Notes from the 31st MAX IV User Meeting: an atmosphere of growth and realizations

Notes from the 31st MAX IV User Meeting: an atmosphere of growth and realizations

Image: participants at the MAX IV User Meeting gathered for the opening plenary session at the Scandic Star hotel in Lund.


LUND—MAX IV hosted the 31st User Meeting at the Scandic Star hotel from 23-25 September. The theme this year was Developing MAX IV: with the users, for the users. Over 300 scientists, researchers, and engineers attended to listen or give presentations, engage with colleagues, and display their work during the poster session.

The User Meeting kicked off with a plenary session of news and facility updates from MAX IV management. Director Ian McNulty, who officially took office in September of this year, opened with a welcome to guests.

“I hope as you go through this User Meeting you take away the message that we’re here to serve you, and I am here to serve you. We need your help. We will do this together and deliver excellent science for all the world as well as for Sweden,” said Director McNulty.

He discussed two recent journal publications with research from the first beamlines to come online, BioMAX and NanoMAX, and highlighted the facility’s high-level objective: to serve more users and the user community, sooner, with beamline access and scientific support.


Facility highlights from Director Ian McNulty


The Director also had favourable details to share on the accelerator systems and beamlines. “For hours of beam delivered to the beamlines in 2018 on both rings, the 3 GeV ring, the 1.5 GeV ring, and the short pulse facility, the availability has been absolutely world class, approximately 97%. In the first nice months of this year through September, the delivery is now, just in that period, already increased and we’re well on track to deliver 4500 hours in the 3 GeV ring, nearly 5000 hours in the 1.5 GeV ring, and nearly 4000 in the short pulse facility. We’re now at the point that we can offer you 10 beam lines with baseline capabilities and we’ll expand on those as we go forward.”

Following, there were updates from the User associations, the European Synchrotron and FEL User Organisation (ESUO), the Swedish Synchrotron Users Association (SSUO) as well as the Association for Synchrotron Radiation Users at MAX IV (FASM). The MAX IV User Office and the Industry Office also gave introductions.

In between sessions, participants had the opportunity to mingle and partake in discussions at the Poster session, which included work both from colleagues and PhD student projects. Technology business representatives stood by to take questions at the vendor exhibition.

“We have one overarching objective—to serve more users, sooner,” said Director McNulty.

News from the Beamlines

Groups from several of the beamlines—some taking users, others in different stages of development—gave an update on their latest activities or status of their beamline.


BioMAX beamline is the first operational beamline at the MAX IV facility and has been open to general users since 2017. It has been used by hundreds of users from different countries and it also supports in-house projects to develop serial crystallography and a fragment-based drug discovery facility (FRAGMAX).

It is a multipurpose beamline for macromolecular crystallography, capable of conventional data collection, high throughput and microcrystal applications. The beamline equipment includes a double crystal LN2 cooled monochromator, KB mirrors, a Beam Conditioning Unit, a MD3 diffractometer and a 16M Dectris Eiger detector. Samples are automatically mounted with a ISARA sample exchanger. The beamline uses MXCuBE3 as the data collection interface. Data are processed automatically, and results are displayed to the users with ISPyB.


NanoMAX beamline is a hard X-ray nanoprobe which had first external user experiments in May 2017 and is in regular user operation today. The majority of available beamtime is allocated for experiments selected through the proposal procedure, and limited time is used for other activities, for example, Post-doc programme, instrumentation commissioning, education sessions and in-house research.

During the current operational year 2019/2020 it has thus far served 8 user groups, with an additional 17 groups by next summer. Experiments are evenly split among three categories: X-ray fluorescence imaging, incoherent scattering and coherence imaging. NanoMAX is a very versatile beamline and this is reflected in the broad range of applications. For example, scientists have studied early bone growth using XRF and WAXS, functioning nanowire transistors with Bragg-ptychography, strain field mapping with an in-situ nanoindenter, Bragg coherent diffraction imaging of nanoparticles, diffraction of solid hydrogen under extreme pressure, X-ray fluorescence imaging on arabidopsis seeds, 66 million year old glassy spherules and more. All experiments have been conducted on the versatile KB-optics experimental station. Simultaneously with user operations we are improving performance of several beamline components such as detectors, control system, sample scanning and data analysis. A second experimental station for ptychographic, X-ray fluorescence and tomographic methods aiming at 10 nanometers direct spatial resolution using Fresnel Zone Plates is under development with a timeline of 2022.


