Start-up growth with funding from IFB Hamburg
Customized X-rays for research and development
The start-up TXproducts, founded in April 2021 on the DESY campus in Hamburg, receives funding from Investitions- und Förderbank Hamburg (ifb). TX stands for "Tailored X-Ray," and the team is developing solutions for customizing synchrotron X-rays for experiments at large-scale research facilities. "We make the best microscopes in the world even better" is the motto of the young company. It is led by Peter Gaal, who heads the X-ray optics working group at the Leibniz Institute for Crystal Growth (IKZ) in Berlin, and his former doctoral student Daniel Schmidt, a specialist in nanoresearch and temporally high-resolution X-ray and laser technology.
The two have developed a small device based on piezoelectric crystals - these are crystals that generate electrical voltage when deformed and are used, for example, in cell phones or also sensors, e.g. for detecting viruses. The development of the required crystals is the result of the company's close collaboration with the IKZ. This device can make research at large X-ray light sources such as DESY's Petra III much more efficient. No larger than half a shoebox, it can be interposed quite easily in the various experimental stations, the beamlines, allowing researchers to adapt the time structure of the X-ray beam to their particular experiment. They can thus variably determine how their material sample is exposed, for example to film it while a chemical reaction is taking place.
The start-up is now renting space in the middle of DESY's campus, in the DESY Innovation Village. This building houses the innovation and pre-startup projects, as well as absolute startups. The location offers TXproducts several advantages: "We need the proximity to a synchrotron radiation source," says Peter Gaal. "At PETRA III, there are beamlines that want our product and will help us develop it." In addition, he says, he and Schmidt can exchange ideas with other founders on the campus and find suitable new employees, as well as receive help from the DESY Start-up Office in business matters. "Our campus offers young high-tech start-ups a rich ecosystem in which they can grow and develop their products. In addition, the connection to one of the most brilliant synchrotron radiation sources in the world, PETRA III, is important for a start-up like TXproducts," says Arik Willner, Chief Technology Officer at DESY. The IKZ also recently established a presence on campus through a JointLab with DESY. "The location offers ideal conditions for transferring our research results, e.g. in the field of new X-ray optics," explains Thomas Schröder, director of the IKZ.
TXproducts is already working on more products. Their current switching device, "WaveGate", for which they are now developing a demonstrator, can adjust the pulse frequency of an X-ray beam or cast individual pulses onto the sample in isolation. "Light travels a distance seven times around the equator in one second," explains Daniel Schmidt. "WaveGate can turn the X-ray beam on and off so quickly that the light travels only 30 meters in that time." The next switch the researchers are working on, the "PicoSwitch," goes even further: in this analogy, it switches the X-ray beam on and off within the width of a pin, allowing light to pass for only five to ten picoseconds (trillionths of a second). This allows researchers to study processes that are faster than the length of the X-ray pulses. The young company reflects the need for advances with state-of-the-art research with X-rays or laser radiation. The founders have already been able to acquire funding from Investitions- und Förderbank Hamburg (IFB) for the start-up phase of the company.
More information: http://www.txproducts.de/