Photo: Perry Nordeng

New image analysis centre aims to cement Greater Copenhagen as a knowledge hub

Friday 02 Jun 17


Henning Friis Poulsen
DTU Physics
+45 45 25 31 19

Facts about MAX IV

  • MAX IV is an X-ray facility that makes it possible to study the structure of materials at all scales—down to the molecular and atomic level. This insight is important to materials research and the commercial development of new materials with new properties.

  • The X-ray source in MAX IV is a synchrotron—a ring-shaped accelerator in which electrons circulate at close to the speed of light. As a result, they release electromagnetic energy in the form of X-ray radiation. MAX IV has a much more ideal pathway in the ring than other existing synchrotrons. This leads to a more concentrated form of X-ray radiation with less lateral spread. The result is better quality analysis results and faster measurements.

  • Work began on MAX IV in summer 2016. It will initially be constructed with 14 beamlines, which all have access to the X-ray beams in the storage ring. The system with 14 beamlines is expected to be complete in 2019. MAX IV can later be expanded to 20-25 beamlines.
The Capital Region of Denmark, DTU, and the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) are jointly financing a new image analysis centre to make it easier for Danish companies and hospitals to access the coming MAX IV X-ray microscope in Lund.

When Max IV is completed in Lund in a few years’ time, it will be one of the world’s best X-ray sources. This will give researchers, companies, and hospitals in Greater Copenhagen a wealth of new opportunities. MAX IV will make it possible, via imaging technology, to look inside a material and gain insight into how it works.

However, the challenge has so far been that it can be difficult to make the voluminous data from the analyses on the new X-ray microscope accessible.

“MAX IV will enable us to take a series of images at millisecond intervals, giving us essentially a film of the material’s structure and the interaction between its various components. A whole day of recordings using the X-ray microscope generates a huge volume of very complex data which has to be managed, stored, and analysed. The new centre allows us to do this,” explains Professor Henning Friis Poulsen, DTU Physics, who proposed the centre.

DTU and the University of Copenhagen are among the world’s leading image processing and scientific computing experts. It is therefore only natural that the new image analysis centre should be located in Denmark.

User-friendly data
The image analysis centre is a virtual centre which will collect data at MAX IV in Lund and then use the facilities either at DTU’s Imaging Centre or the Department of Computer Science at UCPH. Existing software here will generate analyses of the large volumes of data and present it in a user-friendly way that can be understood by everyone—even people who are not experts in the field. For example, the distribution of the various components in the measured material can be specified using percentages. A key role of the new centre will also be to train future users, so that companies and hospitals can use MAX IV independently in their work on developing new medications, improving diagnosis etc.

The Capital Region of Denmark helped kick off the new centre with a grant of DKK 7.5 million (EUR 1 million) in May 2017, and it is to be self-financing thereafter. The aim is to allow companies in Greater Copenhagen to utilize MAX IV as fully as possible for the development of new products, medications etc. Commercialization of the knowledge and algorithms the software in the image processing centre is based on has the direct potential to spawn several start-up companies. The new image processing centre will also allow the regions’ hospitals to use of the X-ray microscope in Lund for better diagnosis and treatment of patients.

Product development
The new image analysis centre will become a beacon, where researchers and students from all over the world gather to learn the latest new image processing methods. Companies and researchers will also be able to take materials research to a new level, when measurements and data from MAX IV make it possible to see the structure of materials in 3D, thereby gaining a holistic picture of how the many different tiny components in a material function and interact.

“To date, a lot of product development has involved a long and cost-intensive trial and error process, where new solutions are developed and tested, only to start over again countless times before the correct solution is discovered. Analysing the material using MAX IV and processing the data in the new image processing centre will make it possible to shorten this process considerably,” says Henning Friis Poulsen.

The new image processing centre will be ready for use on 1 July 2017.

Read the related news items in the right hand column and see the MAX IV website for further information.

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26 JUNE 2017