The ISOLDE facility, located at CERN, is operated by the ISOLDE Collaboration. In May 1998 ISOLDE acquired the status of a Large Scale Facility within the TMR programme of the European Commission. The current contract within the Horizon Europe framework trans-national access programme of the EU project EURO-LABS (Grant no. 101057511) offers support for travel and subsistence for external users of the facility.
Since the conception of the idea of “isotope separation on-line” in the fifties and the first separation of short-lived radioactive isotopes in 1967 at CERN, ISOLDE has grown into a world-class RIB facility producing beams with high intensity and excellent emittance, at a wide range of energies, ideal for precision studies. These RIB beams are complementary to those produced by other methods. The isotopes are produced at CERN by the impact of a 1.4-GeV proton beam from the PS Booster (at average intensity up to 2 μA, typically 3.5x1013 protons per pulse) on a thick target that is hosted in a dedicated target/ion-source unit. The high proton beam energy and the accumulated target and ion-source knowledge, gathered over more than 50 years of ISOLDE operation, is a unique combination that allows the extraction and separation of more than 1200 different isotopes/isomers of more than 74 elements, from 4He up to 232Ac.
The facility provides low energy (30-60 keV) and post-accelerated radioactive ion beams. The latter are produced by combining the room-temperature and superconducting linear accelerators, providing beam energies between 2.8 and 9.2 MeV/u for A/Q=4.5 and up to 11 MeV/u for A/Q=3.5. Lower energies are available at discrete values: 0.5, 1.2, 1.55, 1.8 and 2.2 MeV/u. The beams accelerated in 2018, after full completion of the HIE-ISOLDE accelerator, illustrate the accessible range of elements, intensities, and energies: 5x105 pps of 28Mg at 9.5 MeV/u and 1x106 pps of 206Hg at 7.4 MeV/u.
Radioactive ion beams are delivered from two target and ion source units, using 20 different types of targets and five types of ion sources. For around two-thirds of experiments, the RILIS laser ion source is used, providing element-selective and efficient ionization for more than 30 elements. The two mass separators with resolving powers ∆M/M = 2000 (GPS) and 5000 (HRS) deliver beams, which are sent to the same distribution point (central beam line). After the HRS, a radiofrequency gas-filled Paul trap (ISCOOL) can be used to bunch beams with a user-defined bunch/release time. From the central beam line, one isobaric beam is distributed to one of a dozen of dedicated experimental installations in the low-energy and high-energy parts of the facility. A separate beamline from GPS can provide RIBs for materials research or isotope collections.
In 2014, new class-C laboratories were opened for the users, including extended space for condensed matter and biophysics with a separate chemistry laboratory, two large laser laboratories, a mechanical workshop, and a multi-purpose detector laboratory. The top floor of the new building includes data acquisition rooms, ISOLDE control room, and visitors’ areas.
Delivery of radioactive ion beams of energies at low energies (30-60 keV) or post-accelerated from 2.8 to 9.2 MeV/u for A/q=4.5 and up to 11 MeV/u for A/q=3.5. All ISOLDE users have access to the standard CERN services, including computing, library 24h, magazine store, electronics pool, restaurants, housing service, etc.
- ISOLDE users are registered through CERN’s Users’ Office (https://usersoffice.web.cern.ch/) as associates and thus have full access to the services offered by an international research centre. To be given access to the experimental hall they must pass several safety courses and obtain a personal dosimeter.
- The access to the radioactive beams is given according to the operational schedule whereas other infrastructure of the ISOLDE facility is continuously available for all users. The work is normally done on-site during 1-15 days depending on the project, typically accompanied by further measurements and/or data analysis performed in the users’ home institutes.
- The beam scheduling of all approved experiments is done to maximum overall facility efficiency, scientific output and quality. The ISOLDE Physics coordinator schedules approved experiments according to the users’ request and technical constraints.
- More than 95% of ISOLDE users are external, and the support offered to external users will also be provided to users covered by the EURO-LABS contract.
- New users are invited to participate in regular training courses on machine operation to run their experiments efficiently and responsibly. A support office(r) is available to ISOLDE users for administrative and organisational problems. General assistance and information is provided as well by the CERN Users Office and on the official CERN website.
