About ESS

The European Spallation Source (ESS) is a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC), a multi-disciplinary research facility based on the world’s most powerful neutron source. The unique capabilities of this new facility will both greatly exceed and complement those of today's leading neutron sources, enabling new opportunities for researchers across the spectrum of scientific discovery, including life sciences, energy, environmental technology, cultural heritage and fundamental physics. 

Model of the future ESS. Click to enlarge. PHOTO: ESS

Advanced research requires advanced tools. Improved visualization techniques enable researchers to observe our world and universe better. From the very large to the very small, when science moves forward, it is often due to breakthrough improvements in the tools available for scientific experiments.


The Hubble Telescope, Voyager 2, and the Very Large Array allow us to directly and indirectly investigate the distant places and hidden elements of our universe. In the same way, a neutron source and its instruments enable scientists to see and understand basic atomic structures and forces. It can be compared with a giant microscope for the study of different materials – from plastics and pharmaceuticals, to engines, protiens, molecules and nanotechnology. ESS is a significant step forward in the science of everyday life.


The European Spallation Source is one of the largest science and technology infrastructure projects being built today. The facility design and construction includes the most powerful linear proton accelerator ever built, a 4-tonne, helium-cooled tungsten target wheel, 22 state-of-the-art neutron instruments, a suite of laboratories, and a supercomputing data management and software development center. In the context of its history and future as a scientific organisation, however, it is more than the sum of its parts. It is a brand new organisation, being built from the ground up (click to enlarge technical components image).

ESS Technical Components: click to enlarge


Europe’s need for an advanced, high-power neutron facility was articulated 20 years ago. The European Spallation Source is a pan-European project with several European nations as members and Sweden and Denmark as host nations. The ESS facility is being built in Lund, while the ESS Data Management and Software Centre is located in Copenhagen. Around two to three thousand guest researchers will carry out experiments at ESS each year. Most of the users will be based at European universities and institutes, others within industry.


The construction of the facility began in the summer of 2014, and the planning for the ESS research programme is ongoing. Scientists and engineers from more than 100 partner laboratories are working on updating and optimising the advanced technical design of the ESS facility, and at the same time are exploring how to maximise the potential of the facility. These partner laboratories, universities and research institutes are also contributing human resources, knowledge, equipment, and financial suport through In-Kind Contributions that will comprise up to 40 percent of the construction budget.