*Submitted Paper*

**Inserted:** 12 may 2022

**Year:** 2022

**Abstract:**

This paper is motivated by the maximization of the $k$-th eigenvalue of the Laplace operator with Neumann boundary conditions among domains of ${\mathbb R}^N$ with prescribed measure. We relax the problem to the class of (possibly degenerate) densities in $\R^N$ with prescribed mass and prove the existence of an optimal density. For $k=1,2$ the two problems are equivalent and the maximizers are known to be one and two equal balls, respectively. For $k \ge 3$ this question remains open, except in one dimension of the space where we prove that the maximal densities correspond to a union of $k$ equal segments. This result provides sharp upper bounds for Sturm-Liouville eigenvalues and proves the validity of the P\'olya conjecture in the class of densities in ${\mathbb R}$. Based on the relaxed formulation, we provide numerical approximations of optimal densities for $k=1, \dots, 8$ in ${\mathbb R}^2$.