Matter and Material

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Overview: Matter and Material

The manifold characteristics of the matter making up the world around us are determined by what kinds of atoms they are made of, how these atoms are arranged, and how they move. Most researchers in the “Matter and Material” field at the Paul Scherrer Institute are trying to clarify the link between the internal structure and the observable properties of various materials. Researchers in the Laboratory for Particle Physics investigate the structure and properties of elementary particles – the smallest building blocks of matter –and are therefore addressing questions about the basic structures of the world.

4. September 2014

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Mit Licht neues Material erzeugt

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

Forschende des Paul Scherrer Instituts haben mithilfe kurzer Lichtblitze aus einem Laser die Eigenschaften eines Materials kurzzeitig so deutlich verändert, dass gewissermassen ein neues Material entstanden ist und die Veränderungen am Röntgenlaser LCLS in Kalifornien untersucht. Nach der Inbetriebnahme des PSI-Röntgenlasers SwissFEL werden solche Experimente auch am PSI möglich sein.
This news release is only available in German.

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.

8. April 2014

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Astral matter from the Paul Scherrer Institute

Media Releases Matter and Material

Processes in stars recreated with isotopes from PSI
Isotopes that otherwise only naturally exist in exploding stars – supernovae – are formed at the Paul Scherrer Institute’s research facilities. This enables processes that take place inside the stars to be recreated in the lab. For instance, an international team of researchers used the titanium isotope Ti-44 to study one such process at CERN in Geneva. In doing so, it became evident that it is less effective than was previously believed and the previous theoretical calculations of processes in stars need to be corrected.

6. March 2014

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Observed live with x-ray laser: electricity controls magnetism

Media Releases Research Using Synchrotron Light Materials Research Matter and Material SwissFEL

Researchers from ETH Zurich and the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI demonstrate how the magnetic structure can be altered quickly in novel materials. The effect could be used in efficient hard drives of the future.


24. February 2014

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The proton accelerator at the Paul Scherrer Institute: forty years of top-flight research

Media Releases Large Scale Facilities Research Using Muons Research Using Neutrons Particle Physics Matter and Material

Materials research, particle physics, molecular biology, archaeology – for the last forty years, the Paul Scherrer Institute’s large-scale proton accelerator has made top-flight research possible in a number of different fields.


22. December 2013

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Superconductivity switched on by magnetic field

Media Releases Research Using Neutrons Materials Research Matter and Material

Superconductivity and magnetic fields are normally seen as rivals – very strong magnetic fields normally destroy the superconducting state. Physicists at the Paul Scherrer Institute have now demonstrated that a novel superconducting state is only created in the material CeCoIn5 when there are strong external magnetic fields. This state can then be manipulated by modifying the field direction. The material is already superconducting in weaker fields, too. In strong fields, however, an additional second superconducting state is created which means that there are two different superconducting states at the same time in the same material.

12. November 2013

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Electrons with a split personality

Media Releases Research Using Synchrotron Light Materials Research Matter and Material

Above the transition temperature, some electrons in the superconducting material La1.77Sr0.23CuO4 behave as if they were in a conventional metal, others as in an unconventional one – depending on the direction of their motion. This is the result of experiments performed at the SLS. The discovery of this anisotropy makes an important contribution towards understanding high-temperature superconductors. The effect will also have to be taken into account in future experiments and theories of high-temperature superconductors.

31. October 2013

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Rare particle decays support standard model

Matter and Material Particle Physics

Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute have observed for the first time the extremely rare decay of the Bs meson into two muons. They have determined its decay frequency with sufficient accuracy using data collected by the CMS detector at CERN. Their result agrees with the predictions of the standard model of particle physics.

26. September 2013

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Towards sodium ion batteries

Research Using Neutrons Matter and Material Storage

Understanding sodium dynamics on a microscopic level
Lithium ion batteries are highly efficient, But there are drawbacks to the use of lithium: it is expensive and its extraction rather harmful to the environment. One possible alternative might be to substitute lithium with sodium. To be able to develop sodium-based batteries, it is crucial to understand how sodium ions move in the relevant materials. Now, for the first time, scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have determined the paths along which sodium ions move in a prospective battery material. With these results, one can now start to think of new and specific ways to manipulate the materials through slight changes to their structure or composition, for example – and thereby achieve the optimized material properties necessary for use in future batteries.

