European X-ray free-electron laser

European X-Ray Free-Electron Laser GmbH
Fundamental research
Founded1 September 2017; 9 months ago (2017-09-01)
HeadquartersHamburg, Germany
All member nations of the European XFEL project are highlighted in dark purple.

The European X-ray free-electron laser (European XFEL) is an X-ray research laser facility commissioned during 2017. The first laser pulses were produced in May 2017[1][2] and the facility started user operation in September 2017.[3] The international project with twelve participating countries; nine shareholders (Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland) and three other partners (Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom)[4][5] is located in the German federal states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein.[6] A free-electron laser generates high-intensity electromagnetic radiation by accelerating electrons to relativistic speeds and directing them through special magnetic structures. The European XFEL is constructed such that the electrons produce X-ray light in synchronisation, resulting in high-intensity X-ray pulses with the properties of laser light and at intensities much brighter than those produced by conventional synchrotron light sources.


The 3.4-kilometre (2.1 mi) long tunnel for the European XFEL housing the superconducting linear accelerator and photon beamlines runs 6 to 38 m (20 to 125 ft) underground from the site of the DESY research center in Hamburg to the town of Schenefeld in Schleswig-Holstein, where the experimental stations, laboratories and administrative buildings are located.[7]