At the heart of the ESS will be a 600-meter (1970-ft) linear accelerator (or linac) which fires protons at a tungsten target, from which neutrons are consequently emitted. This process is known as spallation, hence the name of the facility. The neutrons are monitored, and the data analyzed, in this case at a separate facility in Copenhagen, Denmark. The accelerator will be both larger and more powerful, 30 times more powerful, than other accelerators of its type.
Though fundamental to the development, none of the above is news. What's new is the design of the campus to be built around the facility – a competition-winning design developed by a team led by Henning Larsen Architects. The campus will incorporate 100,000 sq m (1,077,000 sq ft) of labs, offices and will include a lecture theater, as well as a public visitor center. The accelerator's tungsten target will be symbolically mirrored by the roof of a large circular roof built above the hall holding the target itself.
The campus buildings have been arranged so as to provide shelter from the wind, intended to make outdoor meeting spaces usable for an extra few weeks of the year.
As part of the master-plan, rainwater is to be harvested from the ESS to create something of a nature reserve around the facility, with artificial wetland and fields left to grow wild in a bid to up biodiversity.
It shouldn't be long before construction work commences. The first research at the ESS is expected to take place in 2019, with final completion of the facility scheduled for 2025. The design team included COBE, SLA, Buro Happold, NNE Pharmaplan and Transsolar. Some of the competing proposals can be seen in the image gallery.