SPARC was approved and funded in 2003 by the Italian Ministry of Research in the framework of the national strategic research program (FISR), and got additional support by the EuroFEL project within the 6th Framework Programme of the EU. The test facility is now completed, hosting a 150 MeV electron beam linac which feeds a 12-metres-long undulator.

The linac has been commissioned and the tests of most critical FEL components have been successfully completed, including High-Order Harmonic Generation (HHG) and the seeding experiment. During the commissioning coherent monochromatic radiation was finally produced by achieving the conditions required for the self-amplification of the spontaneous undulator radiation, known as SASE.

Currently the focus of the SPARC activity is on the experimental test of a beam driven plasma accelerator module aiming to demonstrate high gradient (above 1 GV/m) acceleration and at the same time preservation of the high quality electron beam. If successful this experiment will pave the way to the second and even more challenging phase when the plasma accelerated beam will be injected in the existing undulator chain in order to demonstrate the possibility to drive a SASE FEL with a plasma accelerated beam. This activity is performed in the framework of the EuPRAXIA design study.

In the near future SPARC will be available to the user community in order to test diagnostics, detectors and techniques for FEL and high-brightness beam based experiments such as FEL generation of THz radiation and production of X-ray pulses by interaction of accelerated electrons with 200 TW laser beam.