EU Support for Two Projects Coordinated by DESY

The European Commission selected two projects coordinated by the DESY research center in Hamburg for support within its sixth Framework Programme. Among all the competitors for the much-coveted development funds, the projects “EUROFEL” and “EUROTeV” were ranked first and second, respectively, in the referees’ evaluation. From 2005 on, they will receive around Euro 9 million each, spread over a period of three years. This corresponds to about one third of the total costs estimated for each project. The remaining two thirds will be born by the participating research institutions.

“With this call of its sixth Framework Programme, the European Commission for the first time supports not only already existing research infrastructures, but also design studies preparing new infrastructures,” DESY physicist and coordinator of the EUROFEL project Josef Feldhaus explains. “Of course, we are very pleased that our European development project for free-electron lasers took the first place. With this decision, the Commission creates optimum conditions for the development of these novel radiation sources in Europe.” Eckhard Elsen, DESY physicist and coordinator of EUROTeV, is just as delighted by the decision from Brussels: “The referees of the European Commission ranked our study for the optimization of an electron-positron linear collider second best. This certainly shows the importance attached in Europe to the international linear collider as the next major project of particle physics,” emphasizes Elsen. “The decision is a clear statement in favor of fundamental research in Europe.” Taken together, EUROFEL and EUROTeV will receive Euro 18 million from the total of now 90 million foreseen for design studies.

Together with DESY, 16 leading research institutions from five European countries are participating in the EUROFEL project. The goal of the design study is to jointly develop the physics and technology needed for the next generation of short-wave radiation sources, the so-called free-electron lasers (FEL). These novel facilities will generate extremely brilliant, ultra-short radiation pulses with laser-like properties in the wavelength range from the ultraviolet to X-rays. They will open up completely new research opportunities for both the natural sciences and industry. Seven such facilities are currently being planned in Europe – in France, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the United Kingdom. At DESY for instance, physicists are pushing ahead with the European X-ray laser project XFEL – a free-electron laser for radiation in the X-ray range which will be unique in Europe. The XFEL was approved in principle by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in February 2003, and could start operating in 2012. A smaller facility for radiation in the vacuum ultraviolet and the soft X-ray range – the VUV-FEL – will take up user operations at DESY in 2005.

Although the individual FEL proposals partly differ in their choice of technology, they all share important issues such as the extremely high requirements concerning the quality of the electron beam, or the concepts of radiation generation. These are right the issues on which the joint coordinated activities of the 16 participating research teams will concentrate: Within the EUROFEL framework, experiments at test facilities and theoretical studies will be carried out in order to create the technological prerequisites that will insure reliable construction and operation of the FEL facilities planned in Europe. A major part of the experiments will be done at the VUV-FEL at DESY in Hamburg and at the photoinjector test facility at DESY in Zeuthen, but also at test facilities and prototypes at BESSY in Berlin, Trieste, Frascati, Daresbury and Lund. The total research effort of the proposed work involves around 130 person-years, for 70 of which funding is requested from the European Commission – i.e., more than 20 posts for up-and-coming scientists will be created in Europe for these activities.

The chances of success of EUROFEL were judged to be very positive by the EC referees, as they stated in their evaluation report: “The importance and the use of these novel FELs is such that their development in Europe is certainly needed.” The proposed cooperation between the European research laboratories, in which “the appropriate high quality people in the field are participants”, “will truly act as a catalyst in promoting the development of the European Research Infrastructure.” It will also “reduce the cost and enhance the possibility of success of the proposed R&D.” The referees praised the proposed tasks as being “scientifically and technically excellent” and concluded that the programs for the construction of short-wave FELs in Europe and the R&D needed for their success “deserve all possible support.”

The second project selected for support – EUROTeV – was proposed by 27 institutes from six European countries, among them DESY as the coordinating institution, and the European research center CERN. Its goal is to focus the European research and development activities for the design of an international linear collider for particle physics, and to perform final phase research and development work on essential components of the facility – in close agreement with the corresponding Asian and American committees. According to a worldwide consensus, such a linear collider is to be the next major accelerator for particle physics: It will open up completely new, previously unreachable dimensions similar to those prevailing shortly after the big bang at the beginning of the universe, when massive particles were generated out of the “primordial cosmic soup”. It is also clear that only one such accelerator should be realized worldwide, to be built and operated as a global project. One motive of the EUROTeV proposal is thus to develop a high-quality European structure which should later evolve into the European branch of the international planning group for the linear collider. The partner institutes have already started to look for the many experts to fill the more than 40 new posts created within the project for three years.

Worldwide, there are several concepts for a linear collider, which differ in their choice of accelerator technology – the TESLA proposal developed at DESY within an international collaboration relies on superconducting accelerating structures. However, major components such as special storage rings to “cool” the particle beams, devices that focus the beams down to fractions of micrometers, or instruments for high-precision beam diagnostics are equally important for all the designs, regardless of the chosen technology. These are the components that the EUROTeV members intend to address.

The EC evaluation of EUROTeV was equally positive – EUROTeV even got the highest possible mark for its high “European Added Value”: “This proposal brings together all the European resources in this field (...) and will thus strengthen the position of Europe in this highly competitive domain. (...) Thus the European Added Value is maximal.” The proposed research and development activities will be “well beyond state-of-the-art” and will “certainly have valuable spin-offs benefiting European industry, and advanced light sources.” The referees found EUROTeV to be an “outstanding proposal, complete and compelling in every regard”, which will “prepare for major European participation and leadership in the most technically challenging accelerator ever built.”

After the notification of approval has been received from Brussels, the project coordinators will now negotiate the funding contract with the European Commission, and the members of both projects will work out consortium agreements determining and regulating the involvement of the individual institutions. There should thus be no obstacle to the timely start of the projects at the beginning of 2005.