The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, also called Fermilab is a particle physics laboratory, which is operated by the U.S. Department of Energy. It is located about 50 kilometers west of Chicago in Illinois, on the territory of the municipality Batavia and houses the Tevatron, which was replaced on 30 November 2009 as the richest energy particle accelerator in the world from the Large Hadron Collider.


The Fermilab was originally founded in 1968 as the National Accelerator Laboratory. Founding director was Robert R. Wilson, who headed the laboratory until 1978. According to him, the 16-floor main building of Fermilab is named ( Wilson Hall, colloquially referred to as High Rise ), which was the Gothic cathedral Saint- Pierre in Beauvais, France modeled. The present name it received in 1974 in honor of Enrico Fermi. The Fermilab currently employs around 2,200 people and is the leading research institute for proton -antiproton collisions with the two detectors CDF and D0.

At Fermilab, the bottom quark (1977 ), the top quark (1995) and the tau neutrino (2000) have been discovered.

After the term of office of Robert Wilson, the Institute was guided by the following directors:

  • Leon Lederman (1978-1989),
  • John Peoples (1989-1999),
  • Michael Witherell (1999-2005) and
  • Pier Oddone J. (since 2005)


It essentially consists of two accelerator rings:

  • The main ring ( Main Injector), the particles are accelerated to 200 GeV. However, this was in the years 1974-1982 with 400 GeV until 1983, the second ring accelerator, the Tevatron was completed.
  • The Tevatron accelerates particles up to 980 GeV (both protons and antiprotons with a corresponding thereto center of mass energy of about 2 TeV ) and has a circumference of 6.5 kilometers.

At two points of interaction, the protons and antiprotons were brought into collision. There are the detectors D0 and CDF. In the collisions states were reached, as they have prevailed shortly after the Big Bang. The experiments provided a clear overview of the structure of matter. Among other things, they tried to detect the Higgs boson, which is predicted in the Standard Model of elementary particle physics. Despite evidence of this particle, it could not be clearly detected. Due to the existence of the Higgs boson mass of matter could be explained.

The Tevatron was shut down in late 2011 and the Fermilab participates in experiments at the LHC at CERN.

Further experiments in addition to the Tevatron and planned experiments

At Fermilab, several experiments run for neutrino physics, Mini Boone (Mini Booster Neutrino Experiment ), SciBooNE ( SciBar Booster Neutrino Experiment ) and MINOS ( Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search), the intense neutrino beam Numi ( Neutrinos at the Main Injector) to a detector in the Soudan Mine directs, and his successor NOνA ( which is to direct the neutrino beam 800 km in a mine in Minnesota).

In planning a proton linear accelerator of high intensity ( Project X ), the Mu2e experiment ( to the search for Flavor infringing conversion of muons into electrons ) and the LBNE (Large Baseline Neutrino Experiment ) that a neutrino beam 800 miles to an underground detector in the Homestake Mine in Lead should send (South Dakota) ( where already held the Homestake experiment).


Large parts of the Fermilabgeländes are raw land with several large lakes that serve the cooling water supply. Covering an area of ​​about four square kilometers was the original prairie vegetation of Illinois ' restored. On pastures within the Fermilab site a bison herd of about 50 animals will be held. The area of the laboratory also serves the population for recreation. As a consequence of the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 it was temporarily closed to the public throughout, but is currently fully reopened.

The annual electricity costs of Fermilab amount to 12 to 18 million U.S. dollars.