Wed Aug 22 15:30:47 CEST 2018

On 20 August, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš visited the world's unique laser research centre – ELI Beamlines in Dolní Břežany. The centre is managed by the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences. The Prime Minister visited the centre along with leading representatives of the Czech Academy of Sciences: President Eva Zažímalová and Vice-Presidents Jan Řídký, Zdeněk Havlas and Pavel Baran. Discussions focused mainly on the operation of the centre. The Prime Minister was particularly interested in the long-term sustainability of ELI Beamlines and in its contribution to the international scientific community.

After greetings in the atrium of the building, ELI’s Project Manager Roman Hvězda gave a short presentation about the centre, emphasizing that ELI is the first ESFRI project to be implemented in the new member states of the European Union. Of the three hundred ELI staff, there are 52 EU and 43 non-EU researchers.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, Head of Department of Experimental Programmes Georg Korn (right) and Vice-President of the Czech Academy of Sciences Zdeněk Havlas (left)

Head of Department of Experimental Programmes Georg Korn presented the Prime Minister with the experimental and application capabilities of the superlaser. Andrej Babiš asked about the use of new imaging techniques in human medicine and also about new possibilities to detect defects in buildings and bridge structures. "The universe is far away, but what really interests me is human health, the quality of water and food," he commented informally on the wide ranging applications of the superlaser.

Promise of diplomatic support

Subsequent discussions focused on future plans for the centre, particularly on ensuring its financial sustainability. The Prime Minister promised a certain diplomatic support in setting up the ERIC - a consortium of countries that will be in charge of future funding and operation of ELI Beamlines.
ELI Beamlines has the ambition to become a world-class research facility. It is currently equipped with state-of-the-art technologies: the Petawatt L3-HAPLS laser system was launched in July and the 10-petawatt most powerful laser is expected to arrive in September. ELI Beamlines forms one of the three pillars of pan-European research infrastructures - two other research facilities are located in Hungary and Romania.

Written by: Jan Martinek, Media Department, Czech Academy of Sciences
Picture: Jan Martinek, Media Department, Czech Academy of Sciences