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Grand opening for ELI Beamlines laser center in Prague

21 Oct 2015

Long-awaited high-power facility now ready to receive researchers – and lasers.

Now open: ELI Beamlines facility was inaugurated Tuesday in Dolní Břežany, Czech Republic.

Now open: ELI Beamlines facility was inaugurated Tuesday in Dolní Břežany, Czech Republic.

On Monday October 19th, the ELI Beamlines laser facility was finally inaugurated in Dolní Břežany, near Prague, Czech Republic. The first implementation phase of the ELI Beamlines project was officially concluded in the presence of numerous guests from the worlds of science and politics.

Welcoming speakers included: the President of Czech Academy of Sciences Jiří Drahoš, Director of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility Francesco Sette, Director of the ELI-DC Association Wolfgang Sandner, French physicist and founder of ELI Gérard Mourou, and Director of the Institute of Physics Jan Řídký.

Bienvenue! Gérard Mourou, French physicist and founder of ELI Beamlines.

Bienvenue! Gérard Mourou, French physicist and founder of ELI Beamlines.

Jiří Drahoš told the gathering, “The participation of distinguished guests representing the wide scientific community is confirmation that ELI is a meaningful and sustainable project. It will allow scientists to bring new knowledge and together with high-tech companies to discover previously unknown technologies applicable in everyday life.”

The attendees had the opportunity to see laser and experimental technologies directly, in one of the building’s new laser halls. They were introduced to the proposed laser systems by means of a virtual reality system.

Scientific and political luminaries took part in the opening.

Scientific and political luminaries took part in the opening.

Dr. Patricia K. Falcone, LLNL Deputy Director for Science and Technology, commented, “We are excited to be working with our colleagues on realizing new capabilities for lasers and looking forward to great scientific results from this wonderful facility.”

The visitors were able to see an exhibition created by the center’s designer, Bogle Architects, in a red British double-decker bus positioned beside the laser center. The firm was awarded the Architectural Project of 2014 for the design of the ELI Beamlines laser facility. All guests as well as the citizens of the Czech Republic can participate in the competition to “name a superlaser”.

The workspace will house unique high power beams and hundreds of scientists.

The workspace will house unique high power beams and hundreds of scientists.

ELI Beamlines is a European laser center, which is intended not only to bring cutting-edge research and a technology base for future users, but also to establish a long-term cooperation between Czech, European and American companies and laboratories to develop new laser systems to “push the boundaries and parameters of existing research facilities”.

“The development of the unique technologies at ELI Beamlines is only possible in cooperation with the best domestic and international laboratories and companies. We have created a solid base for long-term partnership,” said Řídký.

Early entrant: Jan Řídký, Director of the Czech Republic's Institute of Physics.

Early entrant: Jan Řídký, Director of the Czech Republic's Institute of Physics.

The international scope of the center is focused on joint cooperation with European research infrastructures and is evident through the recent conclusion of a Memorandum of Cooperation with synchrotron Elettra in Trieste, Italy, and by the starting of the project ELITRANS, which is financed by European Commission to the tune of € 3.5 million.

Wolfgang Sandner, Director General of the ELI-DC International Association, commented, “ELI will be the world’s first international laser facility, hosting today’s most sophisticated and powerful lasers. Our vision is to make it the CERN of laser research.

Any questions? ELI Beamlines holds its first press conference.

Any questions? ELI Beamlines holds its first press conference.

”Therefore, Dolní Břežany, Szeged in Hungary and Magurele in Romania will soon be lighthouses on the global map of science. These centers will become the nucleus of national and regional technology development in one of Europe’s key technologies, optics and photonics.”

Several world records have already been broken during the development of laser systems. Bedřich Rus, chief scientist at ELI, said, “The laser system 3, which we are building together with the US Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, uses the brightest laser diodes that have been ever made in the world.”

Major technological development activities are the P3 chamber, which is the largest experimental chamber for civil and academic research of laser plasma in the world, as well as the delivery of the HHG device, which generates ultrashort coherent pulses of XUV radiation for material research and applications in bio-molecular sciences, such as for imaging of biological samples with high temporal and spatial resolution.

About the Author

Matthew Peach is a contributing editor to optics.org.

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