Part 3
Projects & Landmarks
Physical Sciences & Engineering / Landmark

European Spallation Source ERIC

European Spallation Source

The world’s most powerful neutron source for interdisciplinary research in physical and life sciences


The European Spallation Source (ESS) is a Research Infrastructure with the vision to build and operate the world’s most powerful neutron source, enabling scientific breakthroughs in research related to materials, energy, health and the environment, and addressing some of the most important societal challenges of our time. The ESS will deliver a neutron peak brightness of at least 30 times greater than the current state-of-the-art, thus providing the much-desired transformative capabilities for interdisciplinary research in the physical and life sciences.

ESS officially became a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) in October 2015. The facility is under construction in Lund (Sweden), while the ESS Data Management and Software Centre (DMSC) is based in Copenhagen (Denmark). When the ESS user programme begins in 2023, an estimated two to three thousand visiting scientists will come to ESS annually to perform experiments. Most users will be based at European universities and institutes, and others within industry.


Neutrons are excellent for probing materials on the molecular level. For everything from motors and medicine, to plastics and proteins, detailed studies are dependent on how many neutrons can be produced by a neutron source. This is a significant limitation for existing sources based on nuclear reactors. As a result, scientists and engineers have developed a new generation of neutron sources based on particle accelerators and spallation technology, a much more efficient approach.

ESS will provide up to 100 times brighter neutron beams than existing facilities today. A total of 15 instruments will be built during the construction phase to serve the neutron user community – Europe today has nearly 6.000 researchers using neutrons – with more instruments during operations. The suite of ESS instruments will gain 10-100 times over current performance enabling neutron methods to study real-world samples under real-world conditions. The 15 instrument concepts were selected through an inclusive process, involving applications from the community and peer-review by scientific and technical committees. The final recommendation was made by the ESS Scientific Advisory Committee and approved by ESS Council. In the long term, expansion of the suite up to 22 instruments is anticipated. Commissioning of the accelerator will begin in 2019, with the user programme for the earliest instruments set to open in 2023.

To succeed in its mission ESS relies on the expertise of its partners from across Europe, and also from other areas of the globe. The European Spallation Source has a large network of laboratories to exchange knowledge, personnel and experience with, and that in many cases will contribute directly to the project through In-Kind Contributions (IKCs). These IKCs are expected to finance more than 35% of the total 1.843 million € estimated for the construction costs.


ESS will be an attractive and environmentally sustainable large compound that will make an impact on the world’s stage. Before the expected world-scale scientific impact can be realised with the operation phase, the construction of the ESS does have a direct economic impact by generating growth and jobs, advance development and fuel innovation potential in the Öresund region and across the EU. The realisation of ESS enables access to frontier technology, experienced technical and scientific staff as well as unique production facilities and technologies, which would otherwise be unattainable.

In addition, the ESS will be a key instrument for addressing the Grand Challenges through novel insights on matter at the molecular and atomic level and applications to energy, carbon sequestration methods, health issues at biology level as well as drug development and delivery strategies, plant water-uptake processes of relevance for agriculture, novel data storage materials, and more.


legal status
ERIC, 2015
political support
lead country
members countries
The full list of research institutions involved must be found in the website of the RI
Roadmap Entry
Preparation Phase
Implementation/Construction Phase
Operation Start
estimated costs
capital value
1.843 M€
Not Available
80 M€
654 M€
140 M€/year

European Spallation Source ERIC
Lund, Sweden