DESY Research Center – Helmholtz Gemeinschaft


Deutsches Elektronen- Synchrotron also known as DESY is a national research center founded in 1959 in Hamburg, Germany, that operates a particle accelerator to investigate structure of matter. DESY is currently funded by the German Federal State. DESY conducts research in 3 main areas: particle and high energy physics, photon science, and the development, construction, and operation of particle accelerators. DESY hosts more than 3000 guest researchers from over 40 countries every year. The research center also offers specialized training for a large number of professions and also works with industries and businesses to promote new technologies in the area.

When first arriving to DESY, the group was brought into the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science. First we observed a presentation that gave the group basic knowledge of physics and chemistry, then information of some of the work that goes on in the facility. Some information presented to the group included the Structure, Dynamics and Control of Matter at the atomic scale, Ultrafast Processes and Imaging, Dynamics of proteins, and some of the research programs going on at this time at DESY.


After the presentation we were then moved to another building to meet up with the man who would be giving us a tour of one of the facilities. The man who was giving us the tour was very young but very knowledgeable in what he was showing us. We walked over together and entered the building and were brought down underground to where the machines were. We viewed and were told the basics of a few of the machines kept there including: a Funkenkammer which is a spark chamber, massive magnets, and huge coils. One of the machines I thought was really interesting was the Hera-B Detektor. In a Hera-B experiment protons collide with a fixed target and B-Mesons are produced. The decay of the mesons allows the scientists to come to conclusions of why our universe consists of only matter and not antimatter. However the highlight of the DESY company visit was seeing the particle accelerator, in German “der Teilchenbeschleuniger.” The particle accelerator was located in this huge tunnel. The proton accelerator was the larger accelerator which he explained was because the proton needs a bigger magnet because it is bigger than the electron in size. DESY has the second highest Helium supply in world because it is used in the proton and electron accelerators. Originally by accelerating and colliding charged particles at extremely high energies scientists used particle accelerators to for investigating the fundamental laws of nature, but now scientists are using them for much bigger ideas. Particle accelerators are now used for industrial processes and for uses relevant to society. Some of the most noteworthy applications include: electronics, medical diagnosis, treatment of cancer, monitoring air pollution and climate change, and dating works of art. Scientists are now working on using particle accelerators for research and the development of alternate energy sources.

– Alison Otto

ali4             ali5ali6

View from above of the machines located underground.






Particle accelerator, proton accelerator above, electron accelerator below.

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