London: A proposal by China to build a "Higgs factory" by 2028 - a 52 km underground ring that would smash together electrons and positrons - has raised the possibility of the country coming to the forefront of particle physics.
If approved, the project could overtake the 27 km Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, Europe`s particle-physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland.
Collisions of these fundamental particles would allow the Higgs boson to be studied with greater precision than at the relatively smaller LHC, Nature reported.
According to the scientists at the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) in Beijing, the proposed $3 billion machine is within technological grasp and is considered conservative in scope and cost.
China hopes that it would also be a stepping stone to a next-generation collider - a super proton-proton collider - in the same tunnel.
The machine would be a big leap for China. The country`s biggest current collider is just 240 metres in circumference.
But China now has "the confidence, for the first time, to propose an ambitious new machine," said Ian Shipsey, an experimental physicist at University of Oxford.
"China wanted to work towards a more immediate goal than a super collider by 2035. You cannot just talk about a project which is 20 years from now," IHEP director Yifang Wang told the gathering at the International Conference on High Energy Physics in Valencia, Spain, recently.
According to Wang, China would welcome international funding contributions and if there is a lot of support, the ring size could be expanded to 80 km.
"But the country will not wait for collaborators before pressing ahead," he added.