XFEL: The United Kingdom officially joins European XFEL

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2018/03/19
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The United Kingdom officially joins European XFEL

At signing ceremony in Berlin, UK becomes twelfth member

 

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In a ceremony at the British Embassy in Berlin, representatives of the contract parties signed the documents for the UK to join the European XFEL convention. Here British Ambassador in Germany, Sir Sebastian Wood, signs the documents.Copyright: Buddy Bartelsen for British Embassy Berlin


Today, the UK joined European XFEL as the research organization’s twelfth member state. In a ceremony at the British Embassy in Berlin, representatives of the UK government and the other contract parties including the German federal government signed the documents to join the European XFEL Convention. The UK’s contribution will amount to 26 million Euro, or about 2% of the total construction budget of 1.22 billion Euro (both in 2005 prices) and an annual contribution of about 2 % to the operation budget. The UK will be represented in European XFEL by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) as shareholder.

Chair of the European XFEL Council Prof. Martin Meedom Nielsen who was present at the signing said: "All member states are very happy that the United Kingdom now officially joins the European XFEL. The UK science community has been very active in the project since the very beginning, and their contribution of ideas and know-how has been always highly appreciated. Together, we will maintain and develop the European XFEL as a world leading facility for X-ray science."

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Chair of the European XFEL Council Prof. Martin Meedom Nielsen: 'All member states are very happy that the United Kingdom now officially joins the European XFEL.' Copyright: Buddy Bartelsen for British Embassy Berlin

The UK science community already contributes in a number of ways to European XFEL. The STFC Central Laser Facility, based at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford in the UK is currently building a nanosecond high energy laser for the High Energy Density (HED) instrument at European XFEL. The new “DiPOLE” laser will be used to recreate the conditions found within planets.

The first advanced detector to be installed at the European XFEL, the Large Pixel Detector (LPD), a cutting-edge X-ray “camera” capable of capturing images in billionths of a second, was also developed at the STFC. The LPD was installed mid-2017 and is now operational at the instrument for Femtosecond X-ray Experiments (FXE) at European XFEL.

“As the UK becomes a full member of XFEL it opens up areas of research for British scientists at the atomic, molecular and nano-scale level that are currently inaccessible,” Dr Brian Bowsher, Chief Executive of the STFC said. “This is a very important day for both UK science and STFC. Building on the contributions already made to European XFEL by both STFC research and engineering staff and other UK researchers, I look forward with immense interest to see what my fellow UK research colleagues and the European XFEL team will discover in the coming years.”

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'As the UK becomes a full member of XFEL it opens up areas of research for British scientists at the atomic, molecular and nano-scale level that are currently inaccessible,” Dr Brian Bowsher, Chief Executive of the STFC. Copyright: Buddy Bartelsen for British Embassy Berlin

The UK also takes a leading role in the serial femtosecond crystallography user consortium (SFX UC), contributing instrumentation to European XFEL that will enable users to take images of biological macromolecules using nano-sized crystals as well as single particles using X-ray scattering techniques. The UK XFEL hub, which coordinates these activities, is based at the Diamond Light Source in Oxfordshire. The hub will also support users with sample preparation ahead of experiments at European XFEL, facilitate data processing and analysis once the users are back in the UK with the provision of direct dedicated link to European XFEL, and offer training.

European XFEL Managing Director Prof. Robert Feidenhans’l who was also present at the signing ceremony in Berlin said: “International collaboration is vital for science and for European XFEL. The UK has always played an important role in shaping the future of our facility and we are very glad that they are now officially a member state so we can work even closer together.”