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nVent SCHROFF Solutions help DESY Scientists Conduct Cutting-Edge Research

Hundreds of scientists at Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY, one of the leading particle accelerator centers, are pioneering new technologies that help humanity answer urgent questions of chemistry, physics and medicine. Previous projects with DESY involvement have led to the mapping of the structure of the influenza virus, increases in the life span of lightbulb filaments, as well as the recent detection of gamma-ray heartbeats coming from a cosmic gas cloud.

One of DESY’s largest and most important projects is the European X-Ray Free-Electron Laser Facility, the European XFEL. The European XFEL is a particle accelerator that generates the world’s strongest and brightest X-ray. Inside a 3.4 kilometer-long tunnel a system of magnets and vacuums accelerates electrons almost to the speed of light to create intense X-ray laser flashes. Those flashes can create images of atomic processes taking place in a fraction of a second. The facility is relatively new, but already scientists in medicine, chemistry, physics, materials science, nanotechnology, electrical energy technology and electronics are putting the machine to use.

A Collaborative Effort

Collaborating with several groups of researchers and engineers from multiple international organizations, DESY and the nVent SCHROFF Engineering team developed the specifications for a new standard: MicroTCA.4. MTCA.4 offers the performance and reliability required of precise machines like the European XFEL.

An Environment of Precision

The system of computers and electronics that run the accelerator must work at peak efficiency and with precise timing given the massive amount of data that these machines collect—time stamps down to a fraction of a second on each data point are critical in organizing experiment results.

nVent SCHROFF MTCA.4 is equipped with extremely fast data connections that allow data points to be read in real time, many operations within the machine take place in less than a billionth of a second, allowing for precise data capture.

Reliable Performance

Every day, groups of scientists from across the globe rotate through the facility on shifts using the European XFEL accelerator to conduct their research, so the equipment is running 24/7.  Many of the essential pieces of the MTCA.4 are redundant, meaning that if one stops working a backup is available.  Additionally, MTCA.4 has remote management capabilities; all functions inside the MTCA.4 system are monitored from remote computers and many actions can be taken remotely. Finally, nVent MTCA.4 is shielded against radiation and heat which could damage fragile computer components. 

“The European XFEL completely relied on MTCA.4 from the beginning,” said Kay Rehlich, DESY engineer. “Since it was running right from the beginning, nobody can believe how fast it was operating and how smooth. The stuff we got from SCHROFF is simply working, I cannot remember a single crate failing in the facility.”

With the European XFEL running smoothly and reliably, scientists are able to maximize their time at the facility and focus on finding cures for diseases, inventing new technologies and furthering humanity’s understanding of our universe.