The LHC is taking a vacation right now, but it promise to return with a bang! The LHC is due to run very soon, but instead of the usual 7 TeV (1TeV = 1 Trillion electron volts) total energy, it will try and go a bit higher and reach 8 TeV. Also the luminosity (basically number of collisions per second) will increase, but the increase won’t be substantial and there are reasons for that. Physicists promise enough data to pinpoint the Higgs and to verify the tantalizing 125 GeV peak that was reported earlier(here). Furthermore, after a packed 2012 schedule, the LHC will hibernate for a longer time and will wake up in 2014. During this time, the LHC will be fitted with newer instruments.
The hardware upgrade will have to wait till end of 2012, when the LHC will shut down for an extended period of 14 months, waking up again in 2014. The hardware upgrade will allow the LHC to run at a huge energy of 14 TeV and much higher luminosity. This is crucial, since it is not only the energy, but the number of collisions that makes a lot of difference in the experimental data. More luminosity means lower uncertainty in the measured values. The current electronics won’t be able to handle the rate of data acquisition that the LHC is planning to achieve.
The LHC currently runs at 3.5 TeV per beam, giving 7 TeV on a two-beam collision. They plan to upgrade it to 4 TeV per beam, giving a total energy of 8 TeV. Each beam of protons is made up of bunches of protons, with each bunch being separated by a certain amount of time. Each bunch has a certain number of protons. The team will also look to increase the number of protons per bunch, but keep the number of bunches constant, thereby increasing the luminosity. The current bunch spacing is 50 nanoseconds. The LHC electronics is built so as to handle bunches separated by 25 ns. The LHC team might look at this small deadtime when it resumes in 2014.
All in all, the full blown search for Higgs might end soon, but the LHC is poised for more daring adventures!