Research Facilities

Neutron sources for materials research

Lund, Sweden


ESS, currently under construction in Lund, Sweden, will be a multi-disciplinary research facility using the world’s most powerful neutron source, based on particle accelerators and spallation technology.

ESS will provide neutron beams up to 100 times brighter than those currently available at existing facilities. Operations will start in 2027, and will enable groundbreaking research in a wide range of areas, such as environment, health, materials, and energy. 

Big Science Sweden contact: Dr Catarina Sahlberg

Harwell, UK


The ISIS pulsed neutron and muon source produces beams that allow scientists from academia and industry to study materials at the atomic level, using a suite of instruments often described as ‘super-microscopes’.

ISIS plays a vital role in the portfolio of analysis techniques used by researchers in fields ranging from nanotechnology to pharmaceuticals and drug design, from bio-tech to engineering, and from clean energy to quantum computing.

Big Science Sweden contact: Dr Catarina Sahlberg

Grenoble, Frankrike


ILL is a spallation facility that operates the most intense neutron source in the world, a 58.3 MW nuclear reactor designed for high neutron flux. Research using the beams focuses primarily on fundamental science in a variety of fields, including condensed matter physics, chemistry, biology, nuclear physics, and materials science.

A modernisation programme, about to move into its second phase, has increased the detection rate of the instruments by a factor of 25.

Big Science Sweden contact: Dr Mike Olsson

Radiation facilities

Lund, Sweden


The MAX IV Laboratory is a synchrotron light facility. MAX IV offers access to 16 beamlines that provide modern X-ray spectroscopy, scattering/diffraction, and imaging techniques to contribute to solving scientific questions in a wide range of areas.

Hosted by Lund University, it is the world’s most brilliant synchrotron light source, capable of viewing material structures atom by atom. MAX IV facilitates discoveries of new structures at nanolevel, and scientists are able to monitor chemical processes in real time. The facility can house up to 26 beamlines. 

Big Science Sweden contact: Dr Mike Olsson

Grenoble, Frankrike


ESRF is the world-leading source of synchrotron and a centre of excellence for fundamental and innovation-driven research for imaging and studying the structure of matter at atomic and nanometric scales in many fields of research.

Visiting scientists conduct research using the X-ray beams that are 100 billion times more powerful than the X-rays used in hospitals. An extensive upgrade is under way, the Extremely Brilliant Source, which will provide new storage rings that can produce more intense, coherent, and stable X-ray beams.

Big Science Sweden contact: Dr Mike Olsson

Hamburg, Germany


DESY is a facility at which particle accelerators are used to investigate the structure of matter. Researchers explore the microcosm in all its variety – from the interactions of tiny elementary particles and the behaviour of new types of nanomaterials to biomolecular processes essential to life.

Research fields range from nanomaterials and semi-conductors to pharmaceuticals and materials for solar panels. Technologies can also be used for detailed diagnosis of tumours and for developing less invasive cancer therapies.

Big Science Sweden contact: Dr Fredrik Engelmark

Hamburg, Germany

European XFEL

European XFEL is the world’s most powerful X-ray laser facility, and is opening up completely new research opportunities for scientists and industrial users. The facility is powered by a 3.4-km linear accelerator, which can generate 27,000 X-ray flashes per second, each of a duration of less than 100 quadrillionths of a second.

Scientists will be able to map the atomic details of viruses, decipher the molecular composition of cells, take three-dimensional images of the nanoworld, film chemical reactions, and study processes such as those occurring deep inside planets.

Big Science Sweden contact: Dr Fredrik Engelmark

Particle physics

Geneva, on Swiss / French border


CERN houses the world’s largest and most complex scientific instruments – purpose-built particle accelerators and detectors. These are used by scientists to advance the boundaries of knowledge regarding the origins of our universe and the basic constituents of matter, subatomic particles.

The heart of the CERN facility is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a 27-kilometre circular particle accelerator. The High Luminosity project, due to come into operation in 2025, will increase the luminosity of the LHC by a power of ten.

Big Science Sweden contact: Dr Fredrik Engelmark

Darmstadt, Germany


FAIR, a facility for antiproton and ion research, is currently under construction. Matter that only exists in outer space will be produced in a lab for research, and FAIR will be able to accelerate ions of all the natural elements, as well as antiprotons.

Cutting-edge technologies are being developed for the unique FAIR particle accelerator. Scientists, engineers, and other experts are working in international partnership to advance technology in many areas, such as information and superconductor technology.

Big Science Sweden contact: Dr Fredrik Engelmark

Fusion research

Cadarache, France


ITER is a global cooperation project to build the world’s largest Tokamak for research into fusion energy. The experimental campaign that will be carried out at ITER is crucial to advancing fusion science and preparing the way for the fusion power plants of tomorrow.

ITER will be the largest fusion experiment facility in the world and the first to produce net energy, producing 500 MW of power from an input of 50 MW. It will be the first plant that integrates all the various technologies needed to operate a fusion reactor.

Big Science Sweden contact: Dr Patrik Carlsson

Barcelona, Spain

Fusion for Energy, F4E

F4E (Fusion for Energy) is the EU’s joint undertaking for ITER and the development of fusion energy, the same energy that powers the Sun and all stars. F4E is responsible for providing Europe’s in-kind and in-cash contribution to ITER, the world’s largest scientific installation that aims to demonstrate fusion as a viable and sustainable source of energy.

F4E works closely with industry and R&D organisations across Europe to design, manufacture, and test technical components for fusion installations.

Big Science Sweden contact: Dr Patrik Carlsson

Ground-based space research

HQ Munich, Germany, and telescopes in Chile


ESO focuses on the design, construction, and operation of powerful ground-based facilities for astronomy. The observatory consists of telescopes at three sites in the Atacama Desert in Chile. The Very Large Telescope can view objects at the edge of our universe and help address fundamental questions.

A new Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) with a 39-m mirror is under construction. This will be the world’s largest telescope and will address some of the most pressing unresolved issues in astronomy.

Big Science Sweden contact: Dr Patrik Carlsson

Kiruna, Sweden


EISCAT conducts ionospheric and atmospheric measurements using a technique called ‘incoherent scatter radar’. An example is studies of the Northern Lights. EISCAT operates equipment in three countries – Finland (Sodankylä), Norway (Tromsø and Longyearbyen), and Sweden (Kiruna) – and all the facilities are located north of the Arctic Circle.

The next-generation research radar facility, EISCAT_3D, is under construction. This will replace the existing systems, and will also be located in the three countries. The first stage will come into operation in 2023.

Big Science Sweden contact: Dr Adam Wikström

South Africa and Australia

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA)

The SKA Observatory is a next-generation radio astronomy-driven Big Data facility that will revolutionise our understanding of the Universe and the laws of fundamental physics. It will be the world’s largest radio telescope, with a collecting area of one square kilometre (one million square metres).

The SKA project will bring together a wealth of the world’s finest scientists, engineers, and policy makers. When in operation, these telescopes will position the SKAO as the leading research infrastructure for radio astronomy globally.

Big Science Sweden contact: Dr Patrik Carlsson