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  • richardmitnick 5:09 pm on June 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , European XFEL, In order to use the limited beam time and the precious sample material more efficiently the team developed a new method., Micro-patterned chip containing thousands of tiny pores to hold the protein crystals, , Speed up protein analysis, Structural biology, , X-ray free-electron laser,   

    From SLAC: “SLAC Experiment is First to Decipher Atomic Structure of an Intact Virus with an X-ray Laser” 


    SLAC Lab

    June 20, 2017

    1
    Surface structure of the bovine enterovirus 2. The three virus proteins are color-coded. (Jingshan Ren/University of Oxford)

    A ground-breaking experimental method developed by an international research team will substantially speed up protein analysis.

    An international team of scientists has for the first time used an X-ray free-electron laser to unravel the structure of an intact virus particle on the atomic level. The method dramatically reduces the amount of virus material required, while also allowing the investigations to be carried out several times faster than before. This opens up entirely new research opportunities, as the research team led by Alke Meents, a scientist at Germany’s DESY lab, reports in the journal Nature Methods.

    The researchers tested their method with the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray free-electron laser at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Now they are working to increase the capacity and speed of the technique in anticipation of future experiments at the European XFEL X-ray free-electron laser, which is just going into operation near Hamburg, Germany.

    SLAC/LCLS

    European XFEL

    “This is a much-welcome and important technological development that will greatly optimize data collection at LCLS and other X-ray free-electron lasers for certain classes of challenging experiments,” says co-author Roberto Alonso Mori, a staff scientist in the LCLS hard X-ray group. “The same technology could be used not only for biological science but could also help data collection in other areas.”

    2
    Micrograph of the microstructured chip, loaded with crystals for the investigation. Each square is a tiny crystal. (Philip Roedig/DESY)

    A Well-Rounded View of Life

    In the field known as structural biology, scientists examine the three-dimensional structure of biological molecules in order to work out how they function. This knowledge enhances our understanding of fundamental biological processes, such as the way substances are transported in and out of a cell, and can also inform drug development.

    “Knowing the three-dimensional structure of a molecule like a protein gives great insight into its biological behaviour,” explains co-author David Stuart, director of life sciences at the Diamond Light Source synchrotron facility in the United Kingdom and a professor at the University of Oxford. “One example is how understanding the structure of a protein that a virus uses to ‘hook’ onto a cell could mean that we’re able to design a defense for the cell to make the virus incapable of attacking it.”

    X-ray crystallography is by far the most prolific tool used by structural biologists and has already been used to determine the structure of thousands of biological molecules. Tiny crystals of the protein of interest are grown, and then illuminated using high-energy X-rays. The crystals diffract the X-rays in characteristic ways so that the resulting diffraction patterns can be used to deduce the spatial structure of the crystal – and hence of its components – on the atomic scale. However, protein crystals are nowhere near as stable and sturdy as salt crystals, for example. They are difficult to grow, often remaining tiny, and are easily damaged by the X-rays.

    “X-ray lasers have opened up a new path to protein crystallography, because their extremely intense pulses can be used to analyse even extremely tiny crystals that would not produce a sufficiently bright diffraction image using other X-ray sources,” says co-author Armin Wagner from Diamond Light Source. However, each of these microcrystals can only produce a single diffraction image before it evaporates as a result of the X-ray pulse. To perform the structural analysis, though, hundreds or even thousands of diffraction images are needed. In such experiments, scientists therefore inject a fine liquid jet of protein crystals through an X-ray laser beam that pulses in a rapid sequence of extremely short bursts. Each time an X-ray pulse happens to strike a microcrystal, a diffraction image is produced and recorded.

    This method is very successful and has already been used to determine the structure of more than 80 biomolecules, the researchers point out in their paper. However, most of the sample material is wasted. “The hit rate is typically less than 2 percent of pulses, so most of the precious microcrystals end up unused in the collection container,” says Meents, who is based at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Hamburg, a cooperation of DESY, the University of Hamburg and the German Max Planck Society. The standard method therefore typically requires several hours of beam time and significant amounts of sample material.

    Protein Crystals on a Chip

    In order to use the limited beam time and the precious sample material more efficiently, the team developed a new method. The scientists use a micro-patterned chip containing thousands of tiny pores to hold the protein crystals. The X-ray laser then scans the chip line by line, and ideally this allows a diffraction image to be recorded for each pulse of the laser.

    The research team tested its method on two virus samples using SLAC’s LCLS X-ray laser, which produces 120 pulses per second. They loaded their sample holder with a small amount of microcrystals of the bovine enterovirus 2 (BEV2), a virus that causes miscarriages, stillbirths and infertility in cattle, and which is very difficult to crystallise.

    In this experiment, the scientists achieved a hit rate – where the X-ray laser successfully targeted the crystal – of up to 9 percent, five times the hit rate of the previous method. Within just 14 minutes they had collected enough data to determine the correct structure of the virus – which was already known from other experiments – down to a scale of 2.3 angstroms.

    “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time the atomic structure of an intact virus particle has been determined using an X-ray laser,” Meents says. “Whereas earlier methods at other X-ray light sources required crystals with a total volume of 3.5 nanoliters, or billionths of a liter, we managed using crystals that were more than 10 times smaller, having a total volume of just 0.23 nanoliters.”

