Swedish and Canadian light sources cooperating to advance science and innovation

Swedish and Canadian light sources cooperating to advance science and innovation

Today, His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf and His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada presided over the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Swedish and Canadian national synchrotron light sources.

In a ceremony in Lund Christoph Quitmann, Director of MAX IV Laboratory and Robert Lamb, CEO of Canadian Light Source signed a Memorandum of Understanding on future cooperation. Canadian Light Source Inc. (CLSI), located in Saskatoon, Sask., and MAX IV Laboratory operate successful synchrotron facilities with broad scientific programs, and share common scientific and technical goals. The primary areas of focus will be exchange of knowledge, personnel, and design, development and testing of equipment and programs in accelerator physics and technology, as well as instrumentation and data analysis for experiments, both in basic and applied research.

“MAX IV is a truly disruptive technology in the light source world, and we are thrilled to be collaborating with our colleagues in Sweden to exchange our expertise and ensure that the Canadian and Swedish people benefit from our mutual advancements and discoveries,” says Dr. Rob Lamb, CEO of the CLS.

MAX IV and CLS will collaborate closely on the development of technologies that will enhance the performance of their user facilities, and increase interactions and cooperation between the light source communities of Sweden and Canada.

“Collaboration with the best scientists around the globe has been a prerequisite in building MAX IV, and we are happy to be able to continue this cooperation with CLS and thereby secure further development, benefitting both users and industry, at our respective facilities,” says Professor Christoph Quitman, Director of MAX IV Laboratory.


Cooperation between the two facilities has been ongoing for some years already. Staff from MAX IV and CLS have worked together to develop knowledge and tools at the respective facilities. Meet Karina Thånell, who collaborates with staff at CLS for the SoftiMAX beamline at MAX IV and Dionis Kumbaro, who collaborates with CLS on developing the linear accelerator.


Karina Thånell, beamline scientist at SoftiMAX
Karina Thånell, beamline scientist at SoftiMAX

I work at one of the beamlines under construction at the 3 GeV ring, called SoftiMAX. We are building a beamline for soft x-ray microscopy with two different instruments on it. The first end-station to be built is a scanning transmission x-ray microscope (STXM), where chemical information can be obtained alongside a microscopic image of the material you want to study. It’s a technique we haven’t had before in the old MAX-lab and as such it is new for Sweden.

Several other synchrotron facilities in the world have such instruments and the Canadian Light Source is one of them. Because my background is mostly in other soft x-ray synchrotron techniques, when we were discussing the possibility of hosting this technique at MAXIV I reached out to specialists in the field of STXM to gain more in-depth knowledge.

I invited Martin Obst to one of our user meetings, where he gave an inspiring talk about his research in environmental science highlighting different aspects of the STXM technique. He’s a researcher now based in Germany, who had worked at the STXM beamline of the CLS as a postdoc. He is still part of the “Beam Team” for the STXM beamline. Beam Team = a team of experienced STXM users who seek out new users and help them with their first STXM experiments. They also finance upgrades and postdocs at the beamline, through a yearly subscription fee, in exchange for a guaranteed amount of measuring time for their own experiments.

Via him and Adam Hitchcock, head of the Beam Team and one of the most eminent STXM experts, we set up a STINT initiation project involving the STXM beamline at CLS, researchers in Umeå & Linköping, and me at MAX IV, which was very successful. We published an article last year after two sets of STXM experiments at the CLS and we hosted a well-visited STXM workshop in Umeå in December 2013, two days before we got the funding for the SoftiMAX beamline from VR confirmed. And Adam was there to celebrate the start of the beamline!

Both Martin and Adam are still involved with SoftiMAX, Martin as spokesperson, a sort of expert user and ambassador especially towards environmental science users, and Adam sits in the advisory board, helping us with his vast technical expertise. He was also the one that tipped us regarding a new design for a STXM they had developed at the CLS, which he presented at one of our Advisory Board meetings. To learn more about this instrument I visited the CLS in September 2016 to participate in commissioning beamtime for the new instrument, which was great; I do a lot of calculations, technical reading and other office-based work at the moment, so coming onto the laboratory floor again was quite a treat.

