Brussels, 25 Jan 2005
Representatives from nine European countries have signed a memorandum of understanding in which they jointly agree to lay the foundations for the construction of the European x-ray laser XFEL (X-ray free-electron laser).
France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK have pledged to agree proposals for detailed time schedules and financing schemes, the future organisational structure, the exact technical design, and the operation of the facility.
'Even if this declaration of intent is not yet a formal pledge, we are confident that these countries will then also participate in the construction operation of the XFEL,' said the chair of the XFEL steering committee, Dr Hermann Schunck, from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.
It is expected that the x-ray laser will open up many new avenues of investigation and lead to significant breakthroughs in the field of structural research. Using extremely brilliant, ultra-short X-ray pulses with laser-like properties, researchers will be able to literally film molecular and atomic processes.
XFEL's advocates hope that this will lead to fundamental insights in a wide range of sciences - from physics and chemistry to materials science, geological research, the life sciences and nanotechnology. The facility is scheduled to be operational from 2012 at a total cost of some 900 million euro, which will be borne jointly by Germany - where the facility will be built - and the other partner countries.
To learn more about XFEL, please consult the following web address: