European Synchrotron Radiation Facility Extremely Brilliant Source
General Info


71, avenue des Martyrs, Grenoble, France

legal status



remote, physical

The European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), located in Grenoble, France, in an international innovation campus, is the world-leading source of synchrotron X-rays. Operating 47 beamlines with state-of-the-art instrumentation, the ESRF welcomes ~10,000 scientists each year from all over the world, who study materials and living matter at the atomic and nanometric scales for cutting-edge research on sustainability and health. In fact, fundamental and applied research at the ESRF contributes to addressing the complex global challenges that our society faces, such as health issues, climate change, energy and environmental concerns. It also contributes to the development of new technologies for industry, circular economy, digital world, and to the preservation of humanity’s cultural heritage. It is a truly European values-based facility, lighting the way to a sustainable and peaceful future within the ERA. The ESRF initiated an Upgrade Programme (UP) in 2009, and completed the first phase in 2015 with 19 new beamlines, enabling major performance gains for X-ray microscopy and imaging experiments, and developing a new revolutionary storage ring lattice design concept. This concept powered the second phase – completed in 2023, which saw the construction of a new storage ring – the ESRF Extremely Brilliant Source (EBS) – operational since 2020, and new beamlines. The UP and the EBS bring two orders of magnitude increase in source brilliance, and X-ray instruments performance increased 100 to 10,000 times with respect to previous capabilities. ESRF-EBS is the world’s first fourth-generation high-energy synchrotron, and represents a disruptive step for X-ray science in the 3D+ and time-resolved exploration of condensed and living matter. The ESRF’s user community requested the ESRF UP and the EBS to address compelling science goals, in line with UNESCO's objectives for sustainable development and with the global challenges identified by the EU's Horizon Europe research and innovation programme, which are fully grounded on the human society, planet earth sustainability and health challenges. They are: (1) Health innovation, overcoming diseases and pandemics, (2) Materials for tomorrow's innovative and sustainable industry, (3) Clean energy transition, sustainable energy storage and clean hydrogen technologies, (4) Planetary research and geoscience, (5) Environmental and climate challenges, (6) Bio-based economy and food security, and (7) Humanity and world cultural heritage. Thanks to the ESRF UP and EBS, the ESRF’s user community continues growing and diversifying, even after 30 years of operation. To date, the ESRF has served ~ 160,000 users from across 60 countries since it started operation in 1994. Over 300 clients use the ESRF for proprietary studies, and some 30% of the ESRF public research involves industry partners, as synchrotron radiation is increasingly used as a response to industrial challenges.
Total Investment 128 M€ Design 1 M€ Preparation 1 M€ Implementation 150 M€ Operation 85 M€/year Landmark 2006 2008 2010 2012 2014 2016 2018 2020 2022 2024 2026 2028 2030 2032 2034 2036 2038 RM06 RM08 RM10 RM16 RM18 RM21 LA24
Roadmap Entry
as project: 2016
as landmark: 2016
Total investment
128 M€
Design Phase
1 M€
Preparation Phase
1 M€
Implementation Phase
150 M€
Operation start
85 M€/year
The ESRF-EBS enhances Europe’s science output; maintains and strengthen Europe’s leadership in synchrotron science and instrumentation; boosts capacities in European industry; trains and educates young scientists and engineers to the benefit of European academia and innovation cycle; supports and stimulates European industry in the global high-technology marketplace; develops best practices and procedures to minimise its environmental impact and carbon footprint . The ESRF-EBS engineering challenges have boosted industrial capacity in areas such as magnet and detector technologies, and nano-manipulation, control systems, vacuum, mechatronics, precision mechanics and high-power radiofrequency for accelerator technologies. ESRF developments in data management, analyses and open access repositories influence science and technology outcome at European and global levels with an impact in the broader field of analytical science and facilities, and in nurturing FAIR data principles and adapted AI based machine learning algorithms for data production and exploitation. The ESRF disseminates all of its scientific and technical developments. As a result, the EBS enhances the role of Europe in science and technology. For example, nineteen new synchrotron projects worldwide (seven in Europe) are based on the EBS concept and technology, representing a ~10 B€ stimulus to world economy. The ESRF-EBS contributes to making national research centres more effective, raising the quality of research. It also enhances transnational cooperation, facilitating exchanges of knowledge and expertise. Highly specialised personnel trained at the ESRF in many areas, including EBS-related activities, now play pivotal roles in institutions in Europe and beyond, often in leading positions.
The ESRF provides free physical and remote access (104 000 hours of public beamtime per year for scientific exploitation) on its 48 experimental stations (beamlines and Cryo-electron microscope), for excellence based scientific academic and industrial research, and non-profit, real-cost based proprietary – non-military – non-proliferation industrial access; assistance from facility scientists, engineers, and technical staff in the preparation, execution and follow-up of user experiments, according to the beamtime allocation cost model (free or non-profit, real-cost); access to state-of-the-art ancillary support laboratories and expertise, including facilities issued by the Partnership for Structural Biology (jointly with the EMBL, the ILL, and the IBS), and the Partnership for Soft Condensed Matter Science (jointly with the ILL); use of the IT infrastructure for data analysis, retrieval, storage, and open access (up to 10 years); sale of equipment and services (including use of ESRF laboratories and consultancy) developed in-house in fields such as X-ray optics, detectors, electronics, IT, accelerator technologies and sample environment; the implementation of a powerful training and education programme centred on the ESRF funded post-doctoral (60 positions/year) and PhD (40 positions/year) programmes. These positions are increased by typically 10% and 50% respectively thanks to cofounded programmes with the EC, the academy and industry; and ad-hoc training actions for ESRF users and yearly schools for the next generation of scientists and engineers (HERCULES for graduate students, ESRF-ILL Summer School for undergraduates, Synchrotron@School for high-school students). Finally, ESRF is increasingly supporting the ERC by welcoming its laureates (10 active grants in 2024).
S S H D I G I T E N E E N V H & F
As a founding member of EIROforum, LEAPS and the EOSC Association, the ESRF designed, with CERN, the ATTRACT initiative, which has received funding through two EC grants. Additionally, the ESRF is actively involved in the European Open Science Cloud through two EC grants and EOSC Future. The ESRF collaborates with LEAPS members (Diamond Light Source, DESY, CELLS-ALBA, Elletra, MAX-IV, PSI), EIROforum partners (CERN, EMBL, ESS, EU-XFEL and ILL), and international research organisations, such as APS (USA), SPRING-8 (Japan), and IHEP (China). The ESRF initiated and leads several international collaborations: TANGO, a free open source device-oriented controls toolkit for controlling any kind of hardware or software and building SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems: Soleil, Elettra, ALBA, MAX-IV, DESY, SOLARIS, INAF, SKAO, SKA SA, ELI. MXCuBE, an easy-to-use software platform for crystallography beamline users: Soleil, CELLS-ALBA, MAX_IV, DESY, HZB, Global Phasing, EMBL, Elettra, CNPEM, NSRRC. ISPyB, a Laboratory Information Management System combining sample tracking and experiment reporting at synchrotron beamlines: Soleil, DLS, MAX IV, HZB, EMBL, Global Phasing Ltd, ALBA. The ESRF collaborates with some ESFRI projects mostly in Physical Sciences & Engineering.