UK XFEL – Events

Registration is open for the “Fundamental Physics, Quantum Computing and AI” at the University of Plymouth on the 18th and 19th of January 2023

UK XFEL Townhall – Fundamental Physics, Quantum Computing and AI

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UK XFEL – Background

UK XFEL – The Scien​ce Case

The Science Case clearly sets out the important future opportunities and strategic need for UK science to have access to such a capability over the coming decades. It proposed a dedicated UK based next generation XFEL to achieve this.

Download the science case in full, or read the 2023 refreshed overview here.

UK XFEL – Scien​ce Opportunities

High brightness ultra-fast x-ray pulses from an X-ray FEL allow the simultaneous imaging of atomic scale structure, electronic state and dynamics in a material. There is no other technology that can do that. The unique science opportunities that these machines can open-up include:

  • Access to structural dynamics: Dynamical phenomena can be probed on a time scale down to femtoseconds thus covering electronic dynamics, lattice dynamics and chemical bonds breaking/forming. This capability can be applied to chemical reactions (for optimisation of e.g., catalysis, water-splitting, hydrogen storage mechanisms), energy materials (for optimisation of photovoltaics, battery technology), engineering materials (to understand/ mitigate mechanisms of corrosion, radiation damage, shock damage), and biochemistry (to unravel photosynthesis, light sensitive protein activity).
  • New modes of nanoscopic imaging: These can be used for seeing the nanoscopic arrangements in nanotechnology and life-sciences free from radiation damage and adverse effects of sample preparation (e.g., in situ imaging of the function of biomolecular assemblies at operating temperature).
  • Access to transient states: Matter can be probed under conditions which are only transiently achieved, such as: extreme pressure, high E & B fields, laser dressing and high energy density (important to astrophysics, planetary science, geophysics, defence and quantum materials).
  • The potential to capture rare events: In physical, chemical and biological systems critical processes often proceed through rare events arising from intrinsic fluctuations and an XFEL opens the possibility to directly visualize these (e.g., can capture natural chemical/biochemical reactions in the act).

These are broadly applicable capabilities that provide a completely new window into matter and dynamics with impact across a wide landscape of science and technology. They will be used alongside other modalities (optical, neutron, cryo-EM, UED, synchrotron X-ray, NMR etc.) to increase our abilities to probe and control matter.