On 19 April, the University of Tartu and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) aiming to increase cooperation on the Future Circular Collider (FCC) project.
Among the CERN’s facilities, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is well known to the public after the discovery of the Higgs boson. The planned Future Circular Collider will be four times larger and is one of the world’s most ambitious scientific endeavours that could offer a research programme until the end of the 21st century.
“The vision for future circular colliders that could operate after the LHC is one of the largest international scientific projects that has ever been undertaken, and provides an ideal testbed for the University of Tartu’s nascent ideas for the sustainable development and operation of these machines,” states Michael Benedikt, the FCC study leader. “Profiting from the University of Tartu’s expertise, the MoU will offer to the FCC project the long-term support that it needs, and Estonia, as an associate member will get a tangible return on its investment in basic science,” said Benedikt.
The memorandum of understanding will facilitate the participation of Estonian research groups in CERN's research. According to Veronika Zadin, Professor of Materials Technology at the University of Tartu, this is a good opportunity for our researchers to have a say in international excellence, while the knowledge and skills gained from the cooperation would also support the development of Estonia's local high-tech industry.
Although CERN's main area of research is experimental particle physics, it also carries out research and development in many other areas to build and operate new scientific tools to expand our horizons. These include materials science, the development of information technology and distributed computing systems, and research into environmental research and health technologies.
CERN already cooperates with individual research groups at the University of Tartu in different experiments. For instance, Heikki Junninen, Professor in Environmental Physics at the Institute of Physics, participates in the CLOUD (Cosmics Leaving Outdoor Droplets) experiment, and Marco Kirm, Professor in Experimental Physics, participates in the development of scintillator detectors within the CCC (Crystal Clear Collaboration) experiment. Associate Professor in Theoretical Physics Stefan Groote participates in the COMPASS experiment, and Veronika Zadin performes computer simulations for the construction of the Compact Linear Collider (CLIC).
"Experience to date has shown that the impact of cooperation with CERN can be felt in fields that are far removed from physics, such as language learning applications. After all, the online language learning program Lingvist created by Estonians was inspired by the doctoral studies of nuclear physicist Mait Müntel at CERN,” illustrated Zadin.
CERN is included in the Estonian Roadmap for Research Infrastructures. Estonia has been an associate member of CERN since 2021 and is hoping to become a full member within a few years.