The European X-ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL) was inaugurated on Friday, September 1, 2017, in the city of Hamburg in Germany.
Here's all you need to know about XFEL:
1. The European XFEL is the largest X-ray laser in the world. It was built over a span of eight years, with around $1.7 billion (€1.5 billion) spent to devise this facility.
2. What makes XFEL unique is that it can emit 27,000 X-ray laser flashes per second, and its luminance is a billion times greater than any previously-used X-ray source.
"They (conventional X-ray sources) can send 100 pulses out per second, we can send 27,000," said Robert Feidenhan'l, chairman of the European XFEL management board.
3. The device will be used to analyse fast-moving atoms and molecules as human eyes cannot see them. This technology would help scientists study the molecular structure of viruses and processes occurring deep inside planets, record chemical reactions and even capture 3D images of the nanoworld. This would aid in developing new medicines and other products.
4. The laser is "like a camera and a microscope that will make it possible to see more tiny details and processes in the nanoworld than ever before," said Robert Feidenhans, chairman of the project's management board.
5. A 3.4-km-long tunnel complex houses the facility where XFEL is, and it extends to the German federal states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein.
This international project involves 11 European countries: Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Various researchers are preparing to carry out their first experiments by mid-September.