research in the domains of solid state physics, biology, nanotechnologies and biomedicine. Once operational, the SuperB will immediately offer to a broad interdisciplinary scientific community, both Italian and international, the opportunity to use the lines of light located along the collider’s path. Several of these facilities will collect and focus the “synchrotron light” emitted by the electrons during their race around the accelerator. Beams of light with unique coherence and collimation characteristics will enable biological or inorganic structures to be visualized at a nanometer resolution and allow ‘micro-snapshots’ to be taken of the biochemical processes underway. They can be used for the construction of nanostructures or electronic components and will be useful for the synthesis of new drugs or innovative materials. Not by chance the Italian Institute of Technology - IIT was involved since the very beginning into the project and will be one of the users of the accelerator as a source of high brilliance light. Of course, the SuperB’s location at Tor Vergata also opens up the possibility of collaboration with the entire Italian academic community and research organizations sited in the same area, as well as many international partners.
“This is the first time an accelerator has been designed from the outset to satisfy the needs of both fundamental and applied physics,” said the President of the INFN, Roberto Petronzio. “The SuperB represents a historical opportunity for these two important international communities to meet. The project fits naturally into a context of international collaborations and will contribute to reinforcing Europe’s leading position in high energy physics, which already has its guiding light in CERN in Geneva.”
“The University of Rome ‘Tor Vergata’”, said the Rector, Professor Renato Lauro, “welcomes this research structure as we are able to offer an area sufficiently vast (30 hectares) to accommodate it and our excellent researchers in basic and applied physics at the University will be able to take advantage of the physical and cultural proximity of the INFN. Finally, to underline the importance of this initiative, it should be pointed out that once the SuperB is fully operational, an international scientific community of more than a thousand scientists and technicians will be involved.”
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