Whether it is in the development and construction of accelerators, in photon science, or in particle and astroparticle physics – DESY scores among the world’s best. Thanks to its expertise and its unique facilities, the research centre is one of the international pioneers in all three areas.
Light of the future
With PETRA III, DESY has built one of the best X-ray radiation sources in the world. As the most brilliant light source of its kind, PETRA III offers scientists from all over the world outstanding opportunities for experimentation, laying the foundation for the medicines and nanotechnology of tomorrow.
DESY also devises the light sources of the future: powerful free-electron lasers in the X-ray range.
On the basis of a new accelerator technology developed by DESY and its international partners, new light sources were created that are entering completely new territory by generating high-intensity ultrashort pulsed X-ray radiation with genuine laser properties. With this kind of radiation, scientists can for the first time observe processes in the nano cosmos in real time. They can, for instance, view “live broadcasts” of the formation and dissolution of chemical bonds.
That’s why there’s such a great demand for the FLASH free-electron laser at DESY. The expectations concerning the even bigger European XFEL X-ray laser, which is now being built in the Hamburg area, are correspondingly high. DESY is playing a key role regarding this new beacon for science. Among other things, it is building the heart of the facility – the accelerator, which is approximately two kilometres long.
The realm of smallest particles
In the fields of high-energy and astroparticle physics, DESY is facing the challenges of the future, which are becoming increasingly global. The era of national accelerator facilities is now a thing of the past. The field is dominated by internationally oriented “world machines” such as the Large Hadron Collider LHC near Geneva. So it’s quite appropriate that the laboratory already has a long tradition if international cooperation across cultural and political boundaries.
At its two locations in Hamburg and Zeuthen, DESY is involved in a number of major facilities that are no longer supported by one country alone, but are implemented as international projects. For example, DESY is participating in the experiments at the LHC and computer centres are being built on the DESY campus to monitor the data taking and analysis. DESY is also playing a major role in the next future-oriented project in particle physics, the design study for the International Linear Collider, especially in the fields of accelerator and detector technology.
DESY researchers at the Zeuthen location are also active in astroparticle physics, in projects that include the international neutrino telescope IceCube at the South Pole and the development work for a future gamma-ray telescope facility, the Cherenkov Telescope Array CTA. With these two projects, the researchers are taking advantage of the fastest and most reliable messengers from the far reaches of the cosmos – high-energy neutrinos and gamma radiation – to investigate the early stages of the universe.
Cooperations for outstanding research
Originally founded as a centre for basic research, DESY has long since been influencing many application areas that are central to our modern society, and cooperating with industry and economy to further innovations. To this end, new centres of excellence are being set up on the DESY campus. One of them is the “Center for Free-Electron Laser Science” (CFEL), a novel cooperation between DESY, the Max Planck Society (MPG) and the University of Hamburg, aimed at investigating the potential of the new free-electron lasers. The “Centre for Structural Systems Biology” (CSSB) is an interdisciplinary centre for research into infectious diseases, set up by partners from various universities and research institutions in northern Germany.
Another important challenge for the future of our society is the promotion of young scientists, an activity in which DESY engages intensely in cooperation with universities. One example is the “Partnership for Innovation, Education and Research” (PIER), a collaboration with the University of Hamburg. Concentrating on four ground-breaking research fields, PIER aims to support young scientists, initiate joint research projects and simplify academic appointment procedures, in order to make Hamburg an even more attractive location for research.
- A research centre of the Helmholtz Association
- A publicly funded national research centre
- Established in Hamburg on 18 December 1959
- Locations: Hamburg and Zeuthen (Brandenburg)
- Budget: 192 million euro (Hamburg: 173 million; Zeuthen: 19 million)
- Financing: 90% on the national level (German Federal Ministry of Education and Research); 10% on the state level (City of Hamburg and Federal State of Brandenburg)
- Employees: approximately 2000, including 650 scientists working in the fields of accelerator operation, research and development
- Guest scientists: more than 3000 from over 40 countries each year
- Training: more than 100 young people in commercial and technical vocations
- Young scientists: more than 700 diploma students, doctoral candidates and postdocs