The physics programme at CERN presents a multitude of technical challenges that can involve working on a microscopic scale or on enormous machines. To successfully conduct their experiments at the forefront of knowledge, physicists rely on groundbreaking, often huge machines built using millions of components and offering an unprecedented level of precision. This is the reason why CERN employs several hundred engineers and technicians, who develop, build and test these machines and keep them in good working order.
The construction of particle accelerators and detectors requires cutting-edge technologies such as radiofrequency cavities to accelerate particles, superconducting magnets to alter their trajectory, cryogenics to cool the magnets down and make them work, and vacuum to allow the beams to circulate.
Detectors present other technological challenges. Their components and subsystems are designed, built and tested individually before they are assembled together to work in harmony. Kilometres of wiring and thousands of electrical components make particle detectors a considerable feat of engineering.
Engineers push back the limits of technology so that physicists can carry out their research. Their innovations are then used in other fields thanks to knowledge transfer activities.