In the application laboratories the MBI concentrates its specific
experimental resources, providing a flexible, versatile and cost
efficient use of expensive, state-of-the-art equipment by internal
researchers as well as by external partners from science and industry.
Special laser development, reacting to demands from internal and
external users, complements the scientific infrastructure activities
which form an essential basis of scientific research at the MBI.
MBI's scientific research is embedded into a large number of co-operations
with universities, research institutions, industry and guest researchers
from various programmes, including the EU Access Programme since
1996. Embedded into successive Laser Infrastructure Networks within
the various EU Framework Programmes MBI is providing access to its
laboratories together with adequate scientific, technical and logistic
support for European guest researchers who require such major research
infrastructures for their work. MBI, however, is not a pure service
facility which is reflected in the record of its EU Access Contracts.
The MBI users clearly prefer the combined offer of state-of-the-art
laser systems together with extraordinarily broad scientific expertise,
competence and equipment in MBI's core research areas. This has
frequently led to highly successful collaborations, even influencing
MBI's own research programme. In contrast, there is little demand
for short-term visits serving the exclusive purpose of the user's
MBI is part of LASERLAB-EUROPE, the Integrated Initiative of 26 European Laser Research Infrastructures from 16 European countries, which have appointed MBI as Co-ordinator of the project in the 6th and 7th Research Framework Programmes of the European Union. In view of the increasing importance of lasers and their applications in all areas of sciences, life sciences and technologies the main objectives of this project are:
- To form a competitive, inter-disciplinary network of European national laser laboratories;
- To strengthen the European leading role in laser research through Joint Research Activities (JRA), pushing the laser concept into new directions and opening up new applications of key importance;
- To engage in the Transnational Access Programme in a co-ordinated fashion for the benefit of the European research community, providing about 1100 days of access per year for European researchers.
- To increase the European basis in laser research and applications by reaching out to neighboring scientific communities and by assisting the development of Laser Research Infrastructures on both the national and the European level.
This close cooperation of European Laser Research Infrastructures started in the 4th Framework Programme of the European Community where MBI was part of the LIMANS Cluster of Large Scale Laser Facilities. This cluster was organised and funded as an association of laser infrastructures with the aim of developing and implementing good practices in EU-funded transnational access. Within the 5th Framework Programme the LIMANS Cluster formed an informal sub-group of LASERNET, a Thematic Network of Laser Infrastructures which pursued specific tasks to improve the quality of access to external users by transnational and interdisciplinary cooperation and which laid the foundations for the present cooperation in LASERLAB-EUROPE.
Within LASERLAB-EUROPE, MBI offers about 85 days of access per year in an estimated number of four to five research projects to European users. Since the beginning of its Transnational Access activities, MBI has provided more than 1500 days of access to European users coming from 15 different countries (see graph below).
EU user statistics for the MBI application laboratories
Apart from these EU-funded Access activities which are restricted to visitors from foreign EU and associated countries, MBI also offers its facilities to collaborations with researchers from Germany or non-EU countries. These visits are funded from other sources, either national or international, and considerably contribute to MBI's dense network of research collaborations.
Particular attention is paid to collaborations with universities. MBI participates in several Special Research Grants (SFB) with Berlin's universities, funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, and in various nation-wide Topical Research Programmes. In most cases it is the availability of special equipment, concentrated in the MBI Application Laboratories together with the expertise from MBI's own research programme which makes the institute a collaboration partner in high demand. This is complemented by bi-lateral collaborations with university groups, where in single cases the MBI laboratories even serve as long-term host laboratories for university research (c.f. project 2-02, collaboration with TU Berlin).