Credit: ESS

World-class data research centre opens

Tuesday 30 Aug 16

About ESS—European Spallation Source

ESS is one of the largest research infrastructure projects in Europe. When ESS becomes fully operational around 2023, it will be the world’s largest source of neutrons—over 100 times as powerful as similar plants currently in operation.

ESS will operate by accelerating protons in a 500 m long tunnel, after which they will strike a tungsten target and shoot neutrons away from the tungsten nuclei—the process known as spallation.
Neutrons are conducted through beam lines to measuring stations, where they can penetrate materials to reveal their hidden structures down to the location of the individual atoms.

This will enable scientists to discover and develop new materials, which can be used in such areas as medicine, space, motors, plastics, energy, IT technology, and biotechnology.

The world’s largest source of neutrons, on completion in 2025 ESS will number a total of 22 different neutron instruments. It will, however, be possible to expand this number to as many as 40 instruments.

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A new data management and software centre linked to the European Spallation Source (ESS) recently opened in Copenhagen. Among other things, the centre will help to underpin Denmark’s position as a strong player in materials research.

The world’s most advanced neutron scattering facility—the European Spallation Source (ESS)—is under construction in Lund. The facility, which will offer scientists the unique opportunity to study materials all the way down to atomic and molecular level, is expected to lead to many new discoveries within numerous scientific fields—life science, energy, information technology, fundamental physics, and health—to name but a few.

On completion, ESS is expected to attract about 3,000 users annually, each of whom will conduct experiments generating huge volumes of data. These data will be transported under the Øresund through a dedicated fibre connection, ending up in the servers at COBIS—Copenhagen Bio Science Park—at the University of Copenhagen’s North Campus, home to ESS’s new Data Management and Software centre (DMSC), which opened on 26 August.

Attending the official opening, Danish Higher Education and Science Minister, Ulla Tørnæs, said:

“The opening of this fantastic international knowledge centre in Copenhagen makes me very proud to be Danish Minister for Higher Education and Science. Both Danish and international researchers and companies will benefit from the new data centre, which will provide the framework for ground-breaking research within such fields as cancer, materials technology, and life science research.”

The ESS brain
ESS is scheduled to open its doors to researchers and scientific studies in 2023. However, DMSC is already collaborating with universities and research laboratories in Europe to develop software and hardware for monitoring, analysis and visualisation of the experiments to be performed at ESS. In other words, this is where the ‘the brain’ behind ESS is located and where the many thousands of terabytes of data will be transformed into scientific results and innovation.

ESS will be the largest international research facility in Denmark’s neighbouring region. In essence, it will function as a giant and very sophisticated microscope, where selected material samples are bombarded with a large number of neutrons. By registering how the neutrons are spread once they have struck the material sample, scientists can calculate the atoms and molecules in the sample, their location, and how they interact. In this way, ESS is able to provide extremely precise ‘images’ of the structures of materials—from simple crystals to large proteins.

Unique opportunity for Denmark
DTU is responsible for a number of areas, including developing some of the highly specialized instruments that need to be constructed for the neutron source, where they will be used to take a variety of measurements in the future. In addition, DTU has been awarded responsibility for several of the lighthouse projects that form part of the national ESS strategy, and which are intended to support partnerships with the business community, for example.

At DTU, Executive Vice president, Provost Henrik Wegener, has great expectations of ESS:

“The fact that in a few years we will have access to a state-of-the-art research facility in our own backyard will significantly impact Danish research and thus Denmark’s opportunities for growth and the creation of new jobs. ESS can drive research in several of the areas DTU prioritises highly—including foods and new materials. This will mean that Denmark will occupy a strong position in the field of materials research in the broadest sense of the word, and that Danish companies will be better placed in the global competition for innovative and sustainable solutions to society’s major challenges.”


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