Director Ian McNulty addresses the attendees during opening day of the 31st User Meeting.


HIPPIE beamline saw first light in February 2017 and started accepting general users in May 2018. HIPPIE is a soft x-ray beamline covering photon energy range between 255 eV and 2200 eV and is dedicated to the Ambient Pressure Photoemission Spectroscopy (AP-XPS).

Currently there is one endstation in place with several exchangeable AP cells providing various experimental conditions to conduct research in catalysis, electrochemistry, energy, materials science, biology, geology, atmospheric and environmental sciences. The catalysis AP cell implements a cell-in-cell design first pioneered at MAX-Lab SPECIES (beamline) and is dedicated to studies of solid-gas interface, and mainly applied for catalysis research due to its small volume (ca 1 L) and thus quick gas exchange time. A complex gas supply system provides up to 8 individual gases or their mixtures into the cell. The same composition of gas mixture flowing into and out of the cell can be analyses on-the-fly by a QMS. Heating up to 600C is available via use of IR laser.

Parts of the existing endstation (Analysis chamber and AP cell manipulator) can be replaced with a liquid/electrochemistry cell, which is dedicated to studies of the interfaces between liquids and solids as well as liquids and gases. The cell has a large internal volume allowing sample manipulation by hand. The optional glove box can provide an oxygen and moisture-free environment which is extremely important for e.g. Li battery research. Since the beginning of operation 59 weeks were delivered for research and commissioning, 22 of which went to the general users, 11 – expert users, 13 – inhouse, and 12 – for commissioning. 4 publications have used data measured at HIPPIE out of which 3 – using MAX IV X-rays.


FinEstBeAMS beamline received first light in November 2017. It has a long-period EPU that provides photons for the beamline in the energy range from 4.5 to 1300 eV. The monochromator is of grazing incidence type (cPGM) and contains two plane gratings with line densities of 92 l/mm and 600 l/mm, which cover the energy ranges from 4.5 to 50 eV and from 15 to 1300 eV, respectively. The beamline is now fully commissioned in the linear horizontal and vertical polarization modes. For instance, the photon energy resolution at different slit sizes and the photon flux have been determined for both the gratings.

FinEstBeAMS has three endstations installed at the two branch lines: the gas-phase endstation for photoelectron and ion spectroscopy of “dirty” samples (atoms, molecules, clusters, liquids, vapors, etc), the photoluminescence endstation for optical spectroscopy of solids, and the solid state endstation for photoelectron spectroscopy of surfaces and interfaces in ultra-high vacuum. The first test experiments were performed in June 2018. Regular user operation at the gas-phase and photoluminescence endstations began in April 2019, while the solid state endstation is under commissioning. The first research paper based on experimental data obtained at FinEstBeAMS was published in the autumn of 2019.


FlexPES beamline received first light at the frontend on May 20, 2019, and commissioning is actively ongoing. The radiation survey is completed, frontend and optics fully outgased, the insertion device is commissioned, and the beamline is aligned to the central cone of the undulator. Undulator spectra in all modes shows perfect correspondence with the calculated curves. Resolving power is partly characterized and close to the design value of 12000, however more systematic commissioning work is needed to characterize both resolution and photon flux. Beam spot profiles are measured for all four focal points and found matching the design values very well. Photon energy is calibrated in both branches, and the first high-resolution NEXAFS and XPS spectra have been measured from test samples.


Nønne Prisle from the University of Oulu opens day two with a talk on her climate research.


SPECIES beamline received first light on April 1, 2019, and has started commissioning activities. The beamline has two branched: Ambient Pressure XPS (APXPS) and Resonant Inelastic X-ray Scattering (RIXS). The AP-XPS branch is dedicated for the study of solid-vapor and liquid-vapor interfaces in ambient conditions (pressures up to 20 mbar, sample temperature up to 600 C).

