In a milestone for high energy density physics, a new beamline at the European X-Ray Laser (XFEL), was officially opened yesterday, 31 August 2021. Oxford's Department of Physics is one of the major contributors to the beamline, and Professor Justin Wark, Director of OxCHEDS, represented the UK academic community at the inauguration ceremony in Hamburg.
The new facility will allow matter at pressures greater than those at the centre of the earth to be created ten times per second, and its structure probed with the x-ray laser. The matter is compressed via ablation, with a powerful laser creating plasmas on the surface of small samples to compress them to high densities. The laser was built by the UK Central Laser Facility at the Rutherford Laboratory, with a grant held by Professor Wark.
Christian Luft, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Minister of Science of Schleswig-Holstein, Karin Prien, and the State Secretary for Science, Research, Equalities and District Authority of the Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg, Dr. Eva Gümbel, were all present at the inauguration of the Helmholtz International Beamline for Extreme Fields (HIBEF).
Professor Wark commented: 'We are very happy to be part of the HIBEF consortium, and it has been a real pleasure collaborating with HZDR and the European XFEL to help enable this new experimental facility for high energy density science. The unique opportunities this project provides will allow us to explore states of matter relevant to our own planet, as well as creating and probing matter under conditions that only exist elsewhere in the Universe. I greatly look forward to the exciting new science that this new capability will enable.'