30. August 2013

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Neutrons and synchrotron light help unlock Bronze Age techniques

Matter and Material Research Using Neutrons Research Using Synchrotron Light

Experiments conducted at the PSI have made it possible to determine how a unique Bronze Age axe was made. This was thanks to the process of neutron imaging, which can be used to generate an accurate three-dimensional image of an object’s interior. For the last decade, the PSI has been collaborating with various museums and archaeological institutions both in Switzerland and abroad. The fact that the 18th International Congress on Ancient Bronzes, which is to be held at the University of Zurich from 3 – 7 September, will also be meeting at the PSI for one day is a testament to the success of the cooperation.

11. August 2013

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Magnetisation controlled at picosecond intervals

Media Releases Matter and Material Materials Research SwissFEL

A terahertz laser developed at the Paul Scherrer Institute makes it possible to control a material’s magnetisation precisely at a timescale of picoseconds. In their experiment, the researchers shone extremely short light pulses from the laser onto a magnetic material. The light pulse’s magnetic field was able to deflect the magnetic moments from their idle state in such a way that they exactly followed the change of the laser’s magnetic field with only a minor delay. The terahertz laser used in the experiment is one of the strongest of its kind in the world.

12. July 2013

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Ferromagnetic and antiferromagnetic – at the same time

Media Releases Matter and Material Materials Research

Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) have made thin, crystalline layers of the material LuMnO3 that are both ferromagnetic and antiferromagnetic at the same time. The LuMnO3 layer is ferromagnetic close to the interface with the carrier crystal. As the distance increases, however, it assumes the material’s normal antiferromagnetic order while the ferromagnetism steadily becomes weaker. The possibility of producing two different magnetic orders within a material could be of major technical importance.

1. July 2013

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The cleanest place at the Paul Scherrer Institute

Matter and Material Micro- and Nanotechnology

Highly sensitive processes take place in the cleanrooms of the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) as a single dust particle in the wrong place could have disastrous consequences. Here is a glimpse behind the scenes in rooms that are so clean even pencils are prohibited.

20. June 2013

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Searching for the Higgs boson: “PSI inside”

Matter and Material Particle Physics

“Higgs Particle Found” announced the media triumphantly in July 2012. But for Roland Horisberger, particle physicist at PSI, this was a premature conclusion: “It will take at least another five years before we can be sure of that”. Whatever the findings – whether this is the original Higgs boson, or only one of the theoretical “Higgs-like” particles – one can surely put a tag on them that reads “PSI inside.”

17. May 2013

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Experiments in millionths of a second

Matter and Material Large Scale Facilities Research Using Muons

Muons – unstable elementary particles – provide scientists with important insights into the structure of matter. They provide information about processes in modern materials, about the properties of elementary particles and the nature of our physical world. Many muon experiments are only possible at the Paul Scherrer Institute because of the unique intense muon beams available here.

5. May 2013

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Tiny Magnets as a Model System

Media Releases Matter and Material Materials Research Research Using Synchrotron Light

Scientists use nano-rods to investigate how matter assembles
To make the magnetic interactions between the atoms visible, scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have developed a special model system. It is so big that it can be easily observed under an X-ray microscope, and mimics the tiniest movements in Nature. The model: rings made from six nanoscale magnetic rods, whose north and south poles attract each other. At room temperature, the magnetisation direction of each of these tiny rods varies spontaneously. Scientists were able to observe the magnetic interactions between these active rods in real time. These research results were published on May 5 in the journal “Nature Physics”.

22. April 2013

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Germanium – zum Leuchten gezogen

Media Releases Matter and Material Micro- and Nanotechnology Materials Research

Forscher des PSI und der ETH Zürich haben mit Kollegen vom Politecnico di Milano in der aktuellen Ausgabe der wissenschaftlichen Fachzeitschrift "Nature Photonics" eine Methode erarbeitet, einen Laser zu entwickeln, der schon bald in den neuesten Computern eingesetzt werden könnte. Damit könnte die Geschwindigkeit, mit der einzelne Prozessorkerne im Chip miteinander kommunizieren, drastisch erhöht werden. So würde die Leistung der Rechner weiter steigen.
This news release is only available in German.

