First light at SoftiMAX

SoftiMAX is the 13th beamline to “see the light” at MAX IV. The team received approval mid-March from the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority to start commissioning and has made rapid progress since then. The synchrotron light was delivered all the way from the undulator to the monochromator within the first few hours after opening the shutter.



First light in monochomator SoftiMAX

The tiny white spot on the scale shows that alignment work has been done with impeccable accuracy.

“It’s a fantastic effort done by the whole team at MAX IV”, says team leader Karina Thånell. “Apart from the alignment team, Antonio Bartalesi, Mohammed Ebbeni, and Johanna Paulsson (and many others), representing front end, undulator and radiation safety respectively were also there during the first day and made sure everything up to the optics hutch was working as it should. It turned out that for us it was then a piece of cake to get it into the monochromator, which sits roughly 25 meters from the undulator: but it’s quite amazing when you think about it! To keep the vacuum pressures OK we have to move forward carefully, but I hope we can get it all the way to the end station soon.”


Igor Beinik at the experimental station of SoftiMAX

Normally the experimental station is covered with aluminium foil to protect it until the vacuum chamber is in place but Igor Beinik was happy to uncover and show the inner workings that have been designed together with Linus Roslund and Tolek Tyliszczak. The parts were manufactured in the Uppsala workshop and assembled at the beamline.


SoftiMAX experimental station close-up

This spot, where the pen is pointing, is where the samples will sit while being exposed to the soft X-rays used at this beamline. Soft X-ray imaging techniques at SoftiMAX, like ptychography and scanning transmission X-ray microscopy, are built around the use of spatially coherent X-rays. These techniques produce microscopic images of a sample, which at the same time can hold chemical, electronic, magnetic and/or structural information, depending on the details of the experiment. Samples from a wide range of scientific fields, such as biology, magnetism, life and materials science can be studied here. Here you can, for instance, think of studying the spatially resolved magnesium content in seeds; how LiFePO4 batteries charge and discharge on a microscopic scale; or study the distribution of lipids, protein and sugar content in biological material. As long as the samples are thin!


The SoftiMAX team celebrating

Celebrating the progress – with a socially distanced toasting: (from left) Igor Beinik, Áureo Freitas (KITS), Erik Mårsell, Shih-Wen Huang (Spectroscopy) and Karina Thånell.