Skip to main content

The Future of ILL 2030

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - FILL2030 (The Future of ILL 2030)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2021-06-30

ILL operates the most intense reactor source of neutrons in the world and it is the world leading centre for neutron science and technology. However, neutron scattering in Europe faces a period of major transition in the landscape of operating neutron research facilities. The ILL must develop and adopt a new, sustainable business model to carry it through to at least 2030.

ILL has to establish an operating budget from a wide range of partners. Engagement of new funding bodies is connected to engaging new user groups - a modern user service model and a financial stakeholder model are therefore inseparable parts of the sustainable business model. Therefore, the primary objective of FILL2030 is to define a sustainable business model. With FILL2030, ILL aims to use the full technical capacity of its facilities, to develop the demand for experiments at ILL and to be able to operate at full capacity of 200 days.

In order to maintain its leading role in neutron science also in future, the project FILL2030 plays an important role, as its measures and results support political decision processes as well as it aims in improving its services for users. It aims to achieve its objectives by:
• strengthening and consolidating the interaction with the existing Associates and Scientific Members countries (WP4),
• engaging with new user communities through market and impact evaluation (WP2,WP3) and the elaboration of appropriate funding models (WP4),
• providing new user services to academic and industrial users (WP5) and
• implementing the changes through the review of the ILL business model (WP4).

In the second phase of the project, we focused on attracting new scientific members and new user communities and promoting ILL science in new target countries. We improved internal tools for statistics and impact evaluation to identify those new targets. Communication about the science already done and the results achieved at the ILL was improved.
Work package 1 aims for an efficient and effective management of the whole project, ensuring that the project deliverables are met in an integrated and timely fashion within the agreed budget. This comprises also the management of the implementation of work plan, the achievement of objectives, deliverables/milestones and facilitation of the dissemination of results. It aims further to enable coherence between work packages and ensure effective communication, and to ensure and monitor on-time delivery of scientific and financial reports & effective communication with the Commission.

Work package 2 aims to raise awareness of the innovation capacity of neutron methods and visibility of the science done there in current ILL Member countries as well as in potential future members, to secure and widen the ILL user communities in current member countries and raise awareness on neutrons methods assets in other countries and emerging communities. Furthermore, it aims to enhance the visibility in the press of science done at the ILL in as many member countries as possible. In the work package web-based communication platforms are developed to promote the overall benefit of being a member of the ILL and being able to use its infrastructure. Despite many efforts, the interactive platform that was planned to federate the user communities and promote exchange via social network has been downsized to a constant and reactive animation of the ILL accounts on Twitter and LinkedIn. Also, communication tools for enhanced use of Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) and Open Access are developed.

The objectives of work package 3 were to provide the ILL scientific management with tools to monitor the scientific trends and impact of scientific work carried out at the ILL. The first step was to develop and set-up a semi-automatic matching between ILL publications and related experiments. The second part focused on the enlargement of this tool (designated as PUMA) to provide us precise and accurate results. New user communities can now be identified and possible new scientific member countries found. The statistics may also be used as a basis for various communication materials in WP2 and WP5.

In work package 4, the contractual and financial interaction as well as the service level agreements with the Associates and Scientific Members have been adapted and the business model of the ILL has been reviewed, including membership contributions and beam time allocation policy. It aims further at improving the services to be provided to industrial partners and to develop new, flexible access and/or funding mechanisms.

Work package 5 aims at providing enhanced support to users (especially to novice users) for academic users, to improve the local support at ILL for industrial users at least up to the level required by novice users and to introduce dedicated and tailor-made services to academia in order to foster industry usage via academia. A continuous internal survey is conducted on existing procedures for new users to identify needs and improve further the services. The tool developed in WP3 is used to monitor continuously the identified KPI. An annual activity report is established on the activities of the FILL2030 post-docs.

Work package 6 is supporting new users in existing or new communities in non-member countries by allocating beam time and access after a peer-review process.

With the actions in work package 7, the broadest possible communication of the project results (presentation of the project, web site, social media, and publications) is being ensured.
Neutrons are unique as probes into matter; they can reveal what other techniques cannot see. They therefore provide a powerful tool for investigating the natural world and have long played a role at the forefront of modern scientific research. Neutrons today provide answers to many questions in science, from the evolution of the Universe to the mechanisms underlying complex natural phenomena.

The ILL has been performing experiments at the cutting edge of research for more than 40 years now, in fields as varied as molecular biology, chemistry, fundamental physics, materials science and the environment. To maintain and improve ILLs capability to provide world-class instrumentation and services is important for Europe given the fact that the landscape of neutron sources is undergoing a major change. Especially Europe’s strong and very active user community will be affected by this change, endangering Europe’s capability to address scientific questions in societal challenges. Materials research with neutrons is indispensable to address these challenges.

The main impact of FILL2030 can only be achieved by demonstrating ILLs’ scientific performance and attractiveness for its existing as well as prospective new partners one hand, and to its scientific users from academia and industry on the other hand.

The results so far contribute significantly to reach these ambitious goals. The outreach activities, provided data and statistics, activities and provided access schemes to novice users of the project can foster positive decisions towards partnerships and exploitation of ILLs instrumentation and services, allowing users from ILL’s partner countries to benefit from ILLs services and experimental facilities also in future. Until the end of the project, we expect to fully achieve the goals of the project and maintain ILL as the world-leading research centre.