The European XFEL teams work in close collaboration with external users to carry out the most relevant experiments to explore materials science, biology or geology
The European XFEL (X-ray Free-Electron Laser) is a cutting-edge research facility located just outside Hamburg, Germany. It plays a pivotal role in advancing scientific discoveries across various fields. This facility, which spans several kilometers in length, boasts an impressive infrastructure and state-of-the-art technology to generate ultra-short, ultra-brilliant X-ray pulses for a multitude of research purposes.
One of the key distinguishing features of the European XFEL is its collaborative nature. As a user facility, it collaborates closely with international researchers who visit to conduct experiments. This means that the facility continuously hosts diverse experiments in physics, material science, chemistry, biology, and geosciences, involving scientists from around the world. The facility is funded by European countries, and its primary goal is to facilitate world-leading research by leveraging its unique capabilities.
A versatile X-ray source
The European XFEL began its operations in 2017 and enables simultaneous experiments using a wide range of X-ray energies. This versatility allows researchers to investigate materials across the periodic table, from carbon to molybdenum, and conduct a variety of experiments in parallel.
The facility is equipped with numerous instruments that facilitate a broad spectrum of scientific investigations. These instruments are utilized for diverse purposes, including ultrafast dynamics studies, single-particle imaging, X-ray photon correlation spectroscopy, high energy density experiments, soft X-ray nonlinear spectroscopy, and more. Each instrument is meticulously designed to cater to specific research requirements.
Collaboration at the core
The complexity of experiments conducted at the European XFEL demands a range of specialized equipment and expertise. Researchers work with various sample environments, including vacuum, helium, and chemically controlled atmospheres, to accommodate diverse materials. Additionally, advanced X-ray detectors, online data analysis, and precise motion control systems are integral to conducting experiments effectively.
The facility thrives on collaboration, bringing together a dedicated team of postdocs, PhD students, engineers, technicians, and scientists from various disciplines. The cooperative spirit extends to international researchers who join the team week by week, fostering a dynamic and interdisciplinary research environment.
Examples in very diverse fields
The European XFEL’s research portfolio covers a wide array of topics with societal relevance. The experiments provide valuable insights into fields such as healthcare, geology, environmental science, and materials science. Examples include investigating photoactivated antibacterial agents, probing analogs of the Earth’s core under extreme conditions, understanding insecticidal properties, and studying the effects of ionizing radiation in water.
In conclusion, the European XFEL is a hub for cutting-edge scientific research, offering a diverse range of experiments and tools to investigate various phenomena. Its collaborative approach, state-of-the-art instruments, and interdisciplinary teams make it a pivotal player in advancing fundamental research, technology development, and the training of young researchers. To initiate experiments at the facility, researchers are encouraged to contact the European XFEL team and begin discussions to determine the suitability of their projects and sample preparations. Collaboration and communication are the keys to harnessing the facility’s capabilities for groundbreaking research.