The strong interaction at the frontier of knowledge: fundamental research and applications (STRONG-2020)


Grant Agreement Number 824093
Duration: June 1, 2019 to May 31, 2023

EC Funding for External Research Teams within the Horizon 2020 Programme of the European Commission: Transnational Access to GSI under the Integrated Activity on Study of Strongly Interacting Matter (STRONG 2020).

General Information

The GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH (GSI) 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 hadron and nuclear matter research and in the fields of nuclear and atomic physics. At the same time, also forefront application-oriented research is being performed in plasma physics, 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.

Within the next years, during the construction of FAIR (Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research) experiments at GSI will continue until the commissioning of FAIR. With the increase in energy and intensity of ion beams by factor 20, beams of protons, antiprotons and unstable nuclei supplied by FAIR in brilliant quality, new challenging research topics can be addressed. Beams supplied by GSI and FAIR offer such a large spectrum for high-energy particle research, that more than 2400 scientists worldwide have already declared their interest in performing experiments at those facilities.

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. Moreover, also secondary pion beams with momenta from 0.5 GeV/c to 2.5 GeV/c are available.

The high standards of the accelerators are complemented by a large number of technically highly advanced experimental facilities. In the field of hadron physics, GSI provides the following equipment:

  • the High-Acceptance Di-Electron Spectrometer HADES to study the properties of vector mesons in nuclear matter, upgraded in 2009/2010.
  • a secondary beam facility for pion beams in the 0.5 to 2.5 GeV/c momentum range. Besides complementary experiments in the nuclear matter program this opens up unprecedented possibilities in the field of medium-energy hadron physics. The installation of the pion beam facility was supported by the EC within a TMR-RTD project.
  • a detector test facility offering mixed electron, proton and pion beams to be used e.g. by the CBM and PANDA collaborations.
  • a CBM full system test-setup called mCBM@SIS18 (”mini-CBM”, shortened to mCBM) is presently being installed at the SIS18 facility of GSI/FAIR, designed as a FAIR Phase-0 experiment with high intensity beams.
  • a high-intensity upgrade to gradually increase the beam intensities for all ions up to the SIS space charge limit. For 238U26+ this intensity is 2×1010 ions/burst, while it is 1.4×1011 ions/burst for fully-stripped 14N. Intense primary 14N-beams are mandatory for the secondary pion beam facility.

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 Infrastructure Initiatives (Transnational Access) of Horizon 2020, a separate funding application has to be submitted. This is reviewed by a User Selection Panel specific to the Access Project.

The General PAC presently has 12 external members, with more than half of them coming from universities or research institutes outside Germany. The STRONG 2020 User Selection Panel has as members the research director of GSI, the manager of the Access Project and 3 external scientists of the G-PAC.

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 STRONG 2020 User Selection Panel then 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 person-days and travel 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 appartments (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.

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 (the three candidate countries Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey and the five countries Iceland, Liechtenstein, Israel, Norway and Switzerland). They must be entitled to disseminate the knowledge generated under the project carried out at GSI. Their interest should lie in the field of hadron physics. If participating in a larger collaboration, the own scientific goals of the user group need to be stated clearly.

Application for Access funding

The spokesperson of an eligible users group submits an application for funding under STRONG 2020, 'Transnational Access to GSI'. The respective form is available  here. If you would like to participate, please fill in the application form.

Please send your signed applications to:

Dr. Yvonne Leifels

GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

Planckstr. 1

64291 Darmstadt


phone: +49 6159 71 2667

fax: +49 6159 71 3622

email: y.leifels (at)

How to get your Access funding

Users of STRONG-2020 '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 TARI User Registration.

After your arrival at GSI, please contact Mrs. Y. Leifels (KBW, Room 4.16, phone 2767) to settle the travel cost statement.

Please use the form: Statement of Travel Costs.

Reporting after the experiment

Please make sure that all publications resulting from work performed in the framework of the supported project include the following acknowledgment: "This work has been supported by the European Community Horizon 2020 – research and innovation programme, contract STRONG-2020 n° 824093". Please keep GSI informed of all the publications referred to above by sending the references to Yvonne Leifels by e-mail (Y.Leifels (at)

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.