Hopes of Italian physicists rest on funding for Cabibbo-Lab particle accelerator

By Lou del Bello

Research Europe

06-06-2013

A €250-million particle accelerator has been proposed by the Italian research group Cabibbo-Lab as a renewed take on the €1-billion project SuperB, cancelled by the government in December due to lack of funding.

The High Luminosity Tau-Charm Factory’s particle accelerator is seen by physicists in Italy as an opportunity to restore the reputation of the country’s science following the severe cuts made as a consequence of recession.

The collider would be complementary to the Large Hadron Collider at Cern, the European organisation for nuclear research. Cern has already backed the initiative, promising to second 15 researchers to work on it.

The Rome-based Cabibbo-Lab, which is expected to host the centre, held a conference from 26 to 30 May to create a detailed project plan. Representatives of the lab said they hope that having a plan in place will prompt additional government funding and support from international partners.

Further financing for the accelerator could come through partnerships with other EU countries, said Roberto Petronzio, general director at Cabibbo-Lab. This could include the European Commission’s European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures.

“The project could play an important part in Europe’s renewed interest in infrastructure, shared by countries such as France and Germany,” Petronzio explained. “The latter has recently funded two major pieces of research infrastructure for €1bn each.”

Petronzio added that Italy’s prime minister, Enrico Letta, has promised more spending on infrastructure. However, it is not yet clear how this will affect Italy’s next research plan, to be written by research minister Maria Chiara Carrozza this year.

Cabibbo-Lab is hosted by the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare, one of 12 public research centres for which funding was cut by 10 per cent for 2013-14 by the previous government.

Marcello Giorgi, research director at Cabibbo-Lab, said that the economic benefits of having a particle accelerator would justify investment at a time when other research institutes are struggling. “The economic return of promoting research in physics is indubitable, with high-profile know-how being built in Italy making us competitive worldwide,” Giorgi said.

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