The United Kingdom officially joins European XFEL
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.“
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.”
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.”
About European XFEL
The European XFEL in the Hamburg area is a new international research facility of superlatives: 27,000 X-ray flashes per second and a brilliance that is a billion times higher than that of the best conventional X-ray sources open up completely new opportunities for science. Research groups from around the world are be able to map the atomic details of viruses, decipher the molecular composition of cells, take three-dimensional “photos” of the nanoworld, “film” chemical reactions, and study processes such as those occurring deep inside planets. The operation of the facility is entrusted to European XFEL, a non-profit company that cooperates closely with its main shareholder, the research centre DESY, and other organisations worldwide. European XFEL has a workforce of more than 300 employees and started user operation September 2017. With construction and commissioning costs of 1.22 billion euro (at 2005 price levels) and a total length of 3.4 kilometres, the European XFEL is one of the largest and most ambitious European new research facilities to date. At present, 12 countries have signed the European XFEL convention: Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
Dr Bernd Ebeling, firstname.lastname@example.org, +49 40 8998 6921