    This experiment was conducted at room temperature; while rapidly cooling the protein crystals would protect them to some extent from radiation damage, this is not generally feasible when working with extremely sensitive virus crystals. Crystals of isolated virus proteins can, however, be frozen and in a second test, the researchers studied a viral protein called polyhedrin that makes up a viral occlusion body — a container used by certain virus species to protect up to several thousand virus particles at a time against environmental influences so they can remain intact much longer.

    From Room Temperature to a Deep Chill

    For the second test, the scientist loaded their chip with polyhedrin crystals and examined them using the X-ray laser while keeping the chip at temperatures below minus 180 degrees Celsius. Here, the scientists achieved a hit rate of up to 90 percent. In just 10 minutes they recorded more than enough diffraction images to determine the protein structure to within 2.4 angstroms.

    “For the structure of polyhedrin, we only had to scan a single chip that was loaded with four micrograms of protein crystals; that is orders of magnitude less than the amount that would normally be needed,” explains Meents.

    “Our approach not only reduces the data collection time and the quantity of the sample needed, it also opens up the opportunity of analysing entire viruses using X-ray lasers,” Meents sums up. The scientists now want to increase the capacity of their chip by a factor of ten, from 22,500 to some 200,000 micropores, and further increase the scanning speed to up to one thousand samples per second. This would better exploit the potential of the European XFEL, which will be able to produce up to 27,000 X-ray laser pulses per second, as well as an upgraded LCLS that is scheduled to come on line in the early 2020s and produce up to a million pulses per second. Furthermore, the next generation of chips will expose only those micropores that are targeted for analysis, to prevent the remaining crystals from being damaged by scattered radiation from the X-ray laser.

    Diamond scientists have collaborated with the team at DESY, with much of the development and testing of the micro-patterned chip being on Diamond’s I02 and I24 beamlines. Researchers from the University of Oxford, the University of Eastern Finland, the Swiss Paul Scherrer Institute, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and SLAC were also involved in the research. LCLS is a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

    See the full article here .

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    SLAC Campus
    SLAC is a multi-program laboratory exploring frontier questions in photon science, astrophysics, particle physics and accelerator research. Located in Menlo Park, California, SLAC is operated by Stanford University for the DOE’s Office of Science.
    i1

     
  • richardmitnick 12:01 pm on June 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , European XFEL, First atomic structure of an intact virus deciphered with an X-ray laser, ,   

    From DESY: “First atomic structure of an intact virus deciphered with an X-ray laser” 

    DESY
    DESY

    2017/06/19

    Groundbreaking experimental method will speed up protein analysis substantially.

    1
    Surface structure of the bovine enterovirus 2, the three virus proteins are colour coded. Credit: Jingshan Ren, University of Oxford

    An international team of scientists has for the first time used an X-ray free-electron laser to unravel the structure of an intact virus particle on the atomic level. The method used dramatically reduces the amount of virus material required, while also allowing the investigations to be carried out several times faster than before. This opens up entirely new research opportunities, as the research team lead by DESY scientist Alke Meents reports in the journal Nature Methods.

    In the field known as structural biology, scientists examine the three-dimensional structure of biological molecules in order to work out how they function. This knowledge enhances our understanding of the fundamental biological processes taking place inside organisms, such as the way in which substances are transported in and out of a cell, and can also be used to develop new drugs.

    “Knowing the three-dimensional structure of a molecule like a protein gives great insight into its biological behaviour,” explains co-author David Stuart, Director of Life Sciences at the synchrotron facility Diamond Light Source in the UK and a professor at the University of Oxford. “One example is how understanding the structure of a protein that a virus uses to ‘hook’ onto a cell could mean that we’re able to design a defence for the cell to make the virus incapable of attacking it.”

    X-ray crystallography is by far the most prolific tool used by structural biologists and has already revealed the structures of thousands of biological molecules. Tiny crystals of the protein of interest are grown, and then illuminated using high-energy X-rays. The crystals diffract the X-rays in characteristic ways so that the resulting diffraction patterns can be used to deduce the spatial structure of the crystal – and hence of its components – on the atomic scale. However, protein crystals are nowhere near as stable and sturdy as salt crystals, for example. They are difficult to grow, often remaining tiny, and are easily damaged by the X-rays.

    “X-ray lasers have opened up a new path to protein crystallography, because their extremely intense pulses can be used to analyse even extremely tiny crystals that would not produce a sufficiently bright diffraction image using other X-ray sources,” adds co-author Armin Wagner from Diamond Light Source. However, each of these microcrystals can only produce a single diffraction image before it evaporates as a result of the X-ray pulse. To perform the structural analysis, though, hundreds or even thousands of diffraction images are needed. In such experiments, scientists therefore inject a fine liquid jet of protein crystals through a pulsed X-ray laser, which releases a rapid sequence of extremely short bursts. Each time an X-ray pulse happens to strike a microcrystal, a diffraction image is produced and recorded.

    This method is very successful and has already been used to determine the structure of more than 80 biomolecules. However, most of the sample material is wasted. “The hit rate is typically less than two per cent of pulses, so most of the precious microcrystals end up unused in the collection container,” says Meents, who is based at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Hamburg, a cooperation of DESY, the University of Hamburg and the German Max Planck Society. The standard method therefore typically requires several hours of beamtime and significant amounts of sample material.

