European XFEL takes research operation

European XFEL takes research operation

(Photo: European XFEL)

The European XFEL in Hamburg will give researchers insights into the nanoworld. After years of construction work can now start the first experiments and show "what the world together in its innermost holds",

"The world down there is breathtaking small", The American physicist and Nobel laureate Richard Feynman Phillips said in the 1950s. At this remark reminded Federal Research Minister Johanna Wanka (CDU) on Friday at the opening of the European XFEL in Schenefeld near Hamburg. The world leitungsfähigste ray laser facility allow the scientists now to delve deeply into this nanoworld.

The 1.2 billion euro plant, which is now available after eight years of construction, researchers, is a kind of super camera. In a 3.4-kilometer underground tunnel ultrafast X-ray pulses are generated. They should make structures of molecules, cells and viruses visible and show the sequence of chemical reactions at the atomic level.

Scientists from Russia and the UK and the German Electron Synchrotron (DESY) in Hamburg-Bahrenfeld and the XFEL project itself should middle of the month to perform the first experiments.

International cooperation

The project - which cost even 1.5 billion euros at current prices - are involved in eleven European countries. The largest contributors are Germany and - by far - Russia. Andrej Fursenko, an adviser to President Vladimir Putin praised the cooperation between the two countries. Chancellor Angela Merkel and Putin have worked together for the success of the project and financing problems solved.

In the words of Hamburg's Mayor Olaf Scholz of the XFEL is an encouraging sign in a tense time. "The European XFEL emits not only ultra short flashes of light, it also sends a clear message to world understanding and peace"Said the SPD politician. He speaks of the hope for new insights into the environmentally friendly energy and to treat diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. The XFEL will help to make life better for all people.

Schleswig-Holstein's Minister of Science Karin Prien (CDU) goes one step further: With the help of the XFEL scientists could maybe even metaphysical questions. "You could talk to Goethe's Faust: What holds the world together at heart, that's they approach here."

Hamburger flagship projects

The Entsteheung the 3.4-kilometer underground facility took quite a while - with parallels to other projects in the Hanseatic city. Thus, the construction of the X-ray was eight years only two years under the Elbe Philharmonic Hall, the cost is 1.22 billion euros for the XFEL and 789 million not so far apart for Elbe Philharmonic. Both projects will set new standards in their fields. So in the XFEL the brightest X-ray flashes of the world are to be created, up to 27,000 per second. The luminosity should be a billion times more than what comparable systems can afford so far.

The XFEL is working to put it simply this way: An injector on the grounds Desy shoots electrons in an underground tube. In a 1.7-kilometer-long linear accelerator they are getting faster and increase your energy. Then follows an array of magnets, the so-called undulator. He brings the electrons in a wave motion, they give ultra-bright flashes, up to 27,000 per second.

The flashes are aggravated more and more until this X-ray at the end of the 3.4-kilometer-long tube strikes samples in the experimental hall at the site Schenefeld. As the sample appears in the inconceivable moment of lightning detectors are to hold. Come about up to 4.5 million images per second.

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