In this interview filmed in FLASH's vast experimental hall, Weckert describes some of the laser's greatest accomplishments, including how it was used to make aluminium momentarily transparent to light. FLASH has become so popular with scientists that DESY has to turn down a significant number of beam-time requests. But photon scientists mustn't despair, according to Weckert, because plans are well under way for FLASH II, which will double the capacity of the existing facility.

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FREE TO DOWNLOAD (until March 2011)
Intense X-ray science: the first 5 years of FLASH
Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics

High speed camera for the nanoworld

How do you convert a major particle physics lab into a leading centre for materials science, chemistry and biology? That was the leading question confronting Helmut Dosch when he was appointed director of DESY in 2009 – the first condensed-matter physicist ever to hold that post.

In this next clip, Dosch explains why DESY, which is located in Hamburg, Germany, is making the transition from colliding particles to developing world-class "photon science" facilities that are used by scientists across a wide range of disciplines.

Dosch talks about the key role that the lab is playing in building the €1.2 billion European X-ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL), which Dosch describes as "a high-speed camera for the nanoworld". At the heart of the laser is an electron accelerator that will run 3.4 km from DESY to an experimental hall on the outskirts of Hamburg.

The European XFEL uses superconducting cavity technology that was developed at DESY – and the same technology is now being used in preliminary designs for the International Linear Collider (ILC). The ILC will be the next big thing in particle physics after CERN's Large Hadron Collider, and Dosch explains how DESY's involvement in the project will keep the lab at the cutting edge of accelerator technology.

While he admits that it's unlikely that the ILC will be built in Hamburg, there are plenty of options for boosting DESY's photon-science capability. One discussed by Dosch is the possible conversion of the dormant HERA accelerator ring into a light source.