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European XFEL First Light: X-ray Laser Hits a Milestone

Image: European XFEL First Light: X-ray Laser Hits a Milestone

Yellow superconducting accelerator modules are seen in the accelerator tunnel of the European XFEL. (European XFEL/Heiner Müller-Elsner)

By    |   Friday, 05 May 2017 07:21 PM

The biggest X-ray laser in the world, the European XFEL, has generated its first X-ray laser light and is now considered ready for its official opening in September.

The 2-plus mile facility in Hamburg, Germany, is mostly housed in underground tunnels. The light generated isn’t even visible: It has a wavelength of .8 nanometers, about 500 times shorter than visible light, says Phys.org. The test light pulsed about once per second, but in full use the light will pulse 27,000 times a second.

“This is an important moment that our partners and we have worked towards for many years,” Managing Director professor Robert Feidenhans’s said, Phys.org reported. “I very much look forward to the start of international user operation, which is planned for September.”

According to Chairman of the DESY Directorate Helmut Dosch, the facility was built “in record time and within budget,” and will provide “the most detailed images of the molecular structure of new materials and drugs and novel live recordings of biochemical reactions,” Phys.org reported.

Because of the very short wavelengths, the laser can make images of atoms and individual biomolecules, which can help scientists understand illnesses and develop new therapies. Insight into chemical processes for greater efficiency is also expected, according to the laser’s website.

The European XFEL laser is the most powerful of five X-ray lasers around the world and will allow scientists to conduct experiments faster. The other X-ray lasers have been at full capacity for some time, and the new laser will help to alleviate the logjam, the XFEL website stated.

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The biggest X-ray laser in the world, the European XFEL, has generated its first X-ray laser light and is now considered ready for its official opening in September.
european, xfel, first, light
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2017-21-05
Friday, 05 May 2017 07:21 PM
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