8. April 2013

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X-ray Laser: A novel tool for structural studies of nano-particles

Media Releases SwissFEL Matter and Material

Prominent among the planned applications of X-ray free electron laser facilities, such as the future SwissFEL at the Paul Scherrer Institute, PSI, are structural studies of complex nano-particles, down to the scale of individual bio-molecules. A major challenge for such investigations is the mathematical reconstruction of the particle form from the measured scattering data. Researchers at PSI have now demonstrated an optimized mathematical procedure for treating such data, which yields a dramatically improved single-particle structural resolution. The procedure was successfully tested at the Swiss Light Source synchrotron at PSI.

3. April 2013

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Observing engine oil beneath metal

Media Releases Matter and Material Research Using Neutrons

Developmental Engineers from the firm LuK (D) wanted to see right through the metal housing of a clutch. They wanted to observe how the oil that lubricates and cools a clutch is distributed. A transparent disc becomes dirty very quickly, and X-rays merely reveal the metal. These engineers therefore turned to scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute, who illuminated the metal with neutrons and thus made the lubricating oil visible. The results surprised everyone: only three of the eight lamellae were sufficiently lubricated.

12. February 2013

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Superconductors surprise with intriguing properties

Media Releases Matter and Material Research Using Synchrotron Light

Scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute, together with Chinese and German collaborators, have obtained new insights into a class of high-temperature superconductors. The experimental results of this fundamental research study indicate that magnetic interactions are of central importance in the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity. This knowledge could help to develop superconductors with enhanced technical properties in the future.

31. January 2013

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Magnetic nano-chessboard puts itself together

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

Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute and the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research have been able to intentionally ‘switch off’ the magnetization of every second molecule in an array of magnetized molecules and thereby create a ‘magnetic nano-chessboard’. To achieve this, they manipulated the quantum state of a part of the molecules in a specific way.

25. January 2013

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Proton size puzzle reinforced!

Media Releases Particle Physics Research Using Muons Large Scale Facilities Matter and Material

An international team of scientists confirmed the surprisingly small value of the proton radius with laser spectroscopy of exotic hydrogen. The experiments were carried out at PSI which is the only research institute in the world providing the necessary amount of muons for the production of the exotic hydrogen atoms made up of a muon and a proton.

23. January 2013

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Excitement that rivals a moon landing

Matter and Material User Experiments Research Using Synchrotron Light

Interview with Thomas Huthwelker
The Paul Scherrer Institut makes its research facilities available to scientists from all over the world. To ensure these scientists are exposed to optimal conditions when they arrive is the hard work of many PSI staff. An interview with one of these scientists provides a glimpse behind the scenes. This interview is taken from the latest issue of the PSI Magazine Fenster zur Forschung

7. January 2013

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The weak side of the proton

Media Releases Matter and Material Research Using Muons Particle Physics

An international research team has determined with a high level of accuracy, how the proton participates in the weak interaction – one of the fundamental forces of nature. Their results confirm the predictions of the Standard Model of particle physics. The experiment observed the probability of muon capture by protons – a process governed by the weak interaction. The experiment was conducted at the Paul Scherrer Institute, the only institute in the world with an accelerator capable of generating enough muons for carrying out this project in a realistic timeframe.

2. October 2012

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Silicon – Close to the Breaking Point

Media Releases Materials Research Micro- and Nanotechnology Matter and Material

Stretching a layer of silicon can lead to internal mechanical strain which can considerably improve the electronic properties of the material. Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute and the ETH Zurich have created a new process from a layer of silicon to fabricate extremely highly strained nanowires in a silicon substrate. The researchers report the highest-ever mechanical stress obtained in a material that can serve as the basis for electronic components. The long term goal aim is to produce high-performance and low-power transistors for microprocessors based on such wires.

10. September 2012

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Built-in Germanium Lasers could make Computer Chips faster

Media Releases Materials Research Micro- and Nanotechnology Matter and Material

Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) researchers have investigated the mechanisms necessary for enabling the semiconductor Germanium to emit laser light. As a laser material, Germanium together with Silicon could form the basis for innovative computer chips in which information would be transferred partially in the form of light. This technology would revolutionise data streaming within chips and give a boost to the performance of electronics.

