Europlanet Impact Case Study #2: Atomki – A Facility’s Story
October 20, 2022

Europlanet Impact Case Study #2: Atomki – A Facility’s Story

The Institute for Nuclear Research (Atomki) is Hungary’s national centre of accelerator-based nuclear and atomic physics.

At present, Atomki employs 200 persons. It is a non-profit institution funded from national and European sources with a track record of extensive international collaboration and hosting numerous (100’s) foreign visitors. The Atomki Accelerator Centre (AAC) incorporates five ion beam facilities with various particle, charge and intensity applied to diverse issues from cultural heritage to modelling the solar system.

Atomki’s association with Europlanet originated through a personal contact between Bela Sulik, head of Atomki’s Section of Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Europlanet’s coordinator, Nigel Mason, who worked together in the early 2000s on an EU-funded research infrastructure project for small accelerators and a COST action studying radiation on living things. Bela and Nigel maintained contact over the next 15 years or so, through discussions on atomic collisions.

When Atomki installed a new Tandetron accelerator in 2018, Nigel and other members of the Europlanet team visited Hungary. This visit resulted in a plan to build an astrophysics/astrochemistry beamline that could provide irradiation measurements on analogue Solar System ices for ion energy and ion species over the range of the solar wind and low energy tail of galactic cosmic rays.

The Ice Chamber for Astrophysics/Astrochemistry (ICA) at Atomki was installed in 2019, and was ready for the first TA visits in 2020. Europlanet researchers (from senior members of staff to students) supported the Atomki team by sharing expertise and training. Due to the pandemic, several of the first visits were virtual, but physical visits have also resumed as travel restrictions have lifted. It is now the Europlanet 2024 RI’s most over-subscribed facility.

A second chamber, supplied by from Queens University Belfast, was installed through a Europlanet 2024 RI Joint Research Activity in 2021, and this is also now open for TA visits.

“When I leave the field, I feel that in Atomki we have something which is on the European scale, an active laboratory. And we are going to become really a hub in this field of astrophysics/astrochemistry.”

Bela Sulik

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