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.

User Organization

The purpose of the User Organization of European XFEL is to provide an organized framework for discussion between the users and the Management Board of European XFEL, in particular to give feedback to the Management in order to improve the conditions for users performing experiments and to help widen the user community.

General contact email:

Further Information: European XFEL User Organization

Users' Meeting

The European XFEL Users’ Meeting is an annual opportunity to strengthen our interaction with the scientific user community.

Information about past and future events are available here

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 Peak Brilliance
European XFEL
European XFEL
call for proposals

9th Call for Proposals for User Experiments

Regular Proposals, Protein Crystal Screening Proposals and, on invitation, Long-Term Proposals and Molecular Water Research Proposals

The 9th call for regular proposals at the European X-Ray Free-Electron Laser Facility (European XFEL) is open until Wednesday, 22 June 2022 at 16:00 (local Hamburg/Schenefeld time – Central European Summer Time - CEST) for all six scientific instruments currently in operation. Please apply via the User Portal to the European XFEL (UPEX).

  • In the framework of this call, standard configurations for the HED, MID and SCS instruments can be specified in the UPEX proposal form.
  • A specific call for Protein Crystal Screening (PCS) proposals is also open at SPB/SFX, with the same deadline as the regular call.
  • Spokespersons of selected Expressions of Interest in Long-Term Proposals and Molecular Water Research have been requested to submit their detailed proposals in specific calls on invitation, with the same deadline as for regular/PCS proposals. Only invited proposals will be accepted in these calls.

All information about the Call are available on our webpages

A virtual information meeting will be held on Thursday, 12 May 2022 at 17:00 (local Hamburg/Schenefeld time – Central European Summer Time - CEST). Details about the videoconference link and agenda will be posted on this website soon.