The faster, more powerful European XFEL free-electron laser was inaugurated on September 1, 2017, near Hamburg, Germany. By producing ultra-bright, trillion-photon X-ray flashes at a frequency two hundred times greater than the best preexisting free-electron lasers (FELs), this next-generation European instrument will allow scientists to map the atomic relief of viruses, decipher the molecular composition of cells, create 3-D images of the nanoworld, and even film chemical reactions. Eleven countries helped build the XFEL, at a cost of €1.2 billion. The French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) both played a leading role in the design and construction of the superconducting electron accelerator at the heart of this new international research facility.
. A free-electron laser (FEL) generates photons using electrons that are not bound to atoms. It emits intense, coherent light across a wide range of wavelengths, including microwaves, X-rays, UV, visible light, and infrared. The new European laser specifically produces X-rays.