The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, which was founded in 1953, provides the platform for cooperation between European states for exclusively peaceful purposes in the field of nuclear and particle physics and promotes leading research in high-energy physics with its purpose-built particle accelerators and detectors.
The Proton Synchrotron PS and Super Proton Synchrotron SPS are world-class particle accelerators used for research. In 2009, the new Hadron Collider (LHC) put into operation. The LHC was built in the same ring tunnel that formerly was used to house the Large Electron-Positron Collider (LEP). By the time it was decommissioned at the end of 2000, the LEP had made a lasting contribution to the scientific knowledge of elementary particles. Since 2006, CERN has broadened its field of activity to include neutrino physics. This has enabled research on CERN-produced neutrinos to be carried out inside large underground detectors at the Gran Sasso Laboratory in Italy.
The 21 member countries of CERN are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
CERN is located on the Swiss-French border near Geneva and employs approximately 2,500 people on a permanent basis, who together with about 10,000 visiting researchers from all around the world advance scientific knowledge in the field of nuclear and particle physics. In the some 60 years of its existence CERN has been a leading force in all the major discoveries concerning the composition of matter. It conducts research into the question both of the origin and nature of the basic building blocks of matter and the forces that hold them together. The discovery of the Higgs particle at CERN was recognised with the Nobel Prize for physics in 2013.
Swiss researchers from 12 institutes representing all universities are active in CERN experiments, primarily in the fields of particle physics (neutrinos, LHC, matter/antimatter), medicine and technological research (electronics, materials). Great importance is also attached to technology transfers to Swiss industry. Swiss universities are heavily involved in the development and expansion of the CERN infrastructure, including the construction of the large detectors ATLAS, CMS and LHCb for the LHC. This has called for an important financial and scientific commitment, particularly from the universities of Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne and Zurich as well as the Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH) in Zurich and Lausanne.
CERN employs around 200 Swiss researchers, engineers, technicians and business people, trainees and students at its facilities. CERN is also an attractive economic partner for Switzerland: until three times the amount of Switzerland's annual contribution to CERN is recouped in the form of contracts for the Swiss industrial and services sectors.
Switzerland generally finances around 4% of CERN’s annual overall budget of just over CHF 1 billion. Responsibility for Switzerland’s contribution to CERN rests with SERI.