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The United Kingdom joins Desy's European XFEL

Great Britain announces it will become a full member.

The United Kingdom will become the twelvth member state of European XFEL, an international research facility that is currently under construction in the Hamburg area and will start user operation in 2017. The UK Minister for Universities and Science Greg Clark and the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) confirmed that the United Kingdom will invest up to 30 million £ (about 38 million euro) to become a full member.

Europe’s fastest and brightest X-ray flashes

The European XFEL will produce extremely bright X-ray flashes that will allow scientists to investigate nanometre-scale structures, fast processes, and extreme states; take three-dimensional pictures of viruses and proteins; and film chemical reactions. DESY is the main shareholder of European XFEL. “I am extremely glad to see now an official UK contribution to our facility”, said Professor Massimo Altarelli, Managing Director at European XFEL. “We have been all the time in contact with the science community in the UK, and their contribution of ideas, know-how, and enthusiasm has been always highly appreciated.” “We will now work to negotiate formal UK membership of this exciting new facility, building on our own national capabilities and facilities and allow the UK to develop entirely new scientific opportunities”, Professor John Womersley of STFC, which will manage the UK’s membership of the European XFEL, was quoted on the council’s website.

Funding Until 2019

In July 2014, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Medical Research Council, and the Wellcome Trust, all based in the United Kingdom, had announced they will contribute 5.64 M£ (about 7 M€) towards a user consortium at the European XFEL. Over five years between 2014 and 2019, this funding will help to construct and use the Serial Femtosecond Crystallography end station (SFX), which is dedicated to high-throughput nanocrystallography and sample screening.

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