    3
    Micrograph of the microstructured chip, loaded with crystals for the investigation. Each square is a tiny crystal. Credit: Philip Roedig, DESY

    n order to use the limited beamtime and the precious sample material more efficiently, the team developed a new method. The scientists use a micro-patterned chip containing thousands of tiny pores to hold the protein crystals. The X-ray laser then scans the chip line by line, and ideally this allows a diffraction image to be recorded for each pulse of the laser.

    The research team tested its method on two different virus samples using the LCLS X-ray laser at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in the US, which produces 120 pulses per second.

    SLAC/LCLS

    They loaded their sample holder with a small amount of microcrystals of the bovine enterovirus 2 (BEV2), a virus that can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, and infertility in cattle, and which is very difficult to crystallise.

    In this experiment, the scientists achieved a hit rate – where the X-ray laser successfully targeted the crystal – of up to nine per cent. Within just 14 minutes they had collected enough data to determine the correct structure of the virus – which was already known from experiments at other X-ray light sources – down to a scale of 0.23 nanometres (millionths of a millimetre).

    “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time the atomic structure of an intact virus particle has been determined using an X-ray laser,” Meents points out. “Whereas earlier methods at other X-ray light sources required crystals with a total volume of 3.5 nanolitres, we managed using crystals that were more than ten times smaller, having a total volume of just 0.23 nanolitres.”

    This experiment was conducted at room temperature. While cooling the protein crystals would protect them to some extent from radiation damage, this is not generally feasible when working with extremely sensitive virus crystals. Crystals of isolated virus proteins can, however, be frozen, and in a second test, the researchers studied the viral protein polyhedrin that makes up a viral occlusion body for up to several thousands of virus particles of certain species. The virus particles use these containers to protect themselves against environmental influences and are therefore able to remain intact for much longer times.

    4
    Schematic of the experimental set-up: The chip loaded with nanocrystals is scanned by the fine X-ray beam (green) pore by pore. Ideally, each crystal produces a distinctive diffraction pattern. Credit: Philip Roedig, DESY

    For the second test, the scientist loaded their chip with polyhedrin crystals and examined them using the X-ray laser while keeping the chip at temperatures below minus 180 degrees Celsius. Here, the scientists achieved a hit rate of up to 90 per cent. In just ten minutes they had recorded more than enough diffraction images to determine the protein structure to within 0.24 nanometres. “For the structure of polyhedrin, we only had to scan a single chip which was loaded with four micrograms of protein crystals; that is orders of magnitude less than the amount that would normally be needed,” explains Meents.

    “Our approach not only reduces the data collection time and the quantity of the sample needed, it also opens up the opportunity of analysing entire viruses using X-ray lasers,” Meents sums up. The scientists now want to increase the capacity of their chip by a factor of ten, from 22,500 to some 200,000 micropores, and further increase the scanning speed to up to one thousand samples per second. This would better exploit the potential of the new X-ray free-electron laser European XFEL, which is just going into operation in the Hamburg region and which will be able to produce up to 27,000 pulses per second.

    European XFEL

    Furthermore, the next generation of chips will only expose those micropores that are currently being analysed, to prevent the remaining crystals from being damaged by scattered radiation from the X-ray laser.

    Researchers from the University of Oxford, the University of Eastern Finland, the Swiss Paul Scherrer Institute, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the US and SLAC were also involved in the research. Diamond scientists have collaborated with the team at DESY, with much of the development and testing of the micro-patterned chip being done on Diamond’s I02 and I24 beamlines.

    See the full article here .

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    desi

    DESY is one of the world’s leading accelerator centres. Researchers use the large-scale facilities at DESY to explore the microcosm in all its variety – from the interactions of tiny elementary particles and the behaviour of new types of nanomaterials to biomolecular processes that are essential to life. The accelerators and detectors that DESY develops and builds are unique research tools. The facilities generate the world’s most intense X-ray light, accelerate particles to record energies and open completely new windows onto the universe. 
That makes DESY not only a magnet for more than 3000 guest researchers from over 40 countries every year, but also a coveted partner for national and international cooperations. Committed young researchers find an exciting interdisciplinary setting at DESY. The research centre offers specialized training for a large number of professions. DESY cooperates with industry and business to promote new technologies that will benefit society and encourage innovations. This also benefits the metropolitan regions of the two DESY locations, Hamburg and Zeuthen near Berlin.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:20 am on April 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Accelerator Consortium, , , European XFEL, Particle accelerator for the European XFEL X-ray laser operational, Superconducting linear accelerator,   

    From XFEL: “Particle accelerator for the European XFEL X-ray laser operational” 

    XFEL bloc

    European XFEL

    19 April 2017
    No writer credit

    World’s longest superconducting linear accelerator

    1
    View into the 2.1-kilometre long accelerator tunnel of European XFEL with the yellow superconducting accelerator modules hanging from the ceiling. Heiner Müller-Elsner / European XFEL

    The international X-ray laser European XFEL has reached one of its final major milestones on the way to scientific user operation. DESY has successfully commissioned the particle accelerator, which drives the X-ray laser along its full length.

    Accelerated electrons have passed through the complete 2.1 kilometre length of the accelerator tunnel. In the next step, the energy of the electrons will be raised further, before they will be sent into a magnetic slalom section where the bright X-ray laser light will be generated. This first lasing is planned for May. DESY is the largest shareholder of the European XFEL and is responsible for the construction and operation of the superconducting linear accelerator.

