ForMAX beamline is now open for experiments

ForMAX, the newest beamline at MAX IV, is now officially open for experiments. The focus will be research on new, sustainable materials from the forest, but the beamline will also be useful for research in many other fields and industries, including food, textiles, and life science.

ForMAX is specially designed for advanced studies on wood-based materials. It allows in-situ multiscale structural characterization from nm to mm length scales by combining full-field tomographic imaging, small- and wide-angle X-ray scattering (SWAXS), and scanning SWAXS imaging – in a single instrument.

The beamline is an initiative where several market-leading industry companies, mainly from the paper and pulp industry, and academia have joined forces. The construction work has been funded by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, and the operational costs are funded by the industry through Treesearch, a national collaborative platform for academic and industrial research in new materials from the forest.

One goal with ForMAX is to facilitate the development of new, wood-based products that can replace today’s plastic products.

Read more on the MAX IV website

Image: ForMAX beamline

Credit: Anna Sandahl, MAX IV

Creating tastier vegan cheese using synchrotron X-rays

The quest for tastier, more sustainable vegan cheese has led Swedish food company Cassius AB to take a closer look at cheese protein structures. Using synchrotron X-rays at MAX IV, Cassius are searching for the perfect scientific recipe for plant-based cheese.

When regular cheese is produced, the milk proteins react with rennet and form a cheese curd. These specific proteins, formed in a certain structure, are unique to mammalian milk, which makes them difficult to mimic. 

Cassius AB:s research project focuses on getting a deeper understanding of how the proteins in regular cheese form structures spontaneously. It also investigates whether this could happen with mammalian milk proteins produced by genetically engineered microorganisms, in a process called precision fermentation.

Since mimicking all proteins in regular cheese is not necessary, Cassius is concentrating on two of the protein types that play a key role in how cheese coagulates.

Cheese gel balls as protein samples

Johan Krakau, founder of Cassius and brands like GoVego, has teamed up with researchers from RISE within the NextBioForm center to perform the experiment at the MAX IV CoSAXS beamline.

Using Small-Angle X-ray Scattering techniques (SAXS), the research team studies different types of protein samples in the form of micelles – spherical protein aggregations that resemble gel balls – and how different conditions affect their shape and size. For example, when mixed with different amounts of salt, or when the pH value is changed. The team also investigates if these proteins coagulate into a curd structure in the same way that mammalian milk proteins do.

Read more on the MAX IV website

Modelling electrochemical potential for better Li-batteries

To understand the electrochemical potential of lithium-ion batteries, it’s important to decipher the chemical processes at electrode interfaces occurring during device activity. Using HIPPIE beamline, a research group investigated and modelled the influence of electrochemical potential differences in operando in these batteries.

“With our experiments at HIPPIE, we had the opportunity to look at battery materials and interface reactions under operating conditions exploring the capabilities of the electrochemical setup at the end station,” said Julia Maibach, study author and professor at the Institute for Applied Materials – Energy Storage Systems at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany. “We were among the first users testing the electrochemical set up including the glove box for inert sample transfer.”

Why study electrochemical potential difference in batteries? This phenomenon drives the transfer of charged particles to different phases in redox reactions at battery electrode-electrolyte interfaces. In simple terms, the difference enables the chemical reaction necessary for Li-ion battery function.

Read more on the MAX IV website

Image: Research group studies gold and copper model electrodes at MAX IV’s HIPPIE beamline with Ambient Pressure Photoelectron Spectroscopy (APPES) during lithiation

Credit: MAX IV Laboratory

#SynchroLightAt75 – The first multi-bend achromat synchrotron light source

At the end of the 1990’s, the MAX-lab management realized that it was necessary to start planning for a possible next step in the development of the laboratory. Although MAX II, one of the first 3rd generation light sources in the world and the flagship of the laboratory, had just recently come into operation, the long lead times made it necessary to start exploring possible further developments already at that stage. This is the saga of MAX IV Laboratory, the world’s first Multi-Bend Achromat (MBA) Synchrotron Radiation Light Source. MBAs strongly focus and guide electrons around the storage ring, creating an ultra-low emittance beam and therefore ultra-bright X-ray radiation.

