Extreme Light Infrastructure - Nuclear Physics facility (ELI-NP) will operate two unique beam-producing machines:

A very high intensity, ultra-short pulse laser system, with two 10 PW laser arms, able to reach, focused, intensities of 1023 W/cm2 and electrical fields up to 1015 V/m.
A system producing γ radiation by scattering of light photons on high energy electrons, with tunable energy of the photons up to 19.5 MeV, spectral density above 103 ph/s/eV and ~ 0.5 % relative bandwidth.

The infrastructure will provide a new European laboratory addressing a broad range of scientific research areas, from frontier fundamental physics, new nuclear physics and astrophysics to applications in nuclear materials, radioactive waste management, material science and life sciences.
Two guiding principles have been observed in the implementation of ELI-NP:

  • a gradual, staged development of the experimental capabilities;
  • a flexible design of the equipment, adapted to the user-facility operation regime.

ELI-NP will allow, in the several areas available, experiments based on the ultra-short, high-power laser pulses, experiments based on the high-intensity γ beam, and also experiments in which both types of radiation may be used.

The high power lasers allow for intensities in tightly focused pulses of up to, and beyond, 1023 W/cm2. At this laser intensity, theory and particle-in-cell simulations predict a high conversion of laser power into a flash of gamma rays generated mainly via nonlinear Thomson scattering, in net contraposition with the radiation generate at laser intensities below 1021 W/cm2, which are fundamentally bremsstrahlung dominated and strongly dependent on the target material.

In ion acceleration, the high power laser pulse allows for the production of ion beams 1015 times denser than those achieved 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, bringing significant contributions to one of the fundamental problems of astrophysics – the production of the heavy elements beyond iron in the universe. 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 eleven greatest unanswered questions of modern physics.

Lowering the target thickness, we will go across different acceleration regimes, from TNSA (Target Normal Sheath Acceleration) to RPA (Radiation Pressure Acceleration). This along with laser intensity tuning will allow to investigate the scaling laws of those mechanisms up to the unprecedented laser intensity of 1023 W/cm2, where we should see some QED effects coming into play.

Other research areas of interest are the study of quantum radiation reaction created by plasma electrons accelerated to GeV energies, and the production of electron-positron pairs in huge abundance and highly energetic gamma-rays emerging from the laser pulse interaction with electrons.

Applications are also envisaged for the unique laser pulses generated at ELI-NP: the degradation of materials used in building the next generation of particle accelerators and fusion or fission reactors, or the interaction of biological systems with a multi-component ion and photon radiation pattern spanning over a wide range of energies (relevant for improving biologic radioprotection in space missions, and potentially for radiotherapy and diagnostics of cancers).

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PW Lasers

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International Scientific Collaborations

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Research Scientists

Experimental Setups

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green facility heating and cooling exclusively provided by GSHP system

The γ beam will have unique properties and opens new possibilities for high resolution spectroscopy at higher nuclear excitation energies. This 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 essential for nucleosynthesis in astrophysics.

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, low energy, brilliant, intense neutron beams and low energy, brilliant, intense positron beams will be produced, thus opening new fields in material science and life sciences. Studying the same target with these very different brilliant beams, which will now be available for the first time, will advance science considerably. The project to develop techniques for remote characterization of nuclear materials or radioactive waste via NRF is likely to bring important socio-economic benefits.

Another important application is related to the research hypothesis 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. Furthermore, the new production schemes of medical isotopes via (γ, n) may improve current medical practice and bring significant socio-economic benefits.

Likewise, the new types of neutron sources and positron sources developed at ELI-NP can generate important developments in material and life sciences. 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 nuclear levels studied are significantly smaller than the width of the beam.