European Nuclear Science and Applications Research 2 (ENSAR2)

EC Funding for External Research Teams within the Horizon 2020 Programme of the European Commission: Transnational Access to GSI under the Integrated Activity on European Nuclear Science and Applications Research 2 (ENSAR2).

Grant Contract Number 654002
Duration: March 1st, 2016 to February 29th, 2020

General Information

The GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH operates an accelerator complex which consists of the linear accelerator UNILAC, the heavy-ion synchrotron SIS and the experimental storage-cooler ring ESR. Ions of all elements, from hydrogen to uranium, can be accelerated up to momenta given by the 18 Tm maximum rigidity of the SIS. Even for uranium beams this corresponds to velocities of more than 90% of the velocity of light. Moreover, beams of artificially created unstable nuclei - radioactive ion beams - are available for the research programme, as well as beams of highly ionized atoms up to bare uranium and beams of secondary pions.

The accelerators are complemented by some 20 experimental areas, equipped with modern spectrometers and detector systems, which offer outstanding opportunities for fundamental studies in the fields of nuclear physics, atomic physics and dense plasma research. At the same time, forefront application-oriented research is being performed in material science, biophysics and radiation medicine. The laboratory has thus become a focal point where scientists from both domestic and foreign universities and other research institutions collaborate.

Research capabilities

GSI provides ion beams of all stable elements up to uranium with energies from the Coulomb barrier up to 2 AGeV. In addition, radioactive and cooled stable beams with high charge states up to U92+ can be delivered. Additionally, also secondary pion beams with momenta from 0.5 GeV/c to 2.5 GeV/c are available.

The high standard of the accelerators is complemented by a large number of technically highly advanced experimental facilities and set-ups, the most important of which are listed in the following:

Equipment/Projects dedicated to nuclear science and applications:
  • The velocity filter SHIP for the separation and detection of super-heavy elements.
  • SHIPTRAP, a Penning trap behind the SHIP spectrometer for nuclear structure and atomic physics studies on very heavy nuclei/atoms.
  • The new gas-filled separator TASCA for heavy element studies.
  • A large projectile fragment separator (FRS) for the production and in-beam separation of nuclei far off stability.
  • The cooler-storage ring ESR, equipped with powerful stochastic and electron cooling devices, Schottky mass as well as time-of-flight mass spectroscopy for mass measurements of short lived nuclei, an internal gas-jet target, a collinear laserspectroscopy system and various X-ray and position sensitive particle detectors, for in-ring (reaction) experiments.
  • The R3B nuclear reaction set-up to study collective states and complete kinematics reactions with exotic nuclear beams; an upgrade of that facility is presently ongoing.
Equipment/Projects dedicated to other/multidisciplinary research:
  • Experimental stations for atomic physics studies (channelling investigations with cooled ion beams extracted from the ESR, etc.)
  • High power density beam bunches and various equipment for plasma physics research.
  • Experimental stations and a cell biology laboratory for research into the radio-biological effects of ion beams
  • Experimental stations and various instrumentation (incl. the new Materials Research Branch at the UNILAC) for applications of high and low energy heavy ion beams in materials research and modification (e. g. a heavy-ion microprobe, a diamond anvil cell for irradiating samples under high pressure, diagnostic tools like raster tunnel and raster scanning microscopy, etc.).
  • Multipurpose/Test Stations, e.g. for tests of electronic components, or of detectors built for particle/nuclear physics and also for space missions.
Access procedures

GSI as a user facility is open to national and international user groups. To apply for access to the accelerator and experimental facilities, a written project proposal has to be submitted to an international Program Advisory Committees, the GSI General Program Advisory Committee (G-PAC) or one of the sub-PAC for materials research, for biophysics and radiobiology or for PHELIX and plasma physics. If a user group in addition applies for EC support under one of the Integrated Activities (Transnationl Access) of HORIZON2020, a separate funding application has to be submitted. This is reviewed by a specific User Selection Panel specific to the Access Project.

The G-PAC presently has 12 external members, with more than half of them coming from universities or research institutes outside Germany. The ENSAR2 User Selection Panel is composed of 3 members from the G-PAC or external institutions, the research director of GSI and the manager of the Access Project.

In a first round the G-PAC evaluates all of the submitted proposals on the basis of scientific merit and makes recommendations concerning the beamtime to be allocated to each project. In a second step the ENSAR2 User Selection Panel (USP) reviews the funding applications. The panel evaluates the time and the amount of travel requested for setting up and executing the experiment, and decides on the number of person-days and travels to be allocated to the proposal in question.

