06. March 2024

NRW Minister Ina Brandes visits the ELSA electron accelerator NRW Minister Ina Brandes visits the ELSA electron accelerator

Ina Brandes, Minister for Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, has visited the electron accelerator "ELSA" on the Poppelsdorf campus of the University of Bonn. The large-scale device has been reliably delivering the latest findings for research into the building blocks of matter for over three decades. It is part of a 70-year tradition of Nobel Prize-winning accelerator research at the University of Bonn.

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Rector Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Michael Hoch, together with the Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, Prof. Dr. Walter Witke, welcomed the distinguished visitor from Düsseldorf. The meeting was also attended by the heads of the universities that work closely with Bonn, the Rector of TU Dortmund University, Prof. Dr. Manfred Bayer, and the Rector of the University of Siegen, Prof. Dr. Stefanie Reese.

Accelerator research has a 70-year tradition in Bonn - about as long as the European research center CERN, which was founded in 1954. The most prominent figure in this field was the Bonn physicist Wolfgang Paul, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1989 for his work on the ion trap. The spokesman of the ELSA accelerator group, Prof. Dr. Klaus Desch, gave an overview of the electron stretcher facility - ELSA for short - operated by the Physics Institute of the University of Bonn. It comprises an electron accelerator and experimental facilities for investigating the resonance structure of protons, neutrons and mesons. The actual accelerator consists of three stages and delivers a beam of electrons with variable energy. "In order to be able to operate this accelerator, we rely on the support of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, which contributes significantly to the energy and maintenance costs. We are very grateful to you for this," said Prof. Desch, addressing Minister Brandes.

Experimental opportunities for generations of researchers

By cleverly expanding the experimental options, ELSA will also allow future generations of researchers to use the facility for research work. The facility plays a central role in the "Color meets Flavor" Cluster of Excellence initiative of the Universities of Bonn, Dortmund, and Siegen and Forschungszentrum Jülich. The aim is to precisely test the standard model of particle physics and search for new phenomena. To this end, the interplay of strong interaction (color) and weak interaction (flavor) will be investigated in order to draw conclusions about the structure of matter in the subatomic range.

The spokesperson for the initiative, Prof. Dr. Jochen Dingfelder from the University of Bonn, explained: "Perhaps there are still undiscovered particles or interactions? Through joint theoretical work and experimental measurements of processes with an interplay of color and flavor, we want to investigate this more intensively in the coming years." The initiative successfully passed the pre-selection stage and is currently being developed into a full proposal. It is based on years of experience in collaboration between the researchers involved.

Rector Prof. Hoch emphasized: "I was very pleased to welcome Minister Brandes to our ELSA electron stretcher facility today. ELSA has been facilitating cutting-edge research in the field of particle physics since 1987. It is currently playing a key role in our "Color Meets Flavor" cluster initiative, in which TU Dortmund University, the University of Siegen and Forschungszentrum Jülich are also involved. It was therefore all the more pleasing that today's visit was also accompanied by Siegen Rector Stefanie Reese and Dortmund Rector Manfred Bayer - a strong sign of the commitment of the three university managements to develop the cluster initiative into a world-leading center for research into strong and weak interactions."

Cutting-edge research 'made in NRW'

Numerous scientists were available to talk to the Minister. After an intensive tour of the world of particle physics lasting around an hour and a half, the Minister was delighted with the results: "The University of Excellence Bonn has once again shown how it works: building on many years of expertise and tackling the current challenges of research with new ideas. After years of joint experience in cooperation, this is being done together with TU Dortmund University, the University of Siegen and Forschungszentrum Jülich. The Cluster of Excellence initiative "Color meets Flavor" is one of the 41 new proposals that made it to the final round of the Cluster of Excellence applicants. That alone is a great success. The state government is doing all it can to support the universities in their efforts to be successful in their applications for clusters of excellence. In this way, we are further strengthening North Rhine-Westphalia as a science location. The state can be proud of cutting-edge research 'made in NRW'."

Distinguished visitor from Düsseldorf
Distinguished visitor from Düsseldorf - Ministerin Ina Brandes in the ELSA tunnel © Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn
High-caliber group of visitors
High-caliber group of visitors - (from left) Rector Hoch, Rector Bayer, Rector Reese, Provost Holger Gottschalk and Minister Ina Brandes © Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn
Accelerator with great past - and future
Accelerator with great past - and future - Minister Ina Brandes in conversation with researchers © Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn
Impressive facility
Impressive facility - View of the ELSA machine room © Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn
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