Mid Sweden University has contributed to this year’s Nobel Prize

Save favourite 13 Dec December 2017
Christer Fröjdh shows the detector.

The fact that the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017 will be awarded Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson for developing cryo-electron microscopy has been known for a while now. Less known is the fact that scientists at Mid Sweden University have contributed to the discoveries that lead to the Nobel Prize.

− Obviously, this is both joyful and exciting. An important part of the work was started already in 1999, at an international conference that was arranged in Sundsvall. There, a cooperation was initiated that led to the development of the detector that was used in the research. We are using this type of detector in our own research today, too, says Christer Fröjdh, Professor at the research centre STC, Sensible Things that Communicate, at Mid Sweden University.

What the researchers have managed to do is to freeze molecules and take high-resolution pictures of them. Since the molecules are frozen, it is possible to take a snapshot of the molecule in its active form. By means of the Nobel Prize, the importance of the research conducted within the framework of the Medipix cooperation at CERN in Geneva is emphasized. The research made it possible to create detectors with sufficient spatial and energy resolution to help Henderson achieve such a brilliant result by means of his cryostatic electron microscope.

− To be able to take pictures of molecules with such a quality requires a very good detector where each electron can be counted individually. It works the same way as a camera chip for your mobile, only that instead, it is used for x-ray, electrons and neutrons. The detector passes on information to a computer that shows the image and it is then possible to see things that are not visible to the naked eye, says Christer Fröjdh.

Already in 1996, research on x-ray photography sensors was taken up at Mid Sweden University. Later on, Mid Sweden University became a key partner in the Medipix cooperation cooperation at CERN in Geneva. The research connected to Medipix has resulted in seven doctoral theses at Mid Sweden University.

The development of the detector started as a cooperation between 20 different universities and research institutes, and Mid Sweden University was one of them. The cooperation was initiated at the IWORID conference in Sundsvall 1999, a conference which has toured the world since then and which will return to Sundsvall next year for its 20th anniversary.  

− The detectors we have at Mid Sweden University today are used to measure heavy metals in ashes at the district heating plant Korstaverket in Sundsvall. They will also be used to measure the concentration of white arsenic, cadmium, lead and quicksilver in the fibre banks outside of Sundsvall, says Christer Fröjdh.

Christer Fröjdh, Professor Mid Sweden University, +46 (0)10-142 87 33

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