Physics for the 21st century. Scientists will get new unique laboratories for top research

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Multiple purpose pavilion with clean rooms for advanced technologies and biophysical laboratories which will enable scientists to use extremely sensitive instruments needed for their research. The Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences opens a new excellent centre for research in the area of solid states physics SOLID 21 in Prague. 

Solid state physics is revolutionizing our lives and is one of the fastest growing areas of physics ever. In addition, it boasts a very short period of putting new knowledge into practice. From November 2021, 55 unique laboratories will be used for research into nanoelectronics, photonics, magnetism, functional and bioactive materials and plasma technologies.

“Solid states physics has significant impact on our present lives, our research helped to bring the production of photovoltaic panels back to Europe, but we also create the future. Spinctronics, for example, can significantly change the way data are stored,” says Michael Prouza, the director of the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences, and he adds: “Lasers, fotovoltaic cells, LED lights or nanoparticles are commonly used in medicine and it is important to realize that all these are applied results of research of solid substances which we are going to focus on.”

The basic research falling within the field of solid state physics belongs among the key activities of the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences and it has a long-term tradition. The rise of this field can analogously be compared to the story of the sci-fi saga Star Wars, because it continues to surprise with new discoveries. In the new pavilion, an international team of more than 200 researchers will participate in the research of solid state physics and its transfer to the application process.

“I am extremely pleased that scientists will get such unique space for their research in the new pavilion. Science – especially at this time - proves that it is needed and helps us in everyday life, even though sometimes we are not fully aware of it,” says Eva Zažímalová, President of the Czech Academy of Sciences. “I consider the Institute of Physics one of the “shop windows” of the Czech Academy of Sciences. World-class research is conducted there which will benefit the whole Czech Republic, adds the President.

The architectural design of the building by the Bogle Architects studio was able to integrate the demanding technological needs of a research centre with the communication needs of individual research teams. Stylewise, the resulting project is close to the buildings of university campuses surrounded by greenery, and it also makes maximum use of natural daylight in the multifunctional hall and scientists' offices. The Institute of Physics already cooperated with the ASCR studio in the past, which resulted in an award-winning building of the ELI Beamlines laser centre in Dolní Břežany.

SOLID 21 Project in numbers:

  • CZK 560 348 566 is the amount that the project received in the call Excellent Research in the Operational Programme Science, Research and Education (OP VVV) for the construction of a research centre in the area of solid states physics.
  • Out of that CZK 399 808 702 is the contribution for the European Union, CZK 132 522 435 is the contribution form national public resources of the CR and the project is co-funded from the fund of the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences in the amount of CZK 28 017 428.
  • 3 814 m2 usable area
  • 55 unique laboratories with the total area of 1 235 m2
  • up to 300 seats in a multifunctional hall
  • over 200 researchers (including more than 60 women) have got involved in the project and more than 40 students at various levels of study
  • 278 scientific publications have been published so far thanks to the support of the SOLID 21 project
  • 46 new instruments: e.g. nanoscope for spectroscopy in the teraherz spectral region (terahezr = 1 trillion Hz), X-ray microscope, apparatus for crystal growth by the so-called Czochralski method, reactive magnetron sputtering, etc.
  • CZK 235 million is the total cost of instruments used in SOLID 21 project

Scientific infrastructure of the Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences

SOLID 21 centre will significantly extend the scientific infrastructure of the Institute of Physics in the area of top research. In the past, the Institute of Physics successfully built two laser centres in Dolní Břežany thanks to the support of the Operational Program Research and Development for Innovation from the European Union and the Czech Academy of Sciences funds, EU grants, national grants, support for large research infrastructures and FZU's own resources. The costs of the ELI Beamlines and HiLASE projects exceeded twelve billion crowns.

The HiLASE research centre focused on the development and testing of next-generation lasers and laser technologies – i.e. physics of elementary particles, condensed systems and solids, optics and plasma physics – started operations in 2015.

The ELI Beamlines Research Centre (now part of the ELI ERIC consortium) is the largest research project in the Czech Republic. The project is part of the European research initiative Extreme Light Infrastructure. The centre includes the most powerful laser in the world, which should reach a power of 10 PW in 2023.