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News, 18 December 2015

End of the year message from the Managing Directors

Massimo Altarelli and Claudia Burger look back at the past year and forward to the challenges ahead of us.

Dear Colleagues, Collaborators and Friends of the European XFEL,

As 2015 is in its very final days, we would like to address you to thank you for your contribution to the progress of the project in the past year and to wish you all the best for 2016.

In 2015, the progress of the project was very significant and visible. At the moment of writing these lines, some of our Accelerator Consortium colleagues are striving to put the first electron beam through the injector, after successfully completing its installation, closing the injector tunnel and, finally, cooling it down to 2 K in mid-December. This is the beginning of the commissioning of the injector with beam, expected to last until the late summer of 2016.

The assembly, testing, and installation of the linear accelerator (linac) modules have also been making tremendous progress in the last year. Of the 100 modules foreseen in the linac design, 76 have already arrived in Hamburg, after assembly in Saclay near Paris, France. After testing, installation of waveguides, and other operations, 59 of them are already installed in the tunnel at present; the last module should be here in late spring 2016, but this assumes a timely delivery of all the components, some of which are still posing a schedule risk.

The installation of the first of the three undulators for the production of the X-ray pulses also started this year. The assembly of this first undulator, which consists of 35 segments, each 5 m long, should be completed by the end of January, and after installation of the necessary auxiliary systems, it should be ready for beam in April 2016. The other two undulators should be ready for beam by the end of 2016. Downstream of the first undulator, the beamline leading the electrons to the next undulator is also being installed, as are the optical beamline transporting the X-ray pulses towards the experiment hall and the photon diagnostics system.

In the experiment hall, the construction of the hutches for the first two scientific instruments was completed and the technical equipment installation is in progress. The construction of the hutches for two soft X-ray instruments is ongoing. The instruments will be installed starting in April/May 2016. It would be too long to report the remarkable progress in the conception, design, and construction of each instrument and of the ancillary equipment (detectors, optical lasers, data acquisition, and sample environment devices).

Our civil construction programme made very good progress. In June 2016, the European XFEL staff will move to the Schenefeld campus, leaving the office buildings adjacent to DESY that we have been occupying since 2008.

Our primary objective is to start the experimental activity by external users by mid-2017, on the first two instruments, Femtosecond X-Ray Experiments (FXE) and Single Particles, Clusters, and Biomolecules (SPB), while building up the other four instruments. From early operation on, we are looking forward to establishing the European XFEL as the world leader among the X-ray laser sources.

All of these achievements would not have been possible, nor would our goals appear realistic, without the invaluable and enthusiastic support of many people: our staff, our Accelerator Consortium partners, comprising 17 laboratories in 8 countries, our shareholder institutions, and the members of our advisory committees. We would like to thank you most heartily and to wish all of you a wonderful holiday season with your families and a happy 2016!

Massimo Altarelli                            Claudia Burger