Large Research Facilities
The Paul Scherrer Institute operates five large research facilities: a third-generation synchrotron X-ray source SLS, the Swiss X-ray Free Electron Laser SwissFEL, a new generation of light source offering novel experimental capabilities in diverse areas of science by providing very intense and tightly focused beams of X-rays. Furthermore, PSI operates the only continuous spallation neutron source in the world SINQ, the world's most powerful continuous-beam μSR facility SμS and the Swiss Research Infrastructure for Particle Physics CHRISP, including the most powerful source internationally for ultracold neutrons UCN, which helps to clarify fundamental questions in physics. SINQ, SμS and CHRISP are driven by the high-intensity proton accelerator (HIPA).
Explore the PSI beamline and instrument finder to learn more about the methods and scopes of the Large Research Facilities.
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.
Swiss X-ray Free Electron Laser (SwissFEL)
The Swiss X-ray Free Electron Laser (SwissFEL) is a new generation of light source offering novel experimental capabilities in diverse areas of science by providing very intense and tightly focused beams of X-rays. This novel technology holds exceptional promises for diverse areas of scientific research.
Swiss X-ray Free Electron Laser (SwissFEL) provides unprecedented insights into structures as small as an atom and into phenomena as fast as the vibrations of molecular bonds. It also reveals the secrets behind the inner complexity of technologically relevant materials.
Swiss Light Source (SLS)
The Swiss Light Source (SLS) at the Paul Scherrer Institut is a third-generation synchrotron light source, which offers 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. The SLS has, since June 2009, 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 with Swiss pharmaceutical companies including Novartis, Roche, Actelion, Boehringer Ingelheim and Proteros.
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).
Swiss Research Infrastructure for Particle Physics CHRISP
With the help of CHRISP, researchers use the internationally most powerful source of ultracold neutrons, among other things, to investigate how our universe is structured, determine fundamental natural constants with the highest precision and search for deviations in the current standard model of particle physics. They also develop and test detectors for experiments at PSI, for space missions and for the European research centre CERN in Geneva.
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.