Representatives from across Europe gathered at ESS (Lund) to celebrate five years of the LENS Initiative. Credit: Jo Lewis - ESS

LENS celebrates five years of strengthening European neutron and muon science

On 12 September 2018 the LENS Charter was signed, launching a joint initiative to strengthen neutron and muon science in Europe. Since then, LENS colleagues have been collaborating in many areas, building upon decades-long partnerships among European neutron facilities.

To mark our fifth anniversary, more than 40 representatives from across LENS and its collaborators convened at the European Spallation Source (ESS) in Lund for a celebratory meeting. The milestone provided an opportunity to celebrate the consortium’s achievements and to discuss ‘LENS in the future’.

Opening the meeting, our Chair, Martin Müller (MLZ), reflected on the consortium’s formation and its evolution into a network that now comprises ten members and three observers. Spotlighting the activities of LENS’ working groups, Martin emphasised important synergies with other research communities, leading to joint initiatives with wide-reaching benefits for the scientific community. In this regard, we were honoured to welcome Franz Hennies (Head of User Office at MAX IV) representing the LEAPS Initiative, who reiterated both the significance and mutual benefit of collaboration between the two networks.

The first session of the day celebrated success stories from different LENS working groups. Former LENS Chair, Robert McGreevy (ISIS), highlighted initiatives to reach out beyond the neutron community and engage with the wider European Research Infrastructure (RI) ecosystem. In particular, our participation in the ARIE network has enabled LENS members to leverage European funding for joint projects around transnational access and Open Science, and created opportunities to engage with ESFRI.

Next, LENS Information Manager, Steph Richardson (ISIS), talked about joint outreach activities by LENS communicators. From redesigning the website to starting a regular newsletterjoint dissemination efforts have helped to raise the network’s visibility and showcase members’ activities. Building on this, Marc Thiry (Hereon), LENS Industry Working Group Lead, described efforts to boost engagement with commercial users. The group has created targeted communication materials for industry users and has established itself as a forum for LENS’ industry contact officers and business development officers to share best practices.

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Working Group 3 (Synergies in Technological Development and Operation) has established productive sub-groups working in areas including high-pressure, high-field, and moderators. Reflecting on the challenges and opportunities in technology development, former WG3 lead, Marc Janoschek (PSI), suggested that LENS could best facilitate future innovations by engaging with policy makers and funding agencies and sharing the outputs of collaborative efforts. 

Continuing on the theme of technological innovation, Thomas Gutberlet (JCNS), presented one of LENS’ newest Working Groups: 1.4 – Neutron Generation Technology Foresight Studies. The group, which is evaluating various methods for neutron production, has already had four meetings and a workshop on Laser-driven Neutron Sources.

Next, Working Group 4 lead, Thomas Holm-Rod (ESS), described numerous collaborations in software and data, including practical workshops and summer schools and the development of e-learning. LENS’ involvement in the successful PaNOSC and ExPaNDS projects has also been key, and Thomas reiterated the importance of engaging with the wider RI landscape to represent neutrons and share information with other facilities.

Closing the first session, Andreas Schreyer (Hereon) presented the report, Neutron Science in Europe, which was published as a joint initiative of the BrightnESS2 project and LENS Initiative. The document, which received input from across the LENS membership, provides an overview of the current neutron landscape in Europe and discusses the challenges and opportunities for European neutron science, providing a driver for LENS in the future.

Moving into the second session, participants engaged in an open forum on future opportunities for LENS, covering priority actions, organisational structure, and avenues for strengthening collaborations with networks including ENSA, ELENA, LEAPS, and ARIE. The valuable input and insights shared in this session will be presented to the LENS Council later this year, informing the direction of our collaborative efforts moving forward.

“The LENS Initiative’s fifth anniversary is more than just a celebration of our recent successes; it’s a defining moment that will help to shape our future collaboration.

“I extend my gratitude to LENS colleagues and collaborators for their continued support, and for the valuable input and insights shared during the meeting. The legacy of European neutron facilities spans decades, and we remain committed to strengthening neutron science in Europe and ensuring the provision of world-leading neutron infrastructure for many more decades to come.”

Martin Müller
Chair of the LENS Initiative