A fourth generation laser that is pushing research boundaries

Wednesday, 12 March, 2014
The scientific community has expressed an increased need for radiation sources capable of producing ultrashort pulses, with extreme brightness and coherence.

In fact, this according to experts is where the future lies in terms of new materials characterisation, life science applications, drug development and many other applications. A research facility in Italy is offering such a source that is pushing the boundaries of scientific research by performing extremely advanced analyses of materials.

Elettra - Sincrotrone Trieste is one of Europe’s top research centres and among the most advanced radiation laboratories that analyses electronic transformations within materials. Open to the scientific community and to companies, it attracts thousands of researchers each year.

The centre uses a highly versatile and powerful tool known as synchrotron light. This light makes it possible to reveal otherwise inaccessible details of the structure and behaviour of atoms and molecules in order to solve the most complex issues spanning electronics, environmental science, pharmacology, diagnostics, engineering, and nanotechnology.

The facility owns and operates two different sources of synchrotron radiation. The first is Elettra – a third-generation synchrotron after which the centre is named. The latest is the fourth generation synchrotron light source known as FERMI, which was partly financed with a €20m loan under the Risk Sharing Finance Facility (RSFF), an initiative jointly supported by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

FERMI enables chemical and physical phenomena and interactions to be studied in unprecedented detail and is available to public institutes, research groups and private researchers from across the world.

The knowledge gained can be used for anything from understanding diseases and designing drugs to data storage and developing energy efficient technologies – all for the benefit of the citizen.

“FERMI and indeed Elettra have both made Trieste a research facility of the highest international calibre and showcased the technological abilities of our company and Italy as a whole,” says Elettra - Sincrotrone Trieste's Chief Executive Officer, Alfonso Franciosi. 

“The assistance provided by the EIB and the European Commission has confirmed the importance of Elettra - Sincrotrone Trieste in the field of international research and marked yet another step towards the creation of a European area for research and innovation,” adds Carlo Rizzuto, President of Elettra - Sincrotrone Trieste.

The RSFF loan has also allowed Elettra - Sincrotrone Trieste to further develop its research capabilities. The scientists working in this unique infrastructure will be able to come up with important practical applications which will result in the advancement of knowledge and technology. This will in turn directly influence technological innovation and Europe’s economic competitiveness.

The Italian government has already included FERMI in its list of the country's top 12 innovative scientific and technological initiatives. And other facilities across the world look set to implement similar schemes to FERMI. But it does not stop there. Ambitious plans are already underway to further increase the facility's performance. 

The RSFF is a joint initiative of the EIB and the European Commission that helps ensure funding for projects that would otherwise struggle to secure funding on acceptable terms due to their risk profile. RSFF places a particular emphasis on providing funding for research facilities.


A fourth generation laser that is pushing research boundaries
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