    “The European XFEL’s particle accelerator is the first superconducting linear accelerator of this size in the world to go into operation. With the commissioning of this complex machine, DESY and European XFEL scientists have placed the crown on their 20-year engagement in developing and building this large international project. The first experiments are within reach, and I am quite excited about the discoveries ahead of us”, says Chairman of the DESY Board of Directors Helmut Dosch. “I am exceptionally happy about arriving at this milestone and congratulate all involved for the outstanding work and their great tenacity.”

    Chairman of the European XFEL Management Board Robert Feidenhans’l says: “The successful commissioning of the accelerator is a very important step that brings us much closer to the start of user operation in the fall. Under the leadership of DESY, the Accelerator Consortium, comprising 17 research institutes, has done an excellent job in the last years. I thank all colleagues involved for their work, which entailed a great deal of know-how and precision but also much personal commitment. The accelerator is an outstanding example of successful global cooperation, encompassing research facilities, institutes, and universities alongside companies that produced certain components.”

    The European XFEL is an X-ray laser of superlatives: The research facility will produce up to 27 000 X-ray laser flashes per second, each so short and intense that researchers can make pictures of structures and processes at the atomic level.
    The superconducting particle accelerator of the facility, which is now operational across its full length, is the key component of the 3.4 km long X-ray laser. The accelerator’s superconducting TESLA technology, which was developed in an international collaboration led by DESY, is the basis for the unique high rate of X-ray laser flashes. Superconductivity means that the accelerator components have no electrical resistance. For this, they have to be cooled to extremely low temperatures.

    From December into January, the accelerator was cooled to its operating temperature of -271°C. The so-called electron injector and first section of the main accelerator then went into operation, comprising altogether 18 of 98 total accelerator modules. Within this section, the electron bunches were both accelerated and compressed three times, down to 10 micrometres (a thousandth of a millimetre). Finally, the team placed the third section of the accelerator into operation. Currently, the electrons reach an energy of 12 gigaelectronvolts (GeV), and in regular operation, an energy of up to 17.5 GeV is planned.

    “The energy and other properties of the electron bunches are already within the range where they will be during first user operation”, says DESY physicist Winfried Decking, who leads the commissioning of the European XFEL accelerator.

    The coordination of the unique components of the accelerator and the control of the electron beam will now be intensively tested before the accelerated electrons are allowed into the following section: the up to 210 m long special magnetic structures called undulators. There, the ultrabright X-ray laser flashes will be generated. Scientific experiments should begin this fall.

    The superconducting particle accelerator of the European XFEL was built over the last seven years through an international consortium, under the leadership of DESY, composed of the following research institutes: CEA and CNRS in France; INFN in Italy; IFJ-PAN, NCBJ, and the Wrocław University of Technology in Poland; the Budker Institute, Institute for High Energy Physics, Institute for Nuclear Research, and NIIEFA in Russia; CIEMAT and Universidad Politécnica de Madrid in Spain; the Manne Siegbahn Laboratory, Stockholm University, and Uppsala University in Sweden; and the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland.

    See the full article here .

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    XFEL Campus

    The Hamburg area will soon boast a research facility of superlatives: The European XFEL will generate ultrashort X-ray flashes—27 000 times per second and with a brilliance that is a billion times higher than that of the best conventional X-ray radiation sources.

    The outstanding characteristics of the facility are unique worldwide. Starting in 2017, it will open up completely new research opportunities for scientists and industrial users.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:32 pm on February 2, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , European XFEL, , High Energy Density Science instrument at the European XFEL or HED   

    From XFEL: “DFG funds investigation of exoplanets at European XFEL” 

    XFEL bloc

    European XFEL

    02 February 2017
    No writer credit found

    Interdisciplinary research project funded with 2 M€

    With the help of telescopes on Earth and in space, several thousand planets outside of our solar system have been discovered since 1996. Observation data such as mass, radius, and distance from their central star give only a few details about the composition and origin of these exoplanets. The research unit “Matter Under Planetary Interior Conditions”, led by the University of Rostock and including scientists from European XFEL will find out more about these planets in the framework of a grant funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The researchers want to draw inferences about exoplanets based on the planets in our own solar system and develop suitable methods for this purpose. Their interdisciplinary collaboration comprises theory, planetary modelling, and experiments. This comprises experimental investigations of materials under extreme conditions, such as those found inside of planets at, among others, the European XFEL and the research centre DESY. The DFG will fund the project for the next three years with a total contribution of around 2 million euro.

    “A strength of our proposal is that it combines theory, planetary modelling, and experiments in order to learn more about the composition and development of planets inside and outside of our solar system”, says Prof. Ronald Redmer of the University of Rostock, spokesperson for the research unit. In addition, the findings will be used for the evaluation of observation data from satellite missions.

    1
    This artist concept depicts in the foreground planet Kepler-62f, a super-Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of its star, which is seen peeking out from behind the right edge of the planet.
    NASA/JPL

    The Kepler Space Telescope has discovered a large number of planets between one and twenty times the mass of the Earth in orbits close to Sun-like stars.

