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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.

22. May 2015


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


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


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


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


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


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.

6. March 2015


Gasoline beats mining

Media Releases Environment

Until it was banned, leaded gasoline dominated the manmade lead emissions in South America
Leaded gasoline was a larger emission source of the toxic heavy metal lead than mining in South America – even though the extraction of metals from the region’s mines historically released huge quantities of lead into the environment. Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and the University of Bern have discovered evidence of the dominance of leaded gasoline based on measurements in an ice core from a Bolivian glacier. The scientists found that lead from road traffic in the neighbouring countries polluted the air twice as heavily as regional mining from the 1960s onwards. The study is to be published in the journal Science Advances on 6 March 2015.

17. February 2015


Prepared for the SwissFEL

SwissFEL SwissFEL Experiments Large Scale Facilities

For many years, PSI researchers have been testing experimental methods that will provide insights into novel materials for electronic devices. Using a special trick to make the Swiss Light Source (SLS) at PSI generate light with similar properties to that of PSI’s x-ray laser SwissFEL, the researchers were able to demonstrate that the experiments planned for SwissFEL are possible and they are now building an experimental station at SwissFEL.

5. February 2015

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PSI expertise boosts research for the energy transition

Energy and Environment

Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) are involved in several projects under the new National Research Programme “Energy Turnaround” (NRP70) of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). The PSI experts tackle issues such as particle emissions from wood heating systems, the holistic evaluation of energy systems and the production of semiconductor components for novel transformers.

19. January 2015


Neuer Laser für Computerchips

Media Releases Matter and Material Materials Research Micro- and Nanotechnology

Germanium-Zinn-Halbleiterlaser lässt sich direkt auf Siliziumchips aufbringen
Winzige Laser, die in Computerchips aus Silizium eingebaut werden, sollen in Zukunft die Kommunikation innerhalb der Chips und zwischen verschiedenen Bauteilen eines Computers beschleunigen. Lange suchten Experten nach einem dafür geeigneten Lasermaterial, das sich mit dem Fertigungsprozess von Siliziumchips vereinbaren lässt. Wissenschaftler des Forschungszentrums Jülich und des Paul Scherrer Instituts PSI haben hier nun einen wichtigen Fortschritt erzielt.
This news release is only available in German.

12. January 2015


Batman lights the way to compact data storage

Media Releases Matter and Material Research Using Synchrotron Light Materials Research

Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) have succeeded in switching tiny, magnetic structures using laser light and tracking the change over time. In the process, a nanometre-sized area bizarrely reminiscent of the Batman logo appeared. The research results could render data storage on hard drives faster, more compact and more efficient.

8. January 2015


Keeping geothermal energy on the table

Energy and Environment

A study by the Centre for Technology Assessment TA-Swiss, coordinated by the Paul Scherrer Institute, recommends further pursuing deep geothermal energy in Switzerland. The energy resources underground are vast, environmentally friendly to extract and available around the clock, the authors conclude. The earthquake risk and the cost of electricity production, which are still too high, however, remain challenges that society needs to weigh up against the advantages of deep geothermal energy.

15. December 2014

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Shortcut to protein portraits

Media Releases Research Using Synchrotron Light Biology

All living organisms, from bacteria to humans, rely on proteins to perform their vital functions. How these proteins accomplish their tasks depends on their structure. Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute have now devised a novel method to determine the crystal structure of proteins using X-ray light, which could also hasten the development of new drugs in future. The study will be published in the journal Nature Methods on 15 December.

12. December 2014


Biomasse als Stütze der Energiewende

Energy and Environment

Mit 80 Teilnehmerinnen und Teilnehmern fand am 2. Dezember am Paul Scherrer Institut PSI die erste Jahreskonferenz des Kompetenzzentrums des Bundes für Bioenergie (SCCER BIOSWEET) statt. Das im Rahmen des Aktionsplans Energieforschung Schweiz gegründete Kompetenzzentrum definierte in der Tagung die Ziele, Strategien und Positionierung der Bioenergie-Forschung vor dem Hintergrund der neuen schweizerischen Energiepolitik.
This news release is only available in German.

27. November 2014


New method for iodine retention in the nuclear power plant venting filters faces crucial tests

Energy and Environment Nuclear Power Plant Safety

These days, the Federal Office of Public Health distributes iodine tablets to the population living close to the Swiss nuclear power plants (NPP). The dispensing of iodine tablets within a radius of, now, fifty kilometres around NPP sites is aimed at protecting the residents from contamination with carcinogenic, radioactive iodine in the event of a severe nuclear accident.To make sure that as little radioactive iodine as possible gets into the environment as a result of a nuclear accident, researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have for many years been developing a method that can be used in containment venting filters.
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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