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Fascinating research,
or “what are they actually doing there?”

In these pages, we would like to present the Paul Scherrer Institute to an interested public in a generally comprehensible way. Here you can learn more about the research topics we are working on and the unique large-scale facilities we are using to find answers to a variety of scientific questions.

3. September 2015

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In search of the smallest bit

Matter and Material Research Using Synchrotron Light Materials Research

For increasingly compact storage media, magnetic areas – the memory bits – also need to become smaller and smaller. But just how small can a magnet be? Frithjof Nolting and his colleagues at the Paul Scherrer Institute investigate the surprising phenomena in the field of nanomagnetism.

17. August 2015

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Terahertz laser light focused to the extreme

Matter and Material Materials Research

Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute have managed to focus the light pulse terahertz laser at the limit of what is permitted by the classical laws of physics. This opens up new possibilities for studying the properties of materials.

10. August 2015

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New details of the transmission of stimuli in living organisms unveiled

Media Releases Biology Human Health Medical Science

Researchers unveil new details of how cells in a living organism process stimuli. So-called G-proteins, which help conduct external stimuli that reach a cell into its interior, play a central role here. For the first time, the study shows which parts of the G-proteins are vital for their function. Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, ETH Zurich, the pharmaceutical company Roche and the British MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology report their results in the journals Nature and Nature Structural and Molecular Biology.

6. August 2015

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Magnets made of non-magnetic metals

Media Releases Materials Research Matter and Material Research Using Muons

For the first time, an international research team has demonstrated how to generate magnetism in metals that aren’t naturally magnetic, such as copper. The discovery could help develop novel magnets for a wide range of technical applications. Crucial measurements to understand this phenomenon were carried out at PSI – the only place where magnetic processes inside materials can be studied in sufficient detail.

30. July 2015

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Radioactive waste caught in a cement trap

Energy and Environment Environment

In a deep geological repository, low and intermediate level radioactive waste from nuclear applications is solidified by cementitious materials for several thousand years. Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have now demonstrated how cement limits the mobility of those radioactive substances. The new findings improve our understanding of the processes involved in this early phase of deep geological disposal.

21. July 2015

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Fighting tumours with protons

Human Health Medical Science

Interview with Damien Charles Weber
Damien Charles Weber has been the head and chief physician of the Centre for Proton Therapy, the only centre of its kind in Switzerland, since 2013. In this interview, he talks about the successes of proton therapy in cancer treatment and the objectives for the next few years in this field.

2. July 2015

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Seven nanometres for the electronics of the future

Micro- and Nanotechnology Materials Research Matter and Material Research Using Synchrotron Light

Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute have succeeded in creating regular patterns in a semiconductor material that are sixteen times smaller than in today’s computer chips. As a result, they have taken an important step closer towards even smaller computer components. Industry envisages structures on this scale as the standard for the year 2028.

29. June 2015

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Particulate matter from modern gasoline engines damages our lungs

Media Releases Environment Energy and Environment

For years, studies have proved that fine dust from petrol engines can damage our health. Modern engine technology does not help, either, as researchers from the University of Bern and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) reveal.

26. May 2015

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Together, not alone

Research Using Synchrotron Light SwissFEL SwissFEL Experiments Human Health

Decoding biomolecules at SwissFEL and SLS
Proteins are a coveted but stubborn research object. A method developed for x-ray free-electron lasers and PSI’s future SwissFEL should now help researchers to make good headway in this field. It involves x-raying many small, identical protein samples consecutively at short intervals, thereby avoiding the main problem that protein research has faced thus far: producing samples in a sufficient size.

22. May 2015

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First undulators reach the SwissFEL building

SwissFEL SwissFEL Technology SwissFEL Construction

The first undulator frames have arrived at the SwissFEL building. They will take around six months to assemble, after which the finished undulators will be taken to the SwissFEL accelerator tunnel for installation.

21. May 2015

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From inside an eggshell

Research Using Synchrotron Light Large Scale Facilities

Tiny cavities inside eggshells supply the materials that stimulate and control the shell’s growth. Using a novel imaging technique, researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), ETH Zurich and the Dutch FOM Institute AMOLF have succeeded in depicting these voids in 3D for the first time. In doing so, they lift an old limitation of tomographic images and hope that one day medicine will also benefit from their method.

13. May 2015

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Research geared towards the future

Research Using Synchrotron Light Large Scale Facilities Materials Research Micro- and Nanotechnology SwissFEL

Interview with Gabriel Aeppli
Gabriel Aeppli has been head of synchrotron radiation and nanotechnology research at PSI since 2014. Previously, the Swiss-born scientist set up a leading research centre for nanotechnology in London. In this interview, Aeppli explains how the research approaches of the future can be implemented at PSI’s large-scale research facilities and talks about his view of Switzerland.

1. April 2015

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Gasoline from a nanoreactor

Energy and Environment

Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and ETH Zurich have developed a miniscule chemical reactor in the lab that could one day be used to produce gasoline and diesel more sustainably and cost-effectively than today. By specifically modifying nanometre-sized, porous zeolite crystals, the scientists built a nanoreactor that is able to complete two of the conversion steps for the production of hydrocarbons.

24. March 2015

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Split x-ray flash reveals rapid processes

SwissFEL SwissFEL Technology Micro- and Nanotechnology

SwissFEL, PSI’s x-ray laser, is to render the individual steps of very rapid processes visible. A new method will facilitate especially precise experiments: the individual x-ray flashes are split into several parts that arrive at the object under examination one by one. The principle of the method harks back to the ideas of the earliest high-speed photography.

20. March 2015

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Nanometres in 3D

Media Releases Matter and Material Research Using Synchrotron Light Micro- and Nanotechnology

Scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute and ETH Zurich have created 3D images of tiny objects showing details down to 25 nanometres. In addition to the shape, the scientists determined how particular chemical elements were distributed in their sample and whether these elements were in a chemical compound or in their pure state.

Older news can be found in the overview 2014.



For media representatives

Are you a journalist and do you have general questions about PSI? Are you looking for images for an article on a research topic? PSI has an extensive photo archive from which we can send you appropriate material upon request. We will be happy to assist you in your search for scientists who, as neutral experts, will respond to your technical questions. Please get in touch with our contact for media representatives:

For the general public

If, after visiting our Website, you would really like to know what our daily work routine is like – come and visit us. In the psi forum visisitor's centre, we welcome adults and teenagers, either individually or in groups. Homepage psi forum

For parties of 12 persons and over, we offer a free-of-charge tour through our large-scale facilities, and for students we have founded the student laboratory iLab. School classes can visit us free of charge for a day, carry out experiments in the laboratory and then see from the large-scale facilities how the scientific principle studied at iLab is applied in routine research. Homepage iLab
Photo on the left: A sample being mounted at the TOMCAT beamline for X-ray tomography, located at the SLS.

Proton Therapy

Treatment for specific cancers at PSI

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