    NASA/Kepler Telescope
    NASA/Kepler Telescope

    These exoplanets are defined as so-called “super-Earths”, which have a similar density and masses up to ten times that of the Earth, and neptunian planets, which have a similar density as the planet Neptune in our solar system. Neptune has a solid core; a mantle composed of liquid water, ammonia, and methane; as well as an atmosphere made of hydrogen, helium, and methane. In the interiors of all of these types of planets pressures can be many times higher than those inside the Earth and temperatures can reach several thousand degrees Celsius. The researchers want to find out how the principal constituents of these planets—for example, magnesium oxide and silicates for super-Earths as well as water, methane, and ammonia for neptunian planets—behave under these conditions.

    The High Energy Density Science instrument at the European XFEL, or HED for short, enables experimental investigations of extreme states of matter like those found inside of planets.

    3
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273045438_Scientific_Instrument_High_Energy_Density_Physics_HED

    “In the course of these experiments, we can generate brief spikes in pressure up to a million bar on the sample”, explains Karen Appel, a scientist at HED and project leader for this part of the research unit’s proposal. “The pressure would be as strong as having the weight of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, on someone’s fingertip.” The high pressures and temperatures at the HED instrument are generated through a shockwave triggered by an intense laser pulse. If the material decompresses after the shock, it goes through many different combinations of pressures and temperatures with distinctive material characteristics within very small fractions of a second. The short light flashes of the European XFEL enable sharp snapshots of these states and their properties to be taken. “Through X-ray scattering and X-ray spectroscopy, we will be able to determine the time-resolved structure and properties of magnesium oxide and silicates under these conditions”, says Appel. “With that, we can gather essential data for planetary modelling.”

    Other than the Universities of Rostock and Bayreuth and European XFEL, DESY and the DLR Institute for Planetary Research in Berlin are also participating.

    See the full article here .

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    XFEL Campus

    The Hamburg area will soon boast a research facility of superlatives: The European XFEL will generate ultrashort X-ray flashes—27 000 times per second and with a brilliance that is a billion times higher than that of the best conventional X-ray radiation sources.

    The outstanding characteristics of the facility are unique worldwide. Starting in 2017, it will open up completely new research opportunities for scientists and industrial users.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:07 pm on January 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , European XFEL, First electrons at -271°C (2 Kelvin), ,   

    From European XFEL: “First electrons in the -271°C cooled main accelerator” 

    XFEL bloc

    European XFEL

    19 January 2017
    No writer credit

    Accelerator team start test of linac at operation temperature

    1
    View into the accelerator tunnel: behind a chicane (in front) operating at room temperature the electrons are guided into the first four superconducting accelerator modules.
    Dirk Nölle / DESY

    The European XFEL has reached an important milestone on the way to its operation phase: The Accelerator Team has guided the first electrons from their initial acceleration point in the facility’s injector into the superconducting main linear accelerator, which is cooled to -271°C (2 Kelvin). After passing through the first four accelerator modules and a subsequent section wherein the electron bunches are compressed, the particles were captured in an electron dump about 150 metres away.

    “The first cooling of the accelerator was a critical phase in the commissioning of the European XFEL”, said Hans Weise, leader of the Accelerator Consortium responsible for building the accelerator. “The cooling plant team has mastered this through great commitment and much outstanding intuition.”

    At the beginning of December, the experts began to flush the cryogenic system of the accelerator and fill it with helium. On 28 December, after three weeks at the 4-Kelvin (-269°C) mark, the so-called “cold compressors” were switched on. They lowered the pressure of the helium in the linear accelerator to 30 millibar so it could cool further to 2 Kelvin (-271°C, the operational temperature of the accelerator). At the beginning of January, the machine physicists brought the European XFEL injector, which has a superconducting segment within it as well, back into service. After a successful test operation in summer 2016, the injector had been turned off so that the chicane connecting it to the main accelerator could be built. After a short time, the injector again achieved the beam quality of the test operation in summer, and the team could then direct the first particle beam through the chicane and into the main accelerator.

    “We now have sufficient control over the pressure and temperature in the superconducting accelerator, such that we can feed the cavities with the first high frequency field”, Weise explained the next task for the scientists. The 32 resonators in the first four modules are then being brought to resonance frequency and fine-tuned to one another so that the particle bunches can be accelerated through them.

    In the next weeks and months, the successive commissioning of the remaining accelerating sections is planned. As soon as the acceleration is high enough, the electron bunches will be sent through the undulators, which are special magnetic structures in which the X-ray flashes will be generated.

    2
    The “plot for experts” shows the temperature development in the different sections of the main accelerator during the cooldown phase.
    DESY

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

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    XFEL Campus

    The Hamburg area will soon boast a research facility of superlatives: The European XFEL will generate ultrashort X-ray flashes—27 000 times per second and with a brilliance that is a billion times higher than that of the best conventional X-ray radiation sources.

    The outstanding characteristics of the facility are unique worldwide. Starting in 2017, it will open up completely new research opportunities for scientists and industrial users.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:33 pm on September 26, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , European XFEL, , , , , uperconducting part of the European XFEL accelerator ready,   

    From European XFEL: “Superconducting part of the European XFEL accelerator ready” 

    XFEL bloc

    European XFEL

    26 September 2016
    No writer credit found

    Ninety-six modules fully installed in 1.7-km long tunnel section.