5. September 2012

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New Insights into Superconducting Materials

Media Releases Matter and Material Materials Research Research Using Synchrotron Light

A new X-ray technique provides insights into the magnetic properties of atomically thin layers of a parent compound of a high-temperature superconductor. It turns out that the magnetic properties of material films which are only a few atoms thick differ by only a surprisingly small degree from those of macroscopically thick samples. In the future, this method can be used to study the processes occurring in very thin layers of superconductors and help us to understand this intriguing phenomenon.

4. July 2012

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Observation of a New Particle

Media Releases Matter and Material Particle Physics

In a joint seminar today at CERN and the “ICHEP 2012” conference in Melbourne, researchers of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) presented their preliminary results on the search for the standard model (SM) Higgs boson in their data recorded up to June 2012.

3. July 2012

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Controversy clarified: Why two insulators together can transport electricity

Media Releases Matter and Material Materials Research

How can two materials which do not conduct electricity create an electrically conducting layer when they are joined together? Since this effect was discovered in 2004, researchers have developed various hypotheses to answer this question. Now, an international team under the leadership of researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute has probably settled the controversy.

18. April 2012

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Physicists observe the splitting of an electron inside a solid

Media Releases Matter and Material Materials Research Research Using Synchrotron Light

An electron has been observed to decay into two separate parts, each carrying a particular property of the electron: a spinon carrying its spin – the property making the electron behave as a tiny compass needle – and an orbiton carrying its orbital moment – which arises from the electron’s motion around the nucleus. These newly created particles, however, cannot leave the material in which they have been produced.

29. February 2012

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Creating magnetism takes much longer than destroying it

Media Releases Matter and Material Materials Research Research Using Synchrotron Light

Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute are finding out how long it takes to establish magnetism and how this happens. Establishing a magnetically ordered phase in the metallic alloy iron-rhodium takes much longer than the reverse process of demagnetization. The result comes from basic research, but has relevance for the computer industry, as it shows which processes limit the speed of magnetic data storage and where improvements might be made.

7. February 2012

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Using heat for storing data

Media Releases Matter and Material Research Using Synchrotron Light Materials Research

An international research team has demonstrated a new way to record information on a magnetic medium without the use of a magnetic field. Instead, they found that they could record information using only a heat pulse. This method of recording might allow one to record Terabytes (1000s of Gigabytes) of information per second being 100s of times faster than present hard drive technology, and consumes much less energy by using heat without the need for a magnetic field. Using modern lithographic methods and x-ray microscopy, researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute contributed considerably to this work.

23. January 2012

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It works: Ultrafast magnetic processes observed ‘live’ using an X-ray laser

Media Releases Matter and Material SwissFEL SwissFEL Experiments Materials Research

In first-of-their-kind experiments performed at the American X-ray laser LCLS, a collaboration led by researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute has been able to precisely follow how the magnetic structure of a material changes. The change of structure was initiated by a laser pulse, and investigated with the help of short X-ray pulses. It appears as if the structure begins to change 400 femtoseconds after the laser pulse strikes. Such investigations will be a major focus of research at the planned Swiss X-ray Laser, SwissFEL, at PSI.

23. November 2011

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Erkenntnis aus dem Nichts

Media Releases Matter and Material Particle Physics Research Using Muons

Zwei Experimente mit massgeblicher Beteiligung von Forschern des Paul Scherrer Instituts PSI liefern wichtige Ergebnisse bei der Suche nach der richtigen Beschreibung der Welt der kleinsten Teilchen. In den Experimenten haben die Physiker nach sehr seltenen Teilchenzerfällen gesucht. In beiden Fällen konnte der gesuchte Zerfall nicht beobachtet werden wodurch bestimmte Modelle der Teilchenphysik ausgeschlossen werden konnten.
This news release is only available in German.

19. September 2011

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Schweiz beteiligt sich an Neutronenquelle der Zukunft

Media Releases Matter and Material Research Using Neutrons

Mauro Dell’Ambrogio, Staatssekretär für Bildung und Forschung unterzeichnete heute die Absichtserklärung der Schweiz, sich an der neuen europäischen Neutronenquelle ESS (European Spallation Source) zu beteiligen. Darin bekennt sich die Schweiz zu dem Ziel, die ESS in Lund (Südschweden) zu bauen und verpflichtet sich, am Konzept mitzuarbeiten, in dem der endgültige Plan für die Anlage festgelegt wird. Kurz nach Fertigstellung des Konzepts im Frühjahr 2013 soll die Entscheidung für den Bau der ESS fallen. Die Schweizer Beiträge zur Entwicklung der Anlage werden durch das Paul Scherrer Institut, das langjährige Erfahrung in der Forschung mit Neutronen hat, sowie durch Schweizer Universitäten und die Schweizer Industrie erbracht.
This news release is only available in German.

