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DESY and the European XFEL

The relationship between the European XFEL company and its main shareholder DESY is unique. The two partners collaborate on construction, commissioning and operation of the 3.4-kilometre-long facility on the basis of a long-term agreement.

Not only will countless electrons start their journey through the European XFEL facility at the DESY site in Hamburg—the vision of an X-ray laser took off at DESY, too. The initial plans for the European XFEL were developed here, DESY initiated the plan approval procedure for the large-scale project, and is also the awarding authority for the civil and underground engineering work that started in January 2009.

Aerial view of the DESY site
The aluminium-coloured building in the foreground is the experimental hall for FLASH, the free-electron laser for soft X-rays. The site of the DESY research center and the large experimental hall of PETRA III are in the background.
© DESY 2008
Click on the image to see it full size.

Together with international partners, DESY is constructing the heart of the X-ray laser—the 1.7-kilometre-long superconducting accelerator including the electron source. After its completion, DESY will take over the operation of the accelerator on behalf of the European XFEL GmbH.

As an international project, the European XFEL will be run by an independent research organization, the European XFEL GmbH. In this organization DESY is one shareholder among others with a share of more than 50 percent.

Who is DESY?

The Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY is one of the world's leading centres for the investigation of the structure of matter. DESY develops, runs, and uses accelerators and detectors for photon science and particle physics. DESY is a German research centre supported by public funds and member of the Helmholtz Association.

For over forty years, the radiation that is generated when charged particles are accelerated has been used at DESY. At the beginning, this radiation was an annoyance for science since the particles lose energy by emitting photons. Later, research organisations such as DESY provided dedicated sources for this kind of radiation in order to benefit from its outstanding characteristics. Currently, X-ray lasers like the European XFEL are the present culmination of this development.

Further information

Have a look at DESY's photon science and accelerator pages to learn more about DESY's role in the European XFEL project.