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Home - News - 2015 - Two Nobel laureates came to Schenefeld in one week

News, 13 July 2015

Two Nobel laureates came to Schenefeld in one week

While the European XFEL still has another two years before the start of user operation, scientists from around the world are already coming to Schenefeld with a keen interest in the facility. In the past week, two Nobel laureates came on separate visits to meet with the European XFEL Management Board and see the future experiment hall, a 4500 m² underground space where the X-ray laser’s six starting scientific instruments will be located.

On Wednesday, American-born Australian astronomer Prof. Brian Schmidt, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2011 for his work on the acceleration of the expansion of the universe, visited the accelerator tunnel in Hamburg-Bahrenfeld and the Schenefeld site. “This is a fantastic new and exciting facility”, Schmidt said. “It is my hope to go back to Australia and find a way for us to be part of the excitement that is going to come out of here in the next few years.”

Brian Schmidt in front of the main building construction site in Schenefeld on 8 July 2015
European XFEL | Click on the image to see it full size.

For Egyptian-born U.S.-based chemist Prof. Ahmed Zewail, the visit on Sunday was a chance to see one of the next big steps in the progression of his most celebrated work. Zewail won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1999 for his foundation work on femtochemistry, a field of chemistry that develops and uses the tools to unravel the dynamics of chemical reactions by making “molecular movies”. The processes that Zewail devised are used to make visible chemical interactions that happen almost instantaneously. The European XFEL is expected to open new opportunities in this area with several instruments that will take studies of ultrafast processes to new heights. During his tour of the Schenefeld site and the experiment hall, Zewail asked many questions about the future facility and commented: “This is a very impressive undertaking, and it must be done for the sake of humanity and the future. We don’t know what will come out, but for sure much will come out to serve our society.”

Ahmed Zewail (left) with Massimo Altarelli in a photon tunnel on 12 July 2015
European XFEL | Click on the image to see it full size.

“We are honoured that these two scientists, some of the most distinguished in the world, came to see our facility as it comes closer to completion”, says European XFEL Managing Director Prof. Massimo Altarelli. “The already continuous high-level interest in our project before its opening is an additional incentive for us to offer our future users the world’s best research opportunities.”

For additional pictures please see here.

This week, nearly 250 scientists from across the globe will discuss the latest insights and breakthroughs in the field studies of ultrafast processes with Ahmed Zewail on the DESY Campus at the Conference on Femtochemistry chaired by Prof. Jochen Küpper.

On Monday 13 July at 18:30, Zewail will deliver a public scientific Leuchtturm (“Tower of Light”) lecture in the lecture hall at the DESY campus, entitled “Light and Enlightenment”.