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Three years after begin of the civil construction, the SwissFEL enters its commissioning phase!

Inside view of the SwissFEL tunnel with accelerating structures mounted on their granite support. © PSI

By Luc Patthey, PSI (Paul Scherrer Institut)

The new Swiss Free Electron Laser facility SwissFEL is a unique light source which will provide new opportunities for cutting-edge research, and aims at providing solutions to important scientific and technological challenges facing modern society in the fields of Matter and Materials, Energy and the Environment, and Human Health.  SwissFEL will open the door to discoveries in many areas of cutting edge research that cannot be achieved using existing methods.  The SwissFEL design is based on an electron linear accelerator as a driver for an X-ray free electron laser (FEL). This FEL generates intense, high brightness and coherent light pulses covering the soft and hard X-ray regimes with ultra short pulse duration of < 20 fsec. The unique properties of the SwissFEL will enable experiments to be carried out at a very high resolution in both time and space.

Three years after the beginning of civil construction, SwissFEL now enters its commissioning phase! The first SwissFEL electrons have been produced in August 2016, and the first acceleration of the electrons took place a month later. The 104 accelerating structures, each with a length of 2 m, are now installed and connected to the 12 magnet undulators that will be used to produce the FEL light.
Further downstream from the accelerator, the photon beamline is ready to see the first light from SwissFEL undula

First SwissFEL detector measurement: Powder diffraction from calibration standard
(Silver Behenate) recorded at LCSL (SLAC, California) using the Jungfrau 1M detector developed at PSI. © PSI/Karol Nass

On the 5th of December the inauguration of the new Swiss Free Electron Laser facility SwissFEL will take place, with guests from Swiss political and administrative bodies, as well as leading national and international scientists.

The facility starts operation for pilot experiments in the end of 2017 and turns to regular user operation in the first half of 2018. The first experiments will be dedicated for ultrafast photochemistry and photobiology, and ultrafast dynamic in condense matter and material science.

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