The ELI Project

Main characteristics    


ELI will be the world’s first international laser research infrastructure, pursuing unique science and research applications for international users.

ELI will be implemented as a distributed research infrastructure based initially on 3 specialised and complementary facilities located in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania.

ELI is the first ESFRI project to be fully implemented in the newer EU Member States.

ELI is pioneering a novel funding model combining the use of EU structural funds (ERDF) for the implementation, and member contributions to a yet to be established European Research Infrastructure Consortium ERIC for the operation.



Scientific background and the "ELI White book"

Laser intensities have increased by several orders of magnitude in the last few decades, now reaching frontiers where the laws of light-matter interaction change fundamentally due to the dominance of relativistic effects in the dynamics of charged particles under the influence of laser light.                                
Among the important by-products of this field there are novel mechanisms for the generation of highly energetic particles, x-rays and gamma-rays, and their applications in various disciplines ranging from fundamental physics to materials research and life sciences. A wealth of discoveries has been made by current lasers in the near-relativistic regime, and many more fundamental effects and applications have been predicted during ELI's preparatory phase at higher laser powers and intensities.                              
ELI will increase the available laser power by at least one order of magnitude in its first three pillars, and by another order of magnitude in its fourth, ultra-high-intensity pillar. One important aspect of ELI is the possibility to produce ultra-short pulses of high energy photons, electrons, protons, neutrons, muons and neutrinos in the attosecond and possibly sub-attosecond regimes on demand. Time-domain studies will allow unraveling the attosecond dynamics in atomic, molecular and plasma physics.                              
As a result of the Preparatory Phase the "ELI White Book" has been compiled, comprising the coordinated efforts of more than 100 scientific authors from 13 countries under the leadership of the ELI initiator Gerard Mourou, and under the guidance of an international Steering Committee. The White Book is a comprehensive description of ELI's technical design concept and scientific case as of the end of 2010. It is the reference basis for the Technical Design Reports developed by the three sites ELI-Beamlines, ELI-ALPS and ELI-NP in the context of their EU Structural Funds applications.

The ELI White Book can be downloaded from here.      

Foreseen impact

ELI will be the gateway to new regimes in fundamental physics. At the same time, it will also promote the advent of new technologies, such as novel laser-plasma-accelerators delivering particles and photon sources with extremely high energies beyond the physical limits of conventional technologies. ELI will contribute to societal benefits in medicine, due to its basic research on new radiography and hadron therapy methods. It will also contribute to material science with the possibility to unravel and control dynamical effects in micro-electronics by use of novel laser-based, ultra-short-pulse x-rays. It may help investigating and controlling aging processes in materials under extreme conditions, such as in nuclear reactors, and help protecting the environment by offering new ways to treat nuclear waste.
Due to its unique characteristics as the first international laser user facility ELI will open a new era of laser-based research, attracting the world's best researchers to world-wide unique research opportunities
ELI will promote an aggressive technology transfer. Fields such as laser and particle accelerator engineering, nuclear pharmacology, oncology, X-ray and gamma-ray imaging could be revolutionized by ELI.


The Preparatory Phase (PP) of the ELI project started in November 2008 and finished in December 2010. It was funded by the European Commission with about 6 Mio. Euro.
The Implementation Phase of the first three pillars, proceeding in parallel in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania, started in 2011 and is expected to be completed in 2017. It is being funded by a combination of European Regional Development Funds (ERDF) and national contributions from the host countries, totaling about 850 Mio. Euros. It is coordinated by the ELI Delivery Consortium International Association (AISBL), comprising of representatives from the three host countries and other countries.
ELI's Operation Phase is expected to commence in 2018. The three pillars will be operated, governed and funded by a newly established European Research Infrastructure Consortium ERIC, composed of interested member countries. ELI will operate as an international laser user facility, open to access by an international user community.


- Timeline of ELI -


- Budget evolution for ELI -