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The 3rd IMPULSE Annual Meeting gathers project partners and showcases achievements

17 Nov 2023

The 3rd IMPULSE Annual Meeting took place on 14-15 November in Romania, hosted by the ELI NP Facility. The event brought together nearly 90 participants from all 14 project partners to review the achieved results and impact of the project, continue discussions around each Work Package, and outline the remaining milestones that need to be achieved before the project closes. This was also an opportunity to reviewing which activities are critical for ELI that should continue down the line.

The 42-month IMPULSE project is dedicated to supporting the transition of ELI to sustainable operations, and addresses the key scientific, technical, organisational, and management requirements of this process, building user communities and expanding the ELI membership. Creating a common platform between the ELI facilities, IMPULSE is an important facilitator of collaboration and plays a critical role in the seamless integration of ELI.

IMPULSE relies on the collective effort of a wide consortium involving 14 key institutions of the European science community. While the project focuses primarily on ELI, its results must have a clear impact beyond the ELI Facilities; it also brings together the largest concentration of the most advanced high-power, short-pulse laser facilities in the continent to drive science and innovation with laser technologies.

The IMPULSE project has been a key driver for the transition from construction into unified operations,” says ELI ERIC Director General Allen Weeks. “In the framework of the project, critical progress has been achieved with the integration ELI Beamlines into the ERIC in January 2023, the signing of the contracts for the integration of ELI ALPS at the start of 2024, as well as Romania being accepted as a Founding Observer in the ELI ERIC by the ELI ERIC General Assembly in June 2023. These are tremendous milestones that will bring ELI together as a single, multi-sited, international research infrastructure, as outline in the ELI ERIC Statutes.”

The project has brought a number of significant results for the Extreme Light Infrastructure as a whole which translate the integration of the Facilities into one organisation. Work Package 2 prepared the legal framework for the integrations, defined key processes, and facilitated the development of common ERP and IT systems. Work Packages 3 is developing standard operating procedures to align activities across the 3 Facilities, notably with a workshop on the Standardization of metrology procedures for lasers and secondary sources (STAMPLASS 2023), as well as with a database for the spare parts data management and accessibility across the ELI sites among many other milestones. Work Package 4 in turn has finalised the ELIAS coating system which will help the long-term sustainability of key opticial components and continued LIDT testing.

Additionally, the WP pushes forwards developments in standardised target design for experiments as well as using machine learning to find error patterns and improve operational efficiency. Work Package 6 laid down the foundations of the ELI Innovation Board and the ILO (Industry Liaison Office) network to enable further engagement with industrial partners. Work Package 7 promoted and implemented a broad range of communications activities within and outside the scope of IMPULSE and supported the work of all the other WPs. In 2023, more than 30 events were organised within and supported by IMPULSE and reached thousands of people from the key target audiences through media outlets and social platforms.

One of the most important achievements came out of Work Package 5 with the establishment of an ELI-wide User Office and the successful launch of the Joint ELI User Programme. This was made possible with the development of a dedicated User Portal, common processes and guidelines, and a unified training system to make sure that the same high-quality user access and services are provided at all the ELI Facilities. The development of the User Programme is a core mission for ELI and with the achievement of the 3rd User Call in 28 months since the initial launch and the aim to launch 2 User Calls per year, this is a key achievement for ELI and IMPULSE.

“IMPULSE is an ambitious project but thanks to the joint effort of all the project partners and all the staff involved, we are thrilled to see the positive impact for ELI and the community in general,” says Florian Gliksohn, Executive Director of ELI ERIC. “It is impossible to capture all the activities and work going into IMPULSE but we are happy to see closer cooperation and exchanges which are driving the joint operations and scientific activities with the extended community.”

The two-day programme of the 3rd Annual Meeting included plenary sessions involving all the project partners, with breakout discussions dedicated to the main impact areas to discuss achievements and outline future plans. The meeting was closed with a concluding and forward-looking session to possibly launch new initiatives and continue the broad collaboration among the scientific community.