Swedish Research Council grants support for research infrastructures of national interest
The Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) has recently announced its decision to provide significant funding for research infrastructures of national interest. Among others, the National Microscopy Infrastructure and the ATLAS and ALICE experiments, both coordinated by KTH and the SCI School, have been approved for funding.
The National Microscopy Infrastructure (NMI)
NMI is a Swedish research infrastructure dedicated to the advancement of microscopy and image analysis in the life sciences. Its primary objective is to provide the life science research community with access to state-of-the-art technology and expertise in microscopy. In addition, NMI plays an important role in promoting national and international knowledge exchange in the field of microscopy, acting as the Swedish node in the European infrastructure known as EuroBioimaging.
Since its establishment in 2016, NMI has received stable funding for its operational needs and the acquisition of critical equipment. This steady support has enabled NMI to host more than 1,000 researchers in more than 1,400 research projects, establishing itself as a strategically important asset for current and future Swedish research activities.
Hjalmar Brismar , Director of NMI, underlines the uniqueness of the facility: "What makes this facility unique is not only the wide range of techniques available but also its status as a national and international flagship laboratory for super-resolution imaging. We are the only laboratory in the Nordic countries that can house all these technologies under one roof. What really distinguishes our unit is not only the state-of-the-art equipment, but also the expert scientists who operate it and provide unparalleled support for the use of these microscopes".
What does the new funding mean for NMI?
"Funding from the Swedish Research Council (VR) to the NMI is intended to support the collaborative use of microscopes and expertise between the universities in Sweden. With this new funding, we will be able to continue this important collaborative work and give researchers from all Swedish and international universities access to unique microscopes and expert support from the NMI staff scientists. The VR funds are used to finance external access to the unique microscopes that the participating universities have invested in. For example, at KTH we have a super-resolution microscopy laboratory (ALM) with unique capabilities for life science research. The NMI pays for a full-time scientist to support users from other universities who use our microscopes. This would not be possible without the support of VR."
ATLAS and ALICE
These two experimental projects are dedicated to the study of high-energy proton and ion collisions.
Research in high-energy physics has a rich history spanning nearly seven decades, with accelerators as the main tools. However, the construction of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN has propelled the institution to the forefront of global particle physics research. The LHC, unique in its capabilities, is the only infrastructure in the world where Swedish particle physics groups can explore the high-energy frontier.
The ALICE experiment is designed to explore the physics of strongly interacting matter at extreme energy densities, with LHC collisions generating temperatures more than 100,000 times hotter than the center of the Sun. The ATLAS experiment, on the other hand, studies a wide range of physics, from the elusive Higgs boson to particles that could potentially make up dark matter.
Jonas Strandberg , the scientific coordinator of both ATLAS and ALICE, explains the purpose of the funding: "The funding from the Swedish Research Council is intended to support the maintenance and operation of the ALICE and ATLAS infrastructures, as well as the essential data processing infrastructure, following Sweden's commitments."
These projects have facilitated breakthroughs in high-energy particle physics research. What role do KTH and Swedish particle physics groups play in the collaborations?
"KTH researchers are deeply involved in the ATLAS detector and research programme. The physics interests range from precision measurements of the properties of the Higgs boson to the search for new, exotic particles of a supersymmetric nature or related to dark matter. There is also a strong commitment to the construction of a new timing detector to be installed at CERN around 2028. This detector will be able to measure particles with unprecedented precision, which is needed to cope with the increased intensity of the accelerator planned for 2029."
Text: Danai Deligeorgaki, Marta Marko-Tisch