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The mission of the SNBL is to provide scientists from both Norway and Switzerland, from both academia and industry, with increased access to synchrotron radiation. A user on SNBL has access to state-of-the-art, custom-designed instrumentation for diffraction and absorption experiments. Both partner countries have relatively large and exceptionally active scientific communities using X-ray diffraction and absorption as their main probes; for these groups the amount of public beamtime offered by ESRF was insufficient from day one, and this is the raison d’être of the Swiss-Norwegian Beam Lines at ESRF. Nowadays, it is fully understood by the  scientific community that many of the most challenging problems in structural crystallography can be solved only with the use of synchrotron radiation, and even  then, often enough, only by harnessing the combined power of two or more experimental techniques (such as, e.g., powder and single-crystal diffraction). The SNBL has four such different experimental techniques, which are distributed over two beamlines, and presently include:

  • High-resolution single-crystal diffractometry

  • Large-area diffraction imaging

  • High-resolution powder diffractometry

  • EXAFS spectrometry

News from SNX Council


“SNBL – Planning for the next decade”(programme) - Photos by Serge Claisse (ILL)

Number of publications from SNBL



ESRF Young Scientist Award goes to SNBL scientist


Three NATURE Publications in 2016

A disorder-enhanced quasi-one-dimensional superconductor

A powerful approach to analysing quantum systems with dimensionality d>1 involves adding a weak coupling to an array of one-dimensional (1D) chains. The resultant quasi-1D (q1D) systems can exhibit long-range order at low temperature, but are heavily influenced by interactions and disorder due to their large anisotropies. Real q1D materials are therefore ideal candidates not only to provoke, test and refine theories of strongly correlated matter, but also to search for unusual emergent electronic phases. Here we report the unprecedented enhancement of a superconducting instability by disorder in single crystals of Na2−δMo6Se6, a q1D superconductor comprising MoSe chains weakly coupled by Na atoms. We argue that disorder-enhanced Coulomb pair-breaking (which usually destroys superconductivity) may be averted due to a screened long-range Coulomb repulsion intrinsic to disordered q1D materials. Our results illustrate the capability of disorder to tune and induce new correlated electron physics in low-dimensional materials.

Nature Communications 7, 2016




Spiral spin-liquid and the emergence of a vortex-like state in MnSc2S4

Spirals and helices are common motifs of long-range order in magnetic solids, and they may also be organized into more complex emergent structures such as magnetic skyrmions and vortices. A new type of spiral state, the spiral spin-liquid, in which spins fluctuate collectively as spirals, has recently been predicted to exist. Here, using neutron scattering techniques, we experimentally prove the existence of a spiral spin-liquid in MnSc2S4 by directly observing the ‘spiral surface’—a continuous surface of spiral propagation vectors in reciprocal space. We elucidate the multi-step ordering behaviour of the spiral spin-liquid, and discover a vortex-like triple-q phase on application of a magnetic field. Our results prove the effectiveness of the J1J2 Hamiltonian on the diamond lattice as a model for the spiral spin-liquid state in MnSc2S4, and also demonstrate a new way to realize a magnetic vortex lattice through frustrated interactions.

Nature Physics, 2016



Charge-ordering transition in iron oxide Fe4O5 involving competing dimer and trimer formation

Phase transitions that occur in materials, driven, for instance, by changes in temperature or pressure, can dramatically change the materials’ properties. Discovering new types of transitions and understanding their mechanisms is important not only from a fundamental perspective, but also for practical applications. Here we investigate a recently discovered Fe4O5 that adopts an orthorhombic CaFe3O5-type crystal structure that features linear chains of Fe ions. On cooling below ∼150 K, Fe4O5 undergoes an unusual charge-ordering transition that involves competing dimeric and trimeric ordering within the chains of Fe ions. This transition is concurrent with a significant increase in electrical resistivity. Magnetic-susceptibility measurements and neutron diffraction establish the formation of a collinear antiferromagnetic order above room temperature and a spin canting at 85 K that gives rise to spontaneous magnetization. We discuss possible mechanisms of this transition and compare it with the trimeronic charge ordering observed in magnetite below the Verwey transition temperature.

Nature Chemistry, 2016


B,C, Examples of reciprocal lattices of X-ray diffraction intensities at 260 K (B) and 100 K (C). a* and b* are the axes of reciprocal lattices.

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