DESY mourns the loss of Wilfried Wurth

Leading scientist of FLASH deceased unexpectedly

Wilfried Wirth

DESY mourns the loss of one of its pioneers in research at free-electron lasers: Prof. Wilfried Wurth, leading scientist of the free-electron laser FLASH and lead scientist at DESY, died suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 62.

“Wilfried Wurth’s sudden death hit us all very hard. We are losing an excellent scientist and a very esteemed and popular colleague,” says Helmut Dosch, Chairman of the DESY Board of Directors. “We will very much miss his positive nature and his always sharp analysis. Our deepest sympathy and our thoughts are with Wilfried Wurth´s family.”

Wilfried Wurth was lead scientist at DESY and professor of experimental physics at the University of Hamburg. He made a name for himself as an expert in X-ray spectroscopy and the investigation of ultrafast processes such as the observation of dynamics of atoms on surfaces in real time. Already before he joined DESY in 2014, he was one of the leading researchers at FLASH. He led the Advanced Study Group of the University of Hamburg at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science CFEL, the cooperation of DESY, the Max Planck Society and the University of Hamburg. Wilfried Wurth played an important role in the construction of CFEL, as well as in the overall cooperation between the University of Hamburg and DESY.

From 2007 to 2013, Wilfried Wurth was spokesman of the BMBF research priority programme FLASH, the first priority programme in the field of condensed matter. It was created to bundle research the at the free-electron laser within the framework of collaborative project funding.

In Wilfried Wurth’s time as scientific director of FLASH, the second undulator line for light generation and the second experimental hall of the free-electron laser were built within the FLASH II expansion project. In DESY’s strategy process, which was completed in 2018, Wilfried Wurth took a leading role in developing the visions for the future of the pioneering facility. Most recently, he led the creation of the Conceptual Design Report for its further development to FLASH2020+.