ELI-NP project: International nuclear physics research centre with ultrahigh intensity lasers. Interview with Prof. Dr. Nicolae-Victor Zamfir – Project Manager (II)

• ELI-NP, support for new Research domain: Nuclear Photonics * Country’s top universities involved in the training of specialists in high-end technology domains

What impact will the implementation of the project in Romania as well as in the other two states (Czech Republic and Hungary) have on the scientific dynamic in Europe and Romania?

ELI will be a new European scientific research centre that, benefitting from extremely performing equipment that goes beyond the technological state-of-the-art and has parameters that will surpass by far those of any equipment currently in existence in the world, offers the possibility to engage in frontier research, both fundamental and applicable, that could potentially lead to new discoveries that have a scientific and technological impact. The novel experiments that will be carried out can lead to the elucidation of new laws that govern entirely new phenomena that will be observed. ELI will be the first great international laser centre, similar to those in the nuclear physics and elementary particles domain (CERN Geneva for instance). ELI-NP will lead to the development of a new domain that researchers have started to call Nuclear Photonics. Next year, ELI-NP will organize alongside the United States’ Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory the first Conference dedicated to this new physics domain.

What are the main coordinates of the collaboration with Romanian Academy?

The purpose of such a centre is to contribute to the training in high-end technology domains of extremely valuable specialists sought not only in Romania but throughout the world. Laser physics and engineering, accelerators’ physics and engineering with all the fields of study entailed. Such a course is already organized at the Bucharest Polytechnics University, the same University organizes a doctoral school along with the Magurele Physics Institutes, the Vest Timisoara University and the Bucharest University teach courses on these themes, with the participation of ELI-NP researchers. There are talks with other Romanian universities too and we are ready to participate in any form to the education and training of young specialists. We also have a form of participation in the training of Ph.D. students: doctoral schools and the coordinators of Ph.D. theses in ELI-NP’s research domains that consider it useful for their students to take part in internships at ELI-NP; they can be hired for that period as ELI-NP Research Assistants with a salary of EUR 1,000 per month. The ELI-NP project is extremely visible at the level of Romanian society – mass-media has played an essential role – so that young people are extremely interested in and some drawn to having careers in research directions related to ELI-NP. This year the competition was unusually strong, the candidates extremely well prepared in the admission exam at Bucharest University’s Physics Faculty.
I am sure in 5-6 years’ time Romania will have the best specialists in this domain, specialists needed for the ELI-NP researches but also for the high-end technology industry that will grow along with the new centre.

How attractive is the project for young specialists in our country?

Of course the ELI-NP Project is known in Romanian academia and the scientific research environment. The number of applications filed, the interest shown by various scientific research institutes in collaborating on its implementation and subsequently on the researches that will be done at ELI-NP reflect the fact that ELI-NP has a major impact on scientific research in Romania. Unfortunately, the false image that the ELI-NP Project “burns” research funds in Romania has also been created, inevitably generating a hostile attitude from some. The truth is the exact opposite: the financing of the implementation of the project comes from Structural Funds so not only is ELI-NP not affecting research funds but it also brings in funds. The performance of the equipment and the quality of research will contribute to the winning of European projects, scientific collaborations with the world’s great laboratories. By having such a Centre in Romania, a centre that will be open, as user facility, on the basis of scientific merit, to all researchers, users, there will also be researchers from Romanian research institutes and universities; it’s a great advantage to have a world-class centre in the country, close to “home,” within the same scientific research system.
Alongside its scientific and educational role, ELI-NP also has a strong technological and socio-economic role. Through the applied researches that will take place, through the demand for high-technology equipment, through the future technology transfers, ELI-NP can and has to be the starting point in developing a network of High Tech companies. The Industrial Forum created by ELI-NP, which includes interested companies, has become the Magurele High Tech Cluster which plans to create, with the active participation of the Ilfov County Council and the Magurele Mayoralty, a scientific and technological park for high-end technologies, a park located near the ELI-NP site.

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