These 1997/1998 Highlights present an overview of the ESRF's activity from August 1997 to July 1998. In addition to reporting on the development of the source and the experimental facilities, the report gives some examples of experiments carried out at the ESRF. However, since some of the experimental results have not yet been fully analyzed, some scientists have been reluctant to expose the details of their investigations before publication in a scientific journal.

The reliability and quality of the X-ray source have continued to improve, with total availability exceeding 95% during 1998. Recently the Machine Division achieved a vertical emittance§ of 12x10­12 m.rad (with a coupling of about 0.3%). Perhaps even more notable is the new switched circular polarization undulator. This remarkable device, which can switch between left and right handed circular polarizations in 20 ms with an improvement to the previous signal-to-noise ratio, will revolutionize the study of circular dichroism.

As for the science, the report speaks for itself, but perhaps the best indicator is the judgement of the community. The well-known scientific journal "Science" selected, at the beginning of 1998, ten scientific breakthroughs for the year 1997; one of these was synchrotron radiation and the point was illustrated entirely by examples of experiments carried out at the ESRF.

In January 1998, Portugal joined the ESRF as a Scientific Associate, to be followed by Israel in January 1999. Discussions are underway with a number of Eastern and Central European countries interested in forming a consortium. The Czech Republic will be one member of this consortium and has already signed a collaboration contract with effect from 1 January 1999.

At the end of 1998, we shall reach the end of the construction period when 30 public beamlines will be operational, as well as 9 Collaborating Research Group (CRG) beamlines. It is worth mentioning that this has been achieved within the planned schedule and within the planned budget. We would like to thank the ESRF staff, our collaborators and our users for their efforts, which have enabled us to obtain the results presented here.


In memory of Per Spanne
  • Finally, it is with sadness and regret that we have to report the death of Per Spanne in an aeroplane accident off the coast of Nova Scotia at the beginning of September 1998.

    Per was the scientist responsible for the Medical Beamline and his death has been a loss to science, to the ESRF and not least to his family; we dedicate this report to his memory.


Y. Petroff, C. Kunz, P.F. Lindley, J-M. Filhol, W.E.A. Davies and D. Cornuéjols
(December 1998)


§ the value of the vertical emittance given here corrects a misprint in the paper version of the Highlights 1997/1998