Free electron laser strategic review

Download the free electron laser (FEL) strategic review report 2016.


15 May 2019 – Science case update for a UK FEL

In light of progress against STFC’s strategy for FELs in recent years, and recognising the growing experience of the UK Science Community, STFC is seeking to update the science case for a UK-based FEL.

The aim of this update was to focus on transformative scientific opportunities that would be enabled by a UK FEL and to conduct an assessment of these in the context of the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) strategic prospectus and government priorities. This includes identifying the performance gap between current, planned and required capabilities and capacities to exploit the identified opportunities but not, at this stage a detailed technical design.

STFC asked Professor Jon Marangos from Imperial College London to lead this science case update. Professor Marangos was assisted by a science team assembled from UK universities and institutes, together with an internal team within STFC. Collectively, the process took about one year to complete.

A key element was to assess the level of interest within the UK scientific community through a survey and a series of dedicated follow-up workshops. The process started with a town meeting at the Royal Society.

We hope that those with an interest in the opportunities offered by FEL-based science will participate in the events planned and the development of this update.

Further updates are available on the CLF website.

June 2015 – STFC review to determine a strategy for UK provision of FEL facilities

The purpose of the FEL strategic review was to develop a:

  • 15 to 20 year vision for UK FEL science
  • seven-year strategy for FEL access, UK FEL facility provision, community development, and underpinning technology and skills.

The major focus of the review was  X-rays, but it also examined the UK community’s needs for lower energy machines and incorporate this into the strategy. The UK has committed to becoming a full member of the European XFEL facility (under construction near Hamburg, Germany), and this review will provide the framework for making decisions on any further FEL commitments the UK may make.

The review will be carried out between March and July 2015.

FEL strategic review terms of reference

As part of the programmatic review, STFC’s Science Board considered the future of large facility provision for the UK and made the following statement and recommendation.

The national and international context for large facility provision and future planning is evolving rapidly, and a coherent strategy for the future development of UK large facility provision must be developed. We recommend that the Science Board lead reviews in the areas of neutron and photon provision and develop a coherent strategy for UK large facility provision.

The STFC Executive Board previously considered how to implement this recommendation, and it is recognised that free electron lasers is a key area where the UK and STFC needs to develop a strategy for facility provision. The Executive has agreed the following terms of reference and process for the development of FEL strategy.

This strategy will:

  • identify the key science challenges that require FEL access
  • identify the requirements for FEL access in terms of both capability and capacity
  • identify opportunities for meeting these access requirements
  • provide a roadmap for user community development
  • identify the requirements for any underpinning technology or skills and capability needs, noting where such development may also be important for other types of facility.

Towards a UK FEL strategy

The purpose of this review is to produce a strategic document that includes:

  • a 15 to 20 year vision for UK FEL science
  • a seven-year strategy for FEL access, UK FEL facility provision, community development, and underpinning technology and skills.

This document will provide a basis for shaping future support for FEL science, FEL facility provision, and any long-term technology developments in areas such as accelerators and instrumentation.

To achieve this, an expert group will be convened which will ensure that all key stakeholders (including the other research councils, Wellcome Trust, relevant facility directors, technical experts, and academic and industrial user communities) are fully engaged in the process.

Terms of reference

Build on the outcome of the 2013 programme review

Follow the direction already established within STFC of participation in XFEL and CLARA, to examine the long-term key science challenges that require FEL access based on inputs from the UK research councils, the UK science community via relevant STFC advisory panels and user groups, industrial stakeholders, and relevant facility directors. This includes:

  • exploring the scientific and industrial opportunities arising from FEL science that will benefit the UK
  • exploring any competing experimental methods
  • identifying any potential impacts on other facility provision.

Identify requirements to address key FEL science challenges

This includes:

  • identifying FEL access requirements in terms of both capability and capacity
  • exploring the best approach to develop the UK FEL community.

Identify the means for meeting the UK’s FEL access requirements

This includes:

  • examining the current international landscape for FEL facilities based on currently available strategies and roadmaps
  • identifying potential future facility opportunities in the UK and abroad (including developments of existing facilities), evaluating their advantages and disadvantages based on fit to UK need, technological feasibility, and barriers to access, and identifying how they could be delivered
  • identifying any technologies that need to be developed in areas such as accelerators, detectors or instrumentation or skills that need to be maintained in the UK in order to underpin future UK FEL science.

Identify potential capital and operating costs

This includes potential technology and instrumentation research and development costs.

Last updated: 31 March 2022

This is the website for UKRI: our seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Let us know if you have feedback or would like to help improve our online products and services.