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Wallonia invests 10 million euros in the Einstein Telescope

The Walloon government has decided to fund four research projects at ULiège, UCLouvain, UMons, and ULB. With this, Wallonia is investing 10 million euros to support the candidacy of the Euregio Meuse-Rhine (EMR) for the Einstein Telescope (ET).

Minister of Research and Innovation Willy Borsus made this decision on behalf of the Walloon government to strengthen the scientific and economic ecosystem of the region, with a particular focus on space sciences and fundamental physics. This aligns with the EMR’s bid to host the Einstein Telescope, which has the potential to create a world-class research infrastructure in our region, comparable to CERN in Switzerland.

To support the possible establishment of the Einstein Telescope, Wallonia has already co-financed two initiatives through the Interreg program: ET2SMEs and E-TEST, which ended in 2023. The first project aimed to promote research in SMEs, while the second included a geological study of the region’s soil and the development of a prototype cryogenic mirror.

Research projects

With this new round of funding, Wallonia has launched four major research projects:

ETGEO: This project focuses on studying the subsoil to determine the optimum location for the telescope. It uses advanced hydrogeophysical techniques to characterise the soil and assess its impact on the telescope’s performance.

ETOPT: This project aims to develop innovative laser and optical solutions for the telescope’s interferometers. These solutions must be extremely precise and stable, which is necessary to detect the minute variations in space-time caused by gravitational waves.

CRISTAL: This project is based on the development of a prototype cryogenic mirror to create a laboratory dedicated to research into cryogenic technologies. In early 2024, this prototype, developed in Liège and the only one of its kind in the world, passed a series of tests demonstrating its ability to be cooled down to a temperature of 22 Kelvin. This laboratory will be dedicated to companies and researchers, offering a full-scale cryogenic environment to validate cutting-edge technologies linked to the Einstein Telescope.

ETLOG: With the massive amount of data generated by the telescope, this project focuses on developing advanced software and a robust computing infrastructure to process this data efficiently. It covers several key areas of gravitational data processing.

These projects, in combination represent an important step towards a dynamic and competitive scientific ecosystem in Wallonia.

“The Einstein telescope is a major project that embodies a sector (science and aerospace) that plays a key role in the Walloon economy. These research projects represent a strong signal for innovation, research, science and economic deployment in Wallonia. The spin-offs will be positive for Walloon SMEs and research centres, consolidating their expertise and qualifications, expanding their activities, penetrating new markets, creating innovative spin-off technologies, stimulating new contracts and cross-border economic and scientific exchanges.”

Willy Borus
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