UK signs European agreement to use powerful laser to develop future medicine

X-Ray Free-Electron Laser

The UK has signed the European X-Ray Free-Electron Laser (XFEL) convention in Berlin, Germany and will work with other countries to create new medical treatments through the use of a powerful laser

The X-Ray Free-Electron Laser will act as a microscope to help scientists better understand deadly viruses. By using intensely bright and short duration X-ray flashes, scientists will be able to map the atomic details of deadly viruses. The laser also allows scientists to look in greater detail to the composition of cells, take 3D images of atoms and molecules and study processes such as those occurring deep inside planets.

The UK is amongst France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland to sign the agreement.

The agreement reinforces the government’s ambition to remain at the forefront of scientific discoveries. The UK hopes the decision will maintain our position of being a world-leader in science, research and innovation.

Science Minister Sam Gyimah said:

“The incredible XFEL will help us better understand life threatening diseases by using one of the world’s most powerful X-ray machines. Working with our international partners, the super-strength laser will help develop new medical treatments and therapies, potentially saving thousands of lives across the world.

Through our modern Industrial Strategy we are investing an extra £4.7 billion into research and development. I am determined that we continue to secure our position as being a world-leader in science, research and innovation and I can’t wait to see the results that come from our participation in this extraordinary project.”

Since 2008, the UK has invested over £30 million towards the construction of the X-Ray Free-Electron laser and has plans to continue contributions of £2.5 million towards operation costs going forward.


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