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The EXCITE project supports transnational access (TNA) to equipment offered free-of-charge by world-class European Earth Science research facilities in the field of X-ray and electron microscopy for structural and chemical imaging and analysis of earth materials.
In the 1st call for access, 53 multidisciplinary scientific projects have been financially and logistically supported by the EXCITE network.
On this 2nd call for TNA, access to 24 facilities hosting 49 pieces of equipment will be provided by 14 partners in the EXCITE community. Priority will be given to proposals based on Earth Sciences and Earth related-materials.

Access to 24 facilities

Electron and X-ray microscopy facilities are accessible under two access modes:

Acces modes

Physical access (hands-on), which requires a user to visit the TNA facility where the equipment is located. Use of the equipment is free of charge. In addition, the visiting user will also be reimbursed for travel, accommodation, and sustenance, up to an amount specified per country; 
Remote service (send-in-sample), with resources and services offered free-of-charge without users physically visiting the facility. Samples are sent for analysis to the facility where it is analysed by an operator. The user does not visit the facility and is thus not qualified to receive travel / accommodation / sustenance reimbursement.

Access details

The type of access mode provided differs per facility and equipment. Check here the access details to each facility.

The 2nd TNA call is open from 1st of June, 2022, to 31st of August, 2022.
During this period, proposals can be submitted at any time. Missed the deadline or urgently need access? Contact us!

Projects accepted under this call can start as early as 1st of November, 2022 and must be completed by 30st of April, 2023.

Potential users are strongly advised to contact the facility manager before submitting a proposal for TNA to discuss technical aspects of their projects. Find here the contact details for facility managers.

Proposals must meet specific EU, EXCITE and TNA facility rules to be eligible for TNA:

Eligibility rules

Teams affiliated with European and non-European research institutes are eligible to apply. Applications from users working outside the EU* are limited to a  maximum of 20% of the total access available.
The main user and the majority of the user group (>50 % per proposal) must work in a country other than the country where the facility to which they are applying is located.
Only users that are allowed and willing to disseminate the results generated during the TNA project in compliance with the EXCITE TNA data policy can be granted access. Please read our data policy here.

Funding regulations

Finances to cover TNA visits have the following limits (average flat rate):

  • Remote service: max. € 100 for shipping of samples per project. 
  • Physical access: 
    • travel from EU* and EFTA countries$: max. € 300 travel, max. € 150 per day housing and subsistence.
    • travel from all other countries: max. € 1000 travel, max. € 150 per day housing and subsistence.

Different limits / rules may apply according to the facility, and must be discussed in advance with the Facility manager. These limits are intended per proposal, regardless of the number of users allowed at the facility on each project. Any costs incurred by users exceeding the limits adopted by the facility must be paid by the user. Travel tickets and accommodation and living expenses will only be reimbursed by transfer to the user’s bank account, and on provision of receipts and the final visit report. The report needs to be accepted by the TNA management. For more details see the TNA reporting webpage.

If a facility offers both remote service and physical access to their equipment, the applicant can choose their preference during the application process. In case of physical access, the applicant must indicate in the form if the visit involves more than one participant. Restrictions may apply to the number of people allowed in a facility at a single time. In addition, Covid measures could be imposed that limit or prohibit physical access to a facility. The final decision on the type of access and number of visitors allowed is made by the facility manager.

* = EU + countries associated with Horizon 2020 (Albania, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Iceland, Israel, Kosovo, Morocco, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Norway,  Serbia, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom).

$ = Countries listed above + Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

Provided facilities and access

Applicants will be able to select their preferred facility and equipment during the application procedure. Each application needs to address a single facility, from which they can select multiple equipment. If applicants are interested in requesting access to multiple facilities, they must submit different proposals (one per facility), indicating the other proposals submitted under the same scientific project.

Each applicant can submit only one proposal to request use of a single facility, and two proposals in total only if different facilities are requested. It is also possible for the two proposals to be linked, aiming at different facilities with the same scientific objectives. Linked proposals will be considered jointly with respect to the scientific evaluation but the technical evaluation will be separately conducted by the two facilities involved.

The unit of access to a TNA facility can be days or hours. The total number of access units per proposal will be decided during the feasibility check.

Applicants are advised to contact the hosting facility and conduct detailed discussions with the facility manager before making their application, to verify details of access (e.g., samples, duration of the access, number of visitors) and technical aspects of the proposed activity (e.g., equipment specifications). This initial contact with the TNA facility makes the technical review process smoother and enhances the chances that the proposals meet the facility requirements, making a positive evaluation of the project feasibility more likely.

Please check this table for the email addresses of the facility managers, and information about the offered facilities, equipment, method and mode of access.

How to apply

The main applicant must complete the online application form and upload a pdf of their TNA proposal.  If you are unable to use the online application form please use the offline version and send it, together with your proposal, directly to us.

All necessary documents can be found here.

Please read the included proposal guidelines carefully, as they also contain the eligibility and scientific evaluation criteria on which the proposal will be assessed. The TNA proposal needs to comply with the two page-limit and all the indications provided in the proposal template.

