New research organisations

As part of the 2015 Swiss Research Infrastructure Roadmap, four international research organisations in the process of getting established have been identified, for which the question of Swiss participation merits serious consideration. The possibility of Swiss participation in these organisations will be decided by 2020. SERI is tasked with preparing the participations, establishing the financial framework up until the time when Switzerland signs an international agreement and, of course, ensuring an evaluation is made of the advantages of these participations for Switzerland. Representatives of the Swiss scientific communities concerned are in close contact with these efforts.

CTA, Cherenkov Telescope Array (astroparticle physics)

CTA is an international scientific cooperation project that aims to build a world leading research facility in the field of astroparticle physics. The infrastructure will involve a network of more than 100 Cherenkov-type telescopes, located in the southern hemisphere on a site in Chile (Paranal) and in the northern hemisphere on the island of Palma (Canary Islands, Spain). Fundamental breakthroughs are expected in the field of high-energy astroparticle physics and more generally in cosmology and fundamental physics. Construction of CTA is expected to start in 2017 or 2018 on the basis of an international agreement. In Switzerland, the universities of Zurich and Geneva and the ETH Zurich are actively involved in this project.

ELI, Extreme Light Infrastructure (laser physics)

ELI is a research facility under construction located on three sites in the Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary. Currently, it is the only leading-edge research facility entirely based in the enlarged European Union and the only one for which the construction is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) are used as primary source of funding (up to 85%). ERDF funds are used because ELI is seen as a facility capable of reducing the disparities within the European Research Area (ERA).

Ultra-high intensity lasers are being installed on each of ELI's sites (‘pillar') to conduct complementary experiments in the fields of materials physics and nuclear physics. The project heads refer to ELI the "CERN of lasers" when looking at the unrivalled power and intensity (10 times more than current sources) and the unprecedented possibilities offered by these light sources to international users.

Laser physics has developed very rapidly in recent decades, driven by ever-increasing powerful sources. Potential applications for these new generation lasers are very promising and constitute a field of research of choice for physicists today. Swiss researchers are following this movement closely and developing appropriate research facilities in Switzerland, which would ideally be complemented by access to world-leading infrastructures made available on ELI's three sites.

SKA, Square Kilometer Array (astronomy)

The Square Kilometre Array is a radio telescope under construction that will have a collection surface of approximately one square kilometre. The SKA is planned for work in the range of 0.10-25 GHz, eventually with the aim of reaching the 0.06-35 GHz frequency range. Its size will make it 50 times more sensitive than the instruments currently in use and provide the possibility to monitor several independent fields of vision, thus allowing different radio astronomers to observe at the same time or to observe different parts of the sky at the same time. The SKA radio telescope will make it possible to obtain distant radio images by using the interferometry technique.

The SKA will be the most sensitive instrument of observation in radio astronomy ever designed, capable of detecting all the active galactic nuclei up to a redshift of 6, when the universe was not more than a billion years old. It will have the power to detect the signature of planets similar to Earth at distances of several hundreds of thousands of light years away. The SKA network is expected to have up to 3,000 dish antennas installed in South Africa and Australia. The SKA headquarters will be based in the United Kingdom. To date, 15 Asian, European and African states have joined SKA. The scope of SKA makes it a major long-term project for astrophysics at the global level, and Switzerland is closely monitoring its development, in particular in the universities of Geneva and Zurich, as well as the Federal Institutes of Technology in Zurich and Lausanne.

LBNF, Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility and DUNE, Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (particle physics)

The world scientific community in the field of neutrino physics is currently developing a project of unprecedented scope to carry out research in this field: DUNE, which is expected to be conducted in the purpose-built facility, LBNF. An international collaboration will be launched to fund and conduct the project, which has been recognised for the progress made in particle physics as an essential complement to the research being carried out at the CERN. The facility is to be based in Fermilab in the United States.

The community of Swiss neutrino researchers is currently setting its priorities in a ‘white paper’. DUNE/LBNF is expected to be feature prominently with particular attention devoted to this project from 2016 and in the coming years.

Further information


SERI, Xavier Reymond

Head of the International Research Organisations Unit

T +41 58 462 34 52

Print contact