My contribution to the commissioning was that I identified a problem in the zooming function, which was due to an offset value in the software, set for testing another configuration. It could of course be solved quite easily once identified, and made the zooming function work again as intended. During my stay, I also had some time to talk to the different people involved in the design from various fields of experience (electronics, CAD design, workshop, software programming, etc.) and could ask some more detailed questions regarding their contributions which was very valuable. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see the system work at liquid nitrogen temperatures that week, a crucial part of the design, but overall the machine impressed and was responding well.

The people I have met at the CLS are friendly, honest and easy to get along with, and the atmosphere is conducive to talking constructively and openly, which I really appreciate in a workplace. This even extended to outside of office hours in the form of a home-cooked meal, dim-sum brunch, and a few beers in town. Saskatoon is also surprisingly lively and hosted both a Comic-Con weekend in the stadium, and a free literature festival at the public library on the last day of my visit. At the festival I met Yann Martel and Guy Vanderhaeghe (both living in Saskatoon) and listened to discussions, interviews and workshops given by various writers from Canada –  which I hope is another thing that can inspire Lund!

Whether or not we are pursuing to build an instrument based on the STXM-design of the CLS, adapted and developed further to our needs, remains to be seen. With the MoU under preparation, the discussions regarding our specific collaboration have been on the back-burner since September and we are now in a bit of a hurry to get started. My experience with all the people involved in the STXM design has, however, been very positive. Also when we are getting close to opening our own beamline, I hope we will have the possibility to invite some of the CLS beamline staff to join us for commissioning. I know Adam will be coming for a few months, and that will certainly make things move forward! Their experience in specific issues regarding operating a STXM will be highly appreciated and hopefully continue our good relations with the people at the CLS and the STXM beamline in particular. I only wish Saskatoon was not so far away – the travel takes around 15-16 hour in total and is not something you do easily without planning.


Robert Andersson, left, and Dionis Kumbaro, right working at the electron source at MAX IV.
Robert Andersson, left, and Dionis Kumbaro, right, working at the electron source at MAX IV.

I am a Research Engineer at the MAX IV Laboratory and co-author of design and preparation of MAX IV CDR (Concept Design Rapport), later again co-author of MAX IV DDR (Detailed Design Rapport) and the project leader on assembly, installation, testing and conditioning of the MAX IV linear accelerator (linac).

Today I am responsible for electron pre-injector (RF Guns), linear accelerations and the RF power and waveguide system of MAX IV Laboratory. I run two important projects connected with the MAX IV linac. First, a long-term project called RF power test facility and second, a short-term project concerning the linac RF power upgrading.

In early 2013, after a discussion between Mark de Jong from CLS and Mikael Eriksson from MAX IV Laboratory, we started a collaboration. It concerned improving the old pre-injector at CLS, which now use a DC gun of another type compared to what we used at the old MAX-lab, called RF gun. The main difference between them is the electrical field of acceleration. In a DC gun you use DC high voltage up to 100 kV and in RF gun you use an alternative field, created by the application of powerful microwaves, up to 6 MW peak. The main benefit with this substitution (DC gun with RF gun) is simplicity and electron energy. On a DC gun the electron beam energy does not exceed 100 keV, while with a RF gun, in this case thermionic RF, the electron beam energy can grow to 2,5 MeV.

Based on this we made a cooperation plan, from MAX IV Laboratory it involved Mikael Eriksson, Jonas Modéer and me; from CLS participated Mark de Jong, Les Dallin and Xiaofeng Shen. Soon, based on this cooperation, MAX IV Laboratory made a project plan. Following this plan we designed, manufactured and 19 May 2015 delivered the S-band thermionic RF gun to CLS. Since the acceleration frequency in the MAX IV linac is a bit different from the CLS linac frequency, we needed to do some construction changes. So the CLS thermionic RF gun is not a copy of MAX IV RF gun, but it’s similar.

Even if this was a rather small cooperation project it can be said to have been very good, with easy communication and decision making. We still have contact, especially with Les Dallin, who is our bridge in this communication. And we plan to extend our cooperation with our colleagues from CLS when the time comes for CLS to assemble and install the new pre-injector with the new RF gun.