The large-scale project EMIL (Energy Materials In-situ Laboratory Berlin) will create new opportunities for researching energy materials by the beginning of 2015

Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin and the Max Planck Society are going to build a new, dedicated X-ray beamline together at the synchrotron source BESSY II, which will be used for analysing materials for renewable energy generation. The new large-scale project has been dubbed EMIL (a common name in Berlin, but which also stands for Energy Materials In-situ Laboratory Berlin) and includes, among other things, the major project already announced under the name of SISSY (Solar Energy Materials In-Situ Spectroscopy at the Synchrotron). The assessment of EMIL in September 2011, by an external committee of experts engaged by the scientific advisory board, went very well and the experts endorsed the EMIL project "enthusiastically". The supervisory board of HZB will give the go-ahead for construction of EMIL in two months.

HZB project manager Dr. Klaus Lips is very satisfied with the results: "In the planned laboratory, we will combine material production with ultra-precise analysis of visible properties better than anywhere else in the world, without interruption of the vacuum needed for synthesis, which will allow us to develop better thin-film solar cells and energy stores."

EMIL will be a worldwide unique laboratory, built and operated at BESSY II, where materials for photovoltaics and photocatalytic processes can be studied by X-ray analysis. Three experimental stations will be built, where researchers will have soft and hard X-rays at their disposal (60 eV–10 keV).

The measuring station SISSY will be available for studying photovoltaic materials at EMIL. Another measuring station, CAT@EMIL, will be in the same laboratory for researching catalysts, and is being financed and built by the Max Planck Society. Both measuring stations are primarily intended for in-house research, while one third of the measurement time will be made available for external users from universities and industry.

The third measuring station planned in the EMIL project (60to6), which has received no funding as yet, would be primarily dedicated for external users. Since the beamline offers unique conditions for studying materials with its excellent beam characteristics, establishing 60to6@EMIL will make EMIL even more attractive to external researchers. Users shall have up to 80 percent of the measurement time available at 60to6.

Building EMIL, with its analytical tools SISSY and CAT, requires 18 million euros in funding. Following a positive vote from the supervisory board, HZB will invest 6 million euros in EMIL and the Max Planck Society will participate with a further 6.7 million euros.  The German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) is funding construction of the SISSY station with 5.7 million euros from the "Photovoltaics" innovation alliance.

"We could not have imagined that EMIL would be realized together with the Max Planck Society, and the best analytical conditions created for researchers worldwide, had the two centres not merged in 2009. The new EMIL project makes the benefits of the merger especially clear," says Dr. Markus Sauerborn, head of the policy unit "Strategy and Programs".

Constructing EMIL will require extensive structural measures at BESSY II, and we will keep you up to date on these.

Update: The supervisory board has given his positive vote for realising the EMIL project in December 2011.