Extreme Light Infrastructure

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Logo of ELI

The Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) is a new Research Infrastructure (RI) of pan-European interest and part of the European ESFRI Roadmap. It is a laser facility that aims to host the most intense beamline system world-wide, develop new interdisciplinary research opportunities with light from these lasers and secondary radiation derived from them, and make them available to an international scientific user community. It will be the world's biggest and first international user facility in beamline and laser research.

The facility will be based on four sites. Three of them are presently being implemented in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania, with an investment volume exceeding €850 million, mostly stemming from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). In Dolní Břežany, near Prague, Czech Republic, the ELI-Beamlines facility will mainly focus on the development of short-pulse secondary sources of radiation and particles. The ELI Attosecond Light Pulse Source (ELI-ALPS) in Szeged, Hungary is establishing a unique facility which provides light sources within an extremely broad frequency range in the form of ultrashort pulses with high repetition rate. In Măgurele, Romania, the ELI Nuclear Physics (ELI-NP) facility will focus on laser-based nuclear physics. The location of ELI's fourth pillar, the highest-intensity pillar, is still to be decided. Its laser power is expected to exceed that of the current ELI pillars by about one order of magnitude.


The Extreme Light Infrastructure project started as a bottom-up initiative by the European scientific laser community and the network of large national laser facilities, LASERLAB-EUROPE, in the context of the preparation of the first European ESFRI Roadmap in 2005. From 2007 to 2010 ELI entered into a European-Commission-funded preparatory phase, comprising 40 laboratories from 13 countries. Gérard Mourou, the initiator of the ELI project, was the coordinator of the preparatory phase.

At the meeting of the Steering Committee on October 1, 2009 in Prague, the ELI Preparatory Phase Consortium officially gave the mandate to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania to proceed towards the construction of ELI. On December 10, 2010, at the end of the preparatory phase, the project was fully handed over to the ELI Delivery Consortium, consisting of representatives from the three host countries. ERDF funding of the ELI-Beamlines facility in the Czech Republic was granted by the European Commission on April 20, 2011, followed by ELI-Nuclear Physics in Romania on September 18, 2012. Funding for the ELI-ALPS facility in Hungary will be granted in early 2014.[needs update] All three facilities are expected to start operation in early 2018.

The ELI Delivery Consortium International Association was founded on April 11, 2013 as an international non-profit association under Belgian law (AISBL). It promotes the sustainable development of ELI as a pan-European research infrastructure, supports the coordinated implementation of the ELI research facilities, and preserves the consistency and complementarity of their scientific missions. It will also organise the establishment of an international consortium that will be in charge of the future operation of ELI, preferably in the form of a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC). The ELI-DC International Association is open to membership by institutions from all interested countries.

ELI research centres[edit]

ELI NP[edit]

ELI-NP Research Centre
General information
Status Under construction
Type Research centre
Town or city Măgurele
Country Romania
Groundbreaking 14 June 2013
Cost €356.2 million[1]
Grounds 31,500 m2[2]
Design and construction
Developer Strabag (building)
Thales Group (laser)
EuroGammaS (γ beam)

The ELI NP Research Centre[3] is an under construction facility in Măgurele, Romania, that will host the world's most powerful laser.[4] The laser technology might be used to destroy nuclear waste and provide a new type of cancer radiotherapy called hadrontherapy.[5] The largest scientific project in Romania, ELI-NP will be the only European and international centre for high-level research on ultra-high intensity laser, laser-matter interaction and secondary sources with unparalleled possibilities. ELI-NP is a very complex facility which will host two machines of extreme performances:

  • a very high intensity laser, where beams from two 10 PW lasers are coherently added to get intensities of the order of 1023–1024 W/cm2 and electrical fields of 1015 V/m;
  • a very intense (1013 γ/s), brilliant γ beam, 0.1% bandwidth, with Ev > 19 MeV, which is obtained by incoherent Compton back scattering of a laser light off a very brilliant, intense, classical electron beam (Ee > 700 MeV) produced by a warm linac.

The building will be built on seismic shock absorbers and will have two solid bodies – one for lasers and one for the gamma beam, totaling an area of 11,010 m2. In the same building will be integrated a body of laboratories, with an area of 2,396 m2.[6] The body dedicated to the lasers will have eight underground levels, while the other one will have 12 underground levels. The complex dedicated to this project will also have an office building, on an area of almost 970 m2, in which vicinity will be a guest house with about 30 rooms, occupying 642 m2.

The inauguration of works to the infrastructure of this project took place on 14 June 2013. The laser was made in France and tested in Paris and will be brought in Romania. The laser can generate, on a square centimeter, 10% of the sun's power.[7] The installation of the laser will begin in the spring of 2016;[8] the whole complex is scheduled to be completed in 2017.


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