West-Midlands based Brandauer, a manufacturer of complex components had a small yet very significant part to play in the discovery of the Higgs Boson particle.
A key feature of the actual particle accelerator, located underneath the Swiss and French Alps are the pumping slot shields. These form part of the beam screens inside the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator.
Brandauer produced the components that act as electron shields, which protect the machine’s 9,300 superconducting dipole magnets from electron cloud effects inside the vacuum beam tubes.
Without the pumping slot shields, it would not be possible to maintain the dipole magnets at their operational temperature of -271 Celsius. The 2,800 pressure relief springs are necessaryto protect the LHC’s cryostats from absorbing too much pressure.
Engineers from both CERN and Brandauer worked together to ensure that the four different sizes of magnets to be manufactured were perfect before they were put into production.
Rowan Crozier, sales and marketing director at Brandauer said: “This was a very complex task for a niche customer, and involved significant technical excellence, an understanding of materials and their properties and an ability to deliver complex parts that operate in extreme conditions.”
He went on to say: “I suppose you could say Birmingham has played its own role in helping find what many people are calling the ‘god particle’.”
In a statement that welcome the contributions of SMEs to the international competitiveness of the UK, one of the mechanical engineers at CERN Paul Cruikshank added: “[Brandauer’s contribution shows that] small and medium-sized specialists … continue to offer world-class design and engineering services at the highest level.”
Mr Cruikshank gave the main reason why Brandauer was the preferred supplier of the components: “Brandauer is one of very few high-precision presswork specialists in Europe with the necessary skills and technical capability to produce components that meet CERN’s extremely demanding specifications.”