Research currently being done at X-ray FELs is already breaking new ground, with studies across many disciplines: determining structures of molecules critical to biology, watching ultrafast energy transfers within molecules, probing the characteristics of extreme states of matter, and observing the behaviour of electrons within complex molecules.

With its special characteristics of ultrashort pulses and ultrahigh brilliance, the European XFEL will create new opportunities in many areas of research. Using the European XFEL, scientists are able to map the atomic details of viruses and cells, take three-dimensional pictures of the nanocosmos, film chemical reactions, and study processes similar to those occurring deep inside planets.

Tiny structures

The wavelengths of the X-ray flashes are so small that it is possible toresearch the composition and structure of complex biomolecules and materials on the atomic scale. Research at European XFEL helps to gain a better insight into the structure of biological cells and develop new materials withoptimized properties.

Ultrafast processes

The X-ray flashes are so short that scientists are able to use them to film ultrafast phenomena such as the formation or breakup of chemical bonds. Research at the European XFEL enables scientists to better understand chemical processes, with the possibility of developing more efficient industrial production methods, for instance. These studies can provide a basis for the development of new medicines.

Extreme States and small objects

The X-ray laser flashes can also be used to study matter under extreme conditions of temperature and pressure, such as occurring in the interior of planets, and at extreme electric or magnetic field strengths. This will reveal new knowledge about the properties of materials under such conditions. Other studies with small objects, single molecules, or atoms in extreme X-ray fields will pave the way for new X-ray methods.