XFEL: European XFEL celebrates 10th birthday

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European XFEL celebrates 10th birthday

Staff and guests mark a decade since the facility was established

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European XFEL council members, management and distinguished guests slice the birthday cake during the anniversary event. Copyright: European XFEL

On 22 November European XFEL celebrated the 10th anniversary of the international research facility. In talks and discussions participants took stock of a decade of development and achievements at the facility, reviewed the expanding scientific capabilities of the instruments and shared their personal experiences as the facility has grown. In total around 400 participants attended the event including European XFEL staff members, guests from politics and business, as well as representatives from the shareholders and partner institutes.

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European XFEL managing directors Nicole Elleuche (left) and Robert Feidenhans'l (right) welcome guests to the anniversary event. Copyright: European XFEL

Hamburg’s Second Mayor Katharina Fegebank said: "Our vision that the European XFEL would become a magnet for outstanding researchers has become reality: The largest X-ray laser in the world is making a major contribution to establishing Hamburg as an internationally visible science and innovation metropolis. I would like to thank all those who have contributed to the success of the European XFEL over the past ten years with their curiosity, determination and scientific spirit, and wish them all the best for the future."

Oliver Grundei, State Secretary at the Ministry of Education, Science and Cultural Affairs in Schleswig-Holstein: "European XFEL stands in particular for the successful international cooperation of numerous European partner countries. Especially in today’s times, this is a valuable sign and symbol for the fact that, despite all differences, the European countries are still able to create the conditions for unique high-tech research through joint efforts. For top international research, in which the worldwide scientific and research community will also be able to participate in the future.”

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Taking a look at exhibits from 10 years of European XFEL. From left to right - Oliver Grundei, State Secretary at the Ministry of Education, Science and Cultural Affairs in Schleswig-Holstein; Robert Feidenhans'l European XFEL managing director; Hamburg's second mayor and senator for science, research and equalities Katharina Fegebank; Helmut Dosch chairman of the DESY board of directors; Russian council member Alexander Blagov from Kurchatov Institute; Chair of the European XFEL Maria Faury; Nicole Elleuche managing director European XFEL. Copyright: European XFEL

The Chair of the European XFEL Council, the shareholders’ assembly of the international facility, Maria Faury said: “Beyond the extraordinary technological performances, what touches me the most is the human adventure, the human capital. I praise those scientists, engineers, technicians, administrative staff from different countries, industries and research centres who have been working together to translate a common vision into a reality. I praise the professionalism and true involvement of the management and the staff of European XFEL.”

In a letter to Faury, the Russian minister for science and higher education Mikhail Kotyukov congratulated European XFEL saying: "We highly appreciate the fact that the successful implementation and transformation of this bold initiative into the existing 'Factory of Knowledge' was made possible, inter alia, due to the significant contribution of the Russian Federation, one of the co-founders and the second largest partner of the project. We believe the decade passed together, the dynamic development of the project, as well as long-term joint plans, are important evidence of the reliability of Russia as an international partner in the scientific and technical dialogue."

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'There are no boundaries in science' Hamburg's second mayor Katharina Fegebank addresses the guests during the event. Copyright: European XFEL

European XFEL Chairman Prof. Robert Feidenhans’l gave a positive review of the past ten years: “I have watched with pride and excitement how this complex masterpiece, to which scientific institutes and companies from many countries have contributed, has taken shape. Now, a decade after construction started, scientists from all over the world visit the facility for experiments, and we are already celebrating astonishing results.”

In a video greeting, Prof. Otmar Wiestler, President of the Helmholtz Association said: “On behalf of the entire Helmholtz family I want to congratulate you on the European XFEL success story. We are very proud that one of our members, DESY, serves as the host lab for your unique research infrastructure. Your first experiments have already demonstrated the fantastic contribution it makes to shaping our future.”

On 30 November 2009 representatives of ten partner countries signed the European XFEL Convention in the Hamburg City Hall, entrusting the non-profit European XFEL GmbH with the constructing and operating of the international facility. To date 12 partner countries have signed the Convention. The European XFEL tunnel system was completed in 2012; the installation of the technical infrastructure began in 2014 once the underground construction was complete. The first users began their experiments in 2017. Now, two years later, all six instruments of the initial design configuration are operational and the first results have been published.