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Apply for beamtime

Next Proposal submission Deadlines

  • Applications for beamtime must be submitted electronically through the User Portal. Each application is assigned to a specific scientific area and is submitted to a Review Committee.  Members of these committees are specialists in relevant areas of science and are appointed by the ESRF management.
  • Requests for beam time are based on shifts of 8 hours.
  • Allocations of beam time will usually be made in multiples of 3 shifts

Types of Proposals

Before submitting a proposal for ESRF beam time, we strongly recommend that you first consult the Proposal Guidelines specific to the category of your new proposal very carefully, as these contain detailed instructions regarding the electronic completion and submission of your proposal.

  • Standard Research Proposal
    Request for public beamtime over a period of 6 months on ESRF or Collaborating Research Research Group (CRG) beamlines that are not structural biology beamlines
  • Long Term Project Proposal
    Users may request a long-term commitment from the ESRF to provide beamtime during up to six successive scheduling periods (three years). Scientific excellence is the primary criterion for the acceptance of such a Long-Term Proposal (LTP)
    Consult What is a Long Term Project

Proposals for Structural Biology beamtime

  • Block Allocation Group (BAG) Proposal
    Large, well-established groups requiring a significant amount of beam-time should apply for the "Block Allocation Group" status. Each BAG is awarded a block of beam time per allocation period: the scheduling of their beam time is also grouped, allowing greater flexibility in the choice of projects and samples.
  • Rolling Proposal  for groups requiring beam-time for single or a small number of projects
    • Crystallography or BioSAXS proposal
      (by scientists who are NOT included in a BAG proposal)
    • Cryo-EM proposal
      Request of beamtime for the use of the cryo-electro microscope CM01

Deadlines for submission

STANDARD and Block Allocation Group (BAG) Proposals

Two proposal review rounds are held each year, with deadlines for submission of applications for beam time on:

  • 1st March* (inclusive) for the scheduling period August (of the same year) to February (of the following year)
  • 10th September* (inclusive) for the scheduling period March to July (of the following year)
  • Review Committees: The proposals submitted for 1st March and 10th September proposal rounds are reviewed during the Review Committees which are held in April and October, respectively.

* if this date is on a week-end, then the deadline is set to the following Monday.


  • LTPs can be submitted once a year with a fixed deadline: 15th January (inclusive).
  • Review Committees: the ongoing and new Long Term Project proposals are reviewed once a year, during the Review Committees which are held in April.

MX non-BAG Proposals - Rolling access procedure

  • This method of applying for beamtime can be made AT ANY TIME
  • Review Committees: the MX non-BAG Proposals are reviewed by the Review Committee within 6 weeks of their reception at the ESRF.

Societal Themes

The research proposed in an application for beam time should be identified within the framework of a "Societal Theme" which must be registered by the main proposer in the electronic registration form.

The following "Societal Themes" are proposed:

  • Earth and Environment
  • Information & Communication Technology (ICT)
  • Energy
  • Health
  • Other Functional Materials
  • Other Fundamental Science (other than that included in the themes already given above)
  • Other (if none of the proposed societal themes is relevant; in this case, keywords must be given)

The information is mandatory and ONLY one societal theme can be selected.

Please note that the proposers must identify whether the proposal is fundamental / applied / industrially relevant science elsewhere on the proposal form. The societal theme section should not be used for this. Please therefore ONLY select "Fundamental Science" if the theme is Fundamental Science not already covered by the other themes proposed.

Scientific areas

Each application for beam time is assigned to one of 12 scientific areas as follows:

  • CH (Chemistry)
  • ES (Earth Science)
  • EV (Environment)
  • HC (Hard Condensed Matter Science)
  • HG (Cultural Heritage)
  • LS (Life Sciences)
  • MA (Applied Material Science)
  • MD (Medicine)
  • ME (Engineering)
  • MI (Methods and Instrumentation)
  • MX (Structural Biology) - only for MX BAG, Rolling applications and LTP proposals.
  • SC (Soft Condensed Matter Science)

For queries or questions, please contact the User Office.


Find a beamline Groups or a Beamline (including a list of all beamlines with technical specificities of each beamline)

Check the beamlines status.

The public beamlines in operation at ESRF provide some 500 shifts of beam time each year for user experiments, after deducting machine-dedicated runs and maintenance days.  In addition, several externally funded, Collaborating Research Group (CRG) beamlines, make available 1/3 of their beam time to ESRF users.  During the year, two long shut-downs are scheduled: 4 weeks in winter and 3 weeks in summer. Beamlines at ESRF operate 24 hours a day in three shifts, each of 8 hours.