14. September 2011

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Zehn Jahre Forschung in der fliegenden Untertasse

Media Releases Matter and Material Research Using Synchrotron Light

Mit einem Festakt hat das Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI) in Villigen (AG) heute an das zehnjährige Bestehen ihrer bedeutendsten Grossforschungsanlage erinnert. Seit der Inbetriebnahme im Sommer 2001 haben Tausende von Forschern aus Hochschule und Industrie an der Synchroton Lichtquelle Schweiz (SLS) qualitativ hochwertige Experimente durchgeführt. Ihre Forschung mündete in über 2000 wissenschaftlichen Publikationen und brachte darüber hinaus einen Nobelpreis sowie eine Vielzahl industrieller Anwendungen hervor.
This news release is only available in German.

20. May 2011

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Der Unterschied zwischen dünn und sehr dünn

Media Releases Matter and Material Research Using Muons Materials Research

Materialforschung in neuer Dimension

Viele Materialien haben eine spezielle kristalline Struktur – ihre Atome sind übereinander in Schichten angeordnet. Ein deutsch-schweizerisches Forscherteam hat zum ersten Mal präzise beobachtet, wie die physikalischen Eigenschaften einer Substanz von der Zahl dieser Schichten abhängen. Dass sich die physikalischen Charakteristika nun auch auf diese Weise kontrollieren lassen, eröffnet neue Möglichkeiten, Stoffe zu identifizieren, aus denen die Computerchips der Zukunft gemacht sein könnten.
This news release is only available in French and German.

9. March 2011

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The basic structures of sight deciphered

Media Releases Matter and Material Biology Research Using Synchrotron Light

At the beginning of the process of sight, light interacts with a protein molecule called Rhodopsin. This molecule contains the actual light sensor that is stimulated by the incoming light and changes its form, in order to trigger the rest of the process. Researchers have now managed to determine the exact structure of the Rhodopsin molecule in its short-lived, excited state. From this, they have obtained a precise picture of the first step of the process of sight.

25. January 2011

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How strong is the weak force?

Media Releases Matter and Material Research Using Muons Particle Physics

A new measurement of the muon lifetime – the most precise determination of any lifetime – provides a high-accuracy value for a crucial parameter determining the strength of weak nuclear force. The experiments were performed by an international research team at the accelerator facility of the Paul Scherrer Institute.

13. December 2010

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In the future: processing and memory on a single chip

Media Releases Matter and Material Materials Research Research Using Muons

Researchers have shown that a magnetically polarised current can be manipulated by electric fields. This important discovery opens up the prospect of simultaneously processing and storing data on electrons held in the molecular structure of computer chips – combining computer memory and processing power on the same chip. This may allow for the development of new devices with high power efficiency and reduced weight.

24. November 2010

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Magnetisierte Bereiche in 3D sichtbar gemacht

Media Releases Matter and Material Materials Research Research Using Neutrons

Magnetisierbare Materialien sind nie völlig unmagnetisch, sondern enthalten immer magnetisierte Bereiche – die magnetischen Domänen. In einem Experiment am Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) konnten diese Domänen erstmals in ihrer dreidimensionalen Struktur abgebildet werden. Der Versuch beruhte auf einer Weiterentwicklung eines am Paul Scherrer Institut entstanden Verfahrens und nutzte neutronenoptische Komponenten, die am PSI hergestellt worden sind.
This news release is only available in German.

26. October 2010

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What the “hairy ball theorem” tells us about flux lines in superconductors

Media Releases Matter and Material Materials Research Research Using Neutrons

In strong magnetic fields, type II superconductors tend to form flux lines – thin channels through which the magnetic field can pass through the superconductor. Usually, these flux lines tend to form regular patterns. Now, two physicists have shown that such a pattern must depend on the direction of the external magnetic field. These results are based on a mathematical principle known as the “Hairy ball theorem”.

17. October 2010

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Moving Monopoles Caught on Camera

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

For decades researchers have searched for magnetic monopoles – isolated magnetic charges that can move freely like electric charges. Now a team of researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute and University College Dublin have been able to produce monopoles in the form of quasiparticles in an assembly of nanoscale magnets and have directly observed how they move.

