The new X-ray laser project known as SwissFEL, will extend PSI’s unique platform of large interdisciplinary research facilities to serve international research teams from universities and industry.

SwissFEL is an essential part of PSI’s strategic focus and will establish Switzerland’s leading position in scientific research for years to come. It will attract top scientists from all over the world and enhance PSI’s acknowledged position as a world-class research institute. Furthermore, the new high-tech facility will provide an incentive for Swiss industry through which existing highly-qualified jobs can be maintained and new ones created.

Based on the SwissFEL science workshop series, input from the PSI departments and international review committees, the science case has now been completed and published (SwissFEL Science Case).

The SwissFEL project was finally approved by the Swiss Parliament in December 2012 and the building permit acquired in January 2013. In March 2013, construction began, with the official laying of the foundation stone on the 3rd July 2013.

The technical design of SwissFEL has to keep a delicate balance between the demand from experimentalists for breathtaking performance in terms of photon beam properties, on the one hand, and essential requirements for a user facility, such as confidence in technical ability, reliable and stable functioning, and economy of installation and operation, on the other hand. The baseline design aims to produce FEL pulses covering the wavelength 1 Ǻ - 70 Ǻ , with a compact and economic design which is affordable on the scale of a national laboratory.

In order to meet both the performance requirements and the cost constraints, substantial technical developments for some key components are underway to push their performance beyond the present state of the art:

  • A newly developed 2.5 cell RF gun
  • A wavelength-tunable RF Photo-electron-gun laser system
  • Development of solid-state power modulators on a large scale for the LINAC RF sources.
  • Adaptation of the C-band RF technology
  • Construction of in-vacuum undulator technology with an unprecedented short magnet period for this kind of applications for the hard X-ray beamline
  • Design of new undulators is based on APPLE II technology, with the capability of full polarization control, for the soft X-ray beamline

The construction of the SwissFEL project is progressing very well. The project will be realized in 2 phases: Phase 1, a hard X-ray beamline ("Aramis", wavelength 1 - 7 Ǻ; with 3 experimental stations), will be completed by 2016, with routine user operation in 2017, and Phase 2, a soft X-ray beamline ("Athos", wavelength 7 - 70 Ǻ; with 3 experimental stations), will be completed by 2018.