Facts and Figures

Total length
3.4 kilometres
The facility runs from the DESY site in Hamburg in a northwestern direction to the town of Schenefeld in Schleswig-Holstein.
Number of sites
The three sites are: DESY-Bahrenfeld (ca. 2 hectares), Osdorfer Born (ca. 1.5 hectares) and Schenefeld (ca. 15 hectares). The research campus is 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) covered 58% of the construction costs. Russia took over 27% and the other international partners between 1% and 3% of the construction costs each.
European XFEL GmbH
Legal form
The European XFEL was constructed and is 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
140 Million Euro
Staff (under development)
over 450 employees
In addition about 240 DESY employees operate the accelerator for European XFEL.
Participating countries
currently 12
Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom are member states who participate in the European XFEL.
The main construction work began on 8 January 2009, and the construction phase ended in 2017
User Operation
User operation began in 2017
Superconducting linear accelerator
Total length
2.1 kilometres
Acceleration length
1.7 kilometres
17.5 billion electron volts
Expandable to 20 billion electron volts. This would allow the generation of even shorter wavelengths.
minus 271 degrees Celsius
The accelerator elements are cooled to -271°C using liquid helium. At these temperatures, they conduct electric current with very few losses.
Number of modules
96 (+2 in injector)
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.
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.
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.
The X-ray flashes have the characteristics of laser light. This makes it possible to take 3D images at the atomic level.