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ESS neutron facility gets new European status

More funding from more countries with new legal definition of Danish-Swedish neutron scatterer

A new status for the ESS (European Spallation Source) is likely to increase funding opportunities for future research projects. This is according to sources after the European Commission has approved the transition of the Danish-Swedish research microscope facility to a so-called European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC). Many European countries can now become members of the facility.

Parts of the facility are located at University of Copenhagen’s (UCPH) campus. ESS is the first ERIC established in Scandinavia and the eleventh in Europe. Although the change is predominately on an organisational level, present and future research at the Niels Bohr Institute (UCPH), will profit from the new status, says Mark Hagen, head of the Data Management and Software Centre of ESS in Copenhagen.

“As a truly European organisation it should enable a higher degree of collaboration with research organisations all across Europe,” says Mark Hagen.

UCPH responsible for data analysis

ESS is a neutron scattering facility, which functions as a large and advanced microscope. The research facility is in Lund, Sweden, while the Data Centre is located on North Campus, UCPH in Copenhagen. The researchers in Copenhagen are in charge of handling data from experiments carried out at the ESS facility in Lund, perform data analysis, as well as simulations of experiments and visualisations of experimental data.

Fredrik Melander, Danish Agency for Research and Innovation: “The ESS profits from UCPH researchers’ knowledge and experience – researchers at UCPH will profit from close proximity to a world-leading European research facility”

The first neutrons are going to be produced in 2019 and the ESS is expected to be fully completed by 2025. Between 2,000 and 3,000 researchers will visit the ESS annually to carry out experiments. It was originally established as a Danish-Swedish limited liability corporation. With the transition to a European Research Infrastructure Consortium, ESS has legal status in all member countries, enabling them to participate in the governance and directly contribute to financing.

“The new status has implications for the level of resources for funding of ESS projects”, says Fredrik Melander, who is responsible for the ESS at the Danish Agency for Research and Innovation.

“More countries will now be able to provide the necessary funding and the status as European research facility guarantees new research projects in the future,” Fredrik Melander says.

A picture of the signing of the new status was tweeted by Pia Kinhult, Strategic Project Advisor for ESS here:

30 times brighter

The neutron source and its instruments enable scientists to see and understand basic atomic structures and forces. It can be compared to a giant microscope for studying different materials. It will be the source for researching materials in the fields of physics, biology, health, the geosciences and engineering. ESS will be the world’s most powerful neutron source, around 30 times brighter than today’s leading facilities.

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen are involved in the construction of the ESS and support the work in the Data Centre, helping to analyse the data and provide instruments.

“The ESS profits from UCPH researchers’ knowledge and experience – researchers at UCPH will profit from close proximity to a world-leading European research facility. For example the exchange with other international researchers,” explains Fredrik Melander the connection between UCPH and ESS.

Got funding for ‘event data formation’

A recent example is in the successful BrightnESS proposal to the EU’s Horizon 2020 program.

Here staff from the Data Management and Software Centre, the e-Science group at Niels Bohr Institute led by Professor Stig Skelboe, and two research institutions from Switzerland and Italy, obtained funding for a joint software development project for event data formation and data streaming from ESS neutron instrument detectors.

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