Today was one of those work days that makes working at the European XFEL fun, despite all challenges and frustrations. Around lunchtime, I found myself standing in one of the photon tunnels of the facility.
We were giving a tour of our biggest construction site to external visitors. I was thoroughly distracted from my growling stomach.
As the name says: when the facility starts operating in a few years, this is the tunnel one of the photon beams will run through. When you look closely, you can see that every piece of concrete wall material is connected via a little metal bit to every other piece of wall. This is to turn the entire tunnel wall into a Faraday cage, to prevent any electromagnetic contamination of the outside that could be caused by the extremely high energy beam. I should mention that all tunnels are at a depth of 6 bis 38 meters below the surface.
The tunnel boring progress is updated frequently on our website. If you’re seriously interested in the tunneling itself (it really is cool stuff), there’s an interesting short film at the bottom of the German part of the site – this is because the information is primarily aimed at the neighbours surrounding (and living above) the construction area.
Turning around and heading back into the future Experimental Hall of the facility, we almost got squished by a flying backhoe.
Well, not quite.