06 Jun 2023

Joint ELI User Programme matures with launch of 2nd Call for Users

As the ELI Facilities shift from construction to initial user operation, opening the ELI Facilities to scientific users is a key activity for ELI. The first year of the Joint ELI User Programme launched two User Calls making available commissioned scientific equipment to the international user community for some of the first state-of-the-art experiments to be performed at ELI. A centralised ELI User Portal provides scientists a single point of access. It is an essential step for ELI to bring its facilities together and demonstrate the readiness to perform groundbreaking science.

User Access


Providing excellence-based access to the international community is the core mission for ELI. ELI ERIC is charged with managing an integrated system for coordinating users and providing a single point of access to all capabilities available at the ELI Facilities. The ELI ERIC Access Policy defines the scope and key principles for access based on three modes. Excellence-based access entails scientific evaluation of proposals by international peer-review panels. Mission-based access is focused on thematic areas of research granted on the basis of specific scientific missions also peer reviewed. The results of experiments conducted through both of these modes are expected to be published openly. Finally, the mode of proprietary access ensures a route for industrial or other users, where results may be retained for cost of using the facility. Access to the ELI Facilities is competitive, international, and open to users worldwide.

First Call

The First Joint User Call was launched in early June 2022. As part of the First Call 10 instruments chains were offered focused on instruments with demonstrated readiness and reliability and most extensive operational experience. Some key equipment of the ELI ERIC Facilities included the Mid-Infrared laser system, the station for AMO (atomic, molecular and optical) science and coherent diffractive imaging and the E4 (100 TW beam) system at ELI NP. This suite of sources and instruments enabled users to conduct measurements on the properties of atomic, molecular, and solid-state systems, which is some of the foundational science of ELI. A total of 44 proposals from 22 different countries were received, and users started to conduct the first experiments at all three ELI Facilities from the beginning of November 2022. Publications of results from experiments are forthcoming.

Second Call


The 2nd Joint Call for Users was announced in early 2023 with the deadline for proposals submission by April. The scope of the available equipment for these state-of-the-art experiments has broadened significantly and includes 5 primary lasers, 10 secondary sources, 11 endstations and 6 standalone or experimental platforms. In addition to those available during the First Call, additional equipment offered includes the SYLOS Alignement (SEA) (10 Hz / 40 mJ / 12fs) and HR1 (100 kHz / 1 mJ / 8 fs) among other high-field THz sources, the L3 (13 J / 27 fs / 3.3 Hz) and L4n (500 J / 2-10 ns / 1 shot/min) lasers, and the 1 PW laser at ELI NP.

Between all 3 ELI Facilities a total of 102 proposals were received from 23 countries representing significant growth from the First Call. The new and existing primary sources and the associated secondary sources, enable a variety of research. Along with the sources, the support infrastructure in terms of tools, diagnostics, and expertise have matured at all three of the Facilities. In the 2nd Call, the most proposals were submitted in the fields of AMO science, surface and materials science, as well as accelerators and particles, while other areas include bio/life sciences, plasma physics and relativistic and ultrarelativistic interactions.

ELI ERIC Director of Science, Andrew Harrison, leads and coordinates the ELI User Programme in close collaboration with the scientific teams at the ELI Facilities, including ELI ALPS Science Director, Katalin Varjú, and ELI Beamlines Director of Research and Operations, Daniele Margarone, together with Zita Varadi who leads the IMPULSE Task 5.1 – Setting-up and development of user management processes and user offices. The IMPULSE project facilitates the cooperation to develop tools and processes necessary for the implementation of the call. This led to a more unified approach to user access and has greatly supported working together more closely across the Facilties. This team will be responsible to define the future scope and priorities of building a world-leading scientific User Programme. A close cooperation with a variety of stakeholders including the scientific user community and policy stakeholders in Europe and worldwide is expected with a variety of outreach activities supporting the engagement with the user community.

“ELI is unique in terms of world-leading science and technology,” says ELI ERIC Director of Science Andrew Harrison. “With our core mission to provide seamless access to this state-of-the-art research equipment to as many excellent users as possible, we are looking forward to further developing our User Programme and scientific potential. This is a team effort which is made possible by more than 700 hundred ELI staff across the 3 countries and the high number of proposals received is a testament to their joint contributions and hard work.”

The Peer-Review-Panel (PRP) was hosted in Prague on 5-6 June during which 45 external experts reviewed and evaluated the submitted proposals of the 2nd Call. Peer review panel members are all recognised experts in their field. ELI places significant importance on the independence, quality and transparency of the external refereeing and selection process. The review process is critical in ensuring scientific excellence at ELI and the contribution of the panel members is important for the overall success of the Call. The Joint User Programme is expected to launch two User Calls a year going forward.

The Joint ELI User Programme is supported by the Horizon 2020 funded IMPULSE project in several areas including scientific, technical, and administrative assistance through the implementation of a single point of access and management system.