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IA-SFS — Result In Brief

Project ID: 506008
Country: Italy

Accessing world’s most advanced particle accelerators

EU-funded scientists integrated three related contracts to better coordinate research at and access to the most advanced analytical facilities in the world.
Accessing world’s most advanced particle accelerators
The most powerful and multidisciplinary analytical facilities around are so-called synchrotron light sources. These machines accelerate charged particles to very high speeds using an electric field and keep them on a fixed circular path with a magnetic field. At synchrotrons, materials are being studied and developed down to the atomic scale for medical, electronics, energy and also cultural heritage protection applications.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) are based on a similar principle. FELs are laser-like devices with unique intensity and time-resolution performances, producing intense bursts of light to acquire extremely fast movies. They are finding use in materials processing, electronic components and energy applications.

The European network of national synchrotrons and FELs represents over 200 experimental facilities making it the largest and most advanced such network in the world. In recent years, the European Commission has successfully opened these facilities to all qualified users based on merit.

EU funding of the ‘Integrating activity on synchrotron and free electron laser science’ (IA-SFS) project sought to continue support of users and, in particular, international users without access to such facilities in their home countries.

in addition, the project was designed to enhance the effectiveness of user services as well as stimulate new ideas for collaboration and develop new instrumentation.

overall, an astounding 3,577 experiments were supported by IA-SFS over a period of 5 years, averaging 7 experiments per day. Research areas included physics, chemistry, life sciences and biotechnology, earth sciences and the environment, and humanities/history.

IA-SFS also resulted in development of instrumentation for generation of extremely short (femtosecond) laser pulses, for high-resolution synchrotron micro-focusing devices, for undulators (synchrotrons producing sinusoidal or undulating particle motion) and others.

IA-SFS, in merging several related contracts into a single one, coordinated EU activities without duplication of efforts, identified new research directions, updated facilities and related documentation, and provided an international forum for the field strongly boosting related research activity worldwide. For all the above reasons, it was selected by the EC as one of the 40 most successful projects of the whole Sixth Framework Programme.

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