Europe’s CERN laboratory has taken its first steps towards building a huge new particle accelerator that would eclipse its Large Hadron Collider — and hopes to see light at the end of the tunnel. The Future Circular Collider (FCC) particle smasher would be more than triple the length of the LHC, already the world’s largest and most powerful particle collider, constructed in the hope of revealing secrets about how the universe works. The FCC would form a new circular tunnel under France and Switzerland, 91 kilometres (56.5 miles) long and about five metres (16 feet) in diameter. “The goal of the FCC is to push the energy and intensity frontiers of particle colliders, with the aim of reaching collision energies of 100 tera electron volts, in the search for new physics,” CERN says. The tunnel would pass under the Geneva region and its namesake lake in Switzerland, and loop round to the south near the picturesque French town of Annecy. Eight technical and scientific sites would be built on the surface, with seven in France and one in Geneva, CERN engineer Antoine Mayoux told reporters this week. After carrying out a theoretical analysis, “we are now embarking for the first time on field activities” to study potential environmental issues, he said, with seismic and geotechnical studies to follow. Once the feasibility studies are completed, CERN’s member states — 22 European countries plus Israel — will decide in the next five to six years on whether to build the FCC.