With Technical Installations Underway, the European Spallation Source Looks Toward Commissioning and Early Science
In February, the foundation work for all accessible areas of the European Spallation Source (ESS) facility in Lund (SE) was declared complete. More than 6,000 pilings of varied composition, diameter and depth have been hammered into the bedrock of southern Sweden, creating a foundation designed to protect the linear accelerator, target station, neutron beamlines, and the array of more than two dozen sensitive instruments from all conceivable seismic and man-made interruptions.
Each of those pilings could represent a member of the global neutron science community whose support and collective knowledge are the true bedrock of ESS. More than 100 institutions and 40 in-kind partners are actively working to design and build ESS on its core values of excellence, collaboration, openness and sustainability.
Dynamic Science for the Needs of a Dynamic Society
The 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics was the most recent validation of the essential contributions made by neutron science to fundamental physics, and also to the resulting impacts at the bleeding edge of technological innovation.
Neutron scattering experiments on the world-leading instruments under construction at ESS will contribute to advances in fuel cell technology, spintronics and quantum computing, advanced engineering materials, and superconductivity, while continuing to open up the fields of condensed matter physics and the life sciences, where neutrons are currently underutilised. The key is the specific ESS ability to generate higher neutron flux and deliver it in long pulses that can be shaped according to the needs of an experiment. These unique characteristics will allow researchers to probe ever smaller samples—both in situ and in operando—and thus a widening array of materials and phenomena.
The unparalleled brightness of ESS is in part attributable to the fact that it will be backed by the world’s most powerful linear proton accelerator. The 5 MW average beam power specified for the ESS accelerator will make it five times more powerful than the USA’s Spallation Neutron Source, providing up to two orders of magnitude more neutron brightness than existing neutron sources.
Host Countries Sweden and Denmark Lead the 15-Nation Consortium
The need for a new large-scale European neutron science facility was articulated more than two decades ago by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), with the first technical study already underway in 1993. The European Spallation Source ERIC, a European Research Infrastructure Consortium, is the fulfilment of that idea.
The project, sited in Lund, Sweden, with its Data Management & Software Centre (DMSC) based across the Øresund Bridge in Copenhagen, Denmark, is in its third year of construction. The early science experiments within the facility’s user programme are expected to begin in 2023. Both the facility and the organisation are being built from the ground up through a unique model of in-kind contributions and direct financial support from the 15 ESS member nations.