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Blau illuminierter Photonentunnel des European XFEL © European XFEL

World's brightest X-ray light

Particle accelerator for the European XFEL X-ray laser operational

The international X-ray laser European XFEL has reached another milestone en route to scientific user operation after DESY successfully commissioned the particle accelerator, which drives the X-ray laser along its full length, a press release said Wednesday.

Katharina Fegebank, Senator for Science, Research and Equality: “It won’t be long until the official start of the European XFEL. Now that accelerator is operational, this marks an important step towards regular operations in autumn. The world’s brightest X-ray light will attract researchers from all over the world to the Hamburg Metropolitan Region.”

“First lasing” in May

Accelerated electrons have passed through the entire 2.1 kilometres of the accelerator tunnel. In the next step, the energy of the electrons will be raised before they are sent into a magnetic slalom section where the bright X-ray laser light will be generated. The first lasing has been scheduled for May. DESY is the largest shareholder of the European XFEL and is responsible for the construction and operation of the superconducting linear accelerator.

Helmut Dosch, Chairman of the DESY Board of Directors, said: “The European XFEL’s particle accelerator is the first, superconducting linear accelerator of this size in the world to go into operation. With the commissioning of this complex machine, DESY and European XFEL scientists have placed the crown on their 20-year engagement in developing and building this large international project. The first experiments are within reach, and I am quite excited about the discoveries ahead of us.”

International, DESY-led collaborations

The superconducting, particle accelerator of the European XFEL was built over the last seven years by an international consortium led by DESY. The co-ordination of the accelerator’s unique components and the control of the electron beam will be tested intensely before the accelerated electrons are allowed into the up to 210 m long section with special magnetic structures called undulators. There, the ultrabright X-ray laser flashes will be generated. Scientific experiments are likely to begin in autumn.

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