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ICMAB was part of the first experiment at ALBA Synchrotron, 10 years ago!

Xavier Obradors participated in the roundtable organized to celebrate the 10 years of experiments at ALBA Synchrotron.*

Anna May
06 July 2022
ALBA Synchrotron
ALBA Synchrotron

Although the ALBA Synchrotron was inaugurated on 22 March 2022, it was not until 8 May 2012 that the BOREAS beamline hosted the first official experiment. The other Phase I beamlines started official experiments in the following months. The ALBA Synchrotron organised a roundtable on 9 May 2022 inviting also a representation of the first user group, from ICMAB and the UAB, to remember that special day of ten years ago.

The first user group was formed by researchers from the Chemistry Department at the UAB: Eduardo Solano and Josep Ros; and by researchers from the Superconducting Materials and Large Scale Nanostructures (SUMAN) Group at ICMAB: Jaume Gàzquez, Susagna Ricart and Teresa Puig).  

Starting official experiments at a synchrotron facility is a key milestone. It opens the operation of the facility and it happens when significant achievements, among which the construction of the whole infrastructure, the operation of the accelerators, the commissioning of the beamlines including first measurements and the organization of the user services, have taken place.

To celebrate the ten years of the first official experiment at ALBA, a roundtable was organized, chaired by ALBA director, Caterina Biscari, with representatives of the user group and staff who were directly participating in the facility during that exciting period., including Xavier Obradors, ICMAB Director. 

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Roundtable (from left to right: Judith Juanhuix, Manuel Valvidares, Caterina Biscari, Eduardo Solano, Xavier Obradors) | ALBA 

"The experiment was a collaboration between the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and the Institut de Ciència de Materials de Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC) and was aimed at producing magnetic nanoparticles to be introduced in superconducting layers to improve their efficiency", said Eduardo Solano, PhD researcher at that moment and current beamline scientist at NCD-SWEET. "At BOREAS we could check the magnetic properties of these nanoparticles", added Eduardo. "That was possible also thanks to the great support from staff members from many sections who were ready to help", commented Eduardo.

Manuel Valvidares, beamline responsible at BOREAS and section head of the Electronic Structure of Matter, has checked the first logbook to highlight the fruitful preparation of this experiment with members from the ICMAB. "Those were challenging times, as the user community had been waiting for a synchrotron for a long time. And, seeing now the evolution and the current performance of our beamlines, we realise the huge progress made", finished Manuel.

"We always had the vision that Materials Science will benefit from having a synchrotron near us", said Xavier Obradors, director of ICMAB. "In ten years, we have achieved a great number of experimental results using ALBA beamlines and we have now many projects in common. My vision is that we should go even further in our collaborations", concluded Xavier.

Judith Juanhuix, beamline responsible at XAIRA and section head of Life Sciences, remembered that "there was a funny and healthy competition among the different beamlines as all of us wanted to offer the best to the user community". "All ALBA people were key for these first experiments: staff from accelerators, controls, electronics, user office, engineering, etc.", added Judith.

Other key people in that moment were also testifying through Zoom the importance of that date, as Gastón García, acting director of ALBA in 2012 and current director of the Centre for Micro Analysis of Materials (CMAM-UAM), who said that it was an inflection point for ALBA as it opened a new period for the facility, and Eric Pellegrin, former section head of the Electronic Structure of Matter, acknowledging the great cooperation among different ALBA members.

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Final toast at the garden | ALBA

Comments on the future were convened by Francis Pérez, head of the Accelerators division, who mentioned the upgrade project to the 4th generation, ALBA II, now starting, by Salvador Ferrer, former scientific director and current scientific advisor to the director, who said that "the optics' improvement, the smaller beam and the fact that coherence will be further exploited with X-rays will bring new possibilities to science", and Óscar Matilla, head of the Computing division, who commented that "the future is different as there is already a data explosion that we will need to process, introducing also changes in the relationship with the users with more automatization and remote control".

Last words were from Ramon Pascual, the father of ALBA and honorary president, who expressed his satisfaction seeing how ALBA has evolved from a visionary dream to a strong and performing facility with a great future in front of it.

The event finished with a toast at the ALBA garden.

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