Scientists say they've reached a milestone on the way to switching on the world's biggest X-ray laser, designed to capture images of structures and processes at the atomic level.
The DESY research center near Hamburg, Germany, said Wednesday it successfully fired electrons through a 2.1 kilometer (1.3 mile) particle accelerator.
It plans to increase the energy of the electrons and generate the first X-ray laser light next month.
Once the European XFEL project begins operation later this year it will produce up to 27,000 X-ray laser flashes per second.
Scientists hope it will open up new areas of research, like mapping the atomic details of viruses and deciphering the molecular composition of cells.