Home News Press Release | How ‘super-microscopes’ are changing the face of European science

Press Release | How ‘super-microscopes’ are changing the face of European science

14th November 2017

November, 13th  2017 – Brussels – 16 organisations representing 19 light sources facilities across Europe gathered to launch the LEAPS initiative and signed an agreement to strengthen their collaboration, in the presence of Robert-Jan Smits, Director General for Research and Innovation (RTD) at the European Commission, and Giorgio Rossi, Chair of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI).

LEAPS, the League of European Accelerator-based Photon Sources, aims to offer a step change in European cooperation, through a common vision of enabling scientific excellence solving global challenges, and boosting European competitiveness and integration. This will be achieved through a common sustainable strategy developed in coordination with all stakeholders, including national policy makers, user communities and the European Commission.


The light sources that form LEAPS are all accelerators-based, producing exceptionally intense beams of X-rays, ultra-violet and infrared light. They count with a community of more than 30 000 user scientists, among them five Nobel Prizes.

These super-microscopes’ are having a huge impact on science across Europe and worldwide, as they enable insights, which are not possible with more conventional equipment – enabling research on samples in the tiniest detail, helping make invisible information strikingly visible. They are helping scientists meet the challenges we face globally in 21st century society as they are used for both basic and applied research, covering virtually all fields of science from chemistry, biology and physics, to energy, medicine, cultural heritage and engineering.

Prof Helmut Dosch, Chair of LEAPS and Director of DESY, Hamburg (Germany) said: “National facilities have so far mostly been developed and operated independently of each other, yet they have much in common, because most of their scientific objectives are very similar. Ensuring that this exceptional science network and infrastructure is used effectively is core to the work of LEAPS, which is bringing together 16 organisations representing 19 facilities across Europe.  This official new collaboration will become a catalyst for impact on these global challenges, a key driver for competiveness and a compelling force for closer integration and peace through scientific collaboration.”

While European light sources have been working alongside each other for years, presently in the framework of the infrastructure project CALIPSOplus, funded from the European framework program for research and innovation Horizon2020, building on the pilot activities and achievements of CALIPSOplus, the LEAPS collaboration aims at a step change in European cooperation through achieving a common vision for world class scientific, endeavouring to meet global challenges, including:

  • Consolidating and growing our more than 30 000 users
  • Creating a common map of the socio-economic impact of the LEAPS members
  • Driving forward the development of common enabling technology, from accelerators and beamlines, as well as taking on the challenge of ‘big data’
  • Harnessing the unique strengths of the members of LEAPS for industry and innovation both as service providers and as the inspiration for emerging technologies, to increase European competitiveness and productivity, strengthen economies and create employment
  • Creating a seamless and unified user experience between facilities, and  fostering regional development
  • Growing the engagement work with students and fostering a stronger skills base across Europe as a result
  • LEAPS will further remove access barriers for industry and simultaneously increasing industry’s potential to take advantage of the available instruments and techniques to better react to the rapid changing economic environment.

Light sources explained:
Light sources encompass both the synchrotron light sources community, which produce highly intense continuous beams, and the free-electron lasers (FELs) community, which produce high intensity pulsed coherent beams. Both types of light source complement one another, with synchrotrons providing high-throughput and the ability to support a large community through the provision of multiple beamlines running in parallel. For experiments that require extremely high brightness and very short timescales, FELs offer these capabilities.


Media Contact

For further information contact the CALIPSOplus Management (Contact form)

The infrastructure project CALIPSOplus – Convenient Access to Light Sources Open to Innovation, Science and to the World – has been receiving funds from the European Framework Program for Research and Innovation Horizon2020 – Grant  Agreement No 730872 – since May 2017. It is coordinated by the HZDR.