Dear Reader

2011 has once again been a year of excellent results for the ESRF with outstanding scientific output as measured in the number of publications, exceptional performance of the accelerator complex and major advances in the Upgrade Programme 2009-2018.

  F. Sette  


The number of proposals, as well as publications in peer-reviewed journals, was very high and comparable to the record figures of previous years. The same can be said for the number of experimental sessions and User visits, taking into account the start of the Upgrade Programme’s “long shutdown” on 5 December 2011. Although the final figures for the number of publications are not yet available at the time that we go to press, it is already known that 2011 was outstanding in terms of publications in the most prestigious scientific journals. This emphasises the increasing role synchrotron science plays in twenty-first century frontline research.

The Upgrade Programme is now well in swing and truly into the beginning of its delivery phase. The beamline portfolio saw the inauguration of the first of eight Upgrade Beamline projects (UPBLs) on ID24 and BM23. Rapid progress is also being made in the construction of UPBL10, the future structural biology beamline complex on ID30, along with UPBL6, the future inelastic scattering beamline on ID20, and the imaging beamline UPBL4 on ID16. The other UPBLs have either entered into the construction planning phase or will see their Technical Design Reports presented to the Science Advisory Committee (SAC) in 2012. In parallel, important refurbishments have started for existing beamlines, notably on ID10 and ID19.

The Source Upgrade continues with a focus on the RF system. Most notably, test operation of the new solid state amplifiers and of the new higher-order mode damping cavities are very promising and so far reaching the design specifications. The shutdown periods have been used to install more 6m-long straight sections, and to prepare the 7m section implementation on ID23 in 2012.

The instrumentation development programme saw the start of CRISP (Cluster of Research Infrastructures for Synergies in Physics), a 12 M€ ESRF-led project funded by the European Commission. CRISP is strongly focussed on accelerator component R&D, detector and data acquisition technologies, as well as on IT and data management, thereby complementing the efforts undertaken within the Upgrade Programme.

In May 2011, the new data centre in the Central Building was inaugurated, ensuring that we meet the ever-increasing computing needs, in particular for imaging experiments.

In September 2011, the Experimental Hall extension project (EX2) entered into the construction phase. A five-month “long shutdown” will set the foundation of this crucial element of the whole Upgrade Programme, and the delivery of the new buildings will start to take place in 2013. The progress of this highly complex project is proceeding as planned. The heavy construction work on the site so far has had a close-to-nil impact on the User operation. Beamtime delivery was reduced by just two weeks, in December 2011. In 2012, however, two long shutdowns from January to May and in August to September will lead to an overall reduction of beamtime delivery of about four months, with a return to normal User operation in 2013.

In the 2011-2013 period the ESRF has to absorb a 6% budget reduction. This is related to the general economic situation in Europe and the ensuing difficulties for certain Member Countries. A strategy has been developed which does not compromise the quality of the ESRF User service. The greatest consequence was that two beamlines, ID20 and ID32, both highly productive, had to be temporarily closed. The choice of these two specific beamlines has also been linked to a new logistic of relocating those UPBL beamlines which were initially planned to be in the Vercors experimental hall extension. This extension had to be cancelled in the wake of the reduced budget.

The ESRF Management and Council have worked hand in hand to face the financial difficulties, including efforts to attract new Members and Associates. On 22 June 2011 Russia, which has a strong synchrotron science programme, signed a Memorandum of Understanding in view of becoming a full ESRF Member. Other countries in Europe and in emerging market economies throughout the world also have strong scientific communities using synchrotrons; some have expressed interest in an association with the ESRF. New Members and Associates should provide, possibly as of 2012 or 2013, an opportunity to return to budget scenarios commensurate with the original Upgrade Programme plans.

The future of the ESRF, with an extended circle of Members and Scientific Associates, is based on its solid and long-term scientific vision. In 2011, the ESRF started to discuss possible scenarios for Phase II of the Upgrade Programme, covering the period 2015-2020. During 2012 and 2013, a full scientific and technical conceptual design will be developed with the help of the new ESRF SAC and the Users’ community at large. In parallel, the ESRF Council established a working group which will conduct consultations and interviews with the objective to present, by the end of 2012, a long-term strategic vision for the ESRF well beyond 2020, both on a European and worldwide level.

Local partnerships also continue to thrive. On 16 February 2011, the ESRF, the ILL, the CEA and the CNRS launched the Technology Platform Grenoble (TP-G). This initiative is dedicated to the characterisation of materials and processes and will provide coordinated access for applied and industrial R&D to large-scale instruments in Grenoble. The TP-G and two other partnerships will be housed in the future Science Building between the ESRF and the ILL, directly accessible from both facilities. The construction of this building, funded by French regional and local authorities, will start early in 2012 and will be completed in 2014.

On 19 March 2011, the international synchrotron community, and the ESRF staff in particular, learned with much grief of the loss of Pascal Elleaume, Director of the Accelerator and Source Division, who died in an accident. Pascal was very well known and appreciated by the whole community for his major contributions in the development of third-generation synchrotron sources. Despite the terrible loss of Pascal, the Accelerator and Source Division has been able to continue to ensure the operation of the storage ring. Record-breaking values have been obtained in the various 2011 Machine statistics. I wish to thank, on behalf of the whole of the ESRF User community, the staff of the division for their work and motivation. These excellent results could not have been obtained, however, without the wise and careful guidance of Laurent Farvacque, who will ensure the interim directorship of the Accelerator and Source Division until February 2012.

Serge Pérez, Director of Research for chemistry and life sciences, decided to leave the ESRF at the end of 2011 for personal reasons. I would like to thank him for his numerous contributions, notably in the development of new partnerships and relations with our host country. In February 2012, Pantaleo Raimondi will join the ESRF as the new Director of the Accelerator and Source Division. We all welcome Pantaleo.

I would like to thank our Member and Associate Countries and their delegates to Council, AFC and SAC, for their continued support and trust. Special thanks go to the ESRF SAC members and to the SAC Chairman, Prof. R. Abela, for the advice and guidance during the last three years (2009-2011), and for their crucial role during the launching of the Upgrade Programme. I welcome the new SAC (2012-2014), recently appointed by the Council, and its Chairman, Prof. Keijo Hämäläinen. I wish also to express my gratitude to all members of the Beamtime Allocation Panels and of the Beamline Review Committees for their dedication and hard work. My thanks also go to the French authorities, in particular to the Ville de Grenoble, the Grenoble-Alpes Métropole, the Conseil Général de l’Isère and the Région Rhône-Alpes for their attention and for granting funding for site infrastructure projects. Similarly, I acknowledge the actions of the European Commission which continues to provide crucial support to the ESRF in a highly visible way.

Finally, I wish to acknowledge the efforts and motivation of the ESRF staff who are on the frontline of both facility operations as well as Upgrade Programme implementation.

Last, but certainly not least, I wish to thank the thousands of Users who make it all worth it with the outstanding science that they carry out at the ESRF. A few highlights are presented on the following pages.


Francesco Sette,

ESRF Director General.