European XFEL

The world's largest X-ray laser will open up completely new research opportunities for scientists and industrial users.



Smaller, faster, more intense: The European XFEL is opening up areas of research that were previously inaccessible. Using the X-ray flashes of the European XFEL, scientists will be able to map the atomic details of viruses, decipher the molecular composition of cells, take three-dimensional images of the nanoworld, film chemical reactions, and study processes such as those occurring deep inside planets.

How the X-ray laser works

To generate the X-ray flashes, bunches of electrons are first accelerated to high energies and then directed through special arrangements of magnets (undulators). In the process, the particles emit radiation that is increasingly amplified until an extremely short and intense X-ray flash is finally created. More about how it works.

The European XFEL generates X-ray radiation with properties similar to those of laser light. There are several light sources with different characteristics. More about the light sources.


The European XFEL is located mainly in underground tunnels which can be accessed on three different sites. The 3.4 kilometre-long facility runs from the DESY campus in Hamburg to the town of Schenefeld in Schleswig-Holstein. At the research campus in Schenefeld, teams of scientists from all over the world carry out experiments using the X-ray flashes.

European XFEL GmbH

To construct and operate the European XFEL, international partners agreed on the foundation of an independent research organization – the European XFEL GmbH, a non-profit limited liability company under German law. The company employs more than 300 people. At present, 12 countries are participating in the project: Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.


The European XFEL has been realized as a joint effort of many partners. The European XFEL GmbH cooperates closely with the research centre DESY and other organizations worldwide. Construction started in early 2009; user operation began in September 2017.

The construction costs of the facility, which include the commissioning, amount to 1.25 billion euro (price levels of 2005). As the host country, Germany (the federal government, the city-state of Hamburg, and the state of Schleswig-Holstein) covers 57% of these costs. Russia bears 26% and the other international partners between 1% and 3%.

To a great extent, the European XFEL facility was realized by means of in-kind contributions by shareholders and partners.


Photon Beam Parameters
European X-Ray Free-Electron Laser Facility GmbH (European XFEL GmbH)
Holzkoppel 4 Schenefeld
TEL. +49 40 8998 6006
FAX. +49 40 8998 1905
European XFEL
European XFEL
European XFEL
call for proposals

Call for expressions of interest for rapid access COVID-19 related research opportunities

The European X-Ray Free-Electron Laser Facility (European XFEL) would like to offer support to the global campaign against the novel Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, by offering specific and rapid access to the resources of the facility for this purpose. The scientific community worldwide is encouraged to submit expressions of interest in research opportunities by 17 June 2020.

The call for expressions of interest in rapid access to European XFEL research resources closed on 17 June 2020.

Expressions of interest received after the deadline will still be considered on an ongoing basis, however, rapid access to beamtime cannot be guaranteed. 

For detailed information about participation, please check  European XFEL dedicated pages




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