psi 16022010 5208.jpg

Swiss Light Source - SLS

The Swiss Light Source (SLS) at the Paul Scherrer Institut is a third-generation synchrotron light source. With an energy of 2.4 GeV, it provides photon beams of high brightness for research in materials science, biology and chemistry.
The SYN-department comprises four laboratories. Three laboratories (LSB, LSC, LSK) are centered around the Swiss Light Source (SLS). The fourth is the Laboratory for Micro- und Nanotechnology (LMN).

The operation of the beamlines at the SLS is split into three thematic areas:
Current operation status:

View Full Machine Status

Upcoming Events

Currently no photon science seminar announcements, please visit again later.
Show All Events

9. January 2014

igp 88 240 zug.jpg

PSI summer school 2014

The PSI summer school 2014 on Condensed Matter Research will be organized at the Institut Montana in Zug, Switzerland from August 9-15, 2014. The topic of the school will be 'Exploring time, energy and length scales in condensed matter' and the school will be followed by hands-on practical training at the PSI large user facilities SINQ, SμS and SLS. Online registration and detailed information is available from the school's webpage.

Industrial use of the Swiss Light Source

The main goal of the SLS Techno Trans AG is to facilitate industrial use of the SLS. If you are not an expert in a particular technique or you are unsure of which technique is best suited for your application(s), we can help you. Our Mission is to coordinate any and all services for industrial/proprietary users - we are your one stop shop!
Please get in contact with us: SLS Techno Trans AG

Appointment of the New SYN Department Head

Professor Gabriel Aeppli will become the new head of the SYN department as of April 2014

Gabriel Aeppli, Swiss citizen, studied electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and received his PhD in 1983 from MIT. Subsequently, and for almost 15 years, he held various management positions at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, USA. In 1996 he moved to the NEC Research Institute in Princeton. In 2002 he decided to take the challenge of building up a new London Centre for Nanotechnology, a joint institute of Imperial College and University College London. At UCL he was also professor of physics.

Gabriel Aeppli is an internationally recognized solid-state physicist with a broad interest. He is especially known for his spectroscopic work on magnetism of disordered systems and high-temperature superconductors, with a strong focus on neutron and photon diffraction studies as well as scanning tunneling spectroscopy. He has also developed an increasing interest in biological problems and their applications in the field of medicine. In recent years he has expanded his interests to the field of quantum information, where he focused his research on the realization of quantum bits in doped silicon. With the London Centre for Nanotechnology, he has built in a short time a leading science and technology center in the heart of London. For his scientific work, he has received several awards, including the Oliver Buckley Prize in 2005 and the Mott Prize in 2008.

We are delighted that Professor Aeppli will take over the management of the SYN department and we wish him success in his future career at PSI.

Prof. Dr. J. Friso van der Veen, Head of the SYN Department


25. March 2014


X-rays film inside live flying insects – in 3D

Media Releases Biology Research Using Synchrotron Light User Experiments

Scientists have used a particle accelerator to obtain high-speed 3D X-ray visualizations of the flight muscles of flies. The team from Oxford University, Imperial College, and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) developed a groundbreaking new CT scanning technique at the PSI’s Swiss Light Source to allow them to film inside live flying insects. The movies offer a glimpse into the inner workings of one of nature’s most complex mechanisms, showing that structural deformations are the key to understanding how a fly controls its wingbeat.

6. March 2014


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.

6. February 2014

igp 578x527  Ta2O5.png

X-ray tomography reaches 16 nm isotropic 3D resolution

Researchers at PSI reported a demonstration of X-ray tomography with an unmatched isotropic 3D resolution of 16 nm in Scientific Reports. The measurement was performed at the cSAXS beamline at the Swiss Light Source using a prototype instrument of the OMNY (tOMography Nano crYo) project. Whereas this prototype measures at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, the OMNY system, to be commissioned later this year, will provide a cryogenic sample environment in ultra-high vacuum without compromising imaging capabilities. The researchers believe that such a combination of advanced imaging with state-of-the-art instrumentation is a promising path to fill the resolution gap between electron microscopy and X-ray imaging, also in case of radiation-sensitive materials such as polymer structures and biological systems.

16. January 2014

igp U15-small.jpg

SwissFEL Undulator Prototype in the Injector Test facility - self-amplified spontaneous emission achieved

On December 5th, the 17 tons SwissFEL undulator prototype (In-vacuum Undulator U15) has been successfully moved from the Undulator lab (SLS) to the SwissFEL Injector Test Facility (SITF). The commissioning of the U15 prototype with electron beam is an important step to validate the U15 design and also to detect possible improvements before full series production. At first, the alignment procedure of the U15 segment with the electron beam has been tested. The test was extremely successful - the beginning of the SASE (self-amplified spontaneous emission) amplification could be seen last night. Please watch the short movie SASE.

9. January 2014

iycr logo.jpg

International Year of Crystallography 2014 - Paul Scherrer Institut is IYCr Supporter

The International Year of Crystallography 2014 (IYCr2014) commemorates not only the centennial of X-ray diffraction, which allowed the detailed study of crystalline material, but also the 400th anniversary of Kepler’s observation in 1611 of the symmetrical form of ice crystals, which began the wider study of the role of symmetry in matter. Twenty two large-scale facilities, among them the SLS, sponsor the UNESCO/IUCr Open Labs and Summit Meetings initiatives during the International Year of Crystallography - see IYCr Supporter.

