During the IYBSSD 24-hour online event, a team from European XFEL prepared a series of interview with early career scientists
Hi, my name is Ana Garcia-Tabares. I’m from Spain. I’m a physicist and I’m working at European XFEL as a software developer. I was doing my PhD at CERN before in Geneva and then I moved to Germany.
Why is basic science so important for society?
Basic science drives knowledge, and this help functioning societies and democracies. It also brings countries the opportunity to be competitive in the global economy. Basic scientists aim to understand the universe by observing and analysing physical, chemical and biological processes that happen in nature. Also here at European XFEL, science that is being carried on is framed in a way that this also answers societal challenges. This could be health problems, climate and energetic problems that our societies are currently facing. Also, it’s important to remark that these basic science normally imply to drive the existing technology to the limits. In order to perform certain experiment, we need to improve the existing technology. This have an enormous impact in the society because it leads to better technologies, not only to better technology, but it also drive companies and industry to their step in being more competitive in the global economy.
How we can see this in the European XFEL? We can see this in the superconducting magnet that are used in the accelerator. Because this superconducting, the things that industry learn can be then later applied for transporting energy. Or in the case of the instrument, they use detector to detect the X-rays and can be later used in the medical application.
What scientific breakthrough would you like to see happen in the coming years?
I think one very important breakthrough would be getting more efficient renewable energy. We know that then now the renewable energies are a very hot topic, and people really want countries go on to get almost all the energy based on these resources. One example is the green hydrogen. Green hydrogen refers to a method to obtain the hydrogen in a clean way. Hydrogen has been investigated for the past years, and many industries want to use it as a source of energy. But the main limitation is the way that it’s obtained. Green hydrogen is obtained by splitting water into these components, hydrogen and oxygen. But this process requires a lot of energy. So scientists study this, by using the accelerator, the synchotron, and are trying to understand how this process can be performed with less energy. These studies could be potentially continued here at XFEL, where we have a X-ray, a bright X-ray, and where we can study this chemical reaction that happen in a short time, with more resolution.