Inauguration of the PETRA III extension buildings

Address by Dr. Georg Schütte, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, on the Occasion in Hamburg

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Minister Vardhan,
Mayor Scholz,
Professor Yonath,
Professor Dosch,
Esteemed members of the Ewald family,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

PETRA III is known as the world’s “most brilliant” X-ray source – and not only to experts. In the realm of physics, “brilliance” is a clearly defined concept which measures the number of photons emitted per unit of time, per bandwidth and per unit of the beam in relation to the angular divergence of the beam. In short: Brilliance measures the quality of an X-ray source and thus reflects exactly what we mean when we use the word brilliance in everyday life. So “PETRA III is the most brilliant” means nothing else than that it is “the X-ray source for brilliant research!”

The interest expressed by the scientific community has exceeded all our expectations: the high demand for beamtime has resulted in overbooking of the facility’s capacities. One reason for this is the broad scientific spectrum covered by PETRA III, attracting not only physicists, but also chemists, molecular biologists, physicians, material scientists and researchers from many other disciplines.

That is why the Federal Ministry of Education and Research has invested more than 50 million euros in the extension of PETRA III over the past three years. The two new buildings, which we are inaugurating today, accommodate ten newly built measuring stations. Their funding is a real investment in the future!

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The prerequisite for innovation is strong basic research. Germany is committed to making basic research a permanent part of its research policy – also and especially in an era where stakeholders around the globe are focusing increasingly on application-oriented research.

The Ministry’s funding for the extension of PETRA III is only one example of this commitment. The Federal Research Ministry provides considerable funding for basic research in the natural sciences here in Hamburg. We will also be celebrating the opening of the European X-ray laser facility (or XFEL for short) together with the city of Hamburg, the state of Schleswig-Holstein and our international partners in 2017. The European XFEL is just another infrastructure of superlatives which will extend from the electron injector here at the Bahrenfeld campus to the experimental halls in Schenefeld in Schleswig-Holstein. We will have invested almost one billion euros in its completion by the end of next year.

Our research policy is forward-looking and thus an expression of our research strategy. Large infrastructures such as the European XFEL and PETRA III give birth to the ideas which will – in turn and often decades down the road – lead to the development of new consumer products that will then be manufactured in Germany and in our partner countries, creating jobs and increasing prosperity. Basic research requires staying power – this is true for the researchers in the laboratories as well as for our research policy which creates the environment for these developments. The Federal Research Ministry provides triple-digit billion euro amounts every year to fund the construction of large global research infrastructures such as the European XFEL, the FAIR accelerator facility, the European Spallation Source ESS, or as you can see here today the extension of PETRA III.

German research policy is not only focused on the implementation of national research projects. It also promotes European and international cooperation because science and research can only be successful in a European or global context. Many of the more than 3,000 researchers from over 40 countries who come here to work at DESY every year will be very keen to make use of the new research facilities provided by PETRA III. I am particularly delighted that three new beamlines are being created as fruits of the many years of close science cooperation with Russia, Sweden and India.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We will shortly be holding a ceremony to name the two new experimental halls, as tradition has it here at DESY.

It is my great pleasure to welcome Professor Ada Yonath among us today. She is lending her name to the eastern hall, or Halle Ost.

Professor Yonath,

For many years now, you have been closely linked to the DESY facility through your research in the field of structural biology. You headed a Max Planck working group here at DESY from 1986 to 2004. At the same time, you were also the head of the Center for Structural Biology at the Weizman Institute. At DESY, you worked on X-ray structural analysis of organic samples. In 2009, you received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome”. In your humility and humbleness, you have never agreed to have a building or award named in your honour. How Helmut Dosch was able to persuade you to make an exception this time, I do not know. But I am very grateful that you did break your own rule for DESY and I would like to thank you for your attachment to Germany in the many years of your work, in which you have also been a regular participant at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.

The northern hall will be named in honour of the late Paul P. Ewald, the theoretical physicist who was a pioneer in the field of X-ray diffraction. He formulated the theory of X-ray interference in crystals, thus laying the foundation for the development of modern-day X-ray structural analysis. I am particularly delighted to welcome Paul P. Ewald’s two grand-sons, John Paul Davidson and Benjamin Ewald, and their families who have joined us here today.

The naming of the two new halls could hardly be more fitting. On the one hand, their designation emphasizes the physics at the root of the experiments, while on the other it connects these foundations to state-of-the-art research characterized by the interdisciplinary user community of large research infrastructures like PETRA III.

Professor Dosch,

Please allow me to acknowledge the role you and your staff played in the exemplary development of DESY which in fact owes a great deal to the success of PETRA III. I would like to thank you particularly for your continued commitment to striving for interdisciplinary cooperation at the DESY campus. I firmly believe that strategic decisions such as the foundation of the Centre for Structural Systems Biology (CSSB) in the immediate vicinity of PETRA III will pay off in the future.

Distinguished members of staff,

I wish you all the best for your future research work at PETRA III and hope you will continue the successful scientific work of Ada Yonath and Paul Ewald. May you be guided by creativity, patience and perseverance in your work here at the Ada Yonath Hall and the Paul Ewald Hall – and last but not least, I wish you a pinch of luck!

Thank you very much.