6. January 2014


Super-volcano triggers recreated in X-ray laboratory

Scientists have reproduced conditions inside the magma chamber of a super-volcano to understand what it takes to trigger its explosion. These rare events represent the biggest natural catastrophes on Earth except for the impact of giant meteorites. Using synchrotron X-rays, the scientists established that super volcano eruptions may occur spontaneously, driven only by magma pressure without the need for an external trigger. The results are published in Nature Geoscience, online publication, January 2014.

3. December 2013


An infection tool with a metallic core

Human Health Biology Research Using Synchrotron Light

Thanks to the analysis of protein samples at the PSI, Lausanne researchers have managed to demonstrate which instrument bacteria use to transmit diseases
Researchers from ETH Lausanne EPFL have described how a particular strain of bacteria transmits diseases with unprecedented precision. The team of scientists headed by Petr Leiman, an assistant professor at the EPFL’s Laboratory of Structural Biology and Biophysics, demonstrated that the tip of a bacterial infection tool consists of a PAAR protein, which envelops a metal atom and tapers off to a sharp point. The findings are based on measurements carried out at the Swiss Light Source (SLS), one of the three large-scale research facilities at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI).

17. November 2013


How botox binds to neurons

Media Releases Biology Research Using Synchrotron Light Human Health

Botox is a highly dangerous toxin that causes paralysis. In cosmetic applications it is used to temporarily eliminate wrinkles and in medicine as a treatment for migraine or to correct strabismus. An international research team has now established how the toxin molecule binds to the neuron whose activity is then blocked by the poison. The findings may be useful for the development of improved drugs with a lower risk of overdosage.

12. November 2013


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.

24. October 2013


A promising new method for the diagnosis of breast cancer

Media Releases Medicine Human Health

A new mammography procedure that could generate substantial added value for the diagnosis of breast cancer in medical practice has just been published in the scientific journal “Investigative Radiology”. The method was developed at PSI in cooperation with the Certified Breast Centre at the Kantonsspital (cantonal hospital in) Baden and Philips as an industrial partner and is making the tiniest tissue changes visible. This has the potential to improve the early detection of breast cancer. Further studies in women suffering from breast cancer are to prove in a definitive manner the added value of the method.

17. October 2013


Why lithium-ion-batteries fail

Storage Research Using Synchrotron Light Materials Research User Experiments

Materials in lithium ion battery electrodes expand and contract during charge and discharge. These volume changes drive particle fracture, which shortens battery lifetime. A group of ETH and PSI scientists have quantified this effect for the first time using high-resolution 3D movies recorded using x-ray tomography at the Swiss Light Source.

16. October 2013


Die Ursprünge der ersten Fische mit „Zähnen“

Medienmitteilungen Forschung mit Synchrotronlicht Nutzerexperimente/Nutzerdienst Biologie

Mit Hilfe von Röntgenlicht aus der Synchrotron Lichtquelle Schweiz des PSI ist es Paläontologen der Universität Bristol gelungen, ein Rätsel um den Ursprung der ersten Wirbeltiere mit harten Körperteilen zu lösen. Sie haben gezeigt, dass die „Zähne“ altertümlicher Fische (der sogenannten Conodonten) unabhängig von den Zähnen und Kiefern heutiger Wirbeltiere entstanden sind. Die Zähne dieser Wirbeltiere haben sich vielmehr aus einem Panzer entwickelt, der dem Schutz vor den Conodonten, den ersten „Raubtieren“, diente.

30. August 2013


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.

5. May 2013


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


Germanium – zum Leuchten gezogen

Communiqués de presse Matière et matériaux Micro- et nanotechnologie Recherche sur les matériaux

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.
Cette actualité n'existe qu'en allemand.

25. February 2013


Computed tomography provides real-time 3D pictures showing how oil and water flow in porous rock

Media Releases

For the first time, experiments using computed tomography have allowed scientists to observe in 3D the flow of oil and water in real rock on an unprecedented scale. The new approach trailed and the information gathered by the experiments contribute to an improved understanding of multiphase flow and transport in porous media.

12. February 2013


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.

7. February 2013


Imaging fluctuations with X-ray microscopy

Media Releases

X-rays are used to investigate nanoscale structures of objects as varied as single cells or magnetic storage media. Yet, high-resolution images impose extreme constraints on both the X ray microscope and the samples under investigation. Researchers at the Technische Universität München the PSI now showed how to relax these conditions without loss of image quality. They further showed how to image objects featuring fast fluctuations, such as the rapid switching events that determine the life time of data storage in magnetic materials.

31. January 2013


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.

Homepage SYN

User Contact Points at PSI

PSI User Office
DUO Login

For Proprietary Users of the SLS

SLS Techno Trans AG

Call for Proposals

PX Beamlines ("X06SA", "X06DA", "X10SA") The submission deadline has been reached and the proposals are under evaluation.

More Information

All other beamlines (non-PX beamlines): The submission deadline has been reached and the proposals are under evaluation.
More Information

EU Support for SLS-non-PX-users

European users will have access to SLS through the EU Transnational Access Programme (CALIPSO). The level of access will be in accordance with agreed level of EU funding.
Find the complete information on the
EU Access Programmes Webpage

Effective March 1, 2012 the funding for travel support and daily allowances will be only available through a application at BioStruct-X.
Find the complete information on the
EU Access Programmes Webpage

PSI Summer School August 09-15, 2014

The PSI summer school 2014 on condensed matter research.
School's Website
Grant application: April 30, 2014
Registration: June 30, 2014

Open Positions

Find out about currently open positions at SYN-Department & PSI

Upcoming Events

Get a list of upcoming scientific conferences and seminars

PSI User Facilities Newsletter

Current News from PSI photon, neutron and muon user facilities

News, information, and educational materials about the world’s synchrotron and free electron laser light source facilities