UK science wins role in gamma beam research facility

UK scientists have won a €5.5m contract with a European consortium that is delivering what is claimed to be the most advanced gamma beam facility in the world. 

The contract has been won by the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire, with the full €68.8m EU contract awarded to 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 the new European Extreme Light Infrastructure for Nuclear Physics (ELI-NP) in Romania. 

STFC will supply 22 accelerator modules that will steer, control and measure the intense beam of electrons. 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 technically complex system involves integrating, aligning and testing the radio frequency structures, high field magnets, vacuum chambers and controls.

STFC say the accelerator modules will be assembled and tested at its 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 elements 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.

It is claimed that 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 through Nuclear Resonance Fluorescence (NRF) measurements. 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.