Extreme conditions in the lab – HIBEF beamline at European XFEL inaugurated

HIBEF high intensity laser

The high intensity laser of the HIBEF user consortium (Photo: European XFEL, Jan Hosian).

At the HIBEF inauguration

At the HIBEF inauguration (from left): Prof. Otmar D. Wiestler (President of the Helmholtz Association), Karin Prien (Minister for Education, Science and Culture, Schleswig-Holstein), Dr. Eva Gümbel, (State Secretary, Hamburg Ministry of Science, Research, Equalities and District Authority), Christian Luft (State Secretary BMBF), Prof. Helmut Dosch (Chairman of the DESY Board of Directors) (Photo: European XFEL, Axel Heimken).

Under the leadership of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) in cooperation with DESY, the Helmholtz International Beamline for Extreme Fields (HIBEF) at the European XFEL pools equipment and expertise from various research institutions to make them available to the international scientific community. Christian Luft, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Minister of Science of Schleswig-Holstein, Karin Prien, and the State Secretary for Science, Research, Equalities and District Authority of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, Dr. Eva Gümbel, inaugurated the HIBEF beamline at the EuXFEL in Schenefeld on 31 August 2021.

The beamline is part of the High Energy Density (HED) experimental station at the X-ray laser, enabling deep insights into the structure of materials and hyper-fast natural plasma-physical processes. This will help researchers drive innovation in materials and accelerator research, for example, thanks to improved models of planet formation and simulations of processes in plasma.

The total investment including operating costs for ten years amounts nearly 120 million euros. State Secretary Christian Luft calls HIBEF a ground-breaking investment into the future: "Excellent research requires outstanding infrastructure. HIBEF at the European XFEL is an experimental facility that was set up in international cooperation and provides globally unique opportunities in areas ranging from basic research on new materials to new discoveries about our planets. With HIBEF, we are further expanding Europe's leading international position in the field of X-ray science."

HIBEF combines the European XFEL’s X-ray radiation with two super lasers, a powerful magnetic coil, and provides a platform for research with diamond anvil cells. HIBEF, which was founded in 2013 by DESY and HZDR, involves a user consortium involving more than 350 scientists at 60 research institutions in 16 countries, such as the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

Prof. Helmut Dosch, Chairman of the DESY Board of Directors, says: “The European X-ray laser XFEL is the most powerful large-scale research facility of its kind. Together with the HIBEF research station, a globally unique instrument is being created for researching completely new matter and material properties that have so far been experimentally inaccessible. DESY will contribute here with all its know-how in X-ray physics to make this ambitious HIBEF project an international beacon.”

Prof. Sebastian M. Schmidt, Scientific Director of HZDR: “With HIBEF, we are once again demonstrating that Helmholtz centers distinguish themselves by their ability to identify and envision the research issues of the future at an early stage and plan research infrastructures accordingly. The amount of interest and numerous requests from all over the world to use our new experimental facility also confirm HZDR’s excellent reputation as a competent and reliable partner.”

Prof. Robert Feidenhans’l, Chairman of the European XFEL Management Board, adds: “We are thrilled to now offer HIBEF researchers from all over the world additional exciting research opportunities with our experimental station HED. For 2021, we have scheduled a total of nine experiments with research groups from 59 institutions at the HED experimental station and are very excited to see the first results. I would like to thank the HIBEF consortium for its excellent and successful collaboration, which we hope to expand in the coming years.”

Karin Prien, Minister for Education, Science and Culture, Schleswig-Holstein: “The European XFEL - and now HIBEF - are excellent examples of how we in Europe can have successful international cooperation and jointly create conditions for world-class research. Thus, research with HIBEF will strengthen the already excellent research results of the European XFEL and considerably enhance the scientific attractiveness and international appeal of European XFEL in the future.”

Dr. Eva Gümbel, State Secretary, Hamburg Ministry of Science, Research, Equalities and District Authority: “With the addition of HIBEF, the European XFEL, Hamburg’s prime research facility, will become even more attractive for scientists all over the world. I am happy that we have taken yet another step towards making Hamburg an international well-known metropolis of science and research. Cutting edge research requires excellent conditions. It is our aim to work constantly towards that goal; especially here in the future Science City in Bahrenfeld. In our pursuit of making our new science district a world-renowned landmark of research with unseen possibilities, HIBEF is one of the crucial projects on the way towards that aim.”


(from DESY News)