Facility in Hamburg will help recreate conditions deep inside the sun, unravel ways to make new antibiotics and even create a new form of diamond

The world’s most powerful X-ray laser has begun operating at a facility where scientists will attempt to recreate the conditions deep inside the sun and produce film-like sequences of viruses and cells.

The machine, called the European X-ray Free Electron Laser (XFEL), acts as a high-speed camera that can capture images of individual atoms in a few millionths of a billionth of a second. Unlike a conventional camera, though, everything imaged by the X-ray laser is obliterated – its beam is 100 times more intense than if all the sunlight hitting the Earth’s surface were focused onto a single thumbnail.

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