8. July 2010

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Protons – smaller than we thought

Media Releases Matter and Material Research Using Muons Particle Physics

The proton – one of the smallest building-blocks of all matter – is even smaller than had previously been assumed. This discovery is the result of experiments carried out at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Villigen, Switzerland, by an international research team.

3. March 2010

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Technology from the Paul Scherrer Institute detects proton collisions at unprecedented levels of energy

Media Releases Particle Physics Matter and Material

CERN has been able to take the first measurements of collisions between the highest-energy particles ever generated. These collisions were performed at CERN's new LHC accelerator and recorded with the CMS Experiment, which involved a key component (the barrel pixel detector) contributed by the Paul Scherrer Institute in collaboration with Swiss Universities. The first LHC operation in Dezember 2009 has now resulted in a first particle physics publications of the CMS experiment. This is after a remarkable short time , given the compexity and the size of this gigantic experiment with over 3000 physicists and engineers from close to 40 countries.

8. February 2010

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Magnetspeicher der neusten Generation sind 100 000 mal schneller als herkömmliche Festplatten

Media Releases Materials Research Research Using Synchrotron Light Matter and Material

Computer-Festplatten könnten bald ausgedient haben: Forscher des Paul Scherrer Instituts PSI und der Universität Konstanz haben neuartige Magnetbänder untersucht und gezeigt, dass sie nicht nur sehr hohe Speicherdichten, sondern auch viel schnellere Zugriffszeiten als heutige Speichermedien zulassen. Leiter der Studie war Mathias Kläui, der am 1. April eine von der ETH Lausanne und dem PSI gemeinsam finanzierte Professur antritt.
This news release is only available in French and German.

1. December 2009

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The characteristics and capabilities of neutrons

Matter and Material

Thanks to their special properties, neutrons offer physicists, chemists, biologists and materials scientists unique insights into the structure of different materials and compounds. Neutrons have no electrical charge, so they can penetrate deep into metals and provide detailed information about their internal structure. At the same time, neutrons behave like tiny bar magnets, so with their help, researchers can get to the bottom of the magnetic properties of metals too.

1. December 2009

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Synchrotron light

Matter and Material Research Using Synchrotron Light Materials Research

Synchrotron light is a particularly intense form of X-ray light that allows insights into many different materials and compounds. This allows processes in magnetic materials or within the complex structures of biomolecules to be determined. In comparison to conventional X-rays, it offers numerous advantages: for example, one can precisely adjust its properties to fit the requirements of each experiment carried out. At the Paul Scherrer Institute, synchrotron light is available at the Swiss Light Source SLS.

1. December 2009

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The SμS muon source

Research Using Muons Matter and Material Large Scale Facilities

Along its path, the beam first strikes one target, then the second, and then moves on to the lead target of the SINQ neutron source. Muons are generated by the collisions of protons with the carbon nuclei in the first two targets. PSI operates two muon targets because a single one could not supply enough muons for all the experiments being performed. The muons are guided with the aid of magnets to the individual measuring stations, of which there are currently six for experiments in solid-state physics using muons.

1. December 2009

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The Swiss Light Source SLS

Matter and Material Research Using Synchrotron Light Large Scale Facilities

The synchrotron light in the SLS is emitted from electrons, which move at a velocity of almost the speed of light along a circular path with an overall circumference of 288 metres. The synchrotron light is emitted tangentially to the trajectory of the electrons, i.e. in the same direction as sparks would fly from a grindstone, or a hammer from the hands of a hammer thrower.

The production of synchrotron radiation makes use of the fact that electrically charged particles emit light as they move along a curved path. Bending magnets keep the electrons on their curved track, as a magnetic field deflects fast-moving electrically-charged particles.

