Vacuum solutions for the European XFEL: Pfeiffer Vacuum supplies research facility of superlatives


Pfeiffer Vacuum supplies groundbreaking innovation with vacuum solutions

The beginning of September 2017 marked a milestone in the history of nanotechnology research: With the inauguration of the European XFEL (X-Ray Free-Electron Laser), the world´s largest and most powerful X-ray laser was officially put into operation. It will open up completely new areas of research and insights into the nanocosmos that were never achieved before.

View inside the XFEL accelerator tunnel (© European XFEL / Heiner Müller-Elsner
View inside the XFEL accelerator tunnel (© European XFEL / Heiner Müller-Elsner)

Within several years of cooperation, Pfeiffer Vacuum developed matching vacuum solutions for the high vacuum applications inside XFEL. All solutions were exclusively tailored to the specific needs and demands of these applications.

Ian Thorpe, instrument engineer for the High Energy Density (HED) instrument at XFEL, explains where the vacuum solutions are used, which requirements they have to fulfill and why Pfeiffer Vacuum was chosen as a supplier.

Pfeiffer Vacuum: Mr. Thorpe, could you please explain to us the most important characteristics of the X-ray laser?

Thorpe: The European XFEL will open up areas of research that were previously inaccessible. Using the X-ray flashes of the European XFEL, scientists will be able to decipher the molecular composition of cells, record chemical reactions, study processes like those inside planets or map the atomic details of viruses.

Pfeiffer Vacuum: For which processes do you apply vacuum technology during your work at XFEL?

Thorpe: I am an instrument engineer for the HED instrument at XFEL.

Ian Thorpe, instrument engineer at XFEL © European XFEL
Ian Thorpe, instrument engineer at XFEL (© European XFEL)

The HED instrument will focus on scientific applications of matter occurring inside exoplanets, of new extreme pressure phases and solid-density plasmas as well as of structural phase transitions of complex solids in high magnetic fields. This is, for example, useful for research into planetary science, magnetism and plasma physics.

We need a good level of vacuum to enable the XFEL beam and high power lasers to propagate and interact with matter without being affected by air molecules or generating spurious background signals, which will be picked up by the detectors.

Pfeiffer Vacuum: Where do you use Pfeiffer Vacuum solutions?

Thorpe: At the HED instrument of European XFEL, we have UHV X-ray optics and diagnostics in the optics hutch. These systems are pumped using ion getter pumps to maintain the UHV conditions. As the beam line passes into the experiment hutch, which is where the users of the instrument will conduct their experiments, the requirements for vacuum are reduced to high vacuum (HV). This is where the Pfeiffer Vacuum products come into use.

HiPace turbopumps installed at European XFEL
HiPace turbopumps installed at European XFEL

Interaction chamber at European XFEL equipped with Pfeiffer Vacuum solutions
Interaction chamber at European XFEL equipped with Pfeiffer Vacuum solutions (© European XFEL)

Read the complete interview in the attached document and learn more about the European XFEL.

Should you have any further question, do not hesitate to contact us.

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