The 28th Council meeting of SESAME (Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East) was held on 30-31 May 2016, in Brussels at the Berlaymont building of the European Commission. SESAME is a 3rd generation light source which will use a 2.5 GeV synchrotron ring under construction in Allan, Jordan.
The Council was opened by Carlos Moedas, the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation. Moedas stressed the importance of the SESAME project as an example of Science Diplomacy and his personal commitment and involvement. The European Commission will continue its financial support to SESAME for the future period especially for the training of personnel.
With Prof. Sir Chris Llewellyn Smith as Council chairman, the work continued thereafter with the participation of the delegations of the SESAME members (Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority, Turkey), and those of some of SESAME observers (European Union, Italy, United States, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Japan, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Kuwait). There were also delegations of institutions which, in different ways, collaborate scientifically and support financially the SESAME facility (like UNESCO, ICTP, IAEA, CERN, APS, EPS and others).
The remarkable progress of the project was presented and the deadline of December 2016 for the end of installation of the main ring and the first two synchrotron beamlines now appears feasible. On that date the debugging and the first tests of the machine will begin. Therefore, in 2017 it will be possible to start the first studies related to materials science, biology and cultural heritage using the X-rays (XRF) beamline, and the first applications in molecular biology, environmental research and archaeological sciences using the infrared (IR) beamline. The XRF beamline will use a new Si-drift detector under construction. Two other beamlines, one for materials science and one for macromolecular crystallography are expected to start in 2018.
The Council confirmed the growing interest, both scientific and political, that the SESAME project is arousing in organisations and international research centers. The Council also set the date of the next meeting, to be held in Jordan on 7-8 December 2016. Tentatively in May 2017, an official SESAME opening event will be scheduled with wide and top-level institutional, diplomatic and scientific participation.