A handout picture taken on August 30, 2017 by the European XFEL shows the tunnel system of the European XFEL X-ray Free Electron laser at the XFEL facility near Hamburg, northern Germany. "AFP PHOTO / European XFEL/ HEINER MULLER ELSNER"
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A sleek, subterranean X-ray laser to be unveiled Friday in Germany, by far the most powerful in the world, has scientists in a dozen fields jostling to train its mighty beam on their projects.Its centerpiece is the world's longest – 1.7 kilometers – superconducting linear accelerator, designed to provide the energy needed to generate X-ray flashes a billion times brighter than the best conventional radiation sources.For X-ray lasers, brilliance is measured in the number of photons – subatomic light particles with no electric charge that move at the speed of light – generated at a certain radiation wavelength, from high-energy gamma and X-rays, to low-energy infrared and radio waves.In the process, each individual electron emits X-ray radiation that becomes more and more amplified.Existing members include Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.First developed in 1977, free-electron lasers – meaning that the electrons have been separated from the nucleus of their atoms – produced a high-energy beam of electrons.
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