In memory of professor Per-Olof Nilsson

P.O. Nilsson (photo: J-O Yxell, Chalmers)

Professor Per-Olof Nilsson, a colleague and friend to us at MAX IV, passed away at age 84. As a PhD and later professor at Chalmers with a great interest in synchrotron-based research, Per-Olof Nilsson played a major role as initiator and facilitator of MAX-lab, which became MAX IV, as a national facility. He sent in the first application for a synchrotron radiation facility, together with former synchrotron radiation research coordinator and subsequently University Chancellor Anders Flodström in 1978, and the application for funding the first beamline. Per-Olof Nilsson founded the users association, FASM and organised the first MAX-lab summer schools to enhance students’ knowledge of science with synchrotrons. He worked until his demise as a professor emeritus at Chalmers, where he, among other assignments, had a great engagement in science outreach and established a workshop with over 300 teaching experiments.

“P.O. was a leading researcher in a generation of scientists who deepened the understanding of the new materials that form the basis of our development towards a better and sustainable society. As a pioneer, P.O. understood the opportunities offered by accelerator research in Lund. Many heroes have worked along the journey towards MAX IV. Still, the pioneer was P.O. We, and future synchrotron light researchers will always remember P.O. for his sharp intellect, empathy, and understanding of the role of research in a constantly changing world,” says prof. Anders Flodström.

” I met P.O. as a PhD student at MAX I. He was instrumental in creating MAX-lab and Swedish synchrotron radiation science,” says prof. Olof Karis, Director of MAX IV.

” P.O. was the initiator of the synchrotron radiation activities at MAX and was a strong driving force for development over the years. In addition to his scientific activities, P.O. had a completely different side. I’ll never forget when, after a dinner during the MAX User Association’s annual meetings, he made his entrance wearing a tailcoat, red clown nose, high hat and a magic wand in his hand. After that, he freed wristwatches and wallets from dinner attendees without them noticing. It was an appreciated trick, especially by the owners when they regained their possessions. I miss P.O., colourful personality we are all indebted to,” says Mikael Eriksson, professor in accelerator physics at MAX IV.

” P.O. has played a major role in the development of synchrotron radiation and the strong Swedish position in this area of research. I had the pleasure of meeting him many times, the first time as a very young student. P.O. was an exciting personality with many talents and has been of great importance to many then young researchers, who later played major roles in synchrotron radiation research, especially in Sweden, but also in Denmark,” says prof. Robert Feidenhans’l, chair of the MAX IV board.