The impressive X-Ray Raman Scattering end station at ID20 was part of the practicals at ESRF Photo: Rafael Celestre

Martin Seyrich, PhD student at DESY, recieved a PIER travel grant and went to Greoble to attend the "Hercules European School 2018". Here is his report.

The HERCULES European School is a five week course that broadly covers the techniques and applications of synchrotrons, free-electron lasers and neutron sources. The school is aimed at PhD students from a variety of scientific fields who use these facilities. The course starts with lectures covering general topics such as interactions, scattering, diffraction, crystallography, spectroscopy, imaging, magnetism and so on. The second set of lectures goes into more detail and concerns specific techniques, e.g. ptychography, resonant inelastic scattering and neutron spin echo. These lectures are divided into two parallel sessions, one covering life sciences, the other concerning physical and chemical sciences.
The second half of the school is dedicated to practicals and tutorials. Four days of practicals take place directly at several beamlines of the X-ray and neutron sources. Two days of tutorials cover simulation and data analysis. The practicals were my favourite days of the school and I wish there could have been more, but unfortunately time and access at these facilities are limited.
The school includes a one week excursion to a research center either in Paris-Saclay, Villigen, Hamburg or Trieste. The organizers assure that nobody is sent to their home institute. I was in the Trieste group and spent a week at ELETTRA and FERMI. During this week I learnt a lot about science with ultra-violet and soft X-rays as well as the possibilities of seeded free-electron lasers. This experience showed me how valuable these complementary techniques can be.

In conclusion, due to the multi-disciplinary approach, the HERCULES school is of great benefit for students who wish to understand the broad spectrum offered at large scale photon and neutron sources. Ideally, students should attend during the first half of the PhD so that the contacts and knowledge obtained can benefit their project.

I would like to thank PIER for supporting my participation in this school within their travel grant program.

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