Facilities and Instruments
The Paul Scherrer Institute runs Switzerland's large scale research facilities for users from the national and international scientific community, in particular for condensed matter, materials science, particle physics and biology research. PSI is one of the very few locations in the world providing the three complementary probes of synchrotron X-rays, neutrons and muons at one site.
Two scientists preparing a neutron scattering experiment at one of the SINQ user instruments.
The world’s most powerful High Intensity Proton Accelerator HIPA with its 590MeV, 1.4MW proton beam drives several user facilities: Neutrons are produced at the continuous spallation source (SINQ) – the only one of its kind worldwide. SINQ is a state-of-the-art user facility for neutron scattering and imaging with a suite of totally 18 instruments. The Swiss Muon Source (SμS) is the world's most intense continuous muon source, with 6 beamlines available for experiments using muons as sensitive local magnetic probes. The source for ultracold neutrons (UCN) provides the highest intensities of very slow neutrons. UCN in two areas and muons at three beam lines are used in high-precision particle physics experiments to investigate the limits of the Standard Model of particle physics, complementary to the experiments at the highest energies at CERN’s LHC.
Synchrotron X-rays are available at the Swiss Light Source (SLS) – a third-generation synchrotron light source based on a 2.4 GeV electron ring and providing photon beams of high brightness at 21 end stations for user experiments. In 2018 the latest PSI User Facility started operation: the X-Ray Free-Electron Laser Facility SwissFEL provides ultrashort, intense X-ray pulses for the investigation of ultrafast processes and the determination of molecular structures. One beam line for hard X-rays is already in operation, another one for soft X-rays under construction.
On all those facilities PSI runs open access user programs, beamtime is provided based on peer reviewed scientific proposals.
In addition to the user facilities at the accelerators, PSI runs further laboratories that also provide support for external users, for example the Hot Laboratory operated by the Nuclear Energy and Safety Department that allows investigations on highly radioactive samples and components.