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Synchrotron radiation facility beams with pride

An upgrade of one of Europe's and the world's most prestigious science facilities will help ensure that it continues to operate at peak performance for the next 10–20 years. This will bring immeasurable scientific benefits to the European research area and beyond.


Great advances in medicine, biology, materials science, physics and geophysics have been boosted by the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in France, a scientific research infrastructure shared by 18 European countries and Israel. As demand for the facility has grown phenomenally, its partners have begun looking for ways to meet its various needs. With this in mind, the EU-funded project 'ESRF upgrade' (ESRFUP) set out to respond to the requirements of an increasingly diversified user community. Keeping in mind that the ESRF operates the most powerful high-energy synchrotron light source in Europe, the project worked on enlarging the facility's infrastructure and experimental capabilities. It added new experimental stations, improved the accelerator complex, developed enabling technologies, and fostered more partnerships with academia and industry. This has already begun advancing numerous fields such as nanoscience and nanotechnology, as well as biology, health, energy, environment, transport and information technology. The European Commission earmarked almost EUR 5 million for the upgrade, which involved several activities, from building a novel prototype radio-frequency cavity for the storage ring to elaborating a roadmap for future detector developments. The project team also undertook feasibility studies to foster synergies with neighbouring facilities, including the world's leading neutron-beam facility, Institut Laue-Langevin. By the end of Phase I of the upgrade in 2015, the ESRF will have built or fully refurbished 18 of its 40 experimental stations. The improvements of the accelerator and source complex will provide X-rays with improved stability and brilliance, thus paving the way for a possible further significant upgrade of the storage ring in Phase II. The largely improved scientific infrastructure, and the development of beyond state-of-the-art enabling technologies, in a concerted European-wide effort, will provide researchers with a unique analytical facility for research spanning across all domains of natural sciences for many years to come.

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