    An important milestone in the construction of the X-ray laser European XFEL has been reached: The 1.7-km long superconducting accelerator is installed in the tunnel. The linear accelerator will accelerate bunches of free electrons flying at near-light speed to the extremely high energy of 17.5 gigaelectronvolts. The bunches are accelerated in devices called resonators, which are cooled to a temperature of -271°C. In the next part of the facility, the electron bunches are used to generate the flashes of X-ray light that will allow scientists new insights into the nanocosmos. The European XFEL accelerator will be put into operation step by step in the next weeks. It will be the largest and most powerful linear accelerator of its type in the world. On 6 October, the German Minister for Education and Research, Prof. Johanna Wanka, and the Polish Vice Minister of Science and Education Dr Piotr Dardziński, will officially initiate the commissioning of the X-ray laser, including the accelerator. User operation at the European XFEL is anticipated to begin in mid-2017.

    Responsible for the construction of the accelerator was an international consortium of 17 research institutes under the leadership of Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY), which is also the largest shareholder of the European XFEL.

    DESY

    The central section consists of 96 accelerator modules, each 12 metres long, which contain almost 800 resonators made from ultrapure niobium surrounded by liquid helium. The electrons are accelerated inside of these resonators. The modules, which were industrially produced in cooperation with several partners, are on average about 16% more powerful than specified, so the original goal of 100 modules in the accelerator could be reduced to 96.

    1
    Using a small box as a clean area, technicians make connections between two accelerator modules in the European XFEL tunnel in April.
    Heiner Müller-Elsner / European XFEL

    “I congratulate the accelerator team for this milestone and thank all partners for their perseverance and their tireless efforts”, said the Chairman of the DESY Board of Directors Helmut Dosch. “The individual teams involved meshed like the gears of a clock to build the world’s most powerful and modern linear accelerator. That all was delivered within a tight budget deserves the utmost respect.”

    “We are excited that the installation of the accelerator modules has been successfully completed”, said European XFEL Managing Director and Chairman of the Management Board Massimo Altarelli. “This is an important step on the way to user operation next year. On this path there were numerous challenges that, in the past months and years, we faced together successfully. I thank DESY and our European partners for their enormous effort, and we look together with excitement towards the next weeks and months, when the accelerator goes into operation.”

    2
    The European XFEL accelerator tunnel. European XFEL

    The French project partner CEA in Saclay assembled the modules. Colleagues from the Polish partner institute IFJ-PAN in Kraków performed comprehensive tests of each individual module at DESY before it was installed in the 2-km long accelerator tunnel. Magnets for focusing and steering the electron beam inside the modules came from the Spanish research centre CIEMAT in Madrid. The niobium resonators were manufactured by companies in Germany and Italy, supervised by research centres DESY and INFN in Rome. Russian project partners such as the Efremov Institute in St. Petersburg and the Budker Institute in Novosibirsk delivered the different parts for vacuum components for the accelerator, within which the electron beam will be directed and focused in the non-superconducting portions of the facility at room temperature. Many other components were manufactured by DESY and their partners, including diagnostics and electron beam stabilization mechanisms, among others.

    In October, the accelerator is expected to move towards operation in several steps. As soon as the system for access control is installed, the interior of the modules can be slowly cooled to the operating temperature of two degrees above absolute zero—colder than outer space. Then DESY scientists can send the first electrons through the accelerator. At first, the electrons will be stopped in an “electron dump” at the end of the accelerator, until all of the beam properties are optimized. Then the electron beam will be sent further towards the X-ray light-generating magnetic structures called undulators. Here, the alternating poles of the undulator’s magnets will force the electron bunches to move in a tight, zigzagging “slalom” course for a 210-m stretch. In a self-amplifying intensification process, extremely short and bright X-ray flashes with laser-like properties will be generated. Reaching the conditions needed for this process is a massive technical challenge. Among other things, the electron bunches from the accelerator must meet precisely defined specifications. But the participating scientists have reason for optimism. All foundational principles and techniques have been proven at the free-electron laser FLASH at DESY, the prototype for the European XFEL. At European XFEL itself, the commissioning of the 30-m long injector has been complete since July. The injector generates the electron bunches for the main accelerator and accelerates them in an initial section to near-light speed.

    The beginning of user operation, the final step in the transition from the construction phase to the operation phase, is foreseen for summer 2017.

    See the full article here .

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    XFEL Campus

    The Hamburg area will soon boast a research facility of superlatives: The European XFEL will generate ultrashort X-ray flashes—27 000 times per second and with a brilliance that is a billion times higher than that of the best conventional X-ray radiation sources.

    The outstanding characteristics of the facility are unique worldwide. Starting in 2017, it will open up completely new research opportunities for scientists and industrial users.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:55 am on July 29, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , European XFEL,   

    From XFEL: “Polish contribution to European XFEL successfully completed” 

    XFEL bloc

    European XFEL

    28 July 2016
    No writer credit found

    Polish delegation visits DESY and European XFEL

    At the successful conclusion of the Polish contribution to the construction of the European XFEL, a delegation including Maciej Chorowski, Director of the Polish National Centre for Research and Development (NCBiR), visited DESY and European XFEL.

    The Polish in-kind contribution to the European XFEL was one of the most important in the construction of the superconducting linear accelerator. Over the past several years, in addition to assembly of components, around 50 Polish scientists performed intensive tests, at first of individual components and later of the complete accelerator modules, prior to their installation in the European XFEL tunnel. “Polish science has done a great service towards the construction and the quality assurance of the world’s most powerful linear accelerator!” said Helmut Dosch, Chairman of the DESY Board of Directors. “The collaboration with our highly engaged Polish colleagues was excellent.”

