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Germany: Vacuum Pumps Pfeiffer Vacuum Developed Vacuum Solutions for Major European Research Project

Editor: MA Alexander Stark

Pfeiffer Vacuum, in cooperation with The European X-Ray Free-Electron Laser (European XFEL), developed solutions ranging from vacuum pumps to leak detectors to vacuum components for many vacuum applications at the research facility.

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Hipace turbopumps installed at XFEL
Hipace turbopumps installed at XFEL
(Source: Pfeiffer Vacuum)

Asslar/Germany — The research facility generates ultrashort X-ray flashes: 27,000 times per second and with a brilliance that is a billion times higher than that of the best conventional X-ray radiation sources. The flashes are produced in underground tunnels and will allow scientists to map atomic details of viruses, film chemical reactions, and study the processes in the interior of planets.

The processes at European XFEL require ultra-high (UHV) or high vacuum (HV) conditions. It is important to maintain a good level of vacuum so that the XFEL beam and high power lasers can propagate and interact with matter at the experiment stations without being affected by air molecules or hydrocarbons generating background signals on the detectors.

High vacuum applications at XFEL predominantly use Pfeiffer Vacuum turbopumps, controllers and gauges. All solutions were exclusively tailored to the specific needs and demands of these applications.

The portable pump carts at the facility are also equipped with the company's solutions. Ian Thorpe, instrument engineer for HED (High Energy Density) Instrument at XFEL said: “It was important that the vacuum equipment could be integrated into the specific XFEL control system.” The idea to build the European XFEL was born at Desy (Deutsches Elektronen- Synchrotron), one of the world’s leading centers for the investigation of the structure of matter and a long-term partner of Pfeiffer Vacuum.

Being the main shareholder of European XFEL, Desy collaborates on the construction, commissioning and operation of the 3.4-kilometer-long facility. Together with international partners, Desy constructed the heart of the X-ray laser: the 1.7-kilometer-long superconducting accelerator including the electron source. It starts at the Desy site in Hamburg and stretches to the town of Schenefeld in the German federal state of Schleswig-Holstein.