The ESRF is first and foremost a user facility that provides visiting scientists (“users”) with beam time. That is, it provides X-rays to specific research groups at specific experimental stations (beamlines) at specific times.
A typical experiment involves several users, often from different countries and different disciplines, who come to ESRF to collect data during beam time. An experiment may run night and day for several days, or it may take only a few hours.
Beam time is free if the work will be published; we call this public beam time. If the results will not be made public, i.e. proprietary research, then a fee is charged. Applications for public beam time are reviewed twice a year; applications for fee-based beam time can be made at any time. Prospective users can consult the overview of how ESRF operates as a user facility and the information in the Users & Science section.
Users and staff at beamline ID21. Credit: ESRF/Molyneux Associates.
When developing and conducting their experiments, users are supported by local staff, including:
- R&D staff, when specially designed capabilities are needed
- scientists and technicians who are expert users of the particular beamline
- scientists and technicians in the support laboratories
- other scientific and administrative staff, who may perform analyses or arrange shipping of samples and equipment, for example.
For more information, see the Experimental Facilities pages.
The ESRF Business Development Office makes the ESRF practical for industry by offering simple and effective access to X-ray facilities and expertise. The office respects industry needs for fast response and confidentiality and supports industrial researchers throughout the access process. For more information see the Solutions and Services for Industry pages.
Research and development
The ESRF maintains a sizable R&D staff, who work to continually improve the capability of the facility, both with regard to the source (accelerator and optics) and in all areas of experimental support: sample environments, detectors, electronics, computing and software. The R&D staff is available to collaborate with users to solve the challenges of particular experiments. Contact the scientist in charge of a particular beamline or group to learn more.
Support laboratories and specialised services
Sample preparation and support laboratories are available, some of which are linked directly to beamlines or beamline groups. In addition to its research activity, the ESRF has developed considerable expertise centred in specialised laboratory services that is available to external clients.
Instrumentation and software developed by the R&D staff at ESRF are available for licensing to institutes and industry. Contact the Business Development Office to learn more.