Explore ESS

Discover more about the European Spallation Source: what it is, how it works and why it matters.

A short video explaining what the European Spallation Source (ESS) is, how it works and what it is for.

ESS (full name: European Spallation Source ERIC) is a research facility under construction in Lund (Sweden), with its data management and software centre in Copenhagen (Denmark).

When completed, ESS will be the world’s most powerful accelerator-based source of neutrons. Scientists will use these particles to study the properties and behaviour of materials - right down to the level of atoms.

Funded by 13 European countries*, this big-science facility is built with contribution from more than 40 research institutes in Europe, and with knowledge and know-how from many research centres worldwide. ESS attracts people from diverse fields and cultures who share the excitement of building a state-of-the-art facility to enable great science and innovation for a sustainable world.

The construction of the facility is ongoing. Follow the progress of the ESS Road to Science on our social media.

You can also follow our live public operations screen that shows the status of parts of the machine as they become operational.

*Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom

Why have 13 European countries teamed up to build a giant neutron microscope in the outskirts of Lund, Sweden? To study the smallest building blocks of the world around us, to gain a deeper understanding and to develop the materials needed in our future, sustainable society. Find out more in this video.

Every year, thousands of researchers from academia and industry will use the ESS facility to learn more about materials, unlocking discoveries and driving innovative solutions to address some of humanity’s biggest challenges in energy, health and the environment.

With the help of neutrons, scientists will be able to understand materials and matter at a deeper level than ever before, investigating deep inside objects, obeserving where the atoms are and how they behave. This can help researchers design new materials for better batteries, greener plastics or stronger engineering structures. Or, it could help life science researchers develop new vaccines or more effective medicines.

Up to 3,000 researchers from around the world will come to ESS each year to carry out experiments on samples of the materials they are studying.  Many will also visit MAX IV Laboratory, the neighbouring synchrotron light source, where they can get complementary data about their samples using X-rays.


At ESS, scientists will carry out research in the following areas:


Life Sciences


Magnetism & Superconductivity


Soft-Condensed Matter


Engineering & Geo-Sciences


Chemistry of Materials


Energy Research


Fundamental & Particle Physics


Archaeology & Heritage Conversation


Future Science

Curious about the future science at ESS? Read more here.

What are neutrons and why will we use them at ESS? Because neutrons have special properties making them a powerful tool for science. Find out more in this short video.

ESS is an accelerator-based neutron source designed to provide a large number of neutrons with the right energy for the researchers to use.
Neutrons are generated through a process called spallation and then slowed down to the desired energy and guided to the scientific instruments, as shown below.

Neutron instruments use different technologies to investigate various properties of materials.


The ESS facility at a glance. 

Download our poster in.  Swedish   |   English   |   Danish

Resources for teachers

Are you a teacher? Here you can find resources to download and useful links

Downloadable materials

Other materials

  • Accelerate Your Teaching! A new online course for teachers about using the stories of accelerator driven science to bring your lessons to life!
  • Videos: Why do we build large particle accelerators and what are they for? Hear from four scientists
  • Science in School: this is an online newsletter, packed with articles to help you to inspire, understand and teach the science behind large European research facilities.
  • Race to Space: Written with Copenhagen University, this is a classroom roleplay game for 16-19 year olds. Your team is sent to space to search for Lithium! Can you use your on-board neutron scattering tools to help you find it?

Online seminars

Here we will tell you when there are interesting online seminars coming up

Title: "Neutron Scattering: Exploring Cell Membrane Mechanisms"

Date: Thursday May 23, 2024

Time: 16:00 CET  (10:00 ET)

Speaker: Giovanna Fragneto,  European Spallation Source


The understanding of the function of cellular membranes requires the study of their structure and dynamics. Cellular membranes are complex assemblies of lipids and proteins. In particular, the lipid scaffold is composed by a large variety of lipid species and levels of chain unsaturation, often difficult to synthesise chemically. Because of this complexity, model membrane systems from simple lipid bilayers are often used for fundamental studies and those can profit from probes able to access different scales of size and time like thermal neutrons and synchrotron radiation. Since the pioneering neutron scattering work in the seventies on cell membrane structure, developments driven by constantly improving neutron instrumentation, coupled with development of measurement and analysis methods, have involved both the optimisation of samples towards more biologically relevant model systems including the use of more and more complex lipid mixtures up to natural extracts. Here, we will focus on developments made in the last decades on developing model membrane systems for structural studies with neutron scattering techniques and their use in interaction with different molecules of biological relevance.

Biography: Giovanna Fragneto is the Science Director of the European Spallation Source based in Lund Sweden, and before that she spent 25 years at a different neutron facility, the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL), an international research institute based in Grenoble, France.

She obtained her first degree at the University Federico II of Naples in Italy and a DPhil from the Physical and Theoretical Chemistry Laboratory of the University of Oxford, UK. As of 2016 she holds the Chair of the Grands Instruments Européens at the University Grenoble Alpes. She investigates surfaces and interfaces with special emphasis to the structure of model biological membranes, characterised with reflectivity techniques using neutron beams or synchrotron radiation, as well as interactions of lipid bilayers with cholesterol, peptides, proteins, enzymes, cationic lipoplexes, nanoparticles.
Giovanna was awarded the 2006 BTM Willis Prize of The Institute of Physics and Royal Society of Chemistry for her research work on biomembranes and the 2023 Darsh Wasan award from the Journal of Colloids and Interface Science for outstanding achievements in colloids and interface science. She is editor-in-chief of the European Physical Journal E and author of >220 publications in peer-reviewed journals. She is actively involved in promoting a better gender balance in science.


The colloquia series, "Physics for Development," is organized by the Forum on International Physics (FIP) at the American Physical Society (APS). 

 ►► Visit the PHYSICS MATTERS Past colloquia materials at your convenience and read more at " When Physics Matters ! 

Activities near Lund and Copenhagen

Here we will tell you about any upcoming related activities in the area






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