Today, an official ceremony marked the inauguration of the European X-ray Free-Electron Laser (European XFEL(link is external)), in Schenefeld-Hamburg, Germany. Extending over a distance of 3.4 km in tunnels departing from DESY in Bahrenfeld-Hamburg, it will generate ultrashort X-ray flashes at a rate of 27 000 per second with an intensity one billion times higher than the best conventional X-ray sources. The facility will produce ultrafast snapshots of atomic and molecular movements in unprecedented detail, opening completely new research opportunities for science and industry users to image electronic, chemical and biological processes.

The story of the European XFEL is a wonderful example of the longstanding R&D synergies between the high-energy physics and light-source worlds. While traditional large X-ray facilities are based on storage rings in which energetic electrons circulate while emitting X-rays, X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) use special accelerating structures initially conceived for a linear collider for particle physics more than 20 years ago. Read the full article here.

Written by Stefania Pandolfi

Photo: The main linac driving the European XFEL, suspended from the ceiling to leave space at floor level, photographed in January 2017. (Image: D Nölle/DESY).