Beam time scheduling

Once a proposal has acquired the status of an accepted experiment, a GSI contact person (at least of postdoctoral level) is assigned to each external group. This contact person gives support in all practical aspects, including the beam time scheduling.

Beam time scheduling is managed by the GSI beam time coordinator. He acts in close contact with the users and their GSI contact person, with the accelerator division and with an internal GSI Round Table Committee that is responsible for coordinating the scientific and technical requirements connected with the use of the accelerator facilities. Requests for scheduling have to be made on a special form, the GSI Beam Time Scheduling Request. For electronic submission this form is available on the website Beam Time.

Technical and logistic support offered to users

For research groups with approved experiments, beams and experimental facilities are provided free of charge. In addition, the support offered by GSI includes:

  • office space and access to the GSI computing facilities
  • training courses and briefings on the general safety regulations at GSI and on the specific regulations at the experimental facilities
  • limited access to the GSI detector and target laboratories, as well as access to a maintained workshop for experimentalists and assistance from the GSI general mechanical shops
  • German language courses for foreigners
  • bus shuttle from the nearby train and tram stations from Mon. to Fri.
  • a Guest Office providing logistic support with regard to accommodation, travel and payments
  • lodging facilities: On site there is a guest house with 28 bed/office rooms, partly equipped with terminals for connection to the GSI computing facilities and to international data networks (registration at the GSI IT Dept. needed). Within walking distance from the institute, another lodging facility is available with 31 bedrooms. For long-term visitors, one guest house is available, with 9 fully-furnished apartments.
  • For these apartments (46 sqm - 82 sqm), which are located in Darmstadt, reservations have to be made some time in advance.
  • Web based submission of applications for experiment proposals, for users support under the EC access program, and after allocation of experiment time and access funding: web-based application for scheduling, for registration as access user, etc.

Transnational Access to GSI within ENSAR2

For information please see the HORIZON2020 grant agreement.


Eligible research teams (so-called user groups) are composed of one or more researchers whose majority and user group leader are employed either in EU Member States other than Germany or in one of the Associated States. They must be entitled to disseminate the knowledge generated under the project carried out at GSI. Their interest should lie in the fields of nuclear structure physics, nuclear astrophysics and other research exploiting heavy-ion beams. If participating in a larger collaboration, own scientific goals of the user group need to be stated clearly.

Financial support within ENSAR2

Financial support within the ENSAR2 Transnational Access Activity is on a per day basis and amounts to approx. 70 Euro per day. If lodging at the GSI guest houses is unavailable, actual hotel cost (without breakfast) are reimbursed plus a flat rate of 40 Euro per day for subsistence. Travel expenses will be reimbursed (economy fares). The local administrative rules will be applied.

Application for Access Funding

The User Selection Panel usually meets in combination with a meeting of the G-PAC or decisions are made via e-mail circulation. The spokesperson of an eligible users group submits an application for funding under ENSAR2, 'Transnational Access to GSI'. The required Application Form can be downloaded here.

Applications can be submitted at any time.

Please send your signed applications to:

GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung
Dr. Yvonne Leifels
Manager TA to GSI, ENSAR2
Planckstr. 1
64291 Darmstadt
phone: +49 6159 71 2767
fax: +49 6159 71 2989

How to get your Access funding

Users of ENSAR 'Access to GSI' are requested to register at least one week prior to their travel to GSI to provide us with information on their respective project acronym, individual user data, and the relevant travel information. For this advance registration, please use the web registration form: ENSAR User Registration.

Please use the form: Statement of Travel Cost. This form has to be filled online, afterwards printed and signed. Please send the completed form to Yvonne Leifels (KBW 4.016, tel. 2767,

Relevant rules / instructions can be found under: Travel Cost Instructions.

Reporting after the experiment

All publications resulting from work performed in the framework of the supported project should include the following acknowledgment: "This work has been supported by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme und grant agreement n° 6544002".

Please keep GSI informed on all publications resulting from work performed at GSI.

Each spokesperson of a user group supported under an EC Research Infrastructure contract is requested to complete the "EC User Group Questionnaire". The questionnaire must be submitted once by each user group as soon as the experiments on the infrastructure come to end. The questionnaire can be found at: EC-Questionnaire.