Recent news on European laser research......

ELI – Extreme Light Infrastructure


  • A European project aiming to create facilities for studying the physical nature of things on the frontiers of science


  • Financed by EU during the 2007-2013 and 2014-2020 EU funding periods from structural funds, to the tune of some 80% of a total cost of some 850 Mio EUR


  • Spread across 3 different locations in the Czech Republic (ELI-Beams), Hungary (ELI-Attosecond), and Romania (ELI-NP), each accounting for about 1/3 of the investments. They are purportedly specialized in three differing aspects of advanced high power lasers, namely provision of reliable all-purpose beams for users, provision of ultra-short pulses, and investigations into extreme high-energy physics.


  • At the present time, one facility is functioning reasonably well (ELI-Beams), another is still under assembly (ELI-Attosecond), and the third (ELI-NP) has been seriously delayed by fundamental implementation problems.


  • As a consequence, none of the ELI infrastructures have so far succeeded to reach the initially set objective of mastering the very high energies (exceeding the Quantum-Electro-Dynamic critical field of 1.3x10exp16 V/cm) required to investigate certain classes of novel phenomena.


  • The initial idea was to have one single facility, which would have been less costly and could have achieved more by concentrating Europe’s efforts to become a leader in high power laser physics.


  • Regrettably, this was abandoned en route due to the European penchant for not carrying through a clear strategic line, and ceding to the pressures of individual countries’ and institutions’ frequently contradictory interests.


  • There was an attempt to maintain the ultimate goal by claiming that eventually a 4th single large high power laser facility would be constructed. This appears unrealistic wishful thinking.