ELI Szeged Laser Center | Károly Árvai/

EU Laser Research Center Opens in Szeged

May 26, 2017

The European Union's ELI-ALPS (Extreme Light Infrastructure Attosecond Light Pulse Source) laser research center was inaugurated in Szeged, SE Hungary. The center's budget was HUF 70 billion (EUR 22.6 million), from which 85% was provided by the European Union’s Regional Development Fund. According to scientists, this project is expected to open new avenues to reveal the secrets of matter on ultrashort timescales.

At the official opening ceremony,
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán called the complex the largest scientific
development project in modern Hungarian history. “The Research Center is not a
project enabling us to catch up with Europe, but one with which Europe is
catching up with the world”, he said.

Viktor Orbán told reporters
that “the research performed at the center could pave the way for technologies
based on atomic processes, and could place outstandingly effective instruments
at the disposal of other scientific fields, such as biology and medicine.”

Lóránt Lehner, Managing
Director of ELI HU Non-profit Ltd., the company tasked with coordinating the
establishment of the center, said that the acquisition of research equipment
has occurred in parallel with construction, and it will soon be installed and

The ELI Laser Research Center
occupies some 24,500 square meters across five buildings (once the site of Soviet
military barracks): Building A houses the various research areas; Building B
contains laboratories, preparation workshops and research offices; the main
building, which is also home to the knowledge center, houses the conference
hall, the library, seminar rooms, the management office and the refectory;
service and maintenance units and the reception area also occupy separate

The center is the Hungarian
pillar of the European Union’s ELI project; other sites being built in Prague
and Bucharest. The Szeged Research Center stands out among the world’s other
high-intensity laser installations because it can generate the most and
shortest laser impulses per second, enabling the observation of atomic
processes within molecules. The currently unique infrastructure in the institution
can make ultrashort laser pulse resources accessible to the international
scientific community in the fields of physics, biology, chemistry, medicine and
material sciences.

The location for the Laser
Research Center in Szeged was selected in 2006, while the application for the
project was initiated by the government in 2009. The Center is expected to
begin operating at full capacity in 2019, after linking to the laser research
infrastructures being built in the Czech Republic and Romania.


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