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First joint ESRF-ILL international student summer programme in full swing


The first ever international student summer programme being jointly hosted by the European Synchrotron (the ESRF) and the Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) is in full swing. 18 students from countries all over Europe are at the European Photon and Neutron (EPN) science campus, to spend four weeks of their summer working in a research group either at ILL or the ESRF.

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During the programme which runs until 2 August, undergraduate students are taking part in experimental projects in either of the facilities and attending accompanying introductory lectures on the principles and applications of X-ray and neutron science. Those include the study of magnetism, materials science, soft matter, structural biology and imaging.

Examples of projects that are being carried out by students at the ESRF are, the study of ultra-fast processes in solution systems and the study of minerals at conditions mimicking those in Earth’s upper mantle.  At the ILL, projects range from using neutron backscattering spectrometry to studying fast protein internal dynamics and investigating complex magnetism with a triple axis spectrometer.

Marti Gilbert from Barcelona in Spain is one of the students on the programme, working on ESRF’s ID13 beamline. His project is called ‘Nano-focus X-ray scattering for the study of organic electronic materials’.

He said: “I didn’t know what to expect before the programme which was recommended by my teacher. I have found it interesting being in touch with so many scientists and they treat you as if you were one of them. I’d already worked with X-rays in the past but I have learnt more about synchrotrons and radiation since being here. I am enjoying both the work itself and the time we spend at the residence with other people who are also on the programme. I have made friends here. The food here is great too!”




The students on a tour during the four week programme.




Diane Lancon, a PhD student at the ILL is one of the programme’s supervisors and thinks the scheme is mutually beneficial: “Since, like me, many of the supervisors are PhD students, I think the undergraduates really get a close up of what it's like to start a research project in a large scale instrument institute such as the ILL or the ESRF. Through his project, I really try to give my student an overview of the different aspects of my thesis work: beamtimes, but also preliminary work and data analysis. It's great to have the possibility of a teaching experience, and it forces me to break down my overall PhD project into a shorter one month project”.

The organiser of the event, Patrick Bruno, who works at the ESRF, said: “This is the first time that the ESRF and ILL have run this programme together. One of the aims of both facilities is to encourage young people to take up a career in science – we hope a taste of life at one of the facilities here on the EPN science campus will enthuse them about taking science forward after their university studies. They certainly seem to be enjoying their time here and the opportunity of meeting other students of the same age from across Europe”.


The students have a series of lectures on X-rays and neutrons as well as working on research projects in the lab.

The event is open to undergraduate students from a member or scientific associate country of either the ESRF or ILL.


Top image: Undergraduates on the programme kitted out ready for the lab.