World’s largest X-ray laser generates its first laser light.
In the metropolitan region of Hamburg, the European XFEL, the biggest X-ray laser in the world, has reached the last major milestone before the official opening in September.
Above, the 2.1-kilometre long accelerator tunnel of European XFEL with the yellow superconducting accelerator modules hanging from the ceiling. Credit DESY/D. Nölle
The 3.4 km long facility, most of which is located in underground tunnels, has generated its first X-ray laser light. The X-ray light has a wavelength of 0.8 nm—about 500 times shorter than that of visible light.
At first lasing, the laser had a repetition rate of one pulse per second, which will later increase to 27 000 per second.
European XFEL Managing Director Prof. Robert Feidenhans’l said:
“This is an important moment that our partners and we have worked towards for many years. The European XFEL has generated its first X-ray laser light. The facility, to which many countries around the world contributed know-how and components, has passed its first big test with flying colours. The colleagues involved at European XFEL, DESY, and our international partners have accomplished outstanding work. This is also a great success for scientific collaboration in Europe and across the world. We can now begin to direct the X-ray flashes with special mirrors through the last tunnel section into the experiment hall, and then step by step start the commissioning of the experiment stations. I very much look forward to the start of international user operation, which is planned for September.”
The undulators gerenate the bright X-ray light. Credit European XFEL/Heiner Müller-Elsner