Extreme Light Infrastructure - Nuclear Physics facility (ELI-NP) will consist of two components:
- A very high intensity laser, where the beams from two 10 PW lasers are coherently added to the high intensity of 1023-1024W/cm2 or electrical fields of 1015V/m.
- A very intense (1013γ/s), brilliant γ beam, 0.1 % bandwidth, with Eγ > 19 MeV, which is obtained by incoherent Compton back scattering of a laser light off a very brilliant, intense, classical electron beam (Ee > 700 MeV) produced by a warm linac.
This infrastructure will create a new European laboratory with a broad range of science covering frontier fundamental physics, new nuclear physics and astrophysics as well as applications in nuclear materials, radioactive waste management, material science and life sciences.
For the realization of ELI-NP we envisage the following two principles as guideline:
- a staged realization of ELI-NP
- a flexible design of the ELI-NP facility.
ELI-NP will allow either combined experiments between the high-power laser and the γ beam or stand-alone experiments.
The γ beam will have unique properties in world wide comparison and opens new possibilities for high resolution spectroscopy at higher nuclear excitation energies. They will lead to a better understanding of nuclear structure at higher excitation energies with many doorway states, their damping widths, and chaotic behaviour, but also new fluctuating properties in the time and energy domain. The detailed
investigation of the pygmy dipole resonance above and below the particle threshold is very essential for nucleosynthesis in astrophysics. In ion acceleration the high power laser allows to produce 1015 times more dense ion beams than achievable with classical acceleration. The cascaded fission-fusion reaction
mechanism can then be used to produce very neutron-rich heavy nuclei for the first time. These nuclei allow to investigate the N = 126 waiting point of the r-process in nucleosynthesis. With this type of new laser acceleration mechanism very significant contributions to one of the fundamental problems of astrophysics, the production of the heavy elements beyond iron in the universe can be addressed.
According to a recent report by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Science (USA), the origin of the heaviest elements remains one of the 11 greatest unanswered questions of modern physics. The γ beam also opens many new possibilities for applications. The γ beam itself can be used to map the isotope distributions of nuclear materials or radioactive waste remotely via Nuclear Resonance Fluorescence (NRF) measurements. At lower energies around 100 keV the high resolution of the beam is very important for protein structural analysis. In addition it will be produced low energy, brilliant, intense neutron beams and low energy, brilliant, intense positron beams, which open new fields in material science and life sciences. The possibility to study the same target with these very different brilliant beams will be unique and advance science much faster.
The high power laser allows for intensities of up to 1024W/cm2. Here very interesting synergies are achievable with the γ beam and the brilliant high energy electron beam to study new fundamental processes in high field QED. The use of the very high intensity laser and the very brilliant, intense γ beam will achieve major progress in nuclear physics and its associated fields like the element synthesis in astrophysics and many new applications or even to observe in fundamental physics the first catalysed pair creation from the quantum vacuum.
In the field of basic nuclear physics, a better theoretical understanding of compound nuclear resonances in comparison with much improved experiments will also lead to better models for the element synthesis in astrophysics.
Compared to former γ facilities, the much improved bandwidth is decisive for this new γ beam facility. Several experiments, like the parity violation experiment, only become possible due to this much better bandwidth. The large majority of γ beam experiments will profit proportionally from the better bandwidth, because the widths of the studied nuclear levels are significantly smaller than the width of the beam. Thus the ratio of "good" γ quanta within the nuclear linewidth compared to the "bad" γ quanta outside, which undergo Compton scattering and cause background in the detectors, will be significantly improved.
Besides a wide range of fundamental physics projects also a variey of applied research will be enabled at ELI-NP. The project to develop techniques for remote characterization of nuclear materials or radioactive waste via NRF will gain large importance for society in Europe.
It may even turn out that a detailed in-situ characterization of partially used reactor fuel elements may result in producing more usable energy in reactors for the same amount of radioactive waste.
On the other hand also the new production schemes of medical isotopes via (γ,n) may also reach socio-economical relevance. The new types of neutron sources and positron sources may reach large importance in material and life sciences.
For detailed information regarding the other programmes co-financed by the European Union