The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility is more productive than ever, progressing on many different fronts. This volume of the Highlights bears witness to the great diversity of subjects studied by our users and staff. The performance of the X-ray source and beamlines, of the technical, data-handling and user support, all contributed to the quality and volume of the science produced on the 43 (public and CRG) beamlines. The ESRF’s combination of scientific and technical performance, and support to the users, is the acknowledged reference world-wide, despite the twenty years that have passed since the beginning of the ESRF’s design and construction phase.

Preparations for the future moved to the front of the stage in 2007, which will be remembered as the year when the ESRF Upgrade Programme changed from a set of concepts and ideas to become a well-defined project. The major milestone in this process was the publication in October 2007 of the “Purple Book”1, two volumes totalling 360 pages, which summarise two years of teamwork by over one hundred staff, users and outside experts. We gratefully acknowledge their selfless work and the excellent achievement that is the Purple Book.

ESRF Science and Technology Programme 2008-2017

1 ESRF Science and Technology Programme 2008-2017, available in print or electronic format from


The science case for the future development of the ESRF has been convincingly presented and the technical and managerial feasibility of our aspirations firmly established. Just as today’s performance of the ESRF is the result of many different factors, the Upgrade Programme will improve all aspects of the ESRF, enabling the ESRF to continue to play a leading role in science for Europe and the world. The very long beamlines and their state-of-the-art instrumentation, the next-generation data-handling and storage facilities, the new-technology detectors and the research partnerships will all inspire further developments at national light sources by making available world-class expertise and knowledge. Sharing expertise and technology is high on the agenda for many ESRF staff who are regularly called upon to exchange ideas with colleagues at other light sources, both existing laboratories and facilities under construction.

This volume of the scientific Highlights provides a glimpse, today, of the future. The rebuilt and extended beamlines ID11 and ID13 with their nanofocusing capabilities are now in routine operation, highly-automated beamlines for macromolecular crystallography handle very large numbers of precious single-crystal samples, and many terabytes of information are analysed and stored by the ESRF’s advanced computers.

In 2007 there were more than 6000 user visits to the ESRF including several hundred new (“first-time”) users. So far the ESRF library has registered more than 1400 refereed papers based on work at the ESRF or by an ESRF staff member. To some extent this impressive figure reflects the increase in the number of accepted proposals, made possible thanks to improved automation and efficiency on the beamlines. With the help of our hard-working beamtime allocation panels, the ESRF does not compromise on the scientific quality of experiments accepted for beamtime. However, the fact that in some fields two thirds or even three quarters of the proposals deemed acceptable are refused due to lack of beamtime is a concern that must be considered in the future.

All Divisions at the ESRF again combined their efforts to prepare for the future while continuing with day-to-day operations for the users. Of particular note was the removal of the High Quality Power Supply (HQPS), a large installation protecting the storage ring and beamlines from interruptions and “spikes” on the public electricity power grid. The existing system, installed in 1995 had reached the end of its useful life, with many faults and failures, and consequently was dismantled to make place for a new system to be installed during 2008. During 2007, the storage-ring lattice was further optimised, achieving performance (emittance, lifetime, stability,…) equal to or higher than that of the lattice used for the previous 10 years, but with the capability of increasing all insertion device (ID) lengths from 5 to 6 m, and in addition the future possibility of installing some 7 m long IDs. Also in 2007, the prototype cryogenic in-vacuum undulator was calibrated and installed in the ID06 straight section, with detailed tests with beam continuing during 2008. Devices of this type will very likely be the high energy undulators of the future at the ESRF. On the buildings and infrastructure side, considerable efforts were expended in preparing the construction of extensions to the Experimental Hall featuring more than 20,000 square metres of additional floor space, foreseen by the Upgrade Programme to house new and refurbished beamlines and improved support facilities.

Artist’s impression of the Upgraded ESRF showing experimental hall and extensions.

Artist’s impression of the Upgraded ESRF showing experimental hall and extensions.

In November 2007, we presented the two volumes of the Purple Book to the ESRF Council where it received strong support despite a difficult funding context in many Member States. In 2006, the Upgrade Programme had been included on the list of 35 priority projects for European research infrastructures known as the “ESFRI roadmap”. This enabled the ESRF to submit an application to the European Commission (EC) in June 2007, which, after international evaluation, resulted in a 5 million euro grant to support a wide range of activities during the preparatory phase of the Upgrade. For example, there is a work-package to define Europe’s need for a very high magnetic field capability at ESRF and ILL. Also, much of the extensive (and expensive) preparatory work for the experimental hall extension will be covered by the grant from the EC. However, funding the Upgrade is not an easy task for our Member States as our programme is competing with many other national research infrastructure projects. A decision on the funding of the Upgrade Programme is needed in 2008 to avoid damaging delays and to maintain the long-term competitivity of the laboratory.

The steady growth of the number of users, coupled with continuous expansion into new fields of science, has made the ESRF a true European success story that started more than twenty years ago, when scientists across Europe convinced their politicians that a world-leading European light source was needed. Included with this volume is a poster that we invite our readers to display prominently in their offices or laboratories to demonstrate their support for the ESRF and its Upgrade Programme 2008-2017. A special Web page includes more information on how users can help today to repeat the success of their peers some twenty years ago in persuading European governments to join forces to maintain the ESRF as a first-class laboratory and a shared European facility.

The ESRF Highlights 2007 feature a selection of the best results from the ESRF over the last twelve months. We hope that regular and new Highlights readers alike enjoy hearing about the science and the remarkable range of scientific disciplines studied at the ESRF.

W.G. Stirling, M. Rodriguez Castellano, P. Elleaume, R. Dimper, H. Krech, S. Larsen, F. Sette, P. Thiry and C. Habfast.