Helmholtz to Invest 3.5 Million Euros in the Multinational SESAME Project in Jordan

Berlin, October 25, 2018 – The largest German research organization is further expanding its scientific cooperation in the Middle East. The Helmholtz Association announced today that it is providing funding of 3.5 million euros for the SESAME particle accelerator in Jordan. This will allow a large number of new scientific experiments on matter in a new beamline that uses cutting-edge soft X-rays and enhance international cooperation in the region.

The only synchrotron radiation source in the Middle East is to be significantly expanded: The Helmholtz Association will fund the SESAME particle accelerator in Jordan for four years to a total of 3.5 million euros. Helmholtz President Otmar D. Wiestler announced the move in Amman on Thursday during a trip to the Middle East. “This investment in a research infrastructure that is as unusual as it is important provides decisive support for basic scientific research in this region,” Wiestler said. “It gives researchers from a number of disciplines and countries in the Middle East the opportunity to collaborate at the top international level.”

SESAME stands for “Synchrotron-Light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East”. The third-generation synchrotron radiation source allows scientists to analyze such things as the structure of new materials and biomolecules. The four-year funding program will enable a Helmholtz consortium of five German research centers to plan, construct, and install a new beamline system for so-called soft X-rays. The centers involved are DESY, Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron; Forschungszentrum Jülich; Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR); Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB); and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).

SESAME was launched in 2003 as an international project involving several countries in the Middle East and went into operation in 2017. Egypt, Iran, Israel, Jordan, Pakistan, the Palestinian territories, Turkey, and Cyprus are collaborating on the project. “This unique cooperation is bringing together people who do high-quality science in a politically sensitive region, and these people are developing relationships across borders through these scientific endeavors,” says Rolf Heuer, former director of CERN, Senator of the Helmholtz Association, and current SESAME Council President. “This unique research project is not only of great scientific significance for the region, but also plays an important role in intercultural communication.”

Since SESAME was founded, Germany has been part of the international SESAME Council as an observer. The DESY Helmholtz Center assumes this role on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research. “I am very pleased that we are continuing to write this SESAME success story,” says DESY Director Helmut Dosch. “The cutting-edge beamline will provide a number of excellent scientific applications and promote new cooperative efforts.”

The additional SESAME funding was announced during a Helmholtz delegation tour of Israel and Jordan. Helmholtz had previously opened a new foreign office in Tel Aviv, which will allow even closer collaboration with Israeli science and business organizations. The Helmholtz Association is among the pioneers of scientific collaboration with Israel. “For our fourth foreign office, we made a very conscious decision in favor of this location because we have found our long-term collaborations with Israeli partners to be incredibly dynamic,” says Helmholtz President Wiestler. “In many areas of science, such as medicine, chemistry, physics, and environmental and energy research, Israel is capable of cutting-edge research at a top international level. Israel is among the best in the world in the broad field of digitalization. For this reason, we intend to use the outstanding foundation we have to take our cooperation to a new level of quality and open up a new dimension in our partnership.” SESAME offers the unique opportunity to engage in science diplomacy throughout the region.

Scientific point of contact: Wolfgang Eberhardt, e-mail: wolfgang.eberhardt(at)desy.de

The Helmholtz Association contributes to solving great, pressing questions facing society, science, and business with top scientific performances in six research fields: Energy; Earth and Environment; Health; Key Technologies; Matter; and Aeronautics, Space, and Transport. With 39,000 employees at 18 Research Centers and an annual budget of more than four billion euros, the Helmholtz Association is Germany's largest science organization. Its work follows the tradition of the great natural scientist Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894).


October 25, 2018


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