XFEL site visit with Ahmed Zewail

12 July, 2015

FEMTO12 participant Ahmed visits the construction site of the European XFEL.

Jochen Küpper, Ahmed Zewail, Massimo Altarelli, Thomas Tschentscher, Bernd Ebeling in front of the XFEL site. (Photo: Dema Faham/Bernd Ebeling)

For Egyptian-born U.S.-based chemist and physicist Prof. Dr. Ahmed Zewail, the visit on Sunday was a chance to see one of the next big steps in the progression of his most celebrated work. Zewail was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1999 for his foundation work on femtochemistry, a field of chemistry that develops and uses ultrafast lasers as tools to unravel the dynamics of chemical reactions through the recording of so-called “molecular movies”. The processes that Zewail devised are used to make visible chemical interactions that happen almost instantaneously. The European XFEL is expected to open new opportunities in this area with several instruments that will take studies of ultrafast processes to new heights. During his tour of the Schenefeld site and the experiment hall, Zewail asked many questions about the future facility and commented: “This is a very impressive undertaking, and it must be done for the sake of humanity and the future. We don’t know what will come out, but for sure much will come out to serve our society.”

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