Middle East physics collaboration plans for the future

The SESAME initiative, the Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East, is making progress. At a recent SESAME Council meeting at the end of May, Jordan, Iran and Israel confirmed their cash contributions to the project’s storage ring. The Palestinian Authority and Pakistan have confirmed their in-kind support and Egypt and Turkey are taking steps to allow their participation. Technically planned to start operation in 2015, SESAME has begun to show significant potential as a science for peace initiative in the Middle East.


The SESAME site in Allaan, Jordan.                   (© SESAME)

Jordan has provided the land and an elegant building that will house the accelerator complex and associated infrastructure; a number of states, organizations and synchrotron light laboratories have donated the injector and booster, beam lines or components, support for infrastructures, and training of scientists and engineers; the SESAME members cover the laboratory operating cost These are but some the magic ingredients that are making the SESAME project become a reality.

Built in a region where peaceful interactions among neighbouring countries remains a challenging goal, SESAME is a strong evidence of the will to overcome the current difficulties in the name of and for the sake of science. SESAME will be a third-generation light source that will compete with other – existing or in construction – light-source facilities around the world. “CERN is supporting this initiative by sharing its expertise in particular for the magnet system. In 2010, CERN and SESAME Directors signed a collaboration protocol. As a first step, CERN has provided a review of the SESAME magnet system of the main ring, the construction of which will hopefully start this year,” explains Jean-Pierre Koutchouk, CERN’s representative for the SESAME project. “We have suggested some possible improvements and also agreed to provide our support in other domains, such as particle physics simulations, safety and protection, instrumentation, and access to CERN IT infrastructure. CERN’s experts (active or retired) will deliver training to SESAME personnel on request.”

Map of SESAME members. (© SESAME)

While the necessary preliminary studies and further negotiations are taking place at different levels, the construction of SESAME is on-going: the radiation shielding wall is complete and the hall is ready for installation of the accelerators. The injector and booster synchrotron will be commissioned with a beam early next year. The 2.5 GeV electron storage ring has been designed by the SESAME team and passed a number of reviews. “As the region’s first major international research centre, SESAME will contribute to regional scientific, technical and economic development at a crucial stage in the history of the Middle East. It will be a focal point for regional scientific collaboration and for cross-border networking,” said Her Royal Highness Princess Sumaya Bint El Hassan, President of the El Hassan Science City in Amman (Jordan), when she welcomed the delegates of the SESAME Council.

“Following the review, a more ambitious goal will be for CERN to launch the construction of the main ring magnetic system, in close collaboration with the SESAME laboratory. To this end, CERN is seeking the political and financial support of the European Union and is preparing for this contribution,” says Koutchouk. “SESAME recalls the beginnings of CERN’s history, when previously conflicting countries decided to peacefully start a common scientific project. It is thus important for CERN to provide concrete support for the SESAME initiative and help make it a reality.”

by CERN Bulletin