User Community Consultation


STFC has launched the draft science case, led by Professor Jon Marangos (Imperial College), for a UK based X-ray Free Electron Laser (UK-XFEL). This document forms the basis of a consultation with the scientific community that will close on 15th September 2020. 

The science case can be downloaded in Full, or just the Executive Summary.

The science case seeks to address:

·        Over the coming decades how will the technological and scientific opportunities enabled by XFELs develop?

·        What specific impact might there be from a UK machine aimed at offering new capabilities and adding to the capacity available internationally.

STFC, Prof Marangos and the Science Team are actively soliciting feedback, prior to undergoing formal independent review later this year. Please send any comments or thoughts to

STFC will also be hosting a series of live, discipline specific Webinars between July and mid-September where relevant members of the Science Team will present the key scientific, industrial and innovation opportunities. They will be 90 mins long (45 min presentation; 45 min Q&A), recorded and available afterwards here. Dates for the first four and links:

SubjectDateTimeLive Webinar Link / Recording
Science Case Overview23 July2 pm
Life Sciences28 July2 pm
Chemical and Material Sciences30 July2 pm
Physical and Extreme Conditions5 August2 pm

The United Kingdom officially joins European XFEL

Today, the UK joined European XFEL as the research organization’s twelfth member state. In a ceremony at the British Embassy in Berlin, representatives of the UK government and the other contract parties including the German federal government signed the documents to join the European XFEL Convention. The UK’s contribution will amount to 26 million Euro, or about 2% of the total construction budget of 1.22 billion Euro (both in 2005 prices) and an annual contribution of about 2 % to the operation budget. The UK will be represented in European XFEL by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) as shareholder.

see the European XFEL press announcement:

see also the BBC News announcement “XFEL: UK signs up to super X-ray laser machine”:

Workshop on Physical Science with FELs – Synergies with Diamond and RAL 8-9 Jan. 2018, Diamond Light Source

A joint Diamond-STFC workshop will be held at Diamond on Mon. 8th and Tue. 9th January 2018 (noon to noon) to discuss how Diamond and RAL can support or facilitate FEL research in the physical sciences. The meeting will provide a platform for discussing the formation of a Physical Science FEL centre/hub, and how FEL-Diamond/RAL synergies can be exploited to support UK FEL scientists.

See here for more details.

2017 Accelerator Strategic Review

STFC is currently undertaking a strategic review of its Accelerator Programme.

Accelerator science is integral to STFC’s mission, and serves to underpin the organisation’s functions. A strategic approach is required to ensure that the UK maintains its international position in accelerator science, and to position it to take timely decisions and influence investment both in the UK and internationally. The 2017 Accelerator Strategic Review aims to provide an understanding of where future investment and resource should be targeted, taking into account the enabling technologies and synergies.

One of the themes of the review is Light Sources, which includes FELs.

Details of the review and how to input into the development of the roadmaps (deadline of 2 August 2017) or can be found here.

China Develops World's Brightest VUV Free Electron Laser Research Facility

A team of Chinese scientists announced on Jan. 15 that they have developed a new bright VUV FEL light source, the Dalian Coherent Light Source (DCLS), which can deliver world’s brightest FEL light in an energy range from 8 to 24 eV, making it unique of the same kind that only operates in the VUV region.

First Call for Proposals for Early User Experiments at the Femtosecond X-Ray Experiment (FXE) and Single Particles, Clusters, and Biomolecules & Serial Femtosecond Crystallography (SPB/SFX) Instruments at the European XFEL

The European X-Ray Free-Electron Laser Facility (European XFEL) is expecting to see first X-ray FEL light in the first half of 2017 and plans to start the Early User Experiment programme shortly thereafter.

For more information about the call and Early User experiment conditions, please refer to:

DEADLINE: Monday, 20 March 2017 inclusive (UTC+01:00)

European XFEL starts commissioning of the world’s largest X-ray laser

“European XFEL, a large international research facility with eleven European member countries, has begun the commissioning of the 3.4-km long underground X-ray laser. …. The commissioning will take place over the following next few months. External scientists will be able to perform experiments at the facility for the first time in summer 2017.”



Free Electron Laser Strategic Review published by STFC (Aug. 31st 2016)

“Recognising the importance of Free Electron Lasers (FELs) for the UK science community, STFC commissioned a strategic review of FEL science and facility access.

The purpose of the strategic review is to guide STFC’s planning over the next five years. It gives clear guidance on the importance of FELs, how the user community should grow and the need for a timely decision on the UK building a FEL.

STFC will work with the UK Research Councils to support the growth of the UK FEL user community. The strategic review will inform STFC’s programme planning. The need for pump-priming investment in the basic technology required to develop a FEL will be balanced with the rest of the STFC programme.

STFC will work with Government to secure support and investment for a new large facility in the UK and ensure we are in a position to make a decision to proceed with the development of a FEL facility in 2020.

As with all of STFC’s underpinning research and innovation strategies, the FEL strategic review will contribute to the delivery of STFC’s strategic goals of world-class research, innovation and skills.”

Download the report from:

The views of the UK FEL User Community on how to proceed following the publication of the strategy are welcomed – please use the Forum page to post a comment.