As the formal start of summer approaches (and midsummer is a big deal in Sweden!), it is a pleasure to share with you that two new beamlines at MAX IV, first SoftiMAX last March then DanMAX this month, have starting commissioning.
The advent of DanMAX marks the 14th beamline to "see the light" at MAX IV, joining the stable of facilities either serving users or being commissioned to get ready for them. Also of note, the ForMAX beamline hutches are nearly finished and construction of the MicroMAX hutches is well along, two very visible signs of progress on the experimental floor at MAX IV.
These developments quietly took place during the COVID-19 pandemic that has wrought so much heartbreak around the world. MAX IV is extremely fortunate by contrast to most other synchrotron user facilities in that it has been able to keep operating. MAX IV accelerator systems have continued delivering x-rays on schedule with outstanding reliability and the beamlines have been staffed this spring. However, due to travel restrictions everywhere, the pandemic has reduced the number of users who could attend their planned experiments at MAX IV to a trickle.
BioMAX, with its remote operations capability, has never been busier (including supporting research related to COVID-19) but even with growing capabilities for experiments with mail-in samples at beamlines such as MAXPEEM, most users have suffered. MAX IV staff are making the most of this period to tune up existing capabilities and commission new ones for users, yet it is far from an ideal situation for everyone.
Nevertheless, we are adapting to the new circumstances and preparing for the future. Among other measures to facilitate access to MAX IV, we will offer users who could not come for their scheduled beamtime this spring/summer an opportunity to run their experiments this autumn/winter, and users with highly ranked proposals submitted in the most recent call an opportunity to schedule beamtime during next spring/summer. We also plan to open proposal calls for new beamlines expecting to be ready to host users in a few months. Please see https://www.maxiv.lu.se/users/proposal-calls/re-scheduling-covid/ for more information.
Of special mention at the halfway point in 2020 is a marked increase in the number of papers published on work conducted at MAX IV, many of which are appearing in top journals. Recognition for MAX IV's unique capabilities is growing! You can browse through the latest work here: https://www.maxiv.lu.se/science/publications/.
On this positive note, I would like to wish everyone a safe and relaxing summer holiday and a productive second half of the year.
Ian McNulty, Director MAX IV Laboratory