Read more in this Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research – section A (NIM-A) publication

Image:  Prof. Ingolf Lindau, Director of MAX-lab 1991–97, shows the facility to the king of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustav, at the inauguration of MAX II, 15 September 1995

Credit:  MAX IV

Clearest crystalline form revealed

To capture extraordinary nanoscale details in crystallography takes the powerful coherent flux of a 4th generation light source. Recent work in Light: Science & Applications by an international research team has revealed 3D images of a complex crystalline star structure using Bragg ptychography and new advanced analysis tools at MAX IV’s NanoMAX beamline. The results demonstrate the possibility of unprecedented data quality beyond experimental limitations from new synchrotron sources.

It is the high brilliance of 4th generation synchrotrons which now makes high resolution 3D Bragg ptychography especially valuable for investigation of crystal samples, from biominerals found in teeth, bones, shells and more, to a diversity of technologically relevant materials exhibiting magnetic, ferro-electric, topological properties to cite a few.

“New microscopy tools can provide not only sharper images but allow completely new ways of studying extremely complex materials, improving our understanding of the world around,” said Dina Carbone, MAX IV Scientist and study author. “This is the first step to produce technologies that truly responds to our needs in an efficient and sustainable way.”

The current study succeeded in producing a 3D image of the silicon crystalline sample with internal atomic deformations. The star is a well-known structure, chosen to assess the capabilities of the new diffraction end-station of NanoMAX previously designed by Carbone. The research team involved pioneered the 3D Bragg ptychography technique in 2011, and continues with its development.

Read more on the MAX IV website

Image: (left) 3D volume rendering (iso-surface) of crystalline Si-star with Bragg-ptychography, (center), atomic displacement along the z direction. The color map shows strain (dimensionless) (right) SEM image of the same Si-star sample, for comparison. 

Credit: Dina Carbone

Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow

The theme for International Women’s Day, 8 March, 2022 (IWD 2022) is, “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, recognizing the contribution of women and girls around the world, who are leading the charge on climate change adaptation, mitigation, and response, to build a more sustainable future for all.

To mark the day and the theme, Lightsources.org brings you a special #LightSourceSelfie montage featuring just a few of the dedicated women who feature in our video campaign.

More to life than light

The #LightSourceSelfies video campaign highlights the dedication and enthusiasm that is felt by those working in this field. To maintain a sense of physical and mental wellbeing, it is also important to make time for non-work related things like family, hobbies and interests. This montage, with contributors from the ESRF, ALS, MAX IV and Diamond, gives a flavour of the wide range of activities that those in the light source community enjoy when they are not working.

Pushing the limits of science and technology every day

Silvia Forcat is a mechanical engineer working at MAX IV in Sweden. Her role as floor coordinator involves coordinating a wide range of projects for the beamlines. Silvia says, “What inspires me to do my job is to know that I’m contributing to this country’s research and in science in general. There are so many experiments happening in this type of facility and many of them turn into publications. Also my dream would be that one of these publications will get the Nobel Prize. You never know!”

Using strain to control echoes in ultrafast optics

Researchers at MAX IV measured echoes produced by silicon crystals using the coherent X-ray based technique, tele-ptychography, at NanoMAX imaging beamline. Their findings reveal that strain can be used to tune the time delay of echoes, an important step for tailoring ultrafast X-ray optics.

“The use of coherent X-rays to visualize echoes is new. This is the first time it has been used for this purpose, however, the technique itself is not new,” said Dina Carbone, MAX IV Beamline Scientist and project leader.

Echoes are parallel, monochromatic X-ray beams which appear, with time delay, from the diffraction of perfect crystals, which are often used in ultrafast optics systems. Dynamical diffraction effects produce echoes.

Echoes are difficult to observe because of their proximity to each other—only a few microns apart—and appear even closer in the presence of strain, explained Carbone. “We knew it would become possible to see them using this new special approach. It would also be quite a challenge because we had to build an ad-hoc setup at NanoMAX. The experience of the group from PSI [Paul Scherrer Institute] was quite crucial.”

Read more on the MAX IV website

Image: Experimental setup for tele-ptychography at NanoMAX beamline. 

Credit:  Angel Rodriguez-Fernandez

Aymeric Robert appointed Physical Sciences Director at MAX IV

Aymeric comes to MAX IV from the Linac Coherent Light Source at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California, where he was the deputy division director for the Science and R&D Division for four years.

