The European XFEL and its Potentials in Structural Biology

Janos Hajdu

Uppsala University and The European XFEL


At the beginning of 2017, the European X-ray Free-Electron-Laser (XFEL) in Hamburg will begin user operations. Free-electron lasers are the most brilliant sources of X-rays to date, exceeding the peak brilliance of conventional synchrotrons by a factor of 10 billion, and improving. In the duration of a single flash, the beam focused to a micron-sized spot has the same power density as all the sunlight hitting the Earth, focused to a millimetre square. The interaction of an intense X-ray pulse with matter is profoundly different from that of an optical pulse. A necessary goal of research with these machines is to explore photon-material interactions in strong X-ray fields. The aim in biology is to step beyond conventional damage limits and develop the science and technology required to enable high-resolution imaging of both crystalline and non-crystalline biological objects at high resolution. Eligible targets include single virus particles, organelles, cells, nanocrystals, engineered nanoclusters and isolated macromolecules. The talk will summarise developments at the European XFEL and provide an overview of some of the biological results from the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), the first hard X-ray free-electron laser. One of the aims of the talk us explore possibilities for interested Czech scientists to participate in revolutionary new experiments at the European XFEL.