1. December 2009

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The SINQ neutron source

Matter and Material Research Using Neutrons Large Scale Facilities

In the SINQ spallation source a beam of fast protons (at about 80 % of the speed of light) from the PSI proton accelerator facility strikes a block of lead (the Target). If a fast proton collides with a lead nucleus, the nucleus will be heated up and eject 10 to 20 neutrons. The neutrons set free by this method are extremely fast – much too fast for the experiments. In order to decelerate the neutrons after they have been generated, the whole target is placed in a tank filled with heavy water

1. December 2009

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The PSI proton accelerator

Matter and Material Research Using Synchrotron Light Research Using Neutrons Research Using Muons Large Scale Facilities Particle Physics

The neutrons and muons used for experiments at PSI are all produced by a beam of fast protons colliding with a target – made of lead in the case of the SINQ neutron source and of carbon in the case of the SμS muon source. For that purpose, the protons are accelerated to 80% of the speed of light at PSI's accelerator facility. The facility has been in operation since 1974. After numerous improvements, it provides the most intense proton beam in the world.

1. December 2009

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Service to the scientific community

Matter and Material Research Using Synchrotron Light Research Using Muons Research Using Neutrons Large Scale Facilities Particle Physics

Neutrons, synchrotron light and muons are very useful for researchers in a variety of disciplines. Using these “probes”, we can determine the structure of crystals, they help us understand magnetic processes, or they can reveal the structures of biological materials. However, producing these probes is so difficult that most research groups will not have a neutron, muon or synchrotron light at their own scientific centre.

1. December 2009

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Experimenting with neutrons

Matter and Material Research Using Neutrons

Neutron experiments can reveal the internal structure of materials and objects. In neutron scattering experiments, a beam of neutrons is pointed at the material to be investigated. On their way through the material, some neutrons will change their flight direction or velocity. From the changes observed in these parameters, one can determine the arrangement and motion of atoms, and gain insights into magnetic phenomena. Imaging techniques can also give us a snapshot of the interiors of an enormous range of objects – from technical equipment to works of art.

1. December 2009

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Research using neutrons

Matter and Material Research Using Neutrons

With neutron experiments, one can gain information about the structure and composition of different materials that is unobtainable using any other technique. Thus, neutron experiments allow one to determine how the atoms are arranged in a material and how they move, or to learn about their magnetic properties. At the Paul Scherrer Institute, neutrons are used in the research of physicists, chemists, biologists and materials scientists. Most of these researchers come from other scientific institutions to perform their experiments at PSI.

1. December 2009

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Research with Muons

Matter and Material Research Using Muons

Muons are unstable elementary particles that can be used to determine magnetic fields inside solids. Muons are mainly applied in research into high temperature superconductors and magnetic materials. Muons for solid state research are only available at two sites in Europe: one at the PSI, the other in the UK. The experimental opportunities provided with slow muons, provided by PSI, are unique in the world.

24. November 2009

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Large scale facilities

Matter and Material Large Scale Facilities

Sometimes, one needs unusually large pieces of equipment to look at the smallest of objects – because only these large machines or facilities can generate the “probes” that are needed to examine matter in such a way that the information being sought can be obtained. PSI maintains a number of such facilities, making them available as a service for other institutions, but also using them for its own research. These facilities are unique within Switzerland, and PSI is the only location in the world for some of the facilities

12. November 2009

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Aufbau von Materialien nanogenau untersuchen

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

Ein neues Mikroskop an der Synchrotron Lichtquelle Schweiz SLS des Paul Scherrer Instituts wird es möglich machen, den Aufbau von Materialien mit bisher unerreichter Auflösung darzustellen. Dazu werden Forschende einzelne Bereiche in einem Material betrachten, die nur wenige Nanometer (millionstel Millimeter) gross sind, und für jeden dieser Bereiche bestimmen, welche chemischen Elemente darin enthalten sind.
This news release is only available in German.

17. July 2009

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Neues Verfahren ermöglicht Steuerung von elektronischen Materialeigenschaften

Media Releases Matter and Material Materials Research Micro- and Nanotechnology

Forschenden ist es erstmals gelungen, dünne Schichten mit steuerbaren elektronischen Eigenschaften herzustellen. Diese Entdeckung könnte für zukünftige Anwendungen in der Sensorik und der Computertechnologie von grosser Bedeutung sein. Die Arbeiten wurden im Wissenschaftsmagazin “Science” veröffentlicht.
This news release is only available in German.

23. February 2009

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Entsteht Supraleitung doch ganz anders?

Media Releases Matter and Material Materials Research Research Using Muons

Publikation in “Nature Materials”. Ergebnisse vom Paul Scherrer Institut stellen gängige Theorien der Hochtemperatursupraleitung in Frage.
This news release is only available in German.

