First X-ray beam at the PETRA III light source (July 2009)


This weekend, scientists from the Helmholtz research centre DESY generated the first X-ray light for research at the new synchrotron radiation source PETRA III. This means that the most brilliant storage ring X-ray source in the world is now available for experiment operation. The 2.3-kilometre electron storage ring went through a two-year 225-million Euro upgrade which converted it into a brilliant X-ray light source. Following the upcoming test runs of the individual measuring devices, PETRA III will start regular user operation in 2010. A first test run with synchrotron radiation is planned this summer.

Professor Helmut Dosch, Chair of the DESY Board of Directors, says: „With the first light from PETRA III we reach an important milestone on our path to meet the high demand of science for highly brilliant synchrotron sources.“

As the most powerful lightsource of its kind, PETRA III will offer excellent research possibilities, in particular to researchers who investigate ever smaller samples with ever finer details, or those who require tightly focused and very short-wavelength X-rays for their experiments. After the first storing of particles at PETRA III in April this year, the undulators – special magnets producing synchrotron radiation – were positioned close to the particle beam, forcing the accelerated particles onto a zigzag course to make them emit synchrotron radiation.

The PETRA accelerator was originally built for particle physics. More recently, PETRA was used as a preaccelerator for DESY’s successful particle accelerator HERA. In less than two years PETRA was completely refurbished and modernised. The remodelling into the most modern storage ring X-ray source in the world was largely funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the City of Hamburg and the Helmholtz Association. A 300-metre-long experimental hall was built over the PETRA storage ring, housing 14 synchrotron beamlines and up to 30 experimental stations.

To ensure that the investigated objects are not affected by vibration during „exposure“, the experiments will be installed on the largest monolithic concrete slab in the world. With the use of state-of-the-art optics, scientists at DESY will have access to much clearer insights into natural and industrially produced nanostructures.

DESY is one of the world's leading centres for the investigation of the structure of matter. DESY develops, runs and uses accelerators and detectors for photon science and particle physics. DESY is a national research centre supported by public funds and member of the Helmholtz Association.

(from: DESY press release)