European Synchrotron Radiation Facility

 courtesy ESRF 

General Description

The ESRF (European Synchrotron Radiation Facility) is one of the world’s most intense sources of x-rays and is used for fundamental and innovation-driven research in condensed and living matter science. It is located in Grenoble, France, employs more than 600 staff and has been operational since 1994.

X-rays at the ESRF are 10'000 billion times brighter than those delivered by standard hospital x-ray equipment. An electron beam circulating in a 320m diameter vacuum tube storage ring passes through arrays of magnets (undulators) which generates intense beams of x-rays for use in 42 beamline experiments. Each beamline is dedicated to specific experimental techniques. A beam line is 30m to 130m long with a beam size from 100mm to 20nm and an energy range from 1keV to 150keV. The main circulating electron beam has an energy of 6 GeV. 

The ESRF has embarked upon an ambitious and innovative modernisation project, the Upgrade Programme. Phase I (2009-2015) delivered new instruments, improved the quality of the x-ray light, and expanded the office and administration facilities. Phase 2 (2015-2022) is the construction of the ESRF Extremely Brilliant Source (ESRF-EBS), a new storage ring built inside the existing infrastructure with performance increased by a factor of 100.

This programme will require industry engagement for the development of innovative magnets, complex ultra-high vacuum systems, precision nano-mechanics and x-ray optical components, novel x-ray detection systems and a new generation of IT infrastructure for vast data handling.

Founding year: 1988   Members (13): France, Germany, Italy, UK, Spain, Switzerland, Benesync (Belgium, Netherlands), Nordsync (Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden), Russian Federation (since 2015)

Scientific Associates (8): Austria, Israel, Poland, Portugal, Centralsync (Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia), South Africa

ESRF Budget 2021: ~110 M€

Swiss financial contribution: ~4%

Swiss involved research institutes: Participation of 36 Swiss academic labs belonging to Uni BS, BE, FR, GE, ZH, ETHZ, EPFL, IBM Rüschlikon

Procurement policy

ESRF purchases goods and services in relation to its own procurement rules. Tenders are not disclosed on ESRF’s webpage.

In order to qualify for a specific tender, companies must be already known and selected by the ESRF or proposed by their national Industry Liaison Officer. Contracts are awarded following the "Best value for money" concept.

  • Orders above 50k must undergo an evaluation procedure and obtain at least three offers from suppliers among the member countries.
  • Orders above 300k€ are subject to a commercial evaluation done independently.
  • Orders above 500k€ are approved by the ‘Purchasing Event Committee’
  • Orders above 5M€ are arbitrated by the ESRF Council.

A fair geographical return principle is written in the ESRF member agreement terms. Re-alignement rules (<10% to best offer) apply . Yearly statistics on geographical return are available.

Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft
Confédération suisse
Confederazione Svizzera
Confederazium Svizra
Swiss Confederation


Federal Department of Ecomic Affairs,
Education and Research EAER
State Secretariat for Education,
Research and Innovation SERI
Uni Ge
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The Swiss Industry Liaison Office (ILO) is financed by the State Secretariat for Education Research and Innovation SERI. The Swiss ILO Convention signatory members supporting the ILO activity are EPFL, PSI, University of Geneva and SwissMEM.