The European X-Ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL) is an international project designed to monitor the course of chemical reactions, in the creation of which 12 countries participate. The main contribution to the development of the project was made by Germany and Russia. The development of the laser began in 2002, and its commissioning took place in 2016. In September 2017, his first full-scale tests will be conducted, which will be discussed below.
XFEL is a gigantic construction, over 1.7 km long. Through a superconducting linear accelerator, electrons with an energy of 17.5 GeV, dispersed to relativistic velocities, enter the magnetic fields of undulators, where they begin to emit in the x-ray range. To achieve the effect of superconductivity, the accelerator is cooled by liquid helium to a temperature of minus 271 degrees Celsius. The design generates up to 30,000 X-ray pulses per second, which makes it about 200 times more powerful than the American analog Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS). In this case, XFEL is able to make about 3000 individual images per second, capturing the course of the chemical reaction at the atomic level.
Despite the impressive characteristics, during the first tests, which took place in May, the laser launched at a rate of only 1 pulse per second. But already this month XFEL will work almost at full capacity, delivering 27,000 pulses per second. American scientists also do not sit still and promise to disperse the LCLS to a million pulses per second by 2020.
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