The ESRF – the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility - is the most intense source of synchrotron-generated light, producing X-rays 100 billion times brighter than the X-rays used in hospitals. These X-rays, endowed with exceptional properties, are produced at the ESRF by the high energy electrons that race around the storage ring, a circular tunnel measuring 844 metres in circumference. Each year, the demand to use these X-ray beams increases and thousand of scientists from around the world come to Grenoble, to access the 43 highly specialised experimental stations, called “beamlines”, each equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation, operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Functioning like a “super-microscope”, due to the brilliance and quality of its X-rays, the ESRF reveals the structure of matter in all its beauty and complexity. It provides unrivalled opportunities for scientists in the exploration of materials and living matter in a very wide variety of fields: chemistry, material physics, archaeology and cultural heritage, structural biology and medical applications, environmental sciences, information science and nanotechnologies.
Following on from 20 years of success and excellence, the ESRF has embarked upon an ambitious and innovative modernisation project, the Upgrade Programme, implemented in two phases: Phase I (2009-2015) and Phase II (2015-2022). With an investment of 330 million euros, the Upgrade Programme is paving the way to a new generation of synchrotrons that will produce more intense, coherent and stable X-ray beams. By constructing a new light source, deeply rooted in the existing infrastructure, the ESRF will lead the way in pushing back the boundaries of scientific exploration of matter, and contribute to answering the great technological, economic, societal and environmental challenges confronting our society.
This 6-minute video explains how the ESRF works and the kinds of scientific and industrial questions it helps answer.