Photon Science at Uppsala University

There are many users of photon science at Uppsala University. Below is an incomplete list of our photon-science-related research.


X-ray Photon Science

Research on light-matter interactions at the atomic level for understanding and control of electronic properties for molecules and liquids, including structure and dynamics of biomolecular systems, and environmental molecular science, as well new functional materials for e.g. solar cells, batteries, photocatalysis and magnetism. Leading in the development of X-ray based methodology.


Structural Biology

Research on structure and function of macromolecules and macromolecular complexes using X-ray crystallography as a main technique and small-angle X-ray scattering as a complement. Biological areas of interest include enzymes, drug design, protein-nucleic acid complexes, chaperone-assisted folding, aggregation, and assembly and antibiotic resistance.

Molecular Biophysics

Produced the scientific case in imaging that assured funding for the first X-ray free-electron lasers (the LCLS and the European XFEL). The Laboratory provides personnel and in-kind contributions for the construction and running of the European XFEL and the European Extreme Light Infrastructure, and are members of four User Consortia at the European XFEL:

Organismal Biology

Phase contrast synchrotron microtomography (PPC-SRµCT) is used to study fossil vertebrates, especially from the Silurian and Devonian periods (425-360 million years old). The scans are performed at Beamline ID19 of the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, France. The use of phase contrast allows very subtle features in the bone, such as 'growth rings' reflecting the annual growth cycle, to be visualized. The scan data thus illuminate not only the anatomy of the animals but also their biology and mode of life.

Molecular Systems Biology

New optical methods are developed to study the dynamics of DNA-protein interactions at the level of single molecules in living cells. e.g. a confocal laser scanning system to track diffusing molecules at the microsecond time scale. By using bifunctional dye labelling of proteins and determining the polarisation of individual emitted photons with nanosecond time-stamps, changes in protein–DNA interactions on the microsecond time scale can be monitored. These methods make it possible to study chemistry as it happens on the molecular level inside the living cell.  

Engineering science

Solid State Physics

Performs research on magnetic materials, optical materials, materials for energy efficiency and environmental applications, medical technology, and biomaterials. We utilize X-ray diffraction, X-ray reflectivity, Magneto-optic Kerr effect, in situ and operando Raman and FTIR spectroscopy, ellipsometry and UV-Vis-NIR-IR spectrophotometry. Synchrotron based work involve X-ray magnetic circular dichroism, X-ray absorption and emission spectroscopies. Future plans involve XMCD-PEEM, synchrotron based nano-scale imaging & spectroscopy, in situ and near-ambient PES and electronic structure studies of correlated and photo-responsive materials.

Applied Materials Science

Performs research on materials for tribological and optical applications, medical technology, and biomaterials. We utilize X-ray diffraction, Raman and FTIR spectroscopy, and UV-Vis-NIR-IR spectroscopy. Synchrotron based work involves e.g. X-ray tomography, and small- and wide-angle angle X-ray scattering, and planned work includes X-ray crystallography. At the division we have a unique tuneable quantum cascade laser (QCL) setup covering the 2000 cm-1 to 1000 cm-1 wavenumber region suitable for molecular spectroscopy. Current research is focused on using our QCL setup together with microfabricated waveguides realizing ultra-sensitive evanescent wave mid-IR spectroscopy of proteins and organic molecules.

Solar Cell Technology

Performs research on photovoltaic materials and devices, based on chalcogenides for high efficiency solar cells and modules. The division performs both synthesis of the materials and devices as well as in-depth analysis. Among the photonic methods, we employ X-ray diffraction, X-ray reflectivity, Raman, UV-Vis and Glow Discharge Optical Emission spectroscopy, emission quantum yield, Quantum efficiency, un-biased and with light and/or voltage bias. Among the synchrotron-based work, soft and hard X-ray spectroscopy can be mentioned. The division has one dedicated researcher on synchrotron-based methods and PES is part both of present and future important characterization methods. Analysis is complemented with density functional theory.

Mathematics and Computer Science

Department of Information Technology

The flow of recorded facility data, reconstruction, and analysis of such data from various photon sources has long been a research interest in our department. These include activities related to X-ray tomography, including synchrotron-based techniques, at the Division of Visual Information and Interaction. More recently, within the Division of Scientific Computing, we’ve also been involved in methods for single particle imaging at X-ray free electron lasers, including real-time monitoring and evaluation of incoming data, full 3D reconstruction pipelines with error estimates and novel formulations of a convex relaxation of the phase retrieval problem. Such relaxations, when implemented efficiently and accurately, would make it possible to find a guaranteed global optimum, rather than the ensemble of solutions of varying quality produced by most existing methods.

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Last modified: 2023-02-27