New Research Organisations

Under the 2019 Swiss Research Infrastructure Roadmap, in the coming years Switzerland will examine the possibility of participating in four international research infrastructures which are currently either in the preparation stage or under construction. SERI is tasked with preparing the participations – which may take a form other than affiliation to the organisation – from establishing the financial framework and evaluating the advantages of these participations for the country through to Switzerland signing an international agreement. Representatives of the Swiss scientific communities concerned are closely involved in the process.

ELI, Extreme Light Infrastructure (laser physics)

ELI is a research facility currently under construction at three sites in the Czech Republic, Romania and Hungary. It is the only leading-edge research facility entirely based in countries of the enlarged European Union and the only one whose construction is funded primarily by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) (up to 85%).

Ultra-high intensity lasers are being installed on each of ELI’s sites (‘pillars’) to conduct complementary experiments in the fields of materials physics and nuclear physics. The project heads refer to ELI as the ‘CERN of lasers’ in view of its unrivalled power and intensity (10 times more than current sources) and the unprecedented possibilities these light sources provide for international users.

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

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 and setting up a research project of unprecedented scope: DUNE, to be conducted in a purpose-built facility, the LBNF. The project is funded and conducted by an international collaboration and has been recognised for the progress made in particle physics as an essential complement to the research being carried out at CERN. The facility is based at two sites in the United States: Fermilab near Chicago and Sanford in South Dakota, where it is installed in a disused mine 1.5 km underground.

The community of Swiss neutrino researchers, primarily at the universities of Bern and Basel and at the ETH Zurich, make an important contribution to this infrastructure and one which is greatly valued by the LBNF/DUNE community and by the authorities in the USA. The European contribution to LBNF/DUNE is in the hands of CERN, which is designing and constructing one of the detectors to be used in the experiment. In June 2019 the Federal Council decided to financially support the in-kind contribution to LBNF/DUNE under construction at CERN.

The universities of Geneva and Bern as well as the ETH Zurich also contribute in a significant way to experiments in neutrino physics conducted in Japan. They consider the possibility of a further participation in a large infrastructure dedicated to this research field, which is to be built in Japan starting from 2020.


SERI, Xavier Reymond
Head of the International Research Organisations Unit
T +41 58 462 34 52