The AP-XPS branch received first expert users during autumn 2019, and will begin general User Operation in spring 2020. Recent expert users have been able to gather high quality data while providing valuable assistance in the beamline and endstation commissioning work. The RIXS endstation is presently in the installation and commissioning phase. The high-precision sample manipulator has been installed as well as one of the spectrometers, which will be tested during 2019. The endstation has seen first light and measured first absorption and total fluorescence yield spectra. The RIXS branch anticipates first expert users during 2020.


DanMAX beamline will perform material science at MAX IV using powder X-ray diffraction and full field imaging. We have recently installed the in-vacuum undulator, frontend and infrastructure. Part of the X-ray optics has been delivered and is undergoing tests. The design of the endstation is under way and we plan to have first beam during Q2 of 2020. The first user call for PXRD is expected in late 2020.


SoftiMAX beamline is preparing to take light, most likely around the start of 2020. Currently, we are busy on all fronts: baking the beamline to guarantee good vacuum, checking that the PLC systems work safely, working with IT to smoothly control all motors, and testing and assembling parts for the endstation in order to mount samples up to the light. Many groups are involved, from engineering to safety via the IT-department to the core of the beamline team. The undulator is ready, and the crown on the project will be the radiation permit which will allow us to open to our first photons.


CoSAXS beamline has taken first light within the optics hutch with monochromatic light detected after the monochromator. Commissioning activities at the optics hutch are continuing during Q4, 2019 and Q1, 2020. Vacuum vessel and SAXS detector have been delivered and are being integrated into our control system. Installation for the experimental hutch is due for completion Q1, 2020 whereupon full commissioning of the beamline will commence. First users are expected Q4, 2020.


ForMAX beamline is currently in an intense phase of design, procurements, and installations. Installations are underway for the radiation safety hutches, which during the coming two years will be followed by building of infrastructure, insertion device, the frontend, optics, and experimental station. The beamline is expected to receive synchrotron light in 2021 and start user operation in 2022.


FemtoMAX beamline is in expert user commissioning mode. The first expert user call was launched February 2019 and the end of the commissioning is planned for June 2020. The radiation safety group is working on a permit allowing for 10 Hz operation. Currently 10 Hz is planned for May 2020 and start of user operation a few weeks after the summer shutdown in 2020. The control system is planned to be available to users at the same time. The undulator, laser, X-ray optics, and detectors have been commissioned.


MicroMAX beamline is a macromolecular crystallography beamline that with its high brilliance will expand the MAX IV experiment palette with new sample delivery and time-resolved methods. MicroMAX will complement BioMAX but also offer similar possibilities concerning oscillation data collection and automation. The construction of the beamline infrastructure will start early 2020 followed by delivery, installation and commissioning of equipment like the undulator, front-end, optics and experiment setup, some of which are already in manufacturing, while for example, the experiment setup is still being designed. We are welcoming input from our user community concerning what experiments they would like to be able to conduct at MicroMAX. The beamline will start commissioning late 2021 and open to users late 2022.

Research-intensive sessions

Day two of the programme was dedicated to parallel sessions on science and technology advancements with synchrotron light. There was palpable energy in the various rooms as groups gathered to hear their colleagues present and learn the latest developments in a wide range of subject areas, including coherent scattering opportunities in condensed matter, metal processing studies, structural biology with BioMAX, correlated electron materials and magnetism geology, archaeology, and cultural heritage.

The final day of the meeting opened with Nønne Prisle from the University of Oulu, with a talk on her research on climate change using FinEstBeAMS beamline. The latest User Highlights followed from BLOCH, MAXPEEM, NanoMAX, BioMAX, and HIPPIE beamlines as well as individual research topics from invited speakers.

Closing the meeting at the Banquet dinner, the winner of the best PhD student poster, Susanna Hammarberg, and winner of the best PhD thesis, Xiaocui Wang, received their awards.


Related news:

Student poster and thesis awards 2019

Insights from the 31st MAX IV User Meeting