- All new users are fully integrated into the scientific environment via seminars, lectures, etc. and access to libraries and computing facilities.
- Both internal and external transport services for material exist. So-called “Third Party Accounts” are provided to assist users in managing their finances at CERN.
- The ISOLDE physics group and the technical teams comprise of some of the world-leading technical experts in radioactivity handling, high-temperature target technologies, ion sources, and radioactive beam production.
- Due to the increasing number of users a large amount of support will be required under this contract. This will be achieved through the presence of the transnational access project coordinator who also acts as administrative liason.
- Information for new users is published through the web page (http://isolde.web.cern.ch/) where calls for TNA support are also announced. E-mail lists of experiment spokespersons and of all users are employed as well to ensure efficient communication.
- Yearly user workshops are held where new experimental possibilities are presented. The ISOLDE facility and the possibilities it provides for new users are presented frequently at international meetings.
- Community funding of transnational access helps new users to establish their own scientific programmes at ISOLDE. The funding is crucial to give young researchers access to an international scientific environment at an early stage of their career.
Proposed experiments requesting access to ISOLDE are evaluated scientifically by the ISOLDE and nTOF Committee, INTC, (https://committees.web.cern.ch/intc) with scientific members from outside CERN. The INTC committee is advised on the feasibility of the experiments by the Technical Advisory Committee. The recommendations of the INTC are transmitted to CERN’s Research Board that approves experiments. Approved experiments automatically get access to CERN’s infrastructure, including the services mentioned above.
The selection of users for transnational access support takes place as under H2020 . The experiment spokesperson collects and submits requests to the User Selection Panel. The panel consists of three outside members, including the chair of the ISOLDE Collaboration committee, as well as the ISOLDE Physics Group leader and the ISOLDE Physics coordinator as ex officio members. The panel meets typically several times per year, as the operational schedule is being finalised.
As a rule all approved experiments that fulfil the TNA eligibility criteria are funded. The level of funding is in general in proportion to the number of hours of access to the facility assigned to the particular research group by the INTC, but new users of ISOLDE are favoured, and young researchers and others with limited abilities to secure their own funding for pursuing a research program at ISOLDE are given priority with respect to established researchers.
The EUROLABS Grant Agreement imposes certain obligations on those receiving funding. For more detailed information see https://isolde.cern/sites/default/files/Grant%20Agreement-101057511-EURO-LABS%20%281%29.pdf . These differ from the requirements of the previous TNA scheme ENSAR2 but the most important of these for most ISOLDE experiments are in terms of acknowledging support and in the area of Open Science. All experiments need to have a data management plan, they need to secure and preserve the data from the experiment in a suitable repository and to make the data publicly available at a suitable time. For most experiments, this is likely to be after the initial publication(s). Such arrangements are becoming very common as requirements by national funding agencies.
The following four steps must be completed in chronological order. The spokesperson of an experiment will be contacted about the EUROLABS TNA funding application process once the experiment is scheduled to run at the ISOLDE Facility.
- 1. EURO-LABS Funding application form (see table below) should be completed by the experiment spokesperson and uploaded to CERNbox via the link provided to the experiment spokesperson before the relevant deadline. The application form should list all the people who will take part in the experimental run concerned and NOT just those applying for support. This application will be considered at a meeting of the ISOLDE EURO-LABS TNA selection committee.
- 2. Experiment report (see table below): to be completed by the experiment spokesperson within one week after the experiment at ISOLDE and sent to Jenny at email@example.com .
- 3. Experiment Attendance Form (see table below) to be completed by the experiment spokesperson (only if the information is different to that submitted in step 1.) within one month after the experiment at ISOLDE and uploaded to CERNbox
- 4. Questionnaire to be completed by the experiment spokesperson and submitted to Brussels.
Scientific publications that result from research carried out at ISOLDE must acknowledge any financial support of the EC programme and such peer-reviewed publications should have open, free-of-charge access. Information about how to publish Open Access articles related to ISOLDE can be found via https://sis.web.cern.ch/submit-and-publish/publish-open-access .
One example of an acknowledgement:
"The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union's Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 101057511."
For more information, please feel free to contact Jenny via ISOLDE.User.Support@cern.ch, mail:
ISOLDE User Support
CH-1211 Geneva 23.