Extra boost for physics in Hamburg

DESY participates in the new cluster of excellence “Hamburg Centre for Ultrafast Imaging“

Physics in Hamburg achieved a major success in the excellence initiative of the federal and state governments: as from November 2012, funds will be granted to the “Hamburg Centre for Ultrafast Imaging“ (CUI), a new physics and chemistry research cluster which will study the movements of atoms in real-time. The University of Hamburg submitted this project proposal which was developed in cooperation with DESY, CFEL and the European XFEL GmbH. In July, the German Research Foundation (DFG) will publish the exact amount of funding.

World´s first free-electron laser for soft X-rays FLASH will be a key element in science of the new cluster of excellence.

In Northern Germany, the world’s elite of nanostructure researchers is currently gathering around the new free-electron lasers FLASH and European XFEL.  “We have the potential to become the Hollywood of the nanoworld,” said Prof. Helmut Dosch, Chairman of the DESY Board of Directors. “With FLASH and the European XFEL, we will make movies of the nanocosmos, but with smaller facilities as REGAE, we will also be able to trace the fastest molecular processes.”

Research in the cluster „Hamburg Centre for Ultrafast Imaging – Structure Dynamics and Control of Matter at the Atomic Scale“ (CUI) will focus on the real-time observation of atomic movements, e.g. in chemical reactions. The central aim of the cluster is to investigate and understand in detail the dynamics of fundamental physical and chemical processes at all relevant length and energy scales, thus being able to specifically and precisely monitor them. The observation of atomic movements is made possible with the development of extremely brilliant electron and X-ray sources. The participating scientists already occupy a leading international position in that field.

Prof. Dwayne Miller (CFEL), one of the three spokespersons of the cluster: “The funds of the excellence initiative open up new possibilities and opportunities. To see atoms in action at physical, chemical and biological processes is the ultimate dream of any natural scientist. Beginning with the most elementary processes of electron excitation in the attosecond range (1 attosecond is one quintillionth of a second), the research programme includes among other things the investigation of structure and dynamics of protein molecules, the formation of crystals and the order formation of collective electron systems which manifest either in form of magnetism or superconductivity.”

The excellence initiative was initiated by the federal and state governments to strengthen top-level university research in Germany. As from November 2012, the current second funding round will be funded with 2.5 billion euros; 75 per cent financed by the federal government and 25 per cent by the corresponding states.