After a decade of preparation, the building of the world’s most advanced neutron microscope – co-hosted by Sweden and Denmark – will finally get underway tomorrow.
The massive science research facility using the neutron scattering technique, dubbed the European Spallation Source (ESS), is expected to have 400-500 full-time employees and have 2,000-5,000 visiting researchers every year. It will cost Danish tax-payers almost two billion kroner.
“It could be the largest Danish research infrastructure investment ever,” Henning Friis Poulsen, a professor at the Institute of Physics at Denmark’s Technical University, told Videnskab.dk.
“ESS will become a global leader in its field and will attract brilliant researchers and students from all over the world.”
The Olympics of research
The last piece of the financing puzzle fell into place recently when Germany signed on as the last large European nation to support the project. The facility will cost almost 14 billion kroner in total, with Denmark footing 12.5 percent of that.
The facility will be located in the Swedish university town of Lund – although the ESS Data Management and Software Center will be in Copenhagen – and as a result, the Swedes will pay for 35 percent of the project. In total, 17 European nations have come together to fund the establishment of the facility.
“It’s fantastic for us researchers, but also a massive opportunity for Denmark,” Poulsen said. “It’s comparable to getting the Olympics within our research field.”
“The difference is that the Olympics last two weeks and this will last 30-40 years. It’s a fantastic opportunity that academics and industry alike will benefit from.”
Loads of potential
Poulsen went on to reveal that a broad group of researchers will have access to the facility, which will benefit research within a broad spectrum from medicine, biological material, magnetism and batteries to the development of more sustainable energy technologies.
Today, neutron researchers have to travel to Oak Ridge in the US or Grenoble, France to carry out the most advanced experiments.
“ESS will provide around 30 times brighter neutron beams than existing facilities today,” ESS wrote on its website.
“The difference between the current neutron sources and ESS is something like the difference between taking a picture in the glow of a candle, or doing it under flash lighting.”
ESS is expected to be ready for use in 2019, while the research centre is scheduled to be completed by 2025.