Preliminary Agenda Workshop "The Laser Ascent to Subatomic Physics and Applications"

XCELS as a prospective project for international collaboration

XCELS is one of the six mega-science projects to be implemented in the territory of Russia that was chosen by the RF Government on a competitive basis in 2011. This initiative is analogous to the European Programme ESFRI aimed at establishing new research infrastructures within the framework of All-European scientific co-operation. One of the basic requirements to the Russian mega-science projects is participation in constructing and exploiting research complexes of foreign partners. The participation is understood in a wide sense, including execution of research programs, equipment of laboratories, operating costs, technology exchange, design and projection works, and so on.  
The XCELS project aimed at establishing an international center for the study of extreme light fields is the only Russian mega-science project in the field of laser physics. That is why it is in the center of attention of the Russian laser and optical community. It is also attracting keen interest of a number of foreign laboratories, agencies, and companies. Two recent events are of particular importance in this connection
A unique scientific Workshop "TheLaserAscenttoSubatomicPhysicsandApplications" took place at the French Embassy in Moscow on April 26 this year. It was organized by the Embassy of France in Russia together with the International Center for Zetta-Exawatt Science and Technology(IZEST) and the Institute of Applied Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IAP). The meeting was co-chaired by Jean-Marie Freyssinet, the Counselor for Science, Technology and Space of the French Embassy, Gerard Mourou, the Director of International Center for Zetta-Exawatt Science and Technology, and Alexander Litvak, the Director of IAP.   About 70 scientists, from Russia, France, other European countries, China and Taiwan participated in the event. The meeting was highlighted by presentations of multipetawatt laser projects in France, Russia, Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary, and China. A special attention was drawn to the Russian project XCELS, the European research infrastructure ELI (talks by Florian Glikson, Nicolae-Victor Zamfir, and Lorant Lehrner), and the French project LMJ (Jean-Luc Miquel). The interest of industry to prospective laser developments was demonstrated in the talks of Dennis Levaillant (Thales Optronics) and Alexander Fertman (Skolkovo Foundation)
The Ambassador of France in Russia Mr. Jean de Gliniasty, the Assistant in science to the RF President Mr. Andrey Fursenko, and the Head of the Research Programmes of the French Nuclear Energy Commissariat (CEA) Mr. Thierry Massard welcomed the participants in the introductory talks. Memoranda of collaboration in the area of extreme light between CEA, Ecole Polytechnique and IAP, and between CEA, Ecole Polytechnique and Russian National Nuclear University (MEPhI) were signed later in the evening. In the frame of the first MoU the parties have agreed to cooperate in the following mutually beneficial areas:

  • Promoting creation of XCELS, the Exawatt Center for Extreme Light Studies, a new mega-science class research infrastructure in Russia with the international vocation that is based on construction at IAP RAS of a 200 PW laser with the OPCPA (Optical Parametric Chirped Pulse Amplification) architecture.
  • Promoting development of IZEST, the International Center for Zetawatt and Exawatt Science and Technology, a joint research and development project of EP and CEA that is dedicated to unite efforts of scientists and research organizations worldwide in exploration of new routes in mastering the beyond-Exawatt power level.
  • Supporting collaboration between French and Russian research laboratories in the area of extreme light science, application, and technologies; promoting partnership of appropriate laboratories to form consortia capable of performing complementary research and going into international competition.

On May 16, a delegation of the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the European Commission met with leaders of the mega-science projects at the RF Ministry of Education and Science. The delegation was headed by Mrs. Ana Arana Antelo, the head of Unit for Research Infrastructures, and included several European experts, well-known scientists Robert Aymar, Susana Gota Goldmann, Jean Moulin, Steve Myers, Horst Stoeker. By this meeting the EC started evaluation of prospective cooperation between ESFRI and the Russian mega-science program and inclusion of some Russian projects to the European research infrastructure roadmap. The EC appointed certain experts for each project, Susana Gota Goldman (CEA) and Wolfgang Sandner (ELI) being responsible for XCELS evaluation.
A particular interest of the EC to the XCELS project is explained by its complementarity to the European research infrastructure ELI that is one of the major projects of the ESFRI roadmap  
ELI – Extreme Light Infrastructure – aims at creating in Europe new scientific centers based on superhigh-power laser complexes the radiation of which may be used for a wide scope of basic and applied research. The ELI project is intended for construction of 4 research centers dedicated to different trends: 1) creation of sources of charged particles and hard electromagnetic radiation with unique characteristics; 2) attosecond physics; 3) nuclear optics; and 4) producing laser fields of extreme intensity for studying new states of matter and vacuum. The construction of the first three centers based on lasers with a peak power of about 10 petawatt is funded (more than 800 M Euro) from European Structural Funds allocated for East-European countries: Czech Republic, Hungary, and Romania. At the stage of center construction up to 2017, the project management was entrusted to ELIDelivery Consortium International Association, a non-profit organization after Belgian law (AISBL) that was formed in April 2013. The Director-General of the Association is Prof. W. Sandner.
Construction of the fourth ELI center that is intended to be equipped with the world’s most powerful subexawatt laser complex is currently pending in the EC countries for financial and technological reasons. The Russian project XCELS has characteristics comparable or even superior to those planned by European colleagues for the fourth ELI center. That is why evaluation of a possibility to combine the efforts of the ΕΡ and Russia for constructing a unified pan-European infrastructure ELI+XCELS functioning on the basis of coordinated activity of 4 centers. The European experts believe that this cooperation opens up a unique opportunity for EC countries to implement in full the ELI project and for Russia to become an equitable partner of the All-European scientific community. A legal form of Russian participation in the ELI+XCELS alliance may be associated membership in the European research infrastructural consortium (ERIC) – a new type of legal entity specially developed by EC for construction and functioning of research infrastructures comprising several centers in different countries.
The next meeting of EU experts with mega-science project leaders is appointed for June 19 in Brussels, and the report on prospective cooperation, including possible promotion of the ELI+XCELS alliance, will be presented to the EC in August this year.