STFC builds advanced x-ray camera to study matter

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) in partnership with the University of Glasgow is developing an advanced X-ray camera with a frame rate of 4.5 million fps for a major research facility that will conduct research on the structure of matter, drug discovery and other research works.

STFC will deliver the X-ray camera to the billion-euro European X-ray Free-Electron Laser (XFEL) in 2012. The two-mile-long facility is being constructed on a site close to Hamburg in Northern Germany and is scheduled for operation in 2015. STFC signed the £3 million prototype partnership deal for building the camera subsequent to the visit made by the Detector Advisory Committee of European XFEL.

The selection of STFC is based on its proven abilities in the design of advanced imaging devices and sophisticated microelectronics such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. The European XFEL facility will utilize the superconducting accelerator technology to speed up electrons for the generation of X-ray flashes with a brightness that is billion times better than those generated by the traditional X-ray sources. The short, powerful X-ray flashes lasting less than a hundred million billionth of a second have the characteristics of a laser light and thus can be used to capture three-dimensional X-ray pictures of single molecules.

SFTC is designing the X-ray camera to work in combination with hyper-brilliant, hyper-short X-ray flashes. The European XFEL will use the camera to study the behavior of matter, analyze the atomic details of viruses and investigate the individual cell’s molecular composition.