Welcome to the 2020 issue of the ESRF Highlights. 2020 was an exciting and challenging year for the
ESRF on many fronts. On 25 August 2020, the ESRF and
its user community succeeded in launching the new Extremely
Brilliant Source (EBS) in User Service Mode (USM) operation. However, throughout
the year, the ESRF, like all institutes worldwide, has been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, which required us to suddenly and continuously adapt our strategy to meet the USM restart date and to keep the ESRF a safe place to work. The COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the global challenges posed by climate change, highlights the importance of research without frontiers carried out at the ESRF on the basis of scientific excellence. Many examples are reported in this edition of the ESRF Highlights.
A new vista for X-ray science
With the start of the operation of the EBS X-ray source in USM, 25 August 2020 marked the dawn of a new period for the ESRF and for
X-ray science. The availability of high-energy X-ray beams with unprecedented brightness and coherence allows us to image condensed and living matter, zooming continuously from the very small to the very big. Spanning space resolutions and sample volumes over six orders of magnitude has become possible, and ground- breaking applications in brain-imaging are emerging, with imaging revealing, for the first time, complex neuronal network architectures in macroscopic brain volumes with subneuron resolution. Similarly, new studies are being launched with the aim to pinpoint new drugs by
unveiling the complex structure and dynamics of biological processes, as well as to understand the functioning of hydrogen fuel cells, explain the chemical and physical processes contributing to climate change and environmental pollution, and unearth new knowledge of nature and life on exoplanets, or about the way of life of our ancestors.
The return to USM was a major achievement considering that the date of 25 August was set in early 2017 and was never delayed, even in the present challenging COVID-19 context. For several months now, the new EBS storage ring has been delivering X-ray beams to 39 ESRF beamlines with beam parameters fulfilling the most optimistic expectations. All experiments are being performed by remote access, and it is remarkable that they are already providing exciting new science. My profound gratitude for reaching this milestone goes to all colleagues who have made it possible.
An important cohort of young scientists, postdocs and PhD students have joined the EBS adventure over the last six months. Despite the challenging public health situation, we are very proud to welcome them, as they represent the cornerstone of the future success of the ESRF science programme. Thanks to their enthusiasm, motivation and ideas, the ESRF will continue to provide a stimulating and inspiring environment of innovation and openness for the benefit of our user programme and society in general.
An Extremely Brilliant Source for society
The current COVID-19 pandemic highlights, more than ever, the role of this state-of-the-art research infrastructure to support the science of the international community, enabling rapid and collective responses to the vital and ever-increasing complex challenges facing our societies.
The new Extremely Brilliant Source joins the global effort to understand and overcome the COVID-19 outbreak. The ESRF s facilities and beamlines have been kept in operation with the highest priority and, together with its partners on the EPN Science Campus (EMBL, ILL and IBS), colleagues from the University and Hospital of Grenoble, academic partners and other X-ray science facilities in Europe and beyond, have
DEAR ESRF USER, DEAR READER
The year 2020 highlighted the
importance of research without
frontiers carried out at the
ESRF on the basis of scientific