    Massimo Altarelli, Chairman of the European XFEL Management Board added: “The contribution of Polish laboratories to the linear accelerator was crucial and very successful. This is why more recently, in 2015, we were happy to turn again to Poland to implement assembly of control electronics such as those for the instruments in the experiment hall.”

    1
    At the signing ceremony: NCBJ Deputy Director Ewa Rondio, NCBiR Director Maciej Chorowski, NCBJ Director Krzysztof Kurek, DESY Director Helmut Dosch, NCBJ Deputy Director Zbigniew Gołębiewski, European XFEL Director Massimo Altarelli (left to right). Marta Meyer / DESY

    The NCBJ in Świerk, near Warsaw, is also the Polish shareholder of the European XFEL GmbH. Other Polish institutions also taking part in the construction of the accelerator are Wrocław University of Technology (WUT) and the Henryk Niewodniczański Institute for Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Science (IFJ-PAN) in Krakow. The Polish in-kind contributions are valued at around 19 million euro (in 2005 prices). The total Polish contribution adds up to 26.5 million euro.

    Chorowski, who himself has frequently been a guest at DESY, was thankful that the Polish institutions could strongly profit from the know-how acquired through their work at European XFEL. “This is also in particular a clear opportunity for the participating Polish companies to show their strengths while gaining valuable expertise and references”, said Chorowski.

    On the occasion of the visit, DESY and NCBJ extended their long-time collaboration through another cooperation agreement. Both facilities intend to open the way for continuation and intensification of their collaboration.

    2
    The delegation in the European XFEL tunnel. European XFEL

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

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    XFEL Campus

    The Hamburg area will soon boast a research facility of superlatives: The European XFEL will generate ultrashort X-ray flashes—27 000 times per second and with a brilliance that is a billion times higher than that of the best conventional X-ray radiation sources.

    The outstanding characteristics of the facility are unique worldwide. Starting in 2017, it will open up completely new research opportunities for scientists and industrial users.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:06 am on July 25, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Electron injector for European XFEL exceeds expectations, European XFEL,   

    From XFEL: “Electron injector for European XFEL exceeds expectations” 

    XFEL bloc

    European XFEL

    25 July 2016
    No writer credit found

    First accelerator section successfully tested

    DESY has successfully concluded tests of the first section of the particle accelerator for the European XFEL. The so-called electron injector, which is 30 metres long, performed distinctly better than expected. The injector already completed a whole week under operating conditions. “Having gathered much valuable experience, we are now all set to start up the entire accelerator complex”, reports Winfried Decking, the machine coordinator at DESY. “This is a huge success for the entire accelerator team, together with our international partners.”

    1
    The diagnostic system produces elongated images of individual electron bunches and allows to analyse them in slices. DESY

    The bright X-ray light of the European XFEL is produced by small bunches of high-energy electrons which are brought to speed by a particle accelerator and then sent down an undulating magnetic path. At each magnetic bend in the path, the electron nunches emit X-rays which add up to a laser-like pulse in a self-amplifying manner.

    DESY is the main shareholder of the European XFEL GmbH and responsible, among other things, for building and operating the 2.1-kilometre particle accelerator. The injector is located at the very beginning of the accelerator to which it supplies tailor-made bunches of electrons. The quality of these electron bunches is crucial to the quality of the X-ray laser pulses at the experimental stations, 3.4 kilometres away. One important quality criterion is how narrowly the electron bunches can be focused. “This so-called emittance is some 40 percent better than specified”, reports Decking.

    2
    The injector is 30 metres long. Dirk Nölle / DESY

    Ten times every second, the injector produces a train of up to 2700 short bunches of electrons. To test the quality of the beam, a special diagnostic system picks out individual bunches. “We need only about four bunches per train to analyse the beam”, explains Decking. These bunches are tilted by a cavity before striking the diagnostic screen. The elongated image they leave behind as a result can be used to study the longitudinal structure of each bunch in detail. The analysis reveals the outstanding quality of the bunches.

    In the past seven months, the injector, which produced its first electron beam in December, has given the accelerator team an opportunity to get to know all major subsystems of the entire accelerator facility: “The injector includes all the subsystems that are used in the main accelerator too”, says Decking. “This meant we were able to test and familiarise ourselves with them.” All in all, he says, no major obstacles were encountered throughout the several months of its test operation. The injector went offline on Monday, so that it can be connected to the main accelerator, for which commissioning is planned to start in October 2016. The whole facility is expected to be available for experiments as from the summer of 2017.

