New R&D facility in Romania to undertake research in nuclear physics

The Extreme Light Infrastructure–Nuclear Physics project is setting up a research and development facility in Romania which will use state-of-the-art laser technologies to undertake research in the field of nuclear physics. EU funding has equipped the facility with a high power laser system and a gamma beam system.

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The project includes delivery of the high power laser system and gamma beam system to the facility at Măgurele in Ilfov county, just outside Bucharest, as well as assembly, installation and commissioning. Testing is carried out of via the interaction between the different beams in the gamma beam system and all related equipment.

Together, the high power laser and gamma beam systems enable the Extreme Light Infrastructure–Nuclear Physics (ELI-NP) group to investigate the impact of intense electromagnetic radiation on matter, focusing specifically on nuclear phenomena and their practical applications.

A pan-European research project

ELI-NP is part of the Extreme Light Infrastructure project (ELI), a pan-European research project which also has facilities in the Czech Republic and Hungary. ELI aims to promote national and European research in related scientific areas by creating internationally recognised infrastructure open to researchers from academia, the private sector and business.

ELI-NP is expected to tackle Romania's main research, development and innovation weaknesses. These include a lack of large-scale research infrastructure and researchers, modest expenditure in the public and private sector, the absence of a culture of knowledge and technology transfer and a limited number of innovative companies.

Four branches of research

The ELI Scientific Advisory Committee has identified four main branches of research for ELI-NP. The first is nuclear resonance fluorescence, which involves absorption and emission of gamma rays. Applications in this area could improve nuclear waste management and strengthen security at airports and seaports.

The second is development of applications to improve testing methods that do not cause damage. The third is research into use of radioactive substances in medical drugs. Finally, research is to be conducted into the irradiation effects of use of high-powered lasers on materials. This has a range of applications including in fusion reactors.

In time, users will have more and more access to the equipment, thus facilitating new experiments and developments. It will also be possible to conduct experiments combining laser and gamma beams in an interaction chamber.

More than 100 researchers from Romania, elsewhere in Europe, China, Japan and other countries already work at the facility. This is expected to rise to 218 by 2018. Aside from its scientific value, ELI-NP will bring socio-economic benefits for the region, including jobs, modern infrastructure, business development and increased visibility and potential.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Extreme Light Infrastructure – Nuclear Physics” is EUR 205 192 326, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 148 793 116 through the “Competitiveness” Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period.


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