Selection of the beamlines for a proposal

ESRF beamlines are designed for research in areas as diverse as engineering, physics, chemistry, crystallography, earth science, biology and medicine, surface and materials science, and are characterized by specific techniques of investigation.

It is the beamline(s) requested by the main proposer, in the application for beam time, which determine(s) the Committee(s) which will review the proposal.

In the electronic application form, the main proposer may select:

  • in the case where only one beamline is required :
    • the principal beamline (P1) required and up to two alternative beamlines (A1, A1') : this corresponds to a request for P1 or A1 or A1'.


  • in the case where more than one beamline is required :
    • two principal beamlines (P1, P2). If appropriate, possible alternative beamlines for each principal beamline may be selected (as above) : this corresponds to a request for P1 and P2.
    • the proposer must give number of shifts requested on each principal beamline


In order to request the appropriate beamline(s) for your research, and therefore to have your proposal assessed by the appropriate review committee, you are kindly requested:

  • to consult the information web page on the beamlines,
  • to consult the appropriate guidelines for complementary information on the selection of the beamlines
  • to contact the beamline responsible if you need more information
  • to MAKE SURE, before the validation of your proposal, that the status ("principal" or "alternative") of the selected beamline(s) corresponds exactly to what you need.


  • Support and Infrastructure specialized support to users and development of new techniques in the areas of chemistry and micromanipulation, sample environments, and surface science
  • list of support laboratories available to the users

The review committees

Beamlines of similar techniques or activities have been grouped together to form 12 review committees whose members are specialists in related areas of science and are appointed by the ESRF management. This means that it is the beamline(s) requested by the main proposer, in the application for beam time, which determine(s) the Committee(s) which will review the proposal.

The Review Committees meet twice a year, in April and in October, to assess proposals received at the submission deadlines of 1st March and 10th September, respectively.

If beamlines from different committees are selected

In the case where a proposal requests beamline which fall into more than one committee, each relevant committee will review the proposal, giving only a recommendation for the beamline(s) for which it is responsible.

The table below shows the 12 review committees, identified from C01 to C12, and the beamlines for which each committee will review and assess proposals:

Review Committees  Beamlines
 C01     ID01 - BM01 - BM25 - BM32
 C02  ID06HXM - ID11 - ID15A - ID22 - ID31
 C03  ID12 - ID32
 C04  BM08 - BM14 - BM16 - BM20 - BM23 - BM30 - BM31
 C05  ID06LVP - ID15B - ID27
 C06  ID17 - ID19 - BM18
 C07  ID16A - ID16B - ID21
 C08  ID02 - ID13 - BM26
 C09  BM02 - ID09 - ID10 - BM28
 C10  CM01 - ID23-1 - ID23-2 - (ID29) - BM29 - ID30A-1 - ID30A-3 - ID30B - BM07
 C11  ID20 - ID24 - ID26
 C12  ID18 - ID28


Proposal Review Process

It is the beamline(s) requested by the main proposer, in the application for beam time, which determine(s) the Committee(s) which will review the proposal.

The proposal review process allows all proposals received for a particular beamline to be assessed by the same Review Committee. This gives the Committees flexibility to optimise the selection of proposals to be performed on each beamline.

It is therefore extremely important that the proposer takes great care when filling in this part of the proposal form in order to have the proposal assessed by the appropriate review committee.

If beamlines from different committees are selected

In the case where a proposal requests beamlines which fall into more than one Committee, each relevant Committee will review the proposal, giving only a recommendation for the beamline(s) for which it is responsible.

Assessment of the proposals

Each application for beam time, which is assigned a final number based on one of 12 scientific areas, is reviewed by one or more Review Committees.

The Review Committees, assisted by external referees where appropriate, assess the proposals for their scientific merit or their technical, technological and/or innovative relevance. They consider the proposals: they first assign each proposal a grade between 0 and 5.5 on the basis of scientific merit, 5.5 being the top score. At their meetings, the committees discuss the projects, and arrive at a final grade for each proposal; they also rank the proposals in order of priority for each beamline.

Beam time is allocated on the basis of scientific merit, following the recommendations of the Review Committees, and provided the experiment proposed meets technical feasibility and safety requirements.

Following each meeting of the Review Committees, proposers are informed of the decisions taken.  If beam time has not been allocated, brief, general reasons only are given, as the number of proposals received does not allow a detailed report on each proposal.
When beam-time is allocated, invitations for experiments, together with detailed instructions, are then communicated to the Proposers concerned by the ESRF User Office several weeks ahead of the scheduled experiment.

  • Proposals accepted for the proposal round of April are scheduled during the period: August of the same year - February of the following year.
  • Proposals accepted for the proposal round of October are scheduled during the period: March - July of the following year.