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Scientists gather to put biomaterials and soft matter under the (giant) microscope


With the MAX IV facility and the fast-approaching opening of ESS (European Spallation Source) on Malmö University’s doorstep, a well-timed workshop bringing together researchers and industry partners proved to be a resounding success. 

It was the 12th Annual Workshop of Biofilms - Research Centre for Biointerfaces, and the first workshop organised in collaboration with the Interreg project ESS & MAX IV: Cross Border Science and Society.

This year the focus was on: ‘Synchrotron and Neutron Scattering in Biomaterials and Soft Matter’, with much discussion on ESS and MAX IV, huge infrastructure projects in Lund. The former is yet to open but is essentially a giant microscope in which neutrons are fired at different types of material so that they can be analysed.  MAX IV is the next-generation synchrotron radiation facility, currently the strongest of its kind in the world.

Doctor John Katsaras, from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA


John Katsaras“Because ESS is on the horizon, I thought it would be interesting to come here. But, more importantly, for me, is how neutrons are going to be used at the new facility in Lund, and how we in the States can be involved to help out with this development, both scientifically and technically.

“I am at the crossroads of physics and biology, basically trying to solve biological relevant problems using physical techniques, those techniques for the most part are various types of scattering: x-ray scattering, neutron scattering, and so this workshop fits well with what I do.

 “I am more than happy to help with development, if the people here at Malmö University want to ‘tap me’ for whatever capabilities I have to offer then I am glad to do so. The scientific community is an open culture, the stuff that I have presented today has not been published yet but I am not worried that people are going to run away and scoop us – it’s just not in the spirit of the community.”

Professor Trevor Forsyth, the Institut Laue-Langevin and Keele University


Trevor Forsyth“It’s been extremely interesting for me because it has been focussed on an interface between soft matter and biology and it relates very strongly to key interests that I have and to facilities  that I use.”

This is not his first visit to Malmö and he is currently collaborating with Malmö University researcher, Doctor Marité Cárdenas.

“We are working on research which is related to atherosclerosis – the things which result in blockages of vessels which cause heart attacks and strokes,” he said.


Doctor Søren Midtgaard, University of Copenhagen

Søren MidtgaardDr Midtgaard spends part of his time working in industry and spoke at the workshop on introducing new industrial users to large scale x-ray and neutron facilities.

“I am representing a project in Copenhagen where we have tried to mediate the axis of these large scale facilities like ESS and MAX IV. We’re trying to place ourselves and mediate between these facilities and industry and also tell people that these tools exist. 

“A lot of these large scale facilities are geared towards academia, but the industry should be able to use these facilities that could make everyone grow and give a competitive edge to companies.”

Doctor Robert Thomas from Oxford University

Robert Thomas“I am very interested in the development of ESS, because I was heavily involved in the development of the equivalent instrumentation in Britain, that was the first one of these so because I’ve had all that experience I was involved in a lot of the discussions which started ESS.

“This will have more impact in a daily way than, say expeditions to Mars or finding the ‘non-existent particle!’ It is much more practical, so in principle it should benefit medium sized and larger companies. Obviously people would like to get smaller companies involved as they don’t have the resources, but with these facilities they can buy a day, potentially it could be very good for them.” 

Text: Adrian Grist

Last updated by Adrian Grist