    3
    View of DESY’s accelerator control centre, European XFEL section. Dirk Nölle / DESY

    Apart from DESY and European XFEL GmbH, the Centre national de la recherche scientifique CNRS in Orsay (France), the Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives CEA in Saclay (France), the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare INFN in Milan (Italy), the Narodowe Centrum Badań Jądrowych in Swierk (Poland), the Wrocław University of Technology WUT in Wrocław (Poland), the Instytut Fizyki Jądrowej IFJ-PAN in Krakow (Poland), the Institute for High-Energy Physics in Protvino (Russia), the Efremov Institute NIIEFA in St. Petersburg (Russia), the Budker Institute for Nuclear Physics BINP in Novosibirsk (Russia), the Institute for Nuclear Research INR in Moscow (Russia), the Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas CIEMAT in Madrid (Spain), the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid UPM in Madrid (Spain), the University of Stockholm (Sweden), the University of Uppsala (Sweden), and the Paul Scherrer Institute in Villigen (Switzerland) are also involved in the injector.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    XFEL Campus

    The Hamburg area will soon boast a research facility of superlatives: The European XFEL will generate ultrashort X-ray flashes—27 000 times per second and with a brilliance that is a billion times higher than that of the best conventional X-ray radiation sources.

    The outstanding characteristics of the facility are unique worldwide. Starting in 2017, it will open up completely new research opportunities for scientists and industrial users.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:56 am on July 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , European XFEL,   

    From XFEL: Tunnel Flight 

    XFEL bloc

    European XFEL

    Take a flight through the 3.4 km long European XFEL tunnel, from injector to experiment hall, in the latest version of our film!


    Watch, enjoy, learn.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    XFEL Campus

    The Hamburg area will soon boast a research facility of superlatives: The European XFEL will generate ultrashort X-ray flashes—27 000 times per second and with a brilliance that is a billion times higher than that of the best conventional X-ray radiation sources.

    The outstanding characteristics of the facility are unique worldwide. Starting in 2017, it will open up completely new research opportunities for scientists and industrial users.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:31 am on May 3, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , European XFEL,   

    From XFEL: “World’s most precise mirror arrives in Hamburg” 

    XFEL bloc

    European XFEL

    03 May 2016

    The first of several ultraflat mirrors is a milestone of a rigorous research and development effort.

    A 95-cm long mirror that is more precise than any other yet built was delivered to European XFEL, an X-ray laser research facility that is under construction in the Hamburg area of Germany. The mirror is superflat and does not deviate from its surface quality by more than one nanometre, or a billionth of a metre. It is the first of several of its kind needed for the European XFEL. Each will be essential to the facility’s operation, enabling scientists from around the globe to reliably use the world’s brightest X-ray laser light for research into ultrafast chemical processes, complex molecular structures, and extreme states of matter. The precision of the European XFEL mirror is equivalent to a 40-km long road not having any bumps larger than the width of a hair. The mirror’s production is the culmination of a long research and development process involving several institutes and companies in Japan, France, Italy, and Germany.

    The mirror body, with a 95 cm long and 5.2 cm wide reflective face, is made from a single crystal of silicon that was crafted by industrial partners in France and Italy. In order to polish a mirror of the required length to European XFEL’s nanometre specification, the optics company JTEC in Osaka, Japan, used a new polishing method using a pressurized fluid bath capable of stripping atom-thick layers off of the crystal. This development required the construction of a brand-new facility that would be able to meet the exceptional demands from the European XFEL, while also expanding the company’s ability to serve other, similar facilities, such as the LCLS in the U.S. and SwissFEL in Switzerland.

    SLAC/LCLS
    SLAC/LCLS

    SwissFEL Paul Sherrer Institute
    SwissFEL Paul Sherrer Institute

    The polishing technique alone took nearly a year to develop to a point where the extreme quality could be reached.

    1
    European XFEL scientist Maurizio Vannoni inspects the delivered superflat mirror, which does not deviate from a perfect surface by more than a billionth of a metre. European XFEL

    “When we first started working on these optics, we were looking for something that simply didn’t exist at anywhere near this precision”, says Harald Sinn, who leads the European XFEL X-Ray Optics group. “Now we have the first ever mirror at this extreme specification.”

    The mirrors have to be so precise because of the laser properties of the X-rays at the European XFEL. These properties are essential to clearly image matter at the atomic level. Previously, European XFEL simulations had shown that any distortions in the mirrors greater than one nanometre would cause the properties of the laser spot on the sample to be degraded.

    Mirrors of this series will be used to deflect the X-rays by up to a few tenths of a degree into the European XFEL’s six scientific instruments in its underground experiment hall in the town of Schenefeld. This is done because the instruments, which are parallel to each other, will eventually be able to operate in parallel, enabling scientists to have greater access to the facility and its unique X-ray light. Additionally, similar mirrors will focus the X-ray light within some of the facility’s instruments.

    However, the particular mirror that was delivered is needed for filtering the light generated by the facility to only the kind needed for experiments. Within the European XFEL’s X-ray laser light-generating structures, called undulators, some undesirable wavelengths of light are produced. A set of these superflat mirrors will be arranged after each undulator in the facility’s underground tunnels, and the position of each mirror allows for only the desired wavelength of laser light to continue towards the experiment hall. The undesirable wavelengths of light are more energetic and pass through the mirror instead of reflecting, ending up in an adjacent absorber made of boron carbide and tungsten.

    The mirror will now be measured at European XFEL and Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin for additional verification of its specifications. Three more mirrors of the same type are due to arrive at European XFEL in May.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    XFEL Campus

    The Hamburg area will soon boast a research facility of superlatives: The European XFEL will generate ultrashort X-ray flashes—27 000 times per second and with a brilliance that is a billion times higher than that of the best conventional X-ray radiation sources.

    The outstanding characteristics of the facility are unique worldwide. Starting in 2017, it will open up completely new research opportunities for scientists and industrial users.

     
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