Research Facilities

Neutron sources for materials research

Lund, Sweden


The multi-disciplinary research facility European Spallation Source, ESS, based on the world’s most powerful neutron source, will enable scientific breakthroughs in a wide range of areas, such as environment, health, materials and energy. ESS is a European partnership, with member countries all over Europe that have committed to collectively build and operate the world’s leading facility for research using neutrons. The facility is currently under construction in Lund, Sweden, and will deliver world-class science from 2023.

Big Science Sweden contact: Dr. Catarina Sahlberg

Harwell, UK


ISIS Neutron and Muon Source is a national spallation source financed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council, and is based at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Harwell, near Oxford. Research at ISIS spans a wide range of disciplines, from magnetism to cultural heritage, engineering to food science, and from chemistry to environmental science. The facility houses 32 instruments.

Big Science Sweden contact: Dr. Catarina Sahlberg

Grenoble, Frankrike


ILL - The Institut Laue-Langevin (ILL) is an existing spallation facility that has been in operation for more than 45 years. ILL was founded in 1972 by France, Germany, and the UK, and there are ten further Scientific Member countries. Sixty percent of the capacity of ILL is dedicated to fundamental research and 40% is dedicated to research into societal challenges. The facility is undergoing a modernisation programme that has increased the detection rate of the instruments by a factor of 25, and the programme is about to move into its second phase.

Big Science Sweden contact: Julia Hellström

Radiation facilities

Lund, Sweden


The MAX Laboratory is a synchrotron light facility that has been in operation for more than 35 years, and construction of the new synchrotron facility was completed in 2016.
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 (European Synchrotron Radiation Facility), opened in 1989, is operated as a partnership between 22 countries. The facility welcomes almost 9000 visiting scientists every year, conducting research using the X-ray beams that are 100 billion times more powerful than the X-rays used in hospitals. An extensive upgrade, the Extremely Brilliant Source, is under way, with a budget of EUR 330 million. This will provide new storage rings that can produce more intense, coherent, and stable X-ray beams.

Big Science Sweden contact: Julia Hellström

Hamburg, Germany


DESY (Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron), set up in 1959, is a national research centre in Germany, operating particle accelerators used to investigate the structure of matter. Three thousand guest scientists from 40 countries conduct research at the facility each year. Three large accelerators dominate the DESY site: PETRA III, Flash and XFEL. Research ranges from nanomaterials and semi-conductors to pharmaceuticals and materials for solar panels. Technologies developed at DESY can also be used for detailed diagnosis of tumours and for developing less invasive cancer therapies.

Big Science Sweden contact: Julia Hellström

Hamburg, Germany

European XFEL

European XFEL (X-ray Free Electron Laser) is the world’s most powerful X-ray laser facility, opened in 2017. The project is funded by 12 European countries. The facility is powered by a 3.4-km linear accelerator, which can generate 27,000 flashes of light per second, each of a duration of less than 100 quadrillionths of a second.

Big Science Sweden contact: Julia Hellström

Particle physics

Geneva, on the border between Switzerland and France


CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire) is a European research facility set up in 1954 by 12 founder states, one of which was Sweden. CERN now has 22 Member States and a number of Associate Member States. At CERN, 2,500 staff and some 15,000 external scientists advance the boundaries of knowledge regarding the origins of our universe and its smallest building blocks, 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. The materials budget of the High Luminosity project is nearly CHF 950 million.

Big Science Sweden contact: Dr. Fredrik Engelmark

Darmstadt, Germany


FAIR (The Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research) is currently under construction in Darmstadt at a cost of EUR 1.7 billion. At the facility, matter that only exists in outer space will be produced in a lab for research, and it will be possible to accelerate ions of all the natural elements in the periodic table, as well as antiprotons. Ten countries are shareholders of FAIR and more countries are partners. Three thousand scientists will visit and use FAIR each year.

Big Science Sweden contact: Dr. Fredrik Engelmark

Fusion research

Cadarache, France; European procurement organisation F4E


ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) is a global cooperation project, funded by 35 nations, to build the world’s largest Tokamak reactor for research into fusion energy. It 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. Experiments at ITER are scheduled to begin in 2025, and the construction budget is EUR 20 billion. F4E (Fusion for Energy) is the EU organisation responsible for the EU contribution to ITER.

Big Science Sweden contact: Dr. Patrik Carlsson

Barcelona, Spain

Fusion for Energy, F4E

F4E (Fusion for Energy) is responsible for the EU contribution to ITER.

Big Science Sweden contact: Dr. Patrik Carlsson

Ground-based space research

HQ Munich, Germany and telescopes in Chile


ESO (The European Southern 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 answer fundamental questions, such as whether we are alone. A new Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) with a 39-m mirror is under construction, with a budget of EUR 1.2 billion. It 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 is an international scientific association that conducts ionospheric and atmospheric measurements using a technique called ‘incoherent scatter radar’. An example is studies of the Northern Lights. The association 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. In Tromsø the facility comprises a combined ionospheric heating and short-wave radar facility. EISCAT is currently building a next-generation research radar facility, called EISCAT_3D. The radar will replace the systems in Sodankylä, Tromsø, and Kiruna. EISCAT_3D will also be located in the three countries.

Big Science Sweden contact: Dr. Adam Wikström

Co-located in South Africa and Australia

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA)

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an international effort to build the world’s largest radio telescope, with a square kilometre (one million square metres) of collecting area. The scale of the SKA represents a huge leap forward in both engineering and research & development towards building and delivering a unique instrument, with the detailed design and preparation now well under way. As one of the largest scientific endeavours in history, the SKA will bring together a wealth of the world’s finest scientists, engineers and policy makers to bring the project to fruition.

Big Science Sweden contact: Dr. Patrik Carlsson