During the week of Midsummer, Sweden will inaugurate its largest investment in research ever made – MAX IV Laboratory.
“It has been a long process and it feels amazing that all the electrons and light are now working”, says Pro Vice-Chancellor Stacey Ristinmaa Sörensen, responsible for the University’s infrastructure and Professor of Synchrotron Radiation Physics.
She says it has been a huge challenge getting all the pieces together, and that there has been tremendous support from the entire country. She is very much looking forward to the inauguration of MAX IV Laboratory and finds it both enjoyable and natural that the Swedish Prime Minister as well as the King of Sweden will be in attendance, given that the laboratory is a national facility.
“We are proud to host MAX IV and proud of its employees and management”, says Stacey Ristinmaa Sörensen who has worked extensively with synchrotron radiation in her own research, as well as pursued the development of the laboratory in several working groups.
When she talks about all the people involved in the process, they include funders, such as the Wallenberg Foundation, research councils such as Vinnova, and other higher education institutions, municipalities and regional bodies.
“It hasn’t been entirely painless, but it was important that we all took the same direction”, says Stacey Ristinmaa Sörensen.
A year ago, the actual building was inaugurated with its linear accelerators, storage rings, offices and outdoor areas. Construction started in 2010 and it has received several prizes and awards for being environmentally friendly and sustainable, among other things. About 200 people work at the facility, and when it is fully operational it will be able to receive about 2,000 researchers a year.
Two beamlines will be operational by the time of the inauguration (NANOMAX and BioMAX) and a further three experimental stations will be connected to the large ring in the autumn, and one to the linear accelerator. On completion, MAX IV will have 25 beamlines.
“The installation of the new beamlines on the large storage ring is currently underway, and the next step will be to start up the small ring to which some of the existing equipment will be connected”, says Stacey Ristinmaa Sörensen.
People have high hopes for MAX IV Laboratory as the accelerators and construction costs alone have amounted to SEK 3 billion. Stacey Ristinmaa Sörensen is expecting to see at least the same amount of creativity from the users as was demonstrated by the people who built the synchrotron radiation facility.
“It is important to remember, however, that this concerns basic research. It’s not as if the researchers at the laboratory will find solutions to a bunch of practical problems, but rather insights and new models that could lead to such solutions eventually – or not…”, she says.
In terms of basic research that truly resulted in something, she brings up the example of the discovery of the laser – initially, researchers didn’t know what it could be used for, but today it seems irreplaceable in everything from bar codes on commercial products to advanced medical procedures.
People also expect to see many great synergies between MAX IV and ESS once the latter has been completed around 2020: Two large facilities side by side focusing on materials research.
“However, ESS is a European facility and we are not part of their decision-making processes. But we obviously hope that MAX IV will lay the groundwork for something that ESS can later become involved in”, says Stacey Ristinmaa Sörensen.
Text: Maria Lindh
FACTS about the inauguration
On 18–19 June the MAX IV facility will be open to the public (registration needed). And on 21 June the laboratory will be inaugurated by Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven in the presence of the King of Sweden. The inauguration ceremony will be streamed, available at https://www.maxiv.lu.se.
On the same day there will be a research symposium at the main University building on the theme “Innovative Infrastructure or Infrastructure for Innovation”
FACTS about the rings at MAX IV
The laboratory contains two storage rings: a larger one with a circumference of 528 metres (3 GeV in electron energy), and a smaller one with a circumference of 96 metres (1.5 GeV in electron energy). The injection of electrons into the storage rings is performed through a 300 meter long linear accelerator.