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The Integrated Initiative of European Laser Research Infrastructures

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - LASERLAB-EUROPE (The Integrated Initiative of European Laser Research Infrastructures)

Reporting period: 2018-12-01 to 2019-11-30

Lasers and laser-based technology have revolutionised scientific research as well as our everyday lives. They have led to numerous outstanding scientific discoveries and at the same time to products and applications used in the most diverse areas of society. Laser technology is a key innovation driver for highly varied applications and products in many areas of modern society. Europe has a strong global position in this key area, reflected by a solid long-term growth of 2% in jobs.
Laserlab-Europe is the European consortium of major national laser research infrastructures, covering advanced laser science and applications in nearly all domains of research and technology, including areas with high industrial and social impact. Through its strategic approach, Laserlab-Europe strengthens Europe’s leading position and long-term competitiveness in these key scientific and industrial areas. The main objectives are:
• to promote, in a coordinated way and on a European scale, the use of advanced lasers and laser-based technologies for research and innovation;
• to serve a cross-disciplinary user community, from academia as well as from industry, by providing access to a comprehensive set of advanced laser research installations, allowing leading-edge, ground-breaking and technically very demanding experiments;
• to increase the European basis of human resources in the field of lasers by training new users;
• to improve human and technical resources through technology exchange and sharing of expertise among laser experts and operators across Europe and through coordinated Joint Research Activities enabling world-class research, innovations and applications beyond the present state-of-the-art, maintaining the research basis for future areas in laser science and applications.
Networking activities tie the project partners together and link Laserlab-Europe to the user community and to emerging Pan-European laser research infrastructures. They provide the means to secure and furthermore boost the efficiency of R&D and help to exploit its innovation potential. Training of users and staff, through training schools, technology exchange and sharing of expertise, is among the most important networking activities.
Laserlab-Europe combines the capabili¬ties of a comprehensive consortium of leading European laser research infrastructures. Beyond “traditional” laser infrastructures it also includes representative accelerator-based free-electron lasers (FELs). It offers research opportunities to scientists from all over the world through transnational access to an Integrated Infrastructure whose combined technical capability and expertise have no counterpart worldwide. External users have access to 22 labs in 12 countries. During the project, 3430 days of access to Laserlab facilities were granted to 914 users, exceeding the initial plans by 14% and 35%, respectively. The share of access days granted to non-European users increased steadily, to 25% during the final year. This reflects a high user demand and a very attractive access programme, co-funded to a large extent from other sources.
Four Joint Research Activities (JRAs), pursued in parallel, strongly supported developments of state-of-the-art equipment and techniques in the field of lasers and their applications for laser science, innovation and interdisciplinary research. The Laserlab-Europe infrastructures offer state-of-the-art instrumentations and methods for scientists in many disciplines, and their users benefit immediately from the many developments made within the JRAs, which allow them to perform experiments at the forefront of science.
BIOAPP pursued key developments of innovative workstations and methodologies for biomedical applications, from the investigation of single bio-molecules and single cells to the development of diagnostic tools for human diseases. In close collaboration with clinical partners, novel laser-based techniques have already been used in clinical applications. Important progress has been made in the development of tissue-simulating phantoms and strict test protocols and in laser-based 3D printing of biomaterials.
ILAT focused on overcoming crucial laser physics bottlenecks in order to improve existing laser systems and to prepare for future high peak power lasers with elevated repetition rates concerning new materials, advanced cooling schemes, and new laser architectures and improved performance in terms of stability, impulse contrast, and carrier envelope phase stabilization The achievements provide radiation sources for the different wavelength ranges with unprecedented application power and are in most cases readily available for the user community.
In PHOTMAT, state-of-the-art and newly developed photonic sources were integrated with analytical capabilities to allow complex structural, mechanistic and functional questions to be studied in modern material, (bio-) chemical and environmental sciences. High performance workstations provide a broad range of multidisciplinary capabilities for users for ultrafast (attosecond) time-resolved studies, nano-sensing and coherent nano-imaging, magneto-optical sensing and two-dimensional electronic spectroscopy.
In LEPP, techniques for production of high quality radiation and particle beams from laser-matter interaction have been developed, tested and optimised for high-impact applications in medicine, biology and materials science, such as incoherent and coherent laser-plasma-based X-ray sources for imaging of bio- and nano-materials, experimental protocols for radiotherapy and radiobiology using laser-based electron accelerators and intense beams of laser-accelerated protons for radiotherapy and radiobiology.
Laserlab-Europe has a very strong impact on the European Research Area. It promotes, in a coordinated way and on a European scale, the use of advanced lasers and laser-based technologies for research and innovation while optimising synergies with emerging relevant ESFRI Research Infrastructures. It serves an increasingly cross-disciplinary user community, from academia as well as from industry, by providing access to a comprehensive set of advanced laser research installations, and it contributes to increasing the European basis of human resources in the field of lasers by training staff and new users. It continuously improves, in key areas, human and technical resources enabling world-class research, innovations and applications beyond the present state-of-the-art.
Pushing the forefront of laser research beyond the state-of-the-art, and thereby improving the capabilities and services provided by the participating research infrastructures is a goal of Laserlab-Europe. The integration of two representative FELs has allowed users to exploit also the complementary properties of such accelerator-based lasers, thus stimulating novel applications and innovation. In the JRAs, emphasis was given to technologies enabling novel applications with high industrial and social impact, in particular in life-science related applications. All JRAs included cooperation with industry, SMEs and/or hospitals and medical centres, underlining that Laserlab-Europe is a place with high innovation potential. Continued actions to enhance exploitation and interaction with industry and medical centres lead to a richer exchange of knowledge and ideas, increasing the potential of turning innovation into new products and jobs.
Laserlab-Europe map of participants
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