Martin Meedom Nielsen

Neutrons and X-rays for Materials Physics

  • Fysikvej, 307, 228

    2800 Kgs. Lyngby


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Personal profile


2012 –           Professor and founding head of the Section for Neutrons and X-rays for Materials PhysicsDepartment of Physics, Technical University of Denmark. The section numbers 5   full professors, 3 senior scientists, 1 associate professor, and 5 research engineers. With post docs and PhDs a total of ~45 staff, up from 12 staff at the founding.

2012 –           Adjunct Professor in X-ray Free Electron Laser Physics, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, Denmark (reappointed 2018)

Previous Positions

2018 – 2022   Vice Chair of the European XFEL Council, European XFEL GmbH,

2014 – 2018    Chair of the European XFEL Council, European XFEL GmbH.

2005 – 2013    Director, Danish National Research Foundation Centre for Molecular Movies,

Niels Bohr Institute, Uni. Copenhagen and Risø DTU, Technical University of Denmark

2005 – 2010    Professor, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen

2000 – 2005    Senior Scientist, the Danish Polymer Centre, Risø National Laboratory, Denmark

1997 – 2000    Post Doctoral Fellow, Dept. of Cond. Mat. Phys. and Chem., Risø Natl. Lab., Denmark

1996 – 1997    Post Doctoral Fellow, Institut für Grenzflächenforschung, FZ Jülich, Germany.


1996                Ph.D. Supervisor D.L. Adams, Department of Physics, Aarhus University, Denmark.

1994              M.Sc. Department of Physics, Aarhus University, Denmark.

 Grants (2013-present)

-          Center for Molecular Movies, Danish National Research Foundation (2005-2013), PI, 4.5 MEUR.

-          Instrumentation for the FXE instrument, the European XFEL, DASTI (2012-2019), PI, 3.6 MEUR

-          DANSCATT Instrument center for use of X-ray synchrotron and neutron sources, and free electron lasers, DASTI (annually renewed), 540 kEUR (70 kEUR department share), Co-PI.

-          Atomistic mechanisms for ultrafast energy transfer), DFF FNU FP2 (2014-2019), PI, 900 kEUR

-          Trajectories of Charge and Structural dynamics …, DFF FNU FP2 (2018-2022), PI, 800 kEUR

-           UltraSol, DFF Green Transition FP2 (2022-2026), PI, 900 kEUR

Total Funding awarded (2001-present): Approximately 25 MEUR. Of which 14 MEUR was granted with me as lead-PI in national projects or as national lead (co-PI) in European projects.

Beamtimes awarded at free electron x-ray lasers: 35: 15 at LCLS, 8 at SACLA, 3 at SwissFEL and 9 at the European XFEL, or about 3 per year since the start of hard X-ray XFELS in 2010. The corresponding value of operation cost associated with each XFEL beamtime is of the order of 4-800 kEUR. Access is provided freely to the user groups after a highly competitive peer review process.

Awards: The Rene Descartes Prize by the European Commission (2000). Numerous awards to my students

Selected institutional responsibilities and selected commissions of trust

2019 –        Chair, Council Working Group for the development of user communities, EuXFEL

2019 –        Responsible for Research Data Policies, DTU Physics, Techn. Univ. Denmark

2018           Chair, Search and Selection Committee for a Scientific Director, EuXFEL

2017           Chair, Search and Selection Committee for the Director of Administration, EuXFEL

2016 – 17   Chair, Working Group defining the first operation budget for EuXFEL

2015 – 16   Chair, Search and Selection Committee for the next Director General of the EuXFEL

2015 – 17   Chair, Negotiation committee for UK accession to the EuXFEL

2015 –        Responsible for Continuing Education, DTU Physics, Techn. Univ. Denmark

2015 –        Board Member of ISA/ASTRID2 synchrotron facility, University of Aarhus, Denmark

2014 – 15   Chair, Working Group defining the cost of the extended construction for EuXFEL

2013 –        Board member of DANSCATT, Danish center for use of X-ray and Neutron facilities

2012 –         Faculty member, DTU Physics, Technical University of Denmark

2012 –         Adjunct professor and faculty member, University of Copenhagen, Niels Bohr Institute, DK

2010 – 14   Delegate to the European XFEL Council

Selected reviewing activities

2020           Member of the Physics Review Panel of the Finnish Academy of Science

2019 –         Chair of Photon Science Proposal Review Committee at PSI, Switzerland

2019 –         Member, Photon Science Advisory Committee at PSI, Switzerland

2019           Reviewer ERC Advanced Grant

2018 –         Chair of Proposal Review Committee subpanel for the XFEL facility SwissFEL, Switzerland

2018 –        Reviewer for the Swedish Research Council and the Italian Ministry of Research (‘PRIN’)

2017           Chair of assessment committee, Associate professorship, DTU

2015           Chair of assessment committee, Honorary Doctorate, DTU

2013           Evaluator of the Research Complex at Harwell (RCaH) for the MRC Research Council, UK

2013           Chair of assessment committee, Full Professorship, DTU

2005 –          Reviewer for the Nature Group and Science Magazine

Careers of previous post docs and PhD’s include: 3 full professors (Univ. Copenhagen, NTNU, DTU), 2 senior scientists (DTU), 3 beamline scientists at XFELs (LCLS, EuXFEL and SwissFEL).


Research areas

Research focus area and achievements

X-ray science at synchrotrons and free electron lasers, elucidating the structure and function of molecular materials - from static systems to ultrafast structural dynamics. Developing X-ray instrumentation and methods for data modelleing, reduction and analysis.

I pioneered the use of grazing incidence x-ray scattering in organic electronics, enabling the first demonstration of the relationship between microstructure and charge carrier mobility in organic field effect transistors (OFETs), (Nature, 401, 685 (1999)). Later this was enhanced by the first demonstration of structural control of OFETs using polymer blends (Nature Mat., 5, 950 (2006), front page).

I headed the group making the first x-ray structure of an excited state in solution (J. Am. Chem. Soc, 131, 502 (2009)), and the first time-resolved structural study of an associative chemical reaction in solution (Angew. Chem Int. Ed., 48, 4180 (2009)). We made the world’s first time resolved x-ray scattering study of molecules in solution, recorded with time resolutions below 300 fs at LCLS. In June 2012 we were the first European research group at the Japanese XFEL, SACLA. We have pioneered methods for XFEL experiments, enabling new insights in charge transfer mechanisms and structural response to light (Nature, 509, 345 (2014), Nature Meth. 11, 923-926 (2014), Nature Comm. 6359 , (2015)).  My Group made the first demonstration of coherent wave packet dynamics in solvated molecules (PRL 117, 013002 (2016)).

We could record the very first x-ray structure of coherent nuclear dynamics (i.e. ‘wavepacket dynamics’) on the excited (PRL 2016, 117 (1), 013002.) and ground state (PRL 2019, 122 (6), 06300) potential energy surfaces for systems in an environment. This was made possible by our innovations in data analysis methods (J. Synchrotron Radiat. 2018, 25 (2), Struct. Dyn. 2019, 6 (2), 024301), which could reveal otherwise hidden information in the experimental data. We have successfully applied all these techniques to chart excited state trajectories with atomistic resolution on potential energy surfaces, deriving the populations of the corresponding electronic states from the XES spectra and the structure from WAXS (Chem. Sci. 2019, 10 (22), 5749–5760, Nat. Commun. 2020, 11 (1), 634). 



Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy

Education/Academic qualification

Ph.D., Aarhus University



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