Researchers join hands with industry to measure the unknown
At the MAX IV Laboratory in Lund, researchers and industrial users from all over Sweden can conduct advanced experiments. In order to get more people to take advantage of this opportunity, Umeå University, as one of the nodes in the Vinnova Spirit project, wants to create working methods to facilitate knowledge sharing between academia and industry.
Text: Sara-Lena Brännström
PhD student Sana Elbashir assembles a sample in the experimental chamber at the Balder beamline, Max IV in Lund.
Inside the MAX IV synchrotron facility, it is possible to study virtually all materials: solid, liquid or gas. The well-defined wavelengths and broad energy spectra of the synchrotron light can be used for research on everything from pharmaceuticals to metals, mummies and the royal ship Vasa.
Umeå University is co-financing the facility, which is free for researchers to use after an application has been granted. Industry can also conduct experiments at MAX IV for a fee, but it requires a certain level of expertise to directly use the results produced.
The synchrotron is like a Swiss army knife with a huge number of different technologies that can be used by different researchers or industrial users.
It is difficult to say how many people from northern Sweden use MAX IV as the applications go directly to Lund.
“I think we could have more people using these techniques both in academia and industry. We have to find those who can evaluate the data, because that is usually the challenge,” says Nils Skoglund, senior lecturer at the Department of Applied Physics and Electronics at Umeå University.
Knowledge support for the industri
Apart from that, it can also be a matter of lack of knowledge about how the facility works, its benefits or how an application is made.
Nils Skoglund is involved in the Vinnova Spirit project, which has a government assignment to strengthen the industrial use of MAX IV and ESS (European Spallation Source, a neutron source that is under construction in Lund).
An important part of the project is to gather and build competence at Umeå University. The goal is a proposal on how the academy could act as a knowledge support for the industry and how it should be organized and financed.
The MAX IV Laboratory in Lund is open to researchers from all over Sweden.
ImageMAX IV Laboratory
“The synchrotron is like a Swiss army knife with a huge number of different technologies that can be used by different researchers or industrial users. If you have a material that you want to know something about that you cannot measure at home in a regular laboratory, they often have an answer for you. Somewhere there is something that measures exactly what you are interested in. That is why we invest so much of our research budget in these facilities. If we don't use them, it also means that we don't take advantage of the research funding we have in Sweden. So how do we actually use our opportunities” says Nils Skoglund.
World's most powerful neutron source
MAX IV is the only synchrotron in Sweden and ESS will be the world's most powerful neutron source when it is completed. MAX IV is in use around the clock and has about 1000 users per year. There are over 300 employees and the researchers can get support and help with their experiments.
Recently, the PRISMAS PhD Programme was launched to train synchrotron experts on site at MAX IV. However, so far there are no shorter introductory courses for those who want to use the facility.
“How do we spread this knowledge to more people who only need it for one material and don’t want to dedicate their entire project to these methods? And how do we help each other to better understand what we can do with this technology? I hope that the Spirit project can contribute to working methods that broaden the use in academia and industry,” says Nils Skoglund.