UK wins major 4.5 million contract in construction of the world's most powerful gamma beam facility
01 Apr 2014




UK accelerator scientists have won a major contract with a European consortium tasked with delivering the most advanced and powerful gamma beam facility in the world.


1st April 2014 - UK accelerator scientists have won a major contract with a European consortium tasked with delivering the most advanced and powerful gamma beam facility in the world. It will specialise in both basic and applied research, from investigating the processes that take place in the heart of stars, to industrial and medical applications.

The €5.5million contract (approx. £4.5m) has been won by the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire. The full €68.8million contract was awarded to a European consortium, EuroGammaS, which is led by Italy’s Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN). The EuroGammaS, consortium has been selected to develop the accelerator based gamma source, which will form part of a major new research facility, the European Extreme Light Infrastructure for Nuclear Physics (ELI-NP) in Romania.

Professor Susan Smith, Head of STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, said: “Winning this contract is fantastic news for STFC. It demonstrates that Daresbury Laboratory has the facilities and expertise to deliver next generation accelerator solutions anywhere in the world. As part of the EuroGammaS consortium, this contract strengthens STFC’s international reputation and collaboration with Europe’s leading institutes and commercial companies; it reinforces the UK as an international leader in this area.”

For its part of the project, STFC will supply 22 accelerator modules which steer, control and measure intense beams of electrons that are accelerated to energies of more than 7 hundred, thousand, million volts. The high energy electrons are collided with an intense pulse of light from an extremely high power laser to produce the most brilliant tuneable gamma-ray beam available in the world. This is a technically complex system delivery which involves integrating, aligning and testing the radio frequency structures, high field magnets, vacuum chambers and controls. The accelerator modules will be assembled and tested at STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory prior to delivery to the ELI-NP site in Magurele, Romania. Once operational, the facility will produce high intensity gamma beams of very precise energy that can then be used for nuclear physics experiments and other applications.

ELI-NP is one of three pillars of the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) – a multi-million euro project being carried out in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania to create a world class laser capability. It is expected to be producing light and gamma beams by 2018. Once built, the ELI-NP will be the most advanced laser and gamma beam facility in the world. The gamma beam itself can be used to map the isotope distributions of nuclear materials or radioactive waste remotely via Nuclear Resonance Fluorescence (NRF) measurements. Medical isotopes produced by gamma induced reactions will benefit society. In addition it will produce intense neutron beams and intense positron beams, which opens new fields in material science and life sciences. The possibility to study the same target with these very different brilliant beams will be unique and enable rapid scientific advances.

President of the INFN, Fernando Ferroni, said: "It's tremendously exciting for EuroGammaS to have won this contract and also to welcome STFC into the project. EuroGammaS is a melting pot of prestigious research institutions and companies, each with formidable experience in developing major research infrastructures, such as the ELI-NP, and INFN is proud to be leader of the Association. The work we are now doing together is tangible proof that basic research produces concrete results and impact on society.”

Neil Bliss, Group Leader within STFC’s Technology Department, who has played a key role in design engineering STFC’s particle accelerators, such as the EMMA and VELA accelerators, both of which are world firsts said: “Winning this contract to work with the EuroGammaS consortium is fantastic news for STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory and true recognition of our expertise and skills in developing pioneering accelerator technology. We are constantly developing our know-how and making new and exciting breakthroughs. Major projects like this build on the UK’s expertise and experimental experience in this area, paving the way for the UK’s next state-of-the-art light source, simultaneously contributing to international R&D."

This is the second contract that UK scientists have won for the ELI project. STFC’s Centre for Advanced Laser Technology and Applications (CALTA), recently won a major £2.2million to develop a cutting-edge laser amplifier that can supply extremely powerful bursts of laser energy.


Wendy Ellison
STFC Press Officer
Tel: 01925 603232

About EuroGammaS

EuroGammaS is a consortium of scientific institutes and industrial partners; INFN (Italy), SAPIENZA University of Rome, CNRS (France), and the following industries: ALSYOM (France), A.C.P. Systems (France), COMEB s.r.l. (Italy) and ScandiNova Systems AB (Sweden). The project is entirely funded by the EU in the amount of 66.8 million euro.

About ELI-NP

It will be called ELI -NP (Extreme Light Infrastructure - Nuclear Physics (link opens in a new window)) and will be one of the three pillars of the ELI project , along with facilities dedicated to the study of secondary sources (in Dolni Brezany, near Prague) and attosecond pulses (in Szeged, Hungary ) . The laboratory ELI- NP is a complex system that will be a source of gamma rays, produced by head-on collisions between high energy electrons and photons from a high power laser. The characteristics of the source will be unique and will offer new opportunities to the international scientific community in nuclear physics. It may reveal the mechanisms of nucleosynthesis in astrophysics and may contribute to the understanding of the origin of the heavy elements found in nature. In addition it will provide important applications in industrial technologies for the safe management of nuclear waste and the development of new systems of production of medical isotopes.

About ASTeC

The Accelerator Science and Technology Centre (ASTeC (link opens in a new window)) is the UK's centre of expertise for accelerator science and technology.

ASTeC studies all aspects of the science and technology of charged particle accelerators, ranging from large scale international and national research facilities through to specialised industrial and medical applications. Our staff pursue world class research and development programmes on behalf of STFC and it is also a partner in the Cockcroft Institute with the Universities of Lancaster, Liverpool and Manchester. Additional collaborations include John Adams Institute, other HEIs and international Laboratories.

For further information on accelerators at STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory:

About CLF

The Central Laser Facility (CLF) at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) (an institution for the Science and Technology Facilities Council, near Oxford, UK) is one of the world’s leading laser facilities providing scientists from the UK and Europe with an unparalleled range of state-of-the-art laser technology. The CLF’s wide ranging applications include experiments in physics, chemistry and biology, accelerating subatomic particles to high energies, probing chemical reactions on the shortest timescales and studying biochemical and biophysical process critical to life itself.

From advanced, compact, tuneable lasers which can pinpoint individual particles to high power laser installations that recreate the conditions inside stars, a vigorous development programme ensures that our facilities maintain their international competitiveness.