First electrons accelerated in European XFEL

Major milestone for international research facility

A crucial component of the European XFEL has taken up operation: The so-called injector, the 45-metre long first part of the superconducting particle accelerator, has accelerated its first electrons to nearly the speed of light. This is the first beam ever accelerated at the European XFEL and represents a major advancement toward the completion of the facility.

The X-ray laser European XFEL is an international research facility in northern Germany that will produce ultrabright X-ray laser flashes for unprecedented studies of the nanocosmos. It consists of a 2-kilometre long superconducting linear electron accelerator, followed by a series of highly precise magnets to produce the highly brilliant X-ray laser light.

The injector, which is located on the campus of the German research centre DESY in Hamburg and has been under construction since 2013, produced a series of tightly packed sets of electrons, or bunches, that passed through the 45-metre long injector beamline. The electrons made the full trip from start to end of the injector in 0.15 microseconds, achieving near light speed.