The MID instrument at the European XFEL

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  • uploaded April 19, 2024

At the MID instrument of European XFEL, researchers can investigate the structure and dynamics of materials with molecular to atomic resolution. To do this, they focus X-ray pulses on the material to be studied from where the X-rays are scattered in different directions. The arrangement of the atoms in the material leads to a characteristic scattering pattern, which is recorded by a detector. Movements of the atoms change this scattering pattern. Using a sequence of several X-ray pulses, the scientists can observe these changes, just like in a movie. Since the X-ray pulses hit the sample 220 nanoseconds apart, very fast processes can be studied. The detector can be positioned at different distances and scattering angles to the sample, so that samples can be studied at different resolutions - from atomic to macromolecular. In this way, the change processes of larger structures such as proteins, viruses or nanoparticles can be made visible as well as atomic details. The experiments aim to investigate and understand the microscopic change processes in materials and thus enable new technological developments, for example in the fields of energy storage, development of new materials, and catalysis.