India joins the ISOLDE collaboration

On 18 April India signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the ISOLDE collaboration, thus strengthening its links with CERN. Three experiments led by Indian scientists at ISOLDE have been recommended by the Research Board and will be performed in the coming months, and more projects are being designed for the future HIE-ISOLDE scientific programme.


Shaking hands: Rüdiger Voss (left), adviser for India in CERN’s International Relations Office, and SINP Director Milan Kumar Sanyal (right). Also photographed: ISOLDE spokesperson Yorick Blumenfeld, (centre left) and Sunanda Banerjee, head of high-energy at SINP (centre right). 

The new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in Kolkata at the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics (SINP). India thus becomes the 15th member of the ISOLDE collaboration, after having signed similar collaboration documents with the CMS and ALICE experiments. “This agreement will allow Indian physics institutes to take part in nuclear physics-related experiments at CERN,” explains Milan Kumar Sanyal, Director of SINP. “ISOLDE is particularly interesting to us because we have a strong activity in the biophysics field. In addition, the funding agency of our institute has a very ambitious programme to build a new radioactive ion beams facility. Being a member of the ISOLDE collaboration will help us a lot.”

During the ISOLDE workshop that saw the signature of the new MoU, Indian scientists already presented a few different proposals for possible experiments at ISOLDE to be set up and carried out in the near future. Additional proposals will be presented for HIE-ISOLDE, the major upgrade of CERN’s nuclear physics facility that will take place in the coming years.

One of the experiments that was presented at the workshop and that will be installed at ISOLDE this year is led by SINP physicist Ushashi Datta-Pramanik. “Our experiment is an international collaboration that also involves several European institutes,” she explains. “It will study the very exotic decay modes of neutron-deficient Barium isotopes and investigate the very rare alpha decay. This will give us new insights into the structure of unstable atomic nuclei.”

ISOLDE workshop participants.

India is the first non-European member of the ISOLDE collaboration, and the signature of the MoU is a major step towards a wider enlargement of the collaboration outside Europe. “India is a very strong actor in nuclear physics and has many scientists involved in this field,” says Yorick Blumenfeld, spokesperson of the ISOLDE collaboration. “Its participation will bring new ideas to our scientific programme and also new equipment. HIE-ISOLDE is particularly attractive to the Indian scientific community because it will allow us to produce higher-energy beams that are particularly suitable for studies of nuclear reactions, a field the Indian physicists have a lot of expertise in.”

“The ISOLDE MoU opens up a new dimension of collaboration between CERN and India,” says Rüdiger Voss, adviser for India in CERN’s International Relations Office. “Our co-operation with India is a long-standing success story: India has made substantial contributions to the construction of the LHC, and today Indian scientists participate in ALICE and CMS, and in different areas of accelerator R&D and construction. The enlargement of this collaboration to include ISOLDE is an important step forward on the way to a closer institutional relationship between CERN and India.”

The signing of the MoU was featured in The Hindu newspaper.

by Antonella Del Rosso