French state group Thales lands EUR 60 million laser contract for ELI research center in Romania

French state-owned group Thales will provide the EUR 60 million laser system for the laser project that will be built in Romania, at Magurele.

The contract between the French group, which makes some EUR 14 billion a year, and the Romanian research center Horia Hulubei was recently signed in Bucharest. The ceremony was attended by French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault during his recent visit to Romania, where the cooperation between Romania and France was again highlighted, including support for Schengen accession.

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This is the biggest contract awarded by a national research center within a project financed by European funds. The total funding for the Magurele laser is of EUR 293 million.  The laser systems provided by Thales will generate an unprecedented power, of 2×10 petawatts in short pulsations. This laser will open the way to a new generation of extremely powerful particle accelerators, which will be smaller and less costly, and dedicated to physics research and to medical use.

Thales had revenues of EUR 14.8 billion in 2012, and spent some EUR 2.5 billion – or 20 % of its revenues, on research and development. The company is owned by French State – 27 %, Dassault Aviation – 26 %, and 46 % of the shares are floating on the stock market.

ELI-NP (Extreme Light Infrastructure-Nuclear Physics), the nuclear physics research center which will be built in Romania, at Magurele near Bucharest, is one of the three pillars of the European project ELI, which aims to become the most advanced structure worldwide for studies on photon radiation with extreme characteristics. The other two centers, ELI-Beamlines and ELI-ALPS, will be built in Prague and Szeged – Hungary, respectively.

The Romanian center should be finalized by fall 2014, with the two lasers and the gamma radiation center to then be installed. The entire research center should become operational in 2017.

According to Romanian sources, the laser project could get public and private investments of over EUR 1 billion, and create a total of 13,000 direct and indirect jobs, including for 1,000 researchers from the entire world, out of which 200 permanently employed.

ELI-NP will create a new European laboratory to investigate a very broad range of science domains, from new fields of fundamental physics, new nuclear physics and astrophysics topics, to applications in material science, life sciences and nuclear materials management.

Adapted from Romania-Insider


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