The Strategic Mission of the ESRF for the forthcoming 20 years


In 2011, the ESRF Council established a “Working Group for the Strategic Mission of the ESRF” (SME-WG) to consider the ESRF’s long-term mission in the European and international context, beyond the current Upgrade Programme and for the next two decades.

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The twelve members of the working group have in common unique broad knowledge of the field and a vision for the future of photon science. They are listed below, and the full report they produced can now be downloaded, as a PDF file: Report of the Working Group for the Strategic Mission of the ESRF.


Report of the Working Group for the Strategic Mission of the ESRF

Executive Summary

By fulfilling the objectives determined at its creation, the ESRF has established itself as one of the world's leading synchrotron radiation facilities and has been at the forefront of international research for over 20 years. In today’s context, with a number of new facilities and new light sources being built, the mission of the ESRF is even more relevant than ever. The physical, materials and biological sciences, whether fundamental, applied, or industrial, require more brilliant and more focused beams to go into the heart of matter with nanometre spatial resolution. The grand challenges of energy, health and environment can only be addressed if cutting edge tools are provided for the research needed to approach them.

Key areas of research are identified (in this report), including coherent diffraction imaging and microscopy in the mesoscopic scale, spectroscopy with nanometre spatial resolution, and time-resolved studies in the millisecond to sub-nanosecond scale, together with a high power MHz laser pump-probing programme.

In recent years, new concepts for accelerators have emerged leading to the possibility of building storage rings with an increase in brilliance of two orders of magnitude and a reduction of beam size to the micrometre range. The ESRF has been one of the leaders in the development of these new concepts and is working on a Machine upgrade proposal that is pivotal in maintaining the facility as world-leading in hard X-ray spectroscopy, diffraction and imaging. This new source, with unmatched brilliance and beam size, will take full advantage of the beamlines currently being built in the Upgrade Programme.

The realisation of this project is vital to maintain Europe in its present leadership position in the development and operation of synchrotron radiation facilities for users. The ESRF has the unique resources of expertise that are required for such a challenging enterprise. In addition, the ESRF has most of the resources and infrastructures needed for the full implementation and exploitation of the upgraded source, yielding the best value for money for Europe to establish itself as the leader of this new generation of synchrotron radiation facilities. The European and international ambitions that have been the basis of the ESRF’s success will establish in this project a new raison d’être.

As an international organisation, the ESRF allows the sharing of costs and risks among its members. The implementation of new technologies for enabling new science always implies major challenges to be overcome, technical implementation on one side and new discoveries on the other side. These have been at the root of the creation of the ESRF and it should remain so.

The ESRF has attracted the best scientists from all around the world to perform experiments that have been widely acclaimed, from the award of Nobel Prizes to the frequent appearance on the front cover of top scientific journals. This can only continue if the ESRF maintains its world-leading position in terms of beam performance. Similarly, the importance of access to the ESRF is widely recognised by industrial partners that rely on its excellence to contribute to and maintain their competitiveness.

When looking ahead at the forthcoming 20 years, the working group for the Strategic Mission of the ESRF (SME-WG) considers that it is essential to underline the crucial importance that a strong ESRF will have in the performance of new photon sources that are being built in Europe and around the world. Close partnerships with the European X-FEL and national sources will be essential for the optimisation of the use of the resources devoted to the development of the ESRF.

It is our firm belief that, in line and in continuation with the ongoing Upgrade Programme, the ESRF Council must support constant and ambitious evolutions of the facility in all areas of its activity but most critically today in the transformation of its sources and accelerators to match what can now be envisaged in terms of beam properties which represents a quantum leap forward in performance.


Discussion of the Report at the ESRF Council

On 26 November 2012, the Working Group presented its report to the ESRF Council which:

  • congratulated the working group for the excellent work;
  • endorsed the analysis and the main strategic orientations;
  • underlined the importance of taking into account in the Strategic Mission of the ESRF the elements enabling its long-term sustainability; the preservation of its human capital; the aspects related to education, training and technology transfer, in particular their impact and transfer to society in addition to the scientific and technological aspects;
  • considered that it was now necessary to develop, in an open dialogue with all stakeholders, a more elaborated and comprehensive vision of the future of the ESRF, based on the recommendations in the report;
  • invited Management to address the technical recommendations in the elaboration of the Upgrade Programme Phase II; and
  • agreed to the publication of the report and these recommendations.


Members of the SME-WG “Working Group for the Scientific Mission of the ESRF”

(in brackets the Contracting Party or Associate that nominated the member)

Robert Donovan (UK)
Helmut Dosch (DE)
Salvador Ferrer (ES)
Jacques Ghijsen (BE/NL)
Nils Mårtensson (DK/NO/SE/SF)
Christoph Quitmann (CH)
Giorgio Rossi (IT)
Charles Simon (FR)
Joel Sussman (ESRF Associates)
Michel Spiro (appointed by Council)
Jochen Schneider (appointed by Council)
Michel van der Rest (Chair)


Download the report as a PDF file: Report of the Working Group for the Strategic Mission of the ESRF


Top image: Today, with a number of new facilities and new light sources being built, the mission of the ESRF as one of the world's leading synchrotron radiation facilities is even more relevant than ever.