A Jefferson Lab EIC would accelerate two beams of sub-atomic particles to nearly the speed of light before slamming the beams together. A stream of electrons and a stream of protons or ions would collide at two interaction points. These interaction points will be surrounded by large detectors, which will record the results of these interactions for scientists to interpret.
An EIC would create an entirely new collision dynamic. In layman's terms, the difference in the dynamics of Jefferson Lab's current CEBAF vs. this "new" proposed accelerator collision is the difference between a car crashing into a wall (speeding electrons into a stationary target) vs. a car crashing head-on into another vehicle (speeding electrons into speeding ions). This new dynamic could provide unique capabilities in the study of Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD), the theory that describes how quarks and gluons build protons, neutrons and nuclei.