Open House event attracts thousands to European XFEL
Over 18 000 estimated visitors to DESY campus; many see European XFEL exhibition and accelerator tunnel
European XFEL attracted thousands of visitors on 7 November for its Open House, as part of DESY Day and the Hamburg Night of Science (Nacht des Wissens). The entrance hall for the facility’s injector complex on the DESY campus, the starting point of the X-ray laser’s electrons, served as an exhibition hall for scientists and engineers to present interactive activities and information for the general public.
The exhibition included tours 38 metres underground to have a glimpse of the X-ray laser’s accelerator, which attracted many eager to see what will be one of the largest superconducting linear accelerators in the world. DESY, the closest partner and largest shareholder of European XFEL, reports that over 18 000 people came to its site, which hosts, in addition to DESY’s own facilities, part of the European XFEL as well as several other laboratories and research centres.
The European XFEL entrance hall was constantly full of people of all ages who were curious about the work going on at the facility. The exhibits aimed to help the attendees to better understand the many different components of the facility. In a tent outside the entrance hall, a general information area gave an overview of the European XFEL’s conceptual foundation and scientific goals, as well as the construction progress over the past few years. Then, visitors were greeted with various vacuum experiments, including a plasma vacuum tube and ice cream made with the help of some liquid nitrogen.
Further inside the hall, visitors could see an undulator segment, one of the devices in which the accelerated electrons generate the flashes of X-ray laser light; work with a basic interferometer, which measures disturbances in very flat mirrors; check out how high-voltage setups enable scientists to check the X-ray beam; and watch one of the European XFEL’s sample delivery systems in action. Several instrument scientists explained how light diffraction and polarization occurs, and detector scientists displayed a variety of highly specialized components. A 360-degree virtual tour of the entire facility accompanied a film programme that presented, among other things, construction progress since 2009 and a flight through the facility’s 3.4-km tunnel.
In both the entrance hall and the accelerator tunnel, attendees could hear the work of Hamburg electronic musician Hans Schüttler. Schüttler created a composition from data taken by the “Cookie Box”, a diagnostic component developed jointly by European XFEL and DESY that measures X-ray light polarization.
Accelerator tunnel tours went constantly throughout the day, bringing dozens of groups to see the electron accelerator for perhaps the last time before it is sealed for the operation phase. DESY and European XFEL employees led the tours, which gave the groups a brief glimpse at the 2-km long underground structure. Finally, in the evening, European XFEL Director Massimo Altarelli gave a talk entitled “Moleküle als Filmstars: Das europäische Röntgenlaser-Projekt”.
“I was overjoyed to see so many people engaged in our exhibition, learning about the different parts of our facility and visiting the accelerator tunnel”, Altarelli says. “I thank the many European XFEL employees who worked hard to make this great event possible.”
More pictures of the event can be found on the European XFEL image and video database.