MAX IV – ready to open up a new world


On 21 June the MAX IV Laboratory in Lund was officially opened – Sweden’s largest ever investment in research infrastructure. The laboratory is the world’s most modern facility for synchrotron light. Here, researchers from across the world can investigate molecular structures and surfaces in more detail than ever before. Uppsala researchers have contributed extensively towards the development and stand ready to make use of the new possibilities.

MAX IV Laboratory
The MAX IV Laboratory was officially opened 21 June. Photo: Roger Eriksson, ESS.

Once upon a time the microscope opened up a whole new world of tiny creatures, plankton, bacteria and cells to researchers. Since then, technology has developed at a furious pace, creating possibilities that few know about.

The new MAX IV Laboratory houses highly advanced technology. The linear accelerator increases the velocity of electrons almost to the speed of light. The electrons are then directed into the storage ring, where magnets bend their path. In this bending process the electrons emit synchrotron light, which is an extremely intense light spanning a broad spectrum of wavelengths. The light is directed to the research stations through special beamlines, which is where experiments are conducted.

‘The new light source is cutting-edge and the quality of the light opens up a new world. Here we can take advantage of the light’s properties to try to understand more about how the world and life work. Now our dreams of instruments and scientific methods, which have formed over time, become possible to realise’, says Jan-Erik Rubensson, Professor of Physics at Uppsala University.

‘Us physicists have had a lot of cooperation between Lund and Uppsala in the building of the laboratory’, says Jan-Erik Rubensson. ‘You could say that the laboratory to begin with was focused on physics and materials science. But along the way it has also developed towards biology and life science. Today we have a lot to gain from working together and the laboratory is to a large part dependent on this cross-disciplinary cooperation.’

Opening when the sun is at its brightest

On 21 June, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, at 13:08:55 when the sun was at its highest position in the sky, the official opening of the world’s brightest light took place. Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven held an opening speech in the presence of H.M. the King and 500 Swedish and international guests. Uppsala University Professor of Biology Maria Selmer was also among those giving speeches.


The MAX IV Laboratory has been under construction for a number of years. The name MAX Lab was used for a laboratory that opened as early as 1987. A national organisation was formed on 1 July 2010, named MAX IV. This organisation included two physical facilities: MAX Lab and the planned MAX IV Laboratory.

The old MAX Lab’s three storage rings were switched off in a ceremony on 13 December 2015. The new MAX IV Laboratory will have two storage rings based on new technology and scientific theories over the years at the original Max Lab. The largest storage ring is already capable of producing synchrotron light for experiments.

Every year, some 900 researchers from all over the world will come to MAX IV to conduct experiments in materials, environmental and life sciences. Fully operational the facility has an estimated capacity of 2,000 researchers per year.

Lund University is host university for MAX IV. But the facility receives funding from a number of organisations who contribute to different parts: The Swedish Research Council, Vinnova, Region Skåne, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, Lund University and eleven other Swedish universities.

Anna Malmberg

Last modified: 2023-08-04