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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.

25. September 2014

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Giants who control miniscule particles

Large Scale Facilities

Magnets are the unsung heroes in particle accelerators because they keep protons or electrons on track. But such magnets have very little in common with the small ones on the domestic fridge door. Quite a few of the magnets at PSI are heavier and bulkier than the fridge itself, yet despite this they are also masterpieces of precision and control.

23. September 2014

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A reliable type from the 1980s

Large Scale Facilities

The source of the proton beam at PSI is a retro-style Cockcroft-Walton linear accelerator. Since 1984 it has been the first acceleration stage for protons which are taken up to around 80 percent of the speed of light by two further ring accelerators. This has resulted in the generation of a significant proton beam over decades, and which has even held the world record as the highest performing beam since 1994 thanks to ongoing retrofitting.

17. September 2014

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“Airpocalypse” explained

Media Releases Environment Energy and Environment

The causes of China’s record level fine particulate pollution in winter 2013
At the beginning of 2013 a greyish-brown blanket of smog lay over large areas of China for several months. The fine particle pollution was higher by 1 to 2 orders of magnitude than the levels normally measured in Western Europe and the United States. An international team of researchers under the lead of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and the Institute of Earth Environment, Chinese Academy of the Sciences revealed the causes of the “airpocalypse”. The study published in the journal Nature also describes what steps are to be taken to prevent an environmental crisis of this kind in the future.

9. September 2014

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Energiewende in Reinkultur – in Wädenswil zu bestaunen

Media Releases Energy and Environment

Der am Paul Scherrer Institut PSI entwickelte Prozess der hydrothermalen Methanierung von wässriger Biomasse erreicht einen wichtigen Meilenstein: Dank der Zusammenarbeit im neuen Kompetenzzentrum des Bundes für Bioenergie BIOSWEET konnten Forschende des PSI, der ZHAW, der ETH Lausanne, der Empa und der Hochschule für Technik Rapperswil die technische Machbarkeit der Methanherstellung aus Mikroalgen demonstrieren. Der dazu verwendete Algenbioreaktor sowie die Anlage zur Methanierung der Algen können am 24. September auf dem Campus Grüental der ZHAW in Wädenswil besichtigt werden. Für Medienschaffende gibt es von 14:00 bis 14:30 eine spezielle Führung.
This news release is only available in German.

4. September 2014

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New material generated with light

Media Releases Research Using Synchrotron Light Large Scale Facilities Materials Research Matter and Material SwissFEL SwissFEL Experiments

PSI researchers garner experience for SwissFEL experiments
Aided by short laser flashes, researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute have managed to temporarily change a material’s properties to such a degree that they have – to a certain extent –created a new material. This was done using the x-ray laser “LCLS” in California. Once the PSI x-ray laser SwissFEL is up and running, experiments of this kind will also be possible at PSI.

21. August 2014

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Jurassic Welsh mammals were picky eaters, study finds

Media Releases Research Using Synchrotron Light

New analyses of tiny fossil mammals from South Wales are shedding light on the function and diets of our earliest ancestors, a team led by researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Leicester report in the journal Nature. The team used CT scanning with synchrotron X-rays at PSI’s Swiss Light Source to reveal in unprecedented detail the internal anatomy of the mammals’ tiny jaws.

8. August 2014

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What attacks on oil pipelines have in common with epidemics

Energy and Environment

How susceptible is the global energy infrastructure to attacks by non-state actors? Has the number of attacks on this infrastructure actually increased of late? Which regions of the world are especially vulnerable? And which tactics do the attackers use? Scientists are looking to find the answers to these and other related questions with the aid of a database developed by researchers from the Center of Security Studies at ETH Zurich in collaboration with the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI.

30. July 2014

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Insulator makes electrons move in an ordered way

Media Releases Research Using Synchrotron Light Materials Research Matter and Material

Researchers at the PSI, the EPFL and the Chinese Academy of Science, have proven that the material SmB6 shows all the properties of a so called topological insulator – a material with electric currents flowing along its surface with all of them being polarized. Here, the property is very robust, i.e. the only current that can flow is spin polarized and is not easily destroyed by small irregularities in the structure or composition of the material. Spin polarized currents are necessary for spintronics, electronics using the electrons’ spin.

14. July 2014

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Hydrogen: a Trojan horse in fuel-rod cladding tubes

Energy and Environment Nuclear Power Plant Safety

In nuclear reactors, water is dissociated at the surface of the hot fuel elements, thereby producing hydrogen. This hydrogen can penetrate the fuel cladding surrounding the actual fuel and weaken it mechanically. Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) have been using neutrons and synchrotron radiation to study how the hydrogen gets into the cladding tube and what impact it can have once inside.

1. July 2014

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A dark state sheds light

Energy and Environment

The molecule dicarbon (C2) is present in all flames where a carbon-containing fuel is combusted. C2 burns visibly, is behind the blue colour inside a candle flame and could also play a key role in the formation of soot. Now, for the first time, scientists from the Paul Scherrer Institute have rendered a previously invisible C2 energy state, a so-called dark state, visible. Not only is its discovery interesting for combustion researchers; it also solves a century-old puzzle in the spectrum of this omnipresent molecule.

25. June 2014

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Tag der offenen SwissFEL-Baustelle

SwissFEL SwissFEL Construction

Vergangenen Sonntag luden das Paul Scherrer Institut PSI und die Arbeitsgemeinschaft EquiFEL Suisse die Einwohnerinnen und Einwohner der Umgebung zum Tag der offenen SwissFEL-Baustelle ein. Rund 600 Interessierte informierten sich an mehreren Stationen über den aktuellen Bau- und Projektstand.
This news release is only available in German.

16. June 2014

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Ice in fuel cells imaged directly for the first time

Media Releases Energy and Environment Research Using Neutrons

Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) have succeeded in imaging the distribution of frozen and liquid water in a hydrogen fuel cell directly for the first time. They applied a new imaging technique that uses successively two beams with different neutron energies to distinguish between areas with liquid water and those with ice extremely reliably. The method therefore opens up the prospect of studying one of the main problems of using fuel cells to power vehicles: ice can clog the pores in the fuel cells and affect their performance. The PSI scientists’ results will be published in the journal Physical Review Letters on 16 June 2014.

11. June 2014

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Sixteen nanometres in 3D

Media Releases Research Using Synchrotron Light

Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI) have devised a method that opens up new scales of tomographic imaging and will thus allow in the future highly resolved measurements of biological and materials science specimens. With the aid of a special prototype instrument at the Swiss Light Source (SLS), they achieved a 3D resolution of sixteen nanometres in a large sample and thus set a new world record in X-ray tomography.

3. June 2014

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Engineering apprentice on the move

Miscellaneous

This year, Rebekka Liefert completes her four-year training as an engineering apprentice at PSI. What she liked about the research institute was that it almost only makes prototypes. The components for the research facilities are usually individual pieces at PSI. Series production didn’t appeal to her; she quickly got bored. “I can’t sit still. That’s why the variety here is perfect for me.”

3. June 2014

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From amateur firework-maker to battery researcher

Energy and Environment

Portrait of PSI doctoral student Patrick Lanz
Patrick Lanz already discovered a fascination with the world of science and technology during his school days. As an electrical engineer, his father had a decent selection of electronics sets for him to tinker with. However, the young Patrick did not merely content himself with remote-controlled cars. He set about systematically disassembling his toys in a quest to find out how they worked. Later, Lanz also began opening small batteries because he wanted to understand “what went on inside” – probably the first step on the path to his present role as a battery researcher.
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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