16. February 2009

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Supraleiter weisen Magneten den Weg

Media Releases Matter and Material Materials Research Research Using Neutrons

Publikation in “Nature Materials”. Forscher der Universität Freiburg und des Paul Scherrer Instituts PSI entdecken neue Form der Koexistenz zwischen Supraleitung und Magnetismus. Ferromagnetismus und Supraleitung vertragen sich eigentlich nicht. Über diese neue Variante im Wettstreit zwischen der Supraleitung und dem Ferromagnetismus berichten sie ab Montag, 16. Februar 2009 in der Online-Ausgabe des Wissenschafts-Journals Nature Materials.
This news release is only available in French and German.

12. December 2008

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Moleküle bei der Arbeit fotografiert

Media Releases Matter and Material Materials Research Research Using Synchrotron Light

Publikation in Online-Ausgabe von “Science”. Röntgenblitze am Paul Scherrer Institut zeigen, wie sich Moleküle während des Ablaufs einer chemischen Reaktion verändern.
This news release is only available in German.

24. November 2008

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Was beim Computer im Kopf vorgeht

Media Releases Matter and Material Materials Research Research Using Muons

Publikation in der Online-Ausgabe von “Nature”. Ein Forscherteam unter der Leitung von Alan Drew (Univ. Freiburg, Schweiz und Queen Mary College, London, England) und Elvezio Morenzoni (Paul Scherrer Institut, Villigen, Schweiz) hat als erstes im Detail die magnetischen Vorgänge in einem Lesekopf – ähnlich dem, der Daten von der Festplatte eines Computers liest – verfolgt.
This news release is only available in French and German.

19. September 2008

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Superconductivity and Magnetism

Media Releases Matter and Material Research Using Neutrons Materials Research

From rivals to partners. The wild world of quantum mechanics produces states that are not predicted by the classical theory of physics. Today's edition of “Science” magazine includes a report of an astonishingly new type of state by an international team of scientists around physicist Michel Kenzelmann from the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland.

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18. July 2008

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Super-Resolution X-ray Microscopy unveils the buried secrets of the nanoworld

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

Publication in “Science”. A novel super-resolution X-ray microscope developed by a team of researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI) and EPFL in Switzerland combines the high penetration power of x-rays with high spatial resolution, making it possible for the first time to shed light on the detailed interior composition of semiconductor devices and cellular structures.

11. January 2008

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New discovery in superconductor research

Media Releases Materials Research Matter and Material Research Using Neutrons

Publication in “Science”

Superconductors take advantage of electron pairing to transport electrical current without resistance. They are therefore of central significance in energy research. An international team of scientists has published the latest research results in this field in today's edition of “Science” magazine

27. November 2007

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Excursion in the wondrous Mirror World

Matter and Material Particle Physics

In physics, mirror matter, is a hypothetical counterpart to ordinary matter and not be mixed up with antimatter. It could explain symmetry violations observed in several processes of ordinary elementary particles. Symmetry could be restored by so called mirror particles with exactly the same mass as ordinary elementary particles.

22. February 2007

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Magnetische Überraschung im Weltall

Media Releases Matter and Material

Unerwartete Röntgenstrahlung eines jungen Sterns. Forschende des Paul Scherrer Instituts (PSI) haben aufschlussreiche Erkenntnisse über die Entstehung massereicher Sterne gewonnen. Die Untersuchungen mit dem Röntgenteleskop auf dem Satelliten XMM-Newton der Europäischen Raumfahrtagentur ESA geben Hinweise, was ein Magnetfeld um einen jungen Stern namens AB Aurigae bewirkt. Ein 20-jähriges Rätsel der Astrophysik könnte sich dadurch lösen.
This news release is only available in German.

31. January 2007

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Neutrons for research and nuclear waste disposal

Media Releases Research Using Neutrons Large Scale Facilities Nuclear Power Plant Safety Matter and Material

Key experiment for nuclear technology successfully completed. Megapie is an international pioneering experiment at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) in Villigen, Switzerland, the goal of which is to produce neutrons from a liquid metal target when hit from a proton beam. In a world first, a high power neutron source was produced from about one megawatt of proton input. Neutrons of high initial energy are used in many research fields and could be used to incinerate nuclear waste. The first phase of the experiment was recently completed and to the great satisfaction of the international scientific community.



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