The ATHENA project started in 2018.
All Helmholtz Centers working on accelerators are involved as weil as several universities. ATHENA will further develop the novel plasma accelerators driven by modern lasers. A plasma accelerator for electrons with high quality is going to be built at DESY in
Hamburg. A plasma accelerator for hadrons (protons, ions) with higher performance will be built in Dresden at the research center HZDR. The investment resources for ATHENA of 30 million euros allow national cooperation and
an improvement of the research infrastructure, which will generate added value and secure international competitiveness. The required research and development tasks as weil as the delivery of components for both flagship projects are carried out by the Helmholtz Centers involved. The common use of technologies creates synergies and sustainability.
After the construction phase of the ATHENA project, an operating phase will start in 2022. In the operating phase all centers involved will have the opportunity to realize applications of developments.

Links to the facilities

Short Innovative Bunches and Accelerators Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron DESY

Ferninfrarot Linac- und Test-Experiment Karlsruher Institut für Technologie

Berlin Energy Recovery Linac Prototype Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin

Elektronen Linearbeschleuniger für Strahlen hoher Brillanz und niedriger Emittanz Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf

Short-Pulsed Particle and Radiation Center Forschungszentrum Jülich

POLARIS & JETI-40 (and JETI-200) Helmholtz-Institut Jena

LIGHT GS Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung


  • Electron beam
  • Quality e-beam from plasma to delivery point
  • Conventional and novel accelerator technology
  • Plasma FEL (free electron laser)
  • Medical imaging
  • Injection into storage ring
  • Towards staging a linear collider


  • SINBAD (Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY)
  • FLUTE (Karlsruher Insitut für Technologie)
  • ELBE (Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf)
  • bERLinPro (Hellmholtz-Zentrum Berlin)
  • JENA (Helmholtz-Institut Jena)
  • JuSPARC (Forschungszentrum Jülich)


  • Proton and ion beam
  • First medical user area
  • High repetition rate laser (higher dose)
  • High stability laser front end (reliability)
  • Heavy ion applications
  • Polarized ptrotons
  • Neutrons


  • ELBE (Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf)
  • LIGHT (GSI Helmholtz Zentrum für Schwerionenforschung)
  • FLUTE (Karlsruher Insitut für Technologie)
  • bERLinPro (Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin)
  • JENA (Helmholtz-Institut Jena)
  • JuSPARC (Forschungszentrum Jülich)