His research focuses is the structure and dynamics of amorphous and disordered systems. These types of systems can be investigated by developing advanced X-ray instrumentation that uses the X-ray properties from high brightness and coherence beams.

Aymeric earned an M.A. in physics in 1998 and, in 2001, a PhD in physics at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility from the Université Joseph Fourier in Grenoble (France). During his PhD, postdoctoral studies, beamline scientist positions at the ID10A Troika beamline at the ESRF, he was among the European team of scientists pioneering the use of X-ray coherence to develop X-ray Photon Correlation Spectroscopy. This coherent scattering technique uniquely allows probing dynamics in complex systems in ways never achievable before.

Read more on the MAXIV website

Image: Director at MAX IV

Examining individual neurons from different perspectives

Correlative imaging of a single neuronal cell opens the door to profound multi-perspective sub-cellular examinations

Scientists combined two nano-imaging techniques that stand at opposite ends of the electromagnetic spectrum to demonstrate the benefits of correlative imaging to examine individual neurons from different perspectives.

To showcase this, they studied the molecular structures of amyloid proteins and investigated the role metal ions may play in the development of Alzheimer’s Disease at a previously never achieved resolution. Their detailed observations at the sub-cellular level underscore the potential of using combined nanospectroscopic tools to deal with uncertainties due to the complex nature of a biological sample.

Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia. Many research groups are working to reveal molecular mechanisms to better understand the process by which the disease evolves. Due to the current lack of effective treatments that could stop or prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, new approaches are necessary to find out how people can age without memory loss.

High-resolution microscopy techniques such as electron microscopy and immunofluorescence microscopy are most often used to detect amyloidogenic protein molecules, often considered key factors in the disease’s evolution. However, these commonly used methods generally lack the sensitivity necessary to depict molecular structures. This is why scientists from Lund University in collaboration with SOLEIL and MAX IV carried out a proof of concept study which showcases that combining two imaging modalities can be used as effective tools to assess structural and chemical information directly within a single cell.

Read more on the MAX IV website

Image: a O-PTIR setup: a pulsed, tunable IR laser is guided onto the sample surface (1). b X-ray fluorescence nanoimaging of individual neuronal cells deposited on Si3N4 (1). c Conceptualization of the data analysis based on superimposed optical, O-PTIR, and S-XRF images.

Unusual electronic properties taking shape

In a recent study, an international team led by researchers from The Pennsylvania State University in the US investigated the one-dimensional (1D) material tantalum selenide iodide (TaSe4 )2I. Its electronic properties had been theoretically predicted but not observed experimentally before the study conducted at the Bloch beamline. Evaporating iodine atoms turn out to drive unforeseen electronic changes.

Materials with unusual electronic properties such as charge density waves or topological states push the understanding of the fundamentals of quantum matter. They are also exciting candidates for the next generations of energy-efficient electronic and spintronic devices.

In the present study, the researchers found that the electronic properties of (TaSe4 )2I were different from the theoretical prediction. The band structure of a material can loosely be compared to a map of the material’s electronic properties. (TaSe4 )2I has something called Dirac bands, which is often found in this type of materials. The prediction said that the Dirac bands would split due to Weyl physics, which is not the case. The bands split with temperature, and the driver behind it is iodine atoms evaporating from the material’s surface.

Read more on the MAX IV website

Image: Surface charge induced Dirac band splitting in 1D material (TaSe4 )2I

Riverine iron survives salty exit to sea

Iron organic complexes in Sweden’s boreal rivers significantly contribute to increased iron concentration in open marine waters, X-ray spectroscopy data shows. A Lund University study in Biogeosciences characterizes the role of salinity for iron-loading in estuarine zones, a factor which underpins intensifying seasonal algal blooms in the Baltic Sea.

The study ties in with a reported trend of increased riverine iron concentrations over the last decade in North America, northern Europe and in particular, Swedish and Finnish rivers. This, in conjunction with a predicted rise in extreme weather events in Scandinavia due to climate change, provides momentum for more bioavailable iron to enter marine environments such as the Baltic Sea.

“The consequences of increasing riverine iron for the receiving [marine] system depend first and foremost on the fate of iron in the estuarine salinity gradient. We had questions on what factors determine the movement and transport capacity of iron in these boreal rivers,” said Simon Herzog, postdoctoral researcher at Lund University.

