Nine Swedish universities and MAX IV launch unique education programme to tackle societal challenge

A new intersectoral and interdisciplinary project between nine Swedish Universities and MAX IV – a Ph.D. programme called PRISMAS – launches in January 2023. The program is dedicated to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Horizon Europe's essential research and innovation areas. The project will create a connected network of next-generation X-ray experts, enabling various stakeholders to take full advantage of world-leading synchrotron facilities such as MAX IV, while tackling current societal challenges in the same breath. Foivos Perakis and Sergey Koroidov from Fysikum are part of the program.

MAX IV facility in Lund.Photo cred: MAX IV

The PRISMAS graduate school will bring together students from diverse scientific backgrounds that will use and develop synchrotron methods in their research, while acquiring the skills to tackle some of the most critical sustainability development goals and future societal challenges in their projects, led by selected Principal Investigators from around Sweden. It aims to develop primary findings to applicable solutions and innovations specifically dedicated to healthy people, healthy planet, clean energy, sustainable technologies, cultural and geological heritage, and accelerator science areas.

The program includes hands-on training in cutting-edge synchrotron skills that is applicable in various research areas at MAX IV in Lund, Sweden, combining practical experience with courses covering all aspects of synchrotron radiation to produce researchers who are experts in these methods and in their fields.  

The initiative is supported by nine Swedish universities and a network of 43 partners from academia, industry (including market-leading industrial companies), and institutes. The project is co-funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action Co-funding of regional, national, and international programmes (COFUND). 

Marjolein Thunnissen, cred MAX IV - Science Director MAX IV, PRISMAS Programme Director

"PRISMAS is the first project of its kind at this scale. It creates a network of Swedish universities towards MAX IV to utilize the facility to its ultimate potential. Since the program is dedicated to UN Sustainable Development Goals and Horizon Europe's key research and innovation areas, we will see progress in addressing health, food, and energy issues. There is research on batteries and energy, development of new medicines, and much more. It will also help method and instrument development which the community needs", explained Marjolein Thunnissen, MAX IV Science Director, PRISMAS Program Director.  

"PRISMAS has a unique collaborative and multicomponent environment and connects fundamental science with real applications related to the industry. Long-term collaborative networks between Stockholm University, MAX IV, RISE, and Alfa Laval AB will be established from the program since we will evaluate the fundamental aspects related to biobased water purification technologies regarding water recycling and clean water bodies," says Aji Mathew, Professor of the Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry, Stockholm University, speaking about her research project in PRISMAS. 

Career-oriented academic curriculum

Summer and winter schools and annual meetings are part of the program. The partner universities will coordinate to offer a large selection of relevant courses that students can use to meet the requirements for the PhD.  

"PRISMAS will create a vibrant and stimulating interdisciplinary environment for the students. The experience they gain from interaction and collaboration with such a diverse group of researchers will be extremely valuable when they finish the program and continue with their careers," explained Lindsay Merte, PRISMAS Director of Studies, Associate Professor at the Department of Materials Science and Applied Mathematics, Malmö University.  

Foivos Perakis from Fysikum has joined the program.

What aspect of PRISMAS made you interested in joining the program as a PI?    

"PRISMAS provides a unique and exciting opportunity to initiate a collaboration project between several Swedish universities and MAX IV. Recent advances in the use X-ray Photon Correlation Spectroscopy (XPCS) indicate that it is possible to capture fluctuations dynamics by the use of multi-time correlation functions. However, this approach has been so far restricted in slower timescales (milliseconds) due to limitations in the coherent flux of the X-ray sources and detector readout rates. Both of these issues can now be overcome as part of this PRISMAS project by using the superior coherence properties of MAX IV combined with a new generation of detectors with microsecond resolution." 

What is your proposed project and how it will contribute to society

"In our project, we propose to develop new capabilities at MAX IV that allows to capture microsecond nanoscale fluctuations with X-ray Photon Correlation Spectroscopy. The aims are to (a) implement a new detector for microsecond-XPCS at MAX IV, (b) integrate data XPCS analysis pipelines across beamlines and (c) demonstrate proof-of-concept experiments for probing nanoscale fluctuations and ion mobility in electrolyte solutions. The expected outcomes include to enable new XPCS capabilities for probing fluctuations at multiple beamlines (NanoMAX, CoSAXS, ForMAX and SoftiMAX), as well as educate future researchers in advanced coherent X-ray techniques. Developing a new tool sensitive to nanoscale ion mobility in electrolyte solutions can provide new insights to design novel nanostructured materials for use in clean energy storage and conversion systems."

How is PRISMAS program essential for the project you are proposing?   

"The project is part of an ongoing collaboration between Swedish universities with the aim of implementing XPCS at MAX IV, which is made possible by the PRISMAS project. Within this framework we will recruit a PhD student in collaboration between Stockholm University and MAX IV who will be involved both with the detector integration and development of XPCS software compatible with several beamlines at MAX IV. As part of PRISMAS there are two co-supervisors from MAX IV: Franz Hennies and Paul Bell with whom we initiated successful recent beamtime to test microsecond detectors for XPCS experiments at NanoMAX. In addition, with PRISMAS it become possible to involve industry as a secondment, which in our case will be is essential to the project, since we need to have the active involvement of the detector manufacturer as an industrial secondment partner."

Read more: 

MAX IV website:
EU fact sheet: 

Social media: 

LinkedIn: PRISMAS PhD Programme
Twitter @PRISMASPhD 
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