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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.

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 Kompetenzzemtrums 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.

20. November 2014


SwissFEL ready for assembly

SwissFEL SwissFEL Technology

Researchers from PSI have spent the last four years developing key technologies for the X-ray laser SwissFEL and subjecting them to the acid test in the injector test facility. Now that the development programme has drawn to a close, the installation of the new large-scale research facility is due to get underway in early 2015.

19. November 2014


Ist dies der richtige Zeitpunkt für ein waghalsiges Experiment?


PSI-Direktor Joël Mesot hat sich heute in der Aargauer Zeitung mit einem Gastkommentar zur Debatte um die Ecopop-Initiative geäussert. Lesen Sie hier seinen vollständigen Text.
This news release is only available in German.

14. November 2014

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Das Kompetenzzentrum Speicherung zieht nach einem Jahr Bilanz

Energy and Environment

Am vergangenen 4. November fand am Paul Scherrer Institut das erste Jahressymposium des Kompetenzzentrum des Bundes für Forschung zu Strom- und Wärmespeicherung (SCCER Heat and Electricity Storage) statt. Vertreter aus den beteiligten Forschungsgruppen sowie aus Industrieunternehmen mit einem Bezug zum Thema Speicherung berichteten in ihren Vorträgen über die jüngsten Fortschritte auf dem Gebiet der Wärme- und Stromspeicherung in der Schweiz. Die Tagung zeigte die Intensität der Transformationen, die von der Energiestrategie 2050 in Gang gesetzt worden sind.
This news release is only available in German.

31. October 2014


When thawing glaciers release pollutants

Media Releases Energy and Environment Environment

As glaciers increasingly melt in the wake of climate change, it is not only the landscape that is affected. Thawing glaciers also release many industrial pollutants stored in the ice into the environment. Now, within the scope of a Swiss National Science Foundation project, researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), Empa, ETH Zurich and the University of Berne have measured the concentrations of a class of these pollutants – polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) – in the ice of an Alpine glacier accurately for the first time.

23. October 2014


Competitive thanks to high pressure

Industrial co-operation

Various basic materials for the chemical industry are manufactured using technology developed by the Ticino based company, Casale. The chemical compounds produced serve to make products like synthetic fertilisers or Plexiglas. In co-operation with PSI, Casale aims to make these production processes even more efficient as basic chemical products are export goods that face stiff competition around the globe. Tiny differences in production costs can be decicive when it comes to which licence a plant operator goes for.

23. October 2014


During winter smog fire places put cars in the shade

Energy and Environment Environment

On winter smog days in Switzerland wood burning is the main source of harmful carbon-containing fine particles. This is revealed by a large-scale Swiss study on fine particle pollution conducted over a five-year period by scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), the University of Bern and ETH Zurich.

19. October 2014


Puzzling new behaviour observed in high-temperature superconductors

Media Releases Matter and Material Materials Research Research Using Synchrotron Light

New effect might be important for emergence of High-Temperature Superconductivity
An international team of researchers has observed a new, unexpected kind of behaviour in copper-based high-temperature superconductors. Explaining the new phenomenon – an unexpected form of collective movement of the electrical charges in the material – poses a major challenge for the researchers. A success in explaining the phenomenon might be an important step toward understanding high-temperature superconductivity in general. The crucial experiments were conducted at the Paul Scherrer Institute.

14. October 2014


A large scale research facility disappears in the woods

SwissFEL SwissFEL Construction

The building of the new PSI large-scale research facility SwissFEL in Würenlingen forest could only enjoy the sunshine for a brief spell: it is now disappearing under a mound of earth. This superstructure is one of the measures taken to integrate the facility as harmoniously as possible into the natural environment.

12. October 2014


Useful for spintronics: Big surprises in a thin surface region

Media Releases Research Using Synchrotron Light Materials Research Matter and Material

The need for ever faster and more efficient electronic devices is growing rapidly, and thus the demand for new materials with new properties. Oxides, especially ones based on strontium titanate (SrTiO3), play an important role here. A collaborative project headed by scientists from the PSI has now revealed properties of strontium titanate that make it an important base material for applications in spintronics.

10. October 2014


Neue Erneuerbare auf Integrationskurs

Energy and Environment Industrial co-operation

Die Energiestrategie 2050 des Bundes sieht einen starken Ausbau der neuen erneuerbaren Energien wie Solar- und Windenergie vor. Die Integration dieser dezentral und mit zeitlichen Schwankungen produzierten Energie stellt die Stromnetze vor eine grosse Herausforderung. Eine mögliche Lösung besteht darin, Stromüberschüsse, die die Netze überlasten würden, zur Herstellung energiereicher Gase wie Wasserstoff oder Methan zu nutzen. Das als Power-to-Gas bezeichnete Konzept steht im Mittelpunkt der neuen Energy System Integration-Plattform (ESI) am PSI.
This news release is only available in German.

9. October 2014


Foundation Stone Ceremony Marks Scientific Importance of ESS

Large Scale Facilities Research Using Neutrons

Today, several hundred members of the European scientific community gathered at the European Spallation Source (ESS) construction site in Lund, Sweden, for the ESS Foundation Stone Ceremony. The event was held to ‘lay the foundation’ both for the new facility, which has recently begun construction, and for a new generation of science in Europe.

7. October 2014


The last piece of the puzzle

SwissFEL Technology

Julia H. Smith is a postdoctoral fellow working on detectors for the SwissFEL x-ray free electron laser, which can be envisioned as “the eyes” of the new PSI large-scale facility. During her time at PSI, she has a good chance of accompanying “her” detector up to its use at the new facility. “Even more important than witnessing the first experiments at SwissFEL is acquiring new knowledge and skills during my time as a postdoc at PSI.” Smith would like to continue working in the field of detectors and technology development after her postdoc – at a company or at another research institute.
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.

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