20. March 2014

Interactive media table on SwissFEL


In 2016, SwissFEL at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI will go on-line. In the visitors` centre psi forum, the new large research facility can already be explored today. An interactive media table will accompany SwissFEL from the construction phase, through commissioning, up to regular operation.

What is SwissFEL? How does it work? What can be explored with it? What particularities must be borne in mind during its construction? How can it be harmoniously integrated into its sensitive location in the forest? 4 x 1.8 metres are the dimensions of the new media table. Since March, it has welcomed visitors to the psi forum who have come to find answers for themselves to these and other questions about the new large research facility of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI.

Discover SwissFEL for yourself

The media table seeks to awaken curiosity and encourage interaction. Questions about the integration of SwissFEL into its environment and the landscaping around the facility are hidden behind “nature flaps” which only reveal their answers in image, text and sound after they have been opened. Webcams have been integrated into the information about construction, and they provide live coverage of what’s happening at any given moment on the construction site. The future research opportunities and application areas that will be possible with SwissFEL are presented in a fictitious media show. Showcases display authentic components of the future facility. When it comes to explaining the facility technology, the visitors themselves take on an active role. With the help of a slider, they can gain insight into electron acceleration in the linear accelerator or depict the formation of SwissFEL x-ray light using a flip image.

The highlight is a 3-D-model of the facility, on a scale of 1:400, in the middle of the media table that is integrated into a plan of the surrounding area. By pressing a button, the model opens to offer a glimpse inside the facility. The model laser starts automatically and demonstrates how SwissFEL accelerates electrons and causes them to generate the pulses of x-ray light which make research possible with an unprecedented degree of precision.

A legend is provided at the table for the purposes of orientation and locating SwissFEL in its surroundings. A short film provides an overview of the location, operating mode and future application opportunities.

The interactive media table will accompany SwissFEL from the construction phase, through commissioning, up to regular operation. Its configuration is, therefore, constantly being updated.

About the psi forum

For 15 years, the visitors’ centre psi forum of the Paul Scherrer Institute has given interested members of the public insight into the world of science. More than 20 interactive exhibits and a 3D cinema provide information on the various PSI research areas. Besides the interactive media table, the psi forum also shows the 3-D film on SwissFEL “Einmal Weltall und zurück” (To Outer Space and Back).

About SwissFEL

SwissFEL, the x-ray free electron laser, is currently being constructed in the direct vicinity of PSI in the Würenlinger Unterwald forest. The new large research facility of PSI extends over a length of just under 740 metres. To ensure the best possible integration of SwissFEL into its surroundings, an interdisciplinary expert team has spent 2 years fine-tuning the concept. SwissFEL will enable researchers to monitor extremely fast processes such as the creation of new molecules in chemical reactions, to determine the detailed structure of vital proteins or to elucidate the exact structure of materials. It is scheduled to go on-line in 2016.

Text: Paul Scherrer Institute/Martina Gröschl