Large Scale Facilities

The Paul Scherrer Institute operates three large scale facilities: a third-generation synchrotron X-ray source (SLS), the only continuous spallation neutron source in the world (SINQ) and the world's most powerful continuous-beam μSR facility (SμS).


Swiss Spallation Neutron Source (SINQ)

Neutron scattering is one of the most effective ways to obtain information on both, the structure and the dynamics of condensed matter. A wide scope of problems, ranging from fundamental to solid state physics and chemistry, and from materials science to biology, medicine and environmental science, can be investigated with neutrons. Aside from the scattering techniques, non-diffractive methods like imaging techniques can also be applied with increasing relevance for industrial applications.

The spallation neutron source SINQ is a continuous source - the first of its kind in the world - with a flux of about 1014 n/cm2/s. Beside thermal neutrons, a cold moderator of liquid deuterium (cold source) slows neutrons down and shifts their spectrum to lower energies. These neutrons have proved to be particularly valuable in materials research and in the investigation of biological substances. SINQ is a user facility. Interested groups can apply for beamtime on the various instruments by using the SINQ proposal system.

Homepage Spallation Neutron Source (SINQ)


Swiss Light Source (SLS)

The Swiss Light Source (SLS) at the Paul Scherrer Institut is a third-generation synchrotron light source. In the design of SLS a high priority was given to the items quality (high brightness), flexibility (wide wavelength spectrum) and stability (very stable temperature conditions) for the primary electron beam and the secondary photon beams.


Main component of the SLS is the 2.4 GeV electron storage ring of 288 m circumference. It provides photon beams of high brightness for research in materials science, biology and chemistry. As of June 2009 SLS has eighteen experimental stations (undulators and bending magnets) and sixteen operational beamlines. There are three protein crystallography beam-lines, two of which are partially funded by associations of Swiss pharmaceutical companies including Novartis, Roche, Actelion, Boehringer Ingelheim and Proteros.

Homepage Swiss Light Source (SLS)


Swiss Muon Source (SμS)

The Swiss muon source – powered by the PSI 590 MeV cyclotron with a proton current of 2200 mA – is the world's most intense continuous beam muon source. The proton beam hits two graphite targets. Attached to those are seven beamlines for muon (or pion) extraction, two of them are equipped with superconducting decay channels. The available muon energies range from 0.5 keV to 60 MeV.

The main advantage of continuous muon beams is the detection of individual muons by fast- timing scintillation counters, easily providing nanosecond or better time resolution of the muon response. This allows one to extend μSR studies to much higher muon-spin precession frequencies (hundreds of MHz, corresponding to magnetic fields of several Tesla) and shorter muon-spin relaxation times compared to pulsed muon sources, where the time resolution is limited by the muon pulse duration (typically 50 ns). Thus, at the European level, the PSI SμS facility perfectly complements the ISIS pulsed muon source.

SμS disposes of 6 state-of-the-art µSR instruments capable of covering a large range of muons kinetic energies. Each of the instruments is equipped with a full suite of modern sample environment making available a large range of experimental parameters as temperature (0.01K - 1200K), pressure (≤ 2.5GPa) or magnetic field (≤ 5T).

Homepage Swiss Muon Source (SμS)


The high-intensity proton accelerator (HIPA)

The cyclotron facility contains a cascade of three accelerators that deliver a proton beam of 590 MeV energy at a current up to 2 mA (1.2 MW). The proton beam is pre-accelerated in a Cockcroft-Walton column to an energy of 870 keV and this is increased to 72 MeV in the 4-sector Injector 2 cyclotron. Final acceleration of the main beam to 590 MeV occurs in the large 8-sector Ring Cyclotron, from which the beam is transported through the experimental hall in a shielded tunnel.

The main beam passes through two pion production targets whereby the proton energy is reduced to 570 MeV. After passing through the targets the beam can either be dumped in a beam stopper or can be recaptured and bent downwards through a sloping drift tube for onward transport to the SINQ-facility adjacent to the main experimental hall.

The Ring Cyclotron at PSI is a separated-sector cyclotron with a fixed beam energy of 590 MeV, built by PSI and commissioned in 1974. Injector-2, also a separated-sector cyclotron built by PSI, makes it possible to boost the beam intensity into the milli-Ampere range. A special injection technique balancing bunching and space charge effects results in the acceleration of very intense beams in a narrow phase width.

The 72-MeV beam from Injector-2, is injected into an orbit in the centre of the Ring, accelerated over about 220 revolutions and extracted at the full energy. The design is based on criteria that allow for operation at high beam intensities: an open structure of four large and powerful RF-cavities providing a high acceleration voltage, and a flat-top cavity operating at the third harmonic of the accelerating RF-voltage. The resulting strong, phase-independent, energy gain per revolution results in good turn separation and hence beam extraction with low beam losses. This is a mandatory condition for high-current operation in a cyclotron.

Homepage Proton Accelerator (ABE)

Further information

PSI Scientific Reports

Archive 2006-2012. The Scientific Reports – containing accounts of research topics from all the different areas – provide an impression of the variety of subjects researched at PSI.

Beamline Finder

Methods offered at the PSI user facilities SINQ, SLS and SμS.

How to apply?

A short description of the procedures relevant to proposals at the PSI user facilities.

User Office

The PSI User Office is a central PSI installation to serve the users from all the four user laboratories.

Digital User Office (DUO)

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PSI User Facilities Newsletter

Current News from PSI photon, neutron and muon user facilities