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X-Ray Imaging with Synchrotron Radiation

We make the invisible visible – for materials science, for life science and for fundamental science related research.


The department "X-ray Imaging with Synchrotron Radiation" operates the GEMS instruments Nanofocus Endstation at the beamline P03 and IBL at the beamline P05 of the synchrotron source PETRA III at DESY in Hamburg. GEMS


The focus of the department „X-ray imaging with synchrotron radiation” is set around materials science related research, both on the scientific and applied level, according to the topics set in the Helmholtz research programme "From Matter to Materials and Life" (MML). Our strong commitment to materials science related research implies also a close interaction with the Helmholtz research programme "Advanced Engineering Materials" (AEM).

We investigate the structure and the structure-function-relationship of novel synthetic as well as biological materials. In order to achieve this task we employ high resolution X-ray imaging techniques and operate a complex research infrastructure at the world’s largest synchrotron radiation source PETRA III, for which we maintain a dedicated outstation at DESY in Hamburg. Our entire research infrastructure is also made available to external users from academia and industry within an extended user programme.

The use of synchrotron radiation for X-ray imaging not only allows generating data in a quality and resolution not attainable at conventional laboratory sources. It also facilitates the implementation of so called “in situ techniques”. Driven by the scientific challenges set by the Helmholtz research programmes as well as by the research projects of external users we constantly implement new process parameters into our imaging techniques and make them available to be modified in situ, i.e. while X-ray data is being recorded. This way, we can monitor e.g. corrosion processes, the response of materials to mechanical load or high temperatures in real time.

All these techniques, whether used by us or provided to our users, are part of the GEMS-Platform , a worldwide unique infrastructure of large-scale research facilities and a suite of techniques tailored precisely to the demands of materials research.