The FXE instrument at the European XFEL


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  • uploaded April 19, 2024

The FXE instrument at the European XFEL is designed to analyse chemical processes that are otherwise too fast to observe. Short pulses of laser-like X-rays, which can pick up atomic details, give scientists deeper insight into the rapid changes in molecules during an ongoing reaction. Samples are dissolved in a liquid jet. The molecules are energised with an optical laser, shown in red, which initiates a chemical reaction. With the European XFEL’s 27 000 intense X-ray pulses per second, shown in blue, the instrument can record snapshots from the reacting molecules in steps of a millionth of a billionth of a second, or a femtosecond. Thanks to the high repetition rate, scientists can collect vast amounts of superior-quality data from the reacting system. Once put in temporal sequence, the data can deliver an ultra-slow–motion molecular movie, helping to better understand chemical processes such as catalysis and enzymatic action.

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