Prof. Dr. Marianne Liebi

Group Leader Structure and Mechanics of Advanced Materials
Marianne Liebi
Paul Scherrer Institut PSI
Forschungsstrasse 111
5232 Villigen PSI


Marianne Liebi is Tenure-Track Assistant Professor at EPF Lausanne and head of the group “Structure and Mechanics of Advanced Materials” at PSI. She has been appointed in 2021 at EPFL where she is part of the Institute of Materials within the School of Engineering. Marianne Liebi studied Food Science at ETH Zurich where she also obtained her PhD in 2013 in the Laboratory of Food Process Engineering lead by Prof. Erich J. Windhab. Within this project started using small-angle neutron scattering at PSI for the characterization of soft-matter, namely of magnetic alignable self-assembly structures. As a Postdoc in the coherent X-ray scattering group at the Swiss Light Source she worked from 2013-2016 on method development in SAXS tensor tomography. In 2016 she moved to Sweden where after a short period at the NanoMAX beamline, MAXIV Laboratory, Lund she started her own research group in 2017 as Assistant Professor at the Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, and became Docent in Physics in spring 2020. She kept her affiliation at Chalmers University of Technology, where still part of her group is located (Liebi research group) when moving back to Switzerland in 2020 where she was Scientific Group Leader in the Center for X-ray Analytics at Empa, St.Gallen, before joining PSI in November 2021.

Institutional Responsibilities

Marianne Liebi is group leader of the Structure and Mechanics of Advanced Materials group in the Laboratory for Condensed Matter and Materials Science (LSC) withing the Photon Science Division at PSI.

Scientific Research

The focus of Marianne Liebi's research is in the development of advanced X-ray imaging techniques and their application towards materials with hierarchical structures. Her main expertise is small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) imaging in 2D and 3D, but include other imaging modalities such as ptychographic nanotomography, X-ray fluorescence or phase contrast tomography. The applications her group is working on in different collaborations are spanning a broad range from biomimetic hierarchical nanocomposites, materials based on cellulose, ink-based 3D printing, industrial injection-molded plastics as well as the characterization of bone and other biological tissues. A common denominator of these diverse applications is the arrangement of nanometer-sized building blocks within macroscopic samples, in particular the alignment of anisotropic constituents.

Selected Publications

For an extensive overview we kindly refer you to our publication repository DORA (includes publications since joining PSI).

A complete list of publications can be found on A-3821-2015 or google scholar

Rodriguez-Palomo, A., Lutz-Bueno, V., Guizar-Sicairos, M., Kádár, R., Andersson, M., Liebi, M* "Nanostructure and anisotropy of 3D printed lyotropic liquid crystals studied by scattering and birefringence imaging."  Additive Manufacturing, 2021, 47, 102289. DOI: 10.1016/J.ADDMA.2021.102289

The anisotropy and self-assembled structure of the 3D printed filament was visualized using in situ 3D printing, scanning SAXS, and birefringence microscopy. The use of larger nozzles (resulted in a more anisotropic and homogeneous nanostructure, with self-assembled cylinders and parallel lamellae aligned in the direction of extrusion (i.e. direction of the 3D printed filament). We also demonstrated that the lack of controlled atmosphere in a 3D printers can lead to a phase transition caused by the evaporation of the solvent as well as appearance of new domains with different self-assembled structures.

Liebi, M.*, Lutz-Bueno, V., Guizar-Sicairos, M., Schönbauer, B.M., Eichler, J., Martinelli, E., Löffler, J.F., Weinberg, A., Lichtenegger, H., Grünewald, T.A.* "3D nanoscale analysis of bone healing around degrading Mg implants evaluated by X-ray scattering tensor tomography" Acta Biomaterialia, 2021, DOI: 10.1016/j.actbio.2021.07.060

SAXS tensor tomography was used to study how bone grows around and into degrading Mg implants. We observe that the bone's nanostructural adaptation starts with an initially fast interfacial bone growth close to the implant, which spreads by a re-orientation of the nanostructure in the bone volume around the implant, and is consolidated in the later degradation stages.

Rodriguez‐Palomo, A.;  Lutz‐Bueno, V.;  Cao, X.;  Kádár, R.;  Andersson, M.; Liebi, M.* "In Situ Visualization of the Structural Evolution and Alignment of Lyotropic Liquid Crystals in Confined Flow."  Small 2021, 2006229 DOI: 10.1002/smll.202006229

The alignment of the self-assembled cylinders and lamellae during the extrusion inside the 3D printing nozzle was mimicked with microfluidics channels and mapped with SAXS imaging. The study of the anisotropy during real flow conditions revealed abrupt changes in the orientation and morphological transitions associated with the shear rates experienced during extrusion by the polymer

Grünewald, T.A., Liebi, M., Wittig, N.K. , Johannes, A. Sikjaer, T., Rejnmark, L., Gao, Z., Rosenthal, M, Guizar-Sicairos, M., Birkedal, H.* and Burghammer, M.* "Mapping the 3D orientation of nanocrystals and nanostructures in human bone: indications of novel structural features"  Science Advances 2020, 6, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba4171

† these authors contributed equally to this work

The implementation of SAXS tensor tomography with a small beamsize at the ID13 beamline at ESRF combined with pushing the method to extend to WAXS tensor tomography has resulted in insight into new structural features of bones, namely the localized difference in orientation distribution between the nanostructure and the biomineral crystals in specific bands, challenging the current bone models.

Liebi, M.*, Georgiadis,M., Menzel,A., Schneider,P., Kohlbrecher,J., Bunk,O., Guizar-Sicairos, M.* "Nanostructure surveys of macroscopic specimens by small-angle scattering tensor tomography." Nature 2015, 527, 349-352. DOI: 10.1038/nature16056

Introduction of a new method, SAXS tensor tomography, which allows the reconstruction of the full 3D reciprocal space map in three-dimensional samples. The method has been demonstraded on trabecular bone, showing the orientation of the nanoscaled mineralized collagen fibrils.