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Facts & figures


Total length 3.4 kilometres The facility will run from the DESY site in Hamburg in a northwestern direction to the border of the town of Schenefeld (Schleswig-Holstein).
Number of sites 3 The three sites are: DESY-Bahrenfeld (ca. 2 hectares), Osdorfer Born (ca. 1.5 hectares) and Schenefeld (ca. 15 hectares). The research campus will be located in Schenefeld.
Depth of the tunnels 6 to 38 metres The tunnels are covered by at least 6 metres of soil.
Construction costs including preparation and commissioning 1.22 billion euro
(price levels of 2005)
As the host country, Germany (Federation, Hamburg, and Schleswig-Holstein) covers 58% of the construction costs. Russia takes over 27% and the other international partners between 1% and 3% of the construction costs each.

European XFEL GmbH

Legal form GmbH The European XFEL will be constructed and operated by the European XFEL GmbH, a non-profit Company of Limited Liability under German law. The company was founded on 28 September 2009.
Annual budget 2015 117 806 000 euro rounded to thousand euro, detailed budget
Staff (under development) 280 employees The European XFEL GmbH is building up a workforce of about 280 people.
Participating countries currently 11 Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland participate or plan to participate in the construction and operation of the European XFEL.


Construction time 2009–2016 Civil construction started on 08 January 2009 and will end in 2016. From 2012 on, installation work will be performed.
Operation of the facility 2016 Start of commissioning
User Operation 2017 Start of user operation with 1 beamline and 2 experiment stations


Type Superconducting linear accelerator
Total length 2.1 kilometres
Acceleration length 1.7 kilometres
Energy 17.5 billion electron volts expandable to 20 billion electron volts. This would allow the generation of even shorter wavelengths.
Temperature minus 271 degrees Celsius The accelerator elements are cooled to minus 271 degrees Celsius using liquid helium. At these temperatures, they conduct electric current without any losses.
Number of modules 101 The electrons are accelerated in accelerator modules comprising several superconducting chambers (called cavities or resonators). In these cavities, an oscillating microwave accelerates the particles. The cavities are surrounded by cooling elements.

Properties of the X-ray laser flashes

Flashes per second 27 000 This high repetition rate is what makes the European XFEL unique among the X-ray lasers in the world. It is only possible thanks to the superconducting accelerator technology.
Wavelength 0.05 to 4.7 nanometres The wavelengths of the X-ray flashes of the European XFEL are so short that even atomic details become discernible.
Duration less than 100 quadrillionth of a second (less than 100 femtoseconds) Thanks to this extremely short pulse duration, scientists will be able to film e.g. the formation of molecules or the reversal of magnetization.
Brilliance (peak value) 5·1033 (photons / s / mm2 / mrad2 / 0,1% bandwidth) The peak brilliance is a billion times higher than that of the best conventional X-ray sources. The brilliance describes the number of photons of a given energy that are emitted per second, area, and angle within a small energy interval.
Brilliance (average value) 1,6·1025 (photons / s / mm2 / mrad2 / 0,1% bandwidth) The average brilliance is 10 000 times higher than that of the best conventional X-ray sources.
Coherence yes The X-ray flashes have the characteristics of laser light. This makes it possible to take 3D images at the atomic level.