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We are happy to present the 2021 ESRF Highlights: the first Highlights presenting research results based mainly on the first use of the new ESRF Extremely Brilliant Source (EBS).
EBS began delivering beam to users on 25 August 2020 and therefore today has already celebrated one whole year of successful operation in User Service Mode (USM). In its first year, EBS has delivered excellent experimental conditions in terms of storage ring and beamline performance and availability, despite a few teething issues that inevitably come with such a complex and first-of- a-kind synchrotron storage ring. During this past year, USM delivery also had and still has to cope with the many challenging restrictions imposed by the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.
EBS is a wonderful result of the international collaboration between scientists, technical staff and industry from ESRF partner countries, which has led to the development of advanced new technologies and tools for X-ray science. This first USM year provides another spectacular example of the impressive capacity of the international synchrotron user community to quickly adapt, innovate and exploit the tools that ESRF and Collaborating Research Group (CRG) staff developed in record time to enable scientific research with EBS.
The interest of the scientific community in the use of EBS is also underlined by the 2021 proposal rounds, which saw the number of submitted proposals come close to the highest numbers ever registered at the ESRF, despite the pandemic and a number of beamlines still under construction. Similarly, the interest of industrial users in
exploiting the ESRF X-rays to innovate in their fields of activity is back to the levels of 2018.
In this context, thanks to the support provided by the European Commission H2020-funded STREAMLINE grant, the ESRF is studying and implementing new user access models, with the aim to provide the ESRF user community with better services and tools to fully exploit the opportunities offered by the new source. Pilot projects of these new models have been launched as a technique-driven Block Allocation Group (BAG) for shock physics, a science-driven BAG on cultural heritage and a technology-driven hub on battery research. These new models will be made widely available, in addition to the existing access procedures, to improve coordination among users, to reduce experiment preparation times and to enable long-term commitments supporting high-quality Master/PhD/Post-Doc training and education programmes, and creating unique ancillary and support facilities. For example, the creation of the Grenoble Battery Hub is an initiative between the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL), the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) and the ESRF, aiming to establish a platform for the user community carrying out research on sustainable electrical energy storage.
Over the past few months, significant progress has been made in the construction and commissioning of new beamlines and facilities. This includes the refurbishment of the ID21 microscopy beamline, the commissioning of the high-power laser facility in the ID24-BM23 spectroscopy beamline complex, the construction of the new EBS serial crystallography beamline on ID29, and the construction, commissioning and start of USM of the new high-pressure beamline, ID27.
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