Industrial beamtime at PETRA III

Case Studies

DESY offers industrial companies a wide range of opportunities to use its extensive research infrastructure.

Companies that need synchrotron radiation for their own research and development, for example to study materials or active substances at the atomic level or to optimise manufacturing processes, often need a large-scale research facility for this purpose that they do not have themselves. DESY offers these industrial users access to its X-ray radiation source PETRA III.

In recent years, companies from the pharmaceutical, chemical, automotive and electrical industries as well as from the aerospace industry have carried out measurements at PETRA III. Some sucess stories of how high-energy X-ray light provides clues to deciphering the smallest structures can be found here.

Measurements at PETRA III

From biotechnology and aerospace to material science: at PETRA III, measurements can be carried out in a wide range of industries and specialist areas.

Life Science, Pharma and Biotech Industry

Companies from life science, pharmaceutical and biotech industries are using the synchrotron light source PETRA III with its state-of-the-art beamlines to identify the structure of proteins at the molecular level and for the development of new drugs. Next to DESY’s own experimental stations, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) operates three beamlines at PETRA III and offers industrial services at its’ Hamburg location. Methods include crystallography, serial crystallography, small angle scattering, powder diffraction and different imaging technologies.

Construction Industry

New materials and a deeper understanding of existing materials are paving the way to shape a sustainable future. There are a variety of analytical methods from which companies in the construction industry can benefit through measurements at the synchrotron. For example, powder diffraction and the pair distribution function method (PDF) were used to produce insights for the production of better cement from biomass ash.

Agriculture and Food Industry

Is it possible to increase the nutritional value of food? Through various investigations such as the pore structure in vegetables, the temperature influences on food or the identification of toxic trace elements in rice grains, analyses at the PETRA III synchrotron radiation source provide insights for industrial users from agriculture and the food industry.


Whether for more safety or greater efficiency through weight reduction: in the automotive industry, it is important to comprehensively investigate the materials needed to produce efficient vehicles. This is exactly what the PETRA III synchrotron radiation source at DESY helps with its highly brilliant X-rays. The methods range from powder diffraction to X-ray fluorescence microscopy. For example, the behavior of a material under mechanical load or battery components for the new era of electromobility can be investigated.


In the field of aerospace technology and aircraft construction, insights for better and safer products are crucial. Lighter materials, greater fuel efficiency or better durability of surface coatings: Synchrotron-based analytical methods such as X-ray absorption spectroscopy, X-ray fluorescence microscopy or X-ray diffraction can provide new insights while also allowing materials to be examined under stress for the detection of potential structural damages at an early stage.

Energy Sector

Investigating and understanding new materials and systems for solar cells, fuel cells or batteries are possible with the synchrotron radiation source PETRA III. The brightness and high brilliance of the X-rays offer far better opportunities than other types of X-ray radiation sources and allow insights into the physical properties of the materials used in the energy industry.

Material Science

Material science tries to answer the question how processing history of a material influences its physical properties. Analytical methods at the PETRA III synchrotron radiation source give unique insights into the structure of materials and provide clues to improve product performance, productivity and quality. Techniques useful for industrial research include (tomographic) imaging, small- and wide-angle X-ray scattering and various spectroscopy techniques. The Helmholtz Centre Hereon and the Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm both operate beamlines at PETRA III, which can be used for industrial beamtime.

The Swedish pulp and paper manufacturer BillerudKörsnas is investigating the moisture-induced mechanical failure of paper. At PETRA III, synchrotron X-ray scattering experiments were carried out to observe the so-called mechano-sorptive creep (MSC) mechanism in situ.

Thin films made of polyethylene are a key component of Tetra Pak®'s packaging technology. To study the morphology of polyethylene (PE) films with high-brilliance synchrotron X-rays, Tetra Pak® has carried out measurements at PETRA III.

Renotech OY from Finland converts biomass ash into environmentally friendly cement that can be used in construction and as fire protection material. To better understand the chemical process, a measurement was carried out on beamline P02.1 at PETRA III.

Swedish steel company SSAB Europe and Swerim AB have performed high-resolution X-ray diffraction (XRD) measurements on the Swedish Materials Science Beamline P21 at PETRA III to investigate material failure and induced fractures of stainless steel.

An attempt to understand the effect of hydrogen on the microstructural degradation of advanced stainless steels was made using the Swedish Material Science beamline P21.2 at the synchrotron PETRA III.

Understanding phase transformations in metallic materials is important both for manufacturers of materials and for end users during welding or in operation. At PETRA III, an experiment was conducted in-situ to observe the kinematics of in duplex stainless steels.

Chemicals and Plastics

The chemical industry is looking particularly at making reactions more efficient and reducing potentially harmful substances. Catalysis in particular is an important subject of research. However, heterogeneous and sensitive samples complicate experiments and leave many questions about fundamental chemical and physical mechanisms unanswered. PETRA III offers the possibility to use experimental set-ups in operando via methods of X-ray diffraction and X-ray spectroscopy. In recent studies scientists combined y-ray tomography methods with x-ray fluorescence measurements on catalyst particles to gain unique insights.
Foto Oliver Wendt DESY

Your contact for PETRA III

Are you interested in beamtime at PETRA III? Please contact Oliver Wendt, Manager Innovation Services in the Business Development Office.

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