This decision was taken by the Dutch government based on the advice of the Advisory Committee of the National Growth Fund. With this decision, the Cabinet gives an enormous boost to Dutch science and to the broad development of the South Limburg border region.
Research into gravitational waves
The intended investment of 42 million euros will go towards preparatory work such as innovation of the necessary technology, location research, building up a high-tech ecosystem and organisation. With the reservation of the 870 million, the Netherlands has an excellent basis to apply in the future, together with Belgium and Germany, for the realisation of the Einstein Telescope in the border region of South Limburg. The Einstein Telescope is a future underground observatory for measuring gravitational waves. VU physicists Andreas Freise and Conor Mow-Lowry are involved in this research.
National Institute for Subatomic Physics Nikhef, the Province of Limburg and regional development agency LIOF jointly drew up the growth fund proposal last year, supported by the Ministries of OCW and EZK. Nikhef director Stan Bentvelsen has been involved with the Einstein Telescope for years. He is delighted, but also sees that there is still a lot of work to be done: “It is fantastic that the cabinet embraces the ambition to make the Netherlands a world leader in research into gravitational waves. These Growth Fund resources form the basis for further cooperation with our partners in Germany and Belgium and for research into the geological subsurface in the border region of South Limburg. A major project requires a careful process, and we are putting our heart and soul into it. I am confident that we will meet the additional conditions.”
About the Einstein Telescope
The Einstein Telescope is a future underground observatory for measuring gravitational waves. Powerful laser beams will soon bounce between deep-cooled, vibration-free mirrors at the ends of kilometre-long vacuum tunnels. The instrument will be much more sensitive than existing detectors. As a result, it can detect many more sources and scan a volume of the universe thousand times larger. Researchers will use this instrument to look for instance for the precise structure of neutron stars, the birth process of black holes and the structure of the universe immediately after the Big Bang.
The border region of South Limburg - the Euregio Meuse-Rhine - is one of the possible locations for this observatory. Housing the Einstein Telescope in this region could have a major positive impact on science, the economy and society in the Netherlands. With the committed investments from the National Growth Fund, the Netherlands has the basis to join forces with Belgium and Germany to establish a strong candidacy in 2024/2025.