DESY and European XFEL scientists win Innovation Award

Gianluca Geloni, Vitali Kocharyan, and Evgeni Saldin will be awarded the Innovation Award on Synchrotron Radiation by the Association of Friends of Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin. Together with Paul Emma from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the physicists from DESY and European XFEL will receive the prize for their invention of a self-seeding option that significantly improves X-ray free-electron lasers.

The four awardees in front of their experiment in the LCLS tunnel (from left: Paul Emma, Evgeni Saldin, Gianluca Geloni, Vitali Kocharyan).

X-ray lasers such as DESY´s Free-Electron Laser in Hamburg(FLASH), European XFEL, and SLAC Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) are the most brilliant light sources in the world. With their ultrashort X-ray pulses, they promise to achieve the direct observation of single molecules, atoms, and even of the development of chemical reactions. In 2010, Geloni, Kocharyan and Saldin devised a new scheme to dramatically improve the already remarkable features of these large machines by placing a special crystal into the path of the radiation. This, they predicted, should improve by one to two orders of magnitude the “longitudinal coherence”, that makes the X-ray pulses much more useful for experiments.

Based on this theoretical scheme, a group led by Paul Emma at LCLS successfully demonstrated in 2012 that the method does, in fact, work.

The award committee decided to highlight the researchers’ decisive role and excellent contribution to the development of X-ray light sources.

The Innovation Award includes a monetary grant of 4000 euro, and is bestowed annually by the Association of Friends of Helmholtz-Centre Berlin (Freundeskreis Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin e.V.) to scientists at European research institutions. This year, the recipients will be distinguished in a special session of the Users’ Meeting of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlinfor Materials and Energy on 13 December.