XFEL, the atomic photograph
What in the world!
Technology captivates me and I hope that this little article will arouse your curiosity or at least inform you a little about what happens at the technological level on this our planet Earth.
The idea is that soon we will be listening in different media about the European EXFEL.
These acronyms may not sound incredible, but I know that thanks to them, we will see unprecedented applications.
As I write these lines, this project is being carefully constructed and developed in Germany, specifically in Hamburg and to be more specific under it, as tunnels were made to create an underground installation. 1.22 billion Euros are being invested.
It is said that it will be finished by this 2017 and for that reason it is about to come to light literally.
But the important question is: what is it and what is it for?
It began in 2009 with multilateral representatives from 10 countries (Germany – the largest investor with 58% ,- Denmark, Slovakia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Russia – whose share is 27% -, Sweden and Switzerland). These countries signed to make possible the creation of the installation XFEL (Free Electron Laser with X-ray) in Europe. I will mention that in 2010 France joined and in 2011 Spain raised the hand to be annexed and able to participate.
With the European XFEL, this continent is in fast track to be the leader in science and technology based on light sources produced by accelerators, as it is the only installation in the world that will have superconducting technology to accelerate electrons.
I do not want to go into technological details beyond our understanding. Suffice to say that because of its exceptional characteristics the XFEL emits X-ray pulses by means of magnetism that are extremely bright, small, instantaneous and intense. To have an idea of the importance and impact of the XFEL, those pulses are approximately one billion times greater than what is currently possible to produce in other laboratories in the world.
It gets interesting when we see that this will be reflected (I like the analogies regarding optics in this post), in various scientific disciplines such as materials physics, nanotechnology in 3D, medicine (mapping the structure of viruses at an atomic level, deciphering the molecular structure of cells), pharmacology, plasma physics, astrophysics (which attracts me a lot), alternative energy research, chemistry, structural or biochemical biology, electronics and much more. And of course all this will be seen in our daily lives in the not too distant future.
To close, I leave you with this mental image: let’s imagine filming frame by frame for the first time in history how the molecular chemical reactions processes of any kind are being carried out, how they behave to merge and react in order to simply become something else they are not. A real metamorphosis.