The world’s largest and powerful X-ray laser- European X-ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL) was unveiled in Hamburg, Germany.
The first beams from XFEL were accelerated in April 2017 and first x-ray beams were produced in May 2017. It will
help scientists penetrate the inner workings of atoms, viruses and chemical reactions.
European X-ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL)
The XFEL is lodged in series of 3.4-kilometer tunnels up to 38 metres underground near city of Hamburg. It took 8 years to build 1.5-billion-euro ($1.7 billion) facility with funding from 11 countries. It has been hailed as one of largest and most ambitious European research projects ever.
Its centrepiece boasts world’s longest 1.7 kilometres superconducting linear accelerator, designed to provide energy needed to generate X-ray flashes billion times brighter than best conventional radiation sources. It has capacity to generate extremely intense laser flashes, at rate of 27,000 per second generated by Self-Amplified Spontaneous Emission (SASE). It generates high-intensity electromagnetic radiation by accelerating electrons to relativistic speeds and directing them through special magnetic structures.
XFEL is like a camera and a microscope that will make it possible to observe tiny details and processes in the nano-world than ever before. It will help to reveal and capture in images at the sub-atomic level, promising breakthroughs and revealing secrets in medicine, biology, energy, information technology and chemistry.
It will help scientists to map the atomic details of viruses, take 3-D images of the molecular make-up of cells or film chemical reactions inside them. This will help to understand and treat illnesses. The light beams produced by the XFEL can also be bundled together to create extreme pressure and temperatures to study process inside Earth’s core.