New agreement recognizes existing international cooperation and planned future efforts toward building an Electron-Ion Collider (EIC) and carrying out its scientific program
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Representatives of France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have signed a new “Statement of Interest” in future cooperation on the Electron-Ion Collider (EIC), a unique facility for exploring the building blocks of matter and the strongest force in nature. The agreement recognizes the two agencies’ long-standing reciprocity in areas of research and development that have driven economic and societal benefits, and their shared desire to continue cooperation on fundamental science and technologies related to particle accelerators, detectors, and computational research for discovery science.
Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, the director of the DOE Office of Science, signed for the DOE. “The U.S. Department of Energy and France’s National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) have a long-standing history of cooperation spanning a multitude of scientific research, development, design, and construction topics and projects. We have signed a Statement of Interest to strengthen our joint interest in advancing fundamental science and technologies, including the future construction of the Electron-Ion Collider, a one-of-a-kind nuclear physics research facility. We are looking forward to continuing our relationship with CNRS and exploring how we can continue to collaborate in the future,” she said.
Reynald Pain, the director of the French National Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics (IN2P3) and a member of the International EIC Advisory Board, signed for CNRS. “EIC will drive a new era in nuclear physics using electrons to probe nuclei and unlock major secrets of the universe,” he said. “IN2P3 is proud to be part of this major international project. We intend to bring French expertise in the construction of the accelerator and in the development and operation of the detector. EIC will allow France to further deepen scientific and technological collaboration with the U.S. and its international partners and, together, we are looking forward to major advances in our understanding of the strongest force in nature.”
The EIC is being built in the U.S. at DOE’s Brookhaven National Laboratory in partnership with DOE’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab). It will be a unique facility—the world’s only machine capable of colliding a beam of high-energy polarized electrons with a counter-circulating beam of high-energy polarized protons or heavier ions. A sophisticated detector will capture snapshots of these collisions to reveal how the particles and forces at the heart of atomic nuclei build up the structure and properties of everything we see in the universe today—from stars to planets to people.
This research has attracted broad international engagement with a worldwide community of potential EIC researchers numbering more than 1,400. In October, the U.S. Nuclear Science Advisory Committee gave strong endorsement to the EIC in its 2023 Long Range Plan, recommending “the expeditious completion of the EIC as the highest priority for facility construction.”
“We are excited that CNRS has expressed interest in joining us in the exciting endeavor of building the EIC and carrying out its ambitious research program,” said Brookhaven National Laboratory Director JoAnne Hewett. “We need the brightest minds to carry out such a large-scale effort and impactful science program. Today’s agreement is an important step toward achieving our vision of making this a truly international project.”
The agreement notes several areas of potential cooperation between CNRS and DOE scientists, including research and development, design, and construction of accelerator science and technologies and detector systems, as well as participation in carrying out research at the facility. The fundamental science the collaborative teams explore will help to unravel the nature of the atomic nucleus to understand, among other things, details of the origin of the universe, how the mass and the spin of protons and neutrons (collectively known as nucleons) arise from the interactions of their inner building blocks (quarks and gluons), and the arrangements of quarks and gluons within these larger building blocks of matter.
IN2P3 scientists were instrumental in developing the science requirements of and detector concepts for the EIC and have participated in formulating the EIC R&D program since the early days of planning for this facility. IN2P3 has expressed interest in working on a range of aspects for the project, including electromagnetic calorimetry, ultrafast silicon detectors, and readout electronics—all leveraging capabilities they’ve developed for other programs around the world—as well as accelerator technologies for superconducting radiofrequency systems. IN2P3 physicists are experts in 3D nucleon imaging and have participated in such experiments at Jefferson Lab and also in the PHENIX and STAR experiments at Brookhaven Lab’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC).
“This agreement is another tremendous step in realizing the EIC’s ambitious scientific goals, which builds upon the already strong engagement with our French colleagues," said Jefferson Lab Director Stuart Henderson. “The significant expertise within IN2P3 will advance the development of both the EIC’s accelerator and detector systems, while also demonstrating the strong international character of the EIC and its scientific program.”
Benefits beyond physics
The EIC will significantly advance accelerator and particle detector technology with potential benefits for many other fields important for economic development and improving quality of life:
- New medical isotopes and particle beam approaches for diagnosing and treating cancer
- Artificial intelligence and other computational tools for simulating climate change, tracking global pandemics, and protecting national security
- Accelerator advances for making and testing computer chips, studying proteins and therapeutic drugs, designing better batteries, and more
- Development of radiation-resistant materials for energy applications
- Hundreds of highly skilled jobs and training for a future tech-savvy workforce
The $1.7-2.8 billion EIC project is well into the planning stages at Brookhaven Lab. The baseline cost and schedule for EIC construction is planned to be decided in FY 2025 with facility operations to begin in the early 2030s.
Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit science.energy.gov.
Jefferson Science Associates, LLC, manages and operates the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, or Jefferson Lab, for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. JSA is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Southeastern Universities Research Association, Inc. (SURA).
CNRS/IN2P3 press contact:
+33 1 44 96 47 60