ESS is a multi-disciplinary research facility that will be the world’s most powerful neutron source. Read more about it here: Research with neutrons – how it works (link).
ESS is under construction in the city of Lund, Sweden. It is located next to the national synchotron light laboratory MAX IV (link). Sweden and Denmark are the host nations for ESS.
See TEDx Lund University with Sindra Petersson Årsköld, "Texts, Drugs and Dinosaurs - Neutrons Show the Way"
Research into materials of the future
Materials research has had a major impact on human development. And it still plays a large role in our quest for solutions to many of the major challenges of our times.
ESS enables researchers to carry out advanced studies of different types of materials at the atomic and molecular level, as well as processes related to the materials. Researchers will be able to discover the molecular structure of a material, which is directly linked to the physical or chemical properties of everything around us. This knowledge will provide a better understanding of current problems in industry and open doors to new research.
Researchers from all around the world, in a wide variety of fields
ESS is being built as a user facility, and will be an invaluable source of support for researchers throughout Sweden, Europe and the world. The current plan is that the facility will receive its first users in 2023. It will enable researchers to perform at the highest possible level and obtain quick, relevant service while conducting their experiments. ESS will allocate time for experiments on scientific and excellence grounds.
Once ESS is fully operational, it is expected that around 3,000 researchers from all over the world will use the facility each year. The researchers will come from a broad spectrum of fields, such as medicine and health, climate and transport, energy and environment, as well as foods and cultural heritage.
ESS is expected to provide unique opportunities for research and development long into the future. Together, MAX IV Laboratory and ESS will form a competency cluster with global attraction.
ESS is governed by many countries
ESS is governed by a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC), with 15 member and observer countries. Sweden and Denmark are the host countries, which means that they have a great deal of responsibility for developing the facility.
The consortium is governed by the ESS Council, with delegates who are appointed by the member country governments:
- Chair: Lars Börjesson, Chalmers University of Technology (not counted as a delegate)
- Vice Chair: Beatrix Vierkorn-Rudolph, Federal Ministry of Education & Research, Germany (not counted as a delegate)
- Swedish delegates: Sven Stafström, Director General of the Swedish Research Council, David Edvardsson of the Ministry of Education and Research, Aleksandar Matic, Expert Advisor from Chalmers University of Technology.
The ESS Council also has a number of advisory committees, also with delegates nominated by the member countries:
- Administrative and Financial Committee, AFC
Swedish delegate: Johan Holmberg, Swedish Research Council
- Science Advisory Committee, SAC
Swedish delegate: Martin Månsson, Royal Institute of Technology
- Technical Advisory Committee, TAC
No Swedish delegate at present
- In-Kind Review Committee, IKRC
Swedish delegate: Ulf Karlsson, Linköping University
ESS is financed by the member countries
The ESS consortium, European Spallation Source ERIC, is financed through grants from the member countries. They have agreed to construction costs of 1.84 billion EUR (in 2013 monetary value), allocated over a period of 12 years.
Sweden is contributing 35 per cent of this investment cost, which is equivalent to about 6 billion SEK. Sweden’s contribution is thus larger than the other member countries, since Sweden is a host country
The annual operating cost of ESS is estimated at around 10 per cent of the construction cost. Once ESS is fully operational, the member countries will contribute in proportion to how much their researchers are using the facility. Sweden has, however, offered to cover 10 per cent of the operating costs.
- 2014: Start of the construction phase, which will run through 2025.
- 2016: 25 per cent of the construction was completed in November. The first 15 research instruments were selected.
- 2019: The first proton beam will hit the target station. The first neutrons will be delivered by the end of the year. The initial operating phase will also begin, running through 2025. During the initial operating phase, both the accelerator and instruments will have trial runs, and become operational as they are cleared for production.
- 2023: The first 8 instruments will be ready to receive users, and an open user programme with calls for grant applications will start.
- 2025: Completion of the construction phase.
- 2026: ESS will transition from the initial operating phase to full operating phase. Once ESS is fully operational, a total of 22 instruments for joint use will be available. Some of them will reach their final stage of completion after 2026.