Non-compliance with the template and the provided guidelines results in exclusion from the selection process. The main applicant is strongly encouraged to discuss a draft of the proposal with the facility manager, prior to submission. This discussion should also encompass all the information that needs to be provided in the online application form – the type of equipment, access mode, number and type of access units, access for co-PIs, and intended access period.

After interaction with the facility manager , completion of the proposal, and collection of the submission information, the PI can submit the application and proposal.

The evaluation and selection of the TNA proposals shall be completed within 6-8 weeks after the call has closed.

Technical feasibility

All submitted applications will be screened to verify eligibility criteria, then forwarded to the designated facility manager, who will check the technical feasibility of the submitted proposal. 

The technical feasibility validation process is not a scientific assessment, but considers the application from an operational and technical perspective (i.e. requested units of access, sample preparation, desired spatial/temporal resolution, selected equipment, etc.).

If an application is considered not feasible, it will not go through the scientific assessment, and the applicant will be informed that their application did not pass the technical feasibility check. In some cases the facility manager will make recommendations to the scientific review panel (e.g. fewer / more units of access could be required).

To avoid rejection based on the technical feasibility check, the main applicant / user is urged to contact the facility manager before submitting the proposal.

Scientific evaluation

After a successful technical feasibility check, the application will be sent for scientific evaluation to the TNA Review Panel, consisting of an independent group of international scientists without affiliation to EXCITE, with expertise in the field of X-ray and electron microscopy and microanalysis.
Evaluation of the TNA project proposal will be made in accordance with the EXCITE TNA General Principles and assessed on the basis of the scientific excellence of the proposal, which will primarily consider writing, methodology, scientific rationale and novelty of the proposed research. 

The review will be blind, and principles of transparency, fairness and impartiality will be applied through the whole revision process. Priority will be given to the scientific merit, but the selection will also take into account if the applicants;

  • have not previously used the facility;
  • are early-career scientists [i.e. An Early Career Scientist (ECS) is a student, a PhD candidate, or a practising scientist who received their highest certificate (e.g. BSc, MSc or PhD) within the past seven years);
  • are working in countries where no equivalent research infrastructure exists.

After the review process, accepted projects are allocated to their desired facility, or placed at an alternative facility in consultation with the PI and facility manager.

User responsibilities

Following proposal approval, the user has to accept the general EXCITE TNA data policy, with which they:

TNA Data Policy

Acknowledge the project and the support from the EC in the Horizon 2020 Programme, in any publication resulting from work carried out in the context of the TNA Activity in EXCITE. Please use the standard statement required by the EU: “This publication results from work carried out under transnational access action under the support of EXCITE – EC- HORIZON 2020 – INFRAIA 2020 Integrating Activities for Starting Communities under grant agreement N. 101005611.”
Ensure that the data resulting from the TNA are published in an appropriate data repository under a CC:BY 4.0 license after completion of the TNA project. The max. moratorium period is 2 years .
Ensure that peer-reviewed publication(s) resulting from the data acquired under the TNA activity will be made available open access.

Access Agreement

Furthermore, before access, the user will sign an Access Agreement with the TNA facility, which covers the mode of access, access units, compliance with Health and Safety regulations, data processing, management and publication specifics, confidentiality, and liability, related to the TNA project. In certain cases the TNA facility can request to be a co-author on the scientific and/or data publications resulting from the TNA project.

All users involved in physical access need to be covered by medical insurance when conducting the TNA visit (either through the employing institution, or through a personal insurance if the institution does not fully cover the user when working abroad).

All necessary documents and links are available here.

Project reporting

After completing their TNA project, the user is requested to:

  • Provide a scientific report using pre-compiled templates (1 page, including 1-2 of most relevant acquired images, and include reference to where this work is/will be published).
  • Provide a financial report containing the expenses incurred during their visit, as well as the receipts, which will be checked for reimbursement (only for physical access).
  • Upload the reporting forms with all necessary documentation, duly completed and signed.
  • Complete a feedback questionnaire about their TNA experience.
  • Collect and store the raw data/results of the TNA project as per the Access agreement with the host TNA facility.

All necessary documents and links are available here.

The users might be invited to participate and have the opportunity to present their research results at the annual EXCITE meeting.

Confidentiality of personal data

All personal data collected from the users in the application process are used by the EXCITE Network for operational management of TNA and for the proper performance of its legal tasks and duties for communication and research, in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR – Regulation (EU) 2016/679). No personal data is shared with the external review panel during the review phase, nor will personal data be rented, sold, or otherwise shared with or provided to third parties other than the EC for reporting purposes. Applicants are requested to view and consent to the EXCITE TNA privacy policy upon application.


For general information on the TNA call please contact us by email:

We would appreciate it if in email enquiries you include some standard text in the Subject field, e.g. “EXCITE TNA inquiry”.


Curious to learn more?

Twenty-four European facilities for electron and X-ray microscopy are joining hands. To better understand Earth and planetary materials and to together unveil the secret codes hidden under our feet. Curious? Like to learn more? Interested in gaining access to our EXCITE Imaging facilities? Please enter your email address and be one of the first geoscientists to be informed when we open calls for proposals. Other questions? Contact us here.

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