The groundbreaking discovery will open the doors to a new world of particle physics by outperforming facilities like the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva. Until now, colliders like the LHC have relied on pushing beams of proton particles around a circular track at near the speed of light.
The proton beams are then smashed into one another to break the particles apart into their constituent parts.
But more than 100 international physicists, including scientists in the UK, have spent the last 20 years devising a way for more powerful and more efficient particle colliders to be built though muon ionisation cooling.
The ultimate goal is to better understand how the universe around us is built on the smallest observable scale.
Dr Chris Rogers, a physicist working on the Muon Ionization Cooling Experiment (MICE), told Express.co.uk muon colliders promise a whole new opportunity for scientists.
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He said: “We’re trying to explore physics regimes, which have never been explored before.
“So we’re trying to look for new sorts of particles and new sorts of matter, which have never been seen before.
“Going up to these much higher energy scales means that we can explore a completely different regime of fundamental physics than we can do at the LHC.”
Muons are one of the particles outlined in the Standard Model of particle physics, alongside protons, electrons, quarks, gluons and others.
But many obstacles arise when it comes to sending the subatomic particles down an accelerator track.
Muons are incredibly short-lived and only boast a half-life of 2.2 microseconds – two-millionths of a second.
We’re trying to explore physics regimes, which have never been explored before
Muon beams also get scorching hot, peaking at temperatures of 10 billion degrees Kelvin.
The particles also need to be created first by breaking down protons, which results in diffused and unfocused clouds of muons.
In a bid to smash the muons together, scientists at MICE have had to figure out a way in which the beams can be cooled, compressed and focused enough for the particles to collide.
The experiment was achieved at the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) ISIS Neutron and Muon Beam facility at the Harwell Campus in the UK.
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Dr Rogers said: “In order to cool these beams, we pass them through liquid hydrogen absorbers, so we had to cool liquid hydrogen down to a few 10s of Kelvin and then pass beams through.
“Now, liquid hydrogen is quite difficult to handle. In order to handle and contain it, we needed to put it inside of aluminium windows.
“Those aluminium windows would normally ruin the quality of the beam and make the beam much worse.
“So we had to make those as thin as we possibly could in order to have a well-behaved beam, which we can manipulate properly in the cooling process.”
Containing the muon beams are supercooled magnets that need to be powerful enough to compress the particles and ensure they are travelling in a single direction.
Dr Rogers compared the process to trying to squeeze a balloon in one spot, only to have it expand somewhere else.
He said: “The muon beam that is coming off the target is quite diffused, so the muons are sort of going in all different directions.
“We can contain the muons by making magnets but it’s really hard.
“Imagine you have this balloon full of muons and you squeeze it with your magnets and the balloon sort of expands out somewhere else.”
The muon ionisation cooling experiment was unveiled today (February 4) in the journal Nature.