A free-electron laser generates high-intensity electromagnetic radiation by accelerating electrons to relativistic speeds and directing them through special magnetic structures. Electrons are accelerated to an energy of up to 17.5 GeV. A 3.4 km long tunnel has inside the linear accelerator, located underground. The laser started Friday flashes 27,000 pulses per second, resulting in a luminance a billion times higher than the best conventional X-ray sources. The hope is to open up new areas of research.
The X-ray laser is underground
The scientists will be capable “to decipher the molecular composition of viruses and cells, take three-dimensional images of the nanoworld, film chemical reactions and study processes occurring deep inside planets.” The overall cost for the construction and commissioning of the facility is as of 2017 estimated at 1.5 billion Euros (price levels of 2017) and was sustained by Institutions from Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and other countries involved in the project. First experiments will be prepared for mid-September. The coordination team of the group MXL coordinates all activities around the accelerator of the European XFEL and ensures daily operation together with the other groups of DESYs accelerator division and in close communication with the users.