Two of Sweden’s most advanced research facilities are located in Lund: European Spallation Source (ESS) and MAX IV Their technologies complement each other and together, they will form an internationally leading competency cluster, producing research of the highest quality.
The two facilities use similar technologies and theoretical principles for analysing materials. However, where ESS uses neutrons, MAX IV uses synchrotron light, which is similar to X-rays. Researchers are thus able to obtain various types of information about the sample studied. They can thereby gain deeper knowledge when using both technologies.
The research can help solve global societal challenges
The technologies at both facilities can be used for research and development within areas such as structural biology, materials science, biomechanics and chemistry. It covers most areas where we are facing major global societal challenges. These facilities can thus contribute to solutions in areas such as health, climate and energy.
ESS and MAX IV collaborate
In May 2017, ESS and MAX IV signed a declaration of intent that lays the foundation for more joint projects in both the short and the long term. The three main goals of the declaration of intent are to:
- establish scientific collaborations on materials research and life science that uses the complementarity between X-rays and neutrons
- utilise synergies in the construction, operation and maintenance of major research infrastructures
- coordinate activities to meet the users’ needs for reception, transport, accommodation, training, security, publications, etc.
A neutron is a particle found in the nuclei of atoms. We can use neutrons to investigate and understand materials and processes of everything from engines to individual cells or molecules. Neutrons are used in many research areas, and the research has helped us to understand everything from batteries and solar energy to medicines and global warming. The technology is called neutron scattering, and it will be used at the European Spallation Source (ESS) research facility.
By aiming a beam of neutrons against the material you want to investigate, researchers are able study how the neutrons bounce and scatter when they hit the sample. In this way, it is possible to learn how a material is structured, and also follow the course of dynamic processes.
Spallation: process for creating neutron beams
Neutrons do not normally exist in the form of beams. To create neutron beams, you bombard the metal tungsten with protons – another nucleic particle – so that the neutrons are struck out of the atomic nuclei of the tungsten. This process is known as spallation, and it requires enormous amounts of energy. The protons must therefore have energy added to them by first being accelerated in an approximately 600 m long accelerator (using an electric voltage field), before hitting the target area of the tungsten. Spallation gives rise to neutron radiation, which can be used for research purposes.
Research with neutrons therefore requires the following:
- a facility that consists of
- a large accelerator for accelerating protons
- tungsten that is bombarded with protons so that neutrons are struck out of the atomic nuclei – spallation
- various instruments so that the neutron beams can be used in different types of investigations
The neutrons can be formed based on the research needs
Neutrons that are released from the spallation process create a swarm and are led in the form of neutron beams out to the investigation instruments, where they interact with the samples that researchers are studying. Neutron swarms can be formed in various ways to study the various characteristics of the samples. For example, it is possible to create pulses that vary in length and form. Because of the varying types of interaction between the neutrons and the sample, researchers have been able to create an array of investigative techniques to fulfil different needs.
Stronger neutron beams advance research
At the ESS research facility, 15 instruments will initially be constructed that will enable research using neutrons. Later on, that number could grow to more than 30. Users will be able to use neutron beams of up to 100 times greater intensity than is possible at other neutron research facilities. This provides opportunities for investigations that have not been possible to conduct previously, with smaller sample masses, better resolution and measurement of faster sequences.
Research using neutrons is well established in Europe
In Europe, research with neutrons has been going on for a very long time. It started already in 1932, when Professor Chadwick discovered the neutron, which was the “missing piece of the puzzle” in Rutherford’s model of the atom. Knowledge of how neutrons could be used grew quickly. Early on, Sweden also began investing in basic research with neutrons.
The research station at Studsvik was established in the 1950s, with specialist laboratories for chemistry, physics, heat, materials and fuel technology. When both the Studsvik and Risö (in Denmark) research stations were closed down, Swedish and Danish neutron researchers began discussing next generation neutron scattering and a Scandinavian research facility.
At a meeting in Lund in 2002, a group of researchers took the first initiative by establishing what is now known as the ESS research facility in Lund and Copenhagen.