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European XFEL

(Credit: European XFEL)

The European XFEL is a new research facility in the Hamburg area, Germany. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research granted permission to build the facility on 5 June 2007 under the provision that it should be financed as a European project. The construction was managed by the European XFEL GmbH, with the construction of the tunnels completed in 2012 and all other underground construction finished in 2013. The total construction costs of the facility, which included the commissioning phase amounted to €1.54 billion.

In December 2014 the UK government announced that it would invest up to £30M to become a full member of the European XFEL as the result of the input received to the BIS Capital Consultation exercise.

In September 2017 the XFEL started generating extremely intense X-ray flashes with properties similar to those of laser light. Its X-ray flashes will allow scientists to map atomic details of viruses, film chemical reactions and study the processes in the interior of planets. XFEL compliments other light sources with different characteristics to open up completely new areas of experimentation. A brief overview on how the facility will operate can be found here.

In March 2018 the UK became the 12th member of the European XFEL project. In a ceremony at the British Embassy in Berlin, representatives of the UK government and the other contract parties including the German federal government signed the documents to join the European XFEL Convention. The UK’s contribution was be about 2% of the total construction budget and an annual contribution of about 2 % of the operation budget is committed. The UK will be represented in European XFEL by the STFC as shareholder. The UK joins Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland in this venture.

Currently there are no funding opportunities.

User consortia - Helmholtz International Beamline for Extreme Fields at the European XFEL (HIBEF)

The Helmholtz International Beamline for Extreme Fields at the European XFEL (HIBEF) User Consortium proposed to contribute two high energy optical lasers, a high field pulsed magnet instrument, and a number of scattering diagnostics to be integrated into the HED instrument. The ultrashort pulse high intensity laser is currently under procurement. The construction of the nanosecond high energy laser is underway at STFC. This proposal is led by HZDR and includes DESY, both research centres of the Helmholtz Association, plus many partners outside of Germany.

UK Free Electron Laser (FEL) User Community

UK Free Electron Laser (FEL) User Community hosts an informative website for all UK FEL users.
Information on FELs and active UK research groups are available on this site.
UK scientists can access XFEL.

The European XFEL Users' Meeting 2020 will be held at DESY Hamburg on 29 - 31 January 2020. The meeting will include plenary sessions of European XFEL and DESY Photon Science, as well as focused satellite meetings, workshops and a poster session.

Additional information including registration will soon be available on the XFEL website.

The European XFEL GmbH is a public-equivalent body and is therefore subject to special legal regulations concerning the award of contracts and placement of purchase orders. The award of contracts and placement of purchase orders fall under the responsibility of the Procurement Group and the contract volume is up to 100 million EUR per year. European-wide calls for tender by the European XFEL GmbH are also published in the Supplement to the Official Journal of the European Union.

For any current public tenders that your company may be interested in please click the link.

For more information please contact the UK Delegate on XFEL Council & Division Head for Light Sources and Neutrons in the Programmes Directorate:

Helen Beadman - Tel: +44(0)7565 201137



Multiple images can be found on the XFEL website.

Last updated: 24 June 2021


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