The research group investigated the iron discharge in eight boreal rivers in Sweden which drain into the Baltic Sea, a brackish marine system. Water samples were taken upstream and at the river mouths, the latter just before estuarine mixing and stronger saline conditions occur. Spring and autumn specimens enabled the comparative analysis of flow conditions. To determine the type and amounts of iron species, measurements with X-ray absorbance spectroscopy (XAS) were taken at beamline I811 at Max-lab in Lund, Sweden and X-ray Absorption Near-Edge Structure (XANES) spectra at beamline ID26 at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France.

Read more on the MAX IV website

Image: A view of the Ore River in northern Sweden

Credit: Simon Herzog

Focused X-ray beam allows high-resolution nanowire strain mapping

A team of researchers from Lund University and Northwestern University in the United States have used the nano focused beam at the NanoMAX beamline to construct a 2D map of the distribution of material strain in individual InP-GaInP heterostructure nanowires. Understanding the strain that forms in heterostructure nanowires is essential for tailoring their electronic properties to applications in electronics and for energy materials.

Semiconductor materials are essential for everything from electronics such as computers and mobile phones to LED-lights and solar cells. Different types of semiconductor materials often need to be combined in a so-called heterostructure to realise the advanced functions required for these devices.

Typically the combination is done by growing layers of one semiconductor material on top of another. However, since the distances between the atoms, the lattice spacing, is different in the different materials, it often leads to mismatch and strain in the materials when they are combined in this way. The mismatch puts a limit on what materials are possible to mix and how thick the layers can be.

Read more on the MAX IV website

Image: NanoMAX at Max IV

ARIEs as key resources for the five Horizon Europe Missions

Moon-shot missions, such as those of Horizon Europe, require exceptional solutions, and the world-leading Analytical Research Infrastructures of Europe (ARIEs) are one of the key places those solutions can be sought. The ARIE Joint Position Paper highlighting how the common, complementary approach will help address the societal challenges of the Horizon Europe Missions framework programme was presented today.

“The Analytical Research Infrastructures of Europe (ARIEs) provide unique windows into the workings of the world around us”, says Caterina Biscari, Chair of LEAPS and Director of the ALBA Synchrotron in Spain. “The cross-border cooperation within Europe allows for harnessing the power of its analytical research infrastructures collectively, to fuel the cutting-edge R&D required by the five Horizon Europe Missions. Nowhere else in the world is this readily possible.”

The ARIEs are centres of scientific and technological excellence, delivering services, data and know-how to a growing and diverse user community of more than 40,000 researchers in academia and industry, across a range of domains: the physical sciences, energy, engineering, the environment and the earth sciences, as well as medicine, health, food and cultural heritage. They include powerful photon sources, such as synchrotrons, laser systems and free-electron lasers; sources of neutrons, ions and other particle beams; and facilities dedicated to advanced electron-microscopy and high magnetic fields.

Read more on the MAX IV website

X-ray beams help seeing inside future nanoscale electronics

The technological advancement of fourth-generation synchrotrons, pioneered by MAX IV Laboratory, opens research opportunities that were impossible just a few years ago. In a newly published research paper, we get proof of the revolutionary impact that MAX IV’s photons can have for the advancement of nanoelectronics, both in research and for industrial manufacturers.

Thanks to the innovative concept of the multi-band achromats, MAX IV Laboratory has paved the way for fourth-generation synchrotrons and as of now, it is the most brilliant source of X-ray for research. The high coherence and brilliance delivered at MAX IV are giving scientists the tools for performing research previously unachievable in the X-ray spectrum. This potential is highlighted in a new publication centred on investigating innovative non-destructive characterization of embedded nanostructures.

Read more on the MAX IV website

Image: Depiction of the process of nanofocused X-ray beams scattering from a single nanowire transistor. Positively charged particles (+) and negatively charged particles (-) represent charge carriers in a p–n junction (where p–n junction is an interface between p-type and n-type semiconductor materials). Outgoing beams, depicted as white rays, represent scattering from different segments of the device (InAs and GaSb). The bending with arrows represents the strain revealed in the experiment.

Credit: Illustration by Dmitry Dzhigaev, Lund University.