Romania welcomes world-class physics project

A scheme to build a state-of-the-art facility for research in the field of nuclear physics aims to benefit the wider European scientific community and provide a much needed shot in the arm for the Romanian R&D system.

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“Extreme Light Infrastructure” (ELI) is a pan-European research project which is hosted in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania. In this instance, investment from the European Regional Development Fund is being used to help build a major R&D infrastructure in Romania called ELI-NP (NP stands for nuclear physics). Once operational, the ELI-NP facility will house laser technologies which, in the main, will be harnessed to undertake fundamental research in nuclear physics.

ELI-NP’s general objective is to promote national and European research by creating an internationally renowned research infrastructure which is open to researchers from academia as well as the private and business sectors.

The project also provides a major boost to Romania’s R&D and innovation systems, which currently suffer from a lack of large-scale research facilities, low numbers of researchers, modest levels of funding, and an absence of knowledge/technology transfer culture. The country also has very few innovative companies.

Unique facilities

ELI-NP is billed as a unique infrastructure because it provides researchers with both laser and gamma beam facilities. Their combination makes it possible for ELI-NP to investigate the impact of very intense electro-magnetic radiation on matter, with a specific focus on nuclear phenomena and their potential applications. Experiments combining laser and gamma beams are planned to take place in an interaction chamber, allowing ELI-NP to make a key contribution to fundamental science.

Research at the facility has the potential to spin-out into four major areas:

  • Nuclear Resonance Fluorescence (NRF), leading to new techniques to improve nuclear waste management, as well as applications for the security of ports and airports.
  • Applications to improve non-destructive testing and material studies, through positron source research and research activities into high-flux monochromatic energy-tuneable gamma micro beams.
  • Opening up new fields of research into pharmaceutical radio isotopes.
  • In relation to material irradiation, ELI-NP will make it possible to undertake research on the effects of high-powered lasers on materials, which in turn could produce a wide range of applications.

This factsheet describes phase 1 of the ELI-NP project, which should be completed in 2015. Phase 1 will provide a variety of new high-quality, energy efficient buildings, namely: a building to house the laser technologies; a gamma source and experiments building; a structure for laboratories; and a guest house, office block and cafeteria. Phase 1 will also deliver a 10PW laser arm. A second laser arm will be commissioned at the end of phase 2 – a move which will dramatically increase access time for researchers.

When the building work is complete, the ELI-NP facility will be managed directly by the Horia Hulubei National Institute of Physics and Nuclear Engineering (IFIN–HH). Following implementation, the scheme is expected to create more than 250 jobs.

Total and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Extreme Light Infrastructure - Nuclear Physics, Phase 1” is EUR 179 988 881, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 149 390 771 for the 2007 to 2013 programming period. The project is funded through the priority “Research, Technological Development and Innovation for Competitiveness” of the Operational Programme “Increase of the Economic Competitiveness”. 

Draft date