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Featured Application: CERN, LHC, Colliding Protons and APICAL® Films

CERN is the European Organization for Nuclear Research, and the world's largest high energy particle physics research center. At CERN physicists explore what matter is composed of and what are the forces that hold it together.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a particle accelerator which will help physicists probe deeper into matter than ever before. Due to be online in 2007, it will ultimately collide beams of protons at an energy of 14 TeV . Beams of lead nuclei will also be accelerated, smashing together with a collision energy of 1150 TeV (A TeV is a unit of energy used in particle physics. 1 TeV is approximately equivalent to the energy of motion of a flying mosquito. What makes the LHC so extraordinary is that it squeezes energy into a space about a million times smaller than a mosquito).

The LHC, is being built using high powered superconducting magnets each 15 meters long. Installed throughout CERN's existing 27-kilometer circular tunnel (constructed for the LEP electron-positron collider), these powerful magnets will hold counter-rotating beams of protons on a steady course around the ring as superconducting accelerating cavities 'kick' them almost to the speed of light (300,000 kilometers or 186,000 miles per second) at energies higher than have ever been reached in accelerators. When these proton beams collide, at fixed crossing points, their combined energy of motion will produce an intense micro-fireball which will shoot out hundreds of new particles. These flashes of energy will probe the interactions between the tiny quark constituents hidden deep inside the colliding protons and reveal how matter works at the most fundamental levels

Kaneka Corporation is proud to be affiliated with the LHC project as the primary supplier of polyimide (PI) Film (under the Apical® trade name). Kaneka was able to meet the demanding technical requirements of CERN and develop a special Film to meet additional needs. Apical® PI Film allows CERN to electrically insulate the Magnets (Dipole, quadrupoles and it?s subsystems). The main magnet wires are insulated with 2 layers of Apical polyimide Film combined with one layer of Pixeo® Film. Pixeo® is a thermoset PI Film coated with a thermoplastic PI resin that acts as an adhesive. Pixeo® was designed especially for CERN and is used to adhere the individual magnet coils to each other. Each bundle of magnet coils, together with a ground insulation, form the heart of the LHC magnets. In addition, subsystems such as the cold bore, quench heaters and bus bars also use Apical® PI Film for electrical insulation ,allowing the system to operate under extreme temperatures (as low as ?270 °C).


Figure 1: A representation of what the CERN super collider will look like upon completion.


The LHC is the next step in a voyage of discovery which began a century ago. Back then, scientists had just discovered all kinds of mysterious rays: X-rays, cathode rays, alpha and beta rays. Where did they come from? Were they all made of the same thing, and if so what were they made of? These questions are now being answered, giving us a much greater understanding of the Universe. Along the way, the answers have changed our daily lives, giving us televisions, transistors, medical imaging devices computers and the internet. On the threshold of the 21st century, we face new questions which the LHC is designed to address. Who can tell what new developments the answers may bring? Through APICAL® Films Kaneka will play a critical part in developing our future.

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