Romania to Start Building Giant EU-Funded Laser


By Marian Chiriac|Bucharest

June 18, 2013

The lasers facility, which is to be housed in a nuclear physics research centre in Magurele, a few kilometers south of Bucharest, is part of the wider “Extreme Light Infrastructure”, ELI-NP, project, designed to push the boundaries of laser-based nuclear physics by coupling a high-energy particle accelerator with a high-power laser.

Once built and operational, the Romanian facility will serve as a pan-European laboratory, supporting studies of nuclear physics and astrophysics, as well as advances in materials science and medicine.

Research teams at the site will also look at new ways to handle radioactive waste.

Work at the new construction is to start on Friday, with representatives from the Romanian government and the EU, including European Commissioner for Regional Policy, Johannes Hahn, attending the inauguration event.

The main building will not be in direct contact with the ground, instead, it will be built on giant shock absorbers to insulate the buildings and the lasers within from any seismic activity. “No vibration at all can be tolerated. The whole building will rest on a set of shock absorbers and will thus be decoupled from the ground, sitting on an ultra-seismic dampening system,” the Education Minister Mihnea Costoiu explained.

The total costs of the lasers facility is estimated at around 356.2 million euro, with EU funds covering 83 per cent of the amount and the remainder supplied by Romania.

The first stage is scheduled for completion in 2014, after which the lasers themselves will be constructed and the facility should be operational sometime in 2017.

Two other facilities are being built in Hungary and the Czech Republic. ELI-NP is a European project, involving nearly 40 research and academic institutions from 13 EU member states.

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