Photon Science Division (PSD)

Research into extremely small structures at the molecular and atomic level leads to discoveries which are closely related to material properties as we know them on a larger scale, such as their strength, electrical conductivity or magnetisation. The best material or structure for any particular application will only be found if we understand the relationship between the microscopic and the macroscopic. As a result, there are many and varied uses for this research, e.g. for new types of materials and surfaces, for modern technologies, for biology and medicine, and for the environmentally-acceptable use of energy.

The Paul Scherrer Institut also researches the composition of materials and surface structures for use in fuel cells and innovative types of batteries. In addition, synchrotron light will provide insights into microscopic damage to materials and into the complex structure of bio-molecules which will, for example, make the targeted manufacture of new pharmaceuticals possible.

Objects with dimensions of thousandths of millionths of a meter are known as nanostructures. This minuteness will revolutionise every area of our technological world, whether in information transfer and data storage, or in sensors for biology, medicine and ecology. For example, specialists at PSI are working together on interdisciplinary projects to develop biosensors, artificial noses and optical electronics.

15. Februar 2019

Watching electrons and switching bits on

Micro- and Nanotechnology Energy and Environment Matter and Material Materials Research Industrial co-operation Research Using Synchrotron Light Research Using Neutrons

Electronics should get smaller, faster, and above all more energy-efficient. These themes are also present in several research groups at PSI. From incremental improvements to complete rethinking – who is currently working on what?

1. Februar 2019

Virtual lens improves X-ray microscopy

Media Releases Matter and Material Research Using Synchrotron Light

A method developed by PSI researchers makes X-ray images of materials even better. The researchers took a number of individual images while moving an optical lens. From these, with the help of computer algorithms, they generated one overall image.

30. Januar 2019

Now it's time for something new

SwissFEL Matter and Material Materials Research Research Using Synchrotron Light Research Using Neutrons Research with muons

If you make electronic components smaller, they unfortunately get hotter. Also, we will soon reach the limit of technically feasible miniaturisation. At PSI, Gabriel Aeppli and Christian Rüegg are working on fundamentally new, physical solutions for better computers and data storage devices.

4. Januar 2019

Dr Yasin Ekinci elected as Fellow of SPIE

Dr. Yasin Ekinci, Head of the Advanced Lithography and Metrology Group and ad interim Head of the Laboratory for Micro and Nanotechnology, has been elected to the grade of Fellow of The International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE).

1. Januar 2019

SESAME beamline for tomography project (BEATS) is launched

On 1st January 2019, the European Horizon 2020 project BEAmline for Tomography at SESAME (BEATS) was launched with the objective to design, procure, construct and commission a beamline for hard X-ray full-field tomography at the SESAME synchrotron in Jordan. The European grant is worth 6 million euros and will span a four-year period from beginning 2019 to end 2022.

6. Dezember 2018

EU grants 14 million to Swiss Researchers

Media Releases Materials Research Matter and Material Research Using Neutrons Large Research Facilities

A team with three researchers from the ETH Domain has been awarded a prestigious EU grant. Today, they received the contract signed by the EU confirming the extraordinary 14 million euros funding. With it, they will investigate quantum effects which could become the backbone of future electronics.

16. Oktober 2018
(a) Scanning transmission x-ray microscopy images of magnetic skyrmions stabilized in a nanostructured Pt/Co/Ir disc; (b) Skyrmion-dependent contribution to the Hall resistivity

Discrete Hall contribution of magnetic skyrmions

The reliable electrical detection of magnetic skyrmions is of fundamental importance for the application of such topological magnetic quasi-particles for data storage devices. Researchers in a joint collaboration between the University of Leeds and the PolLux endstation have investigated the electrical detection of isolated magnetic skyrmions in applications-relevant nanostructured devices, observing the presence of a strong skyrmion-dependent contribution to the Hall resistivity.

7. September 2018

Diamond: a gem for micro-optics

Our image of a diamond structure was published on the cover page of the September 2018 issue of the journal "Materials Today". The corresponding paper reports on the nano-frabrication of micro-optical elements in diamond.

11. Juli 2018
teaser picture

On the path to new high-performance transistors

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

The electronics industry expects a novel high-performance transistor made of gallium nitride to offer considerable advantages over present-day high-frequency transistors. Yet many fundamental properties of the material remain unknown. Now, for the first time, researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have observed electrons while they were flowing in this promising transistor. For that they used one of the world's best sources of soft X-rays at PSI's Swiss Light Source SLS.

20. Juni 2018
teaser picture

Movie directors with extra roles

SwissFEL Storage Large Research Facilities

Data storage devices based on novel materials are expected to make it possible to record information in a smaller space, at higher speed, and with greater energy efficiency than ever before. Movies shot with the X-ray laser show what happens inside potential new storage media, as well as how the processes by which the material switches between two states can be optimised.

20. Juni 2018

MOOCs – a paradigm shift in education

In March 2018, the nine-week MOOC “Introduction to synchrotrons and x-ray free-electron lasers” (abbreviated to “SYNCHROTRONx”) came online via the edX provider of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), created by Phil Willmott of the Swiss Light Source, Paul Scherrer Institute. “MOOC” is an acronym for “massive open online course”, a teaching platform started in the first decade of this century, which has become increasingly popular in the last five to six years. MOOCs have no limits to participation and are free. Some of the most popular MOOCs can attract many tens of thousands of participants. Even the most specialized subjects may have an initial enrollment of over a thousand, more than an order of magnitude larger than that typically found in traditional higher education. There were over 70 million MOOC enrollments covering nearly 10’000 subjects offered by the top five providers in 2017 alone!

16. Mai 2018

Creation and deletion of isolated magnetic skyrmions via electrical currents

The writing and deletion of magnetic Skyrmions is a fundamental step towards the fabrication of memory devices based on this promising spin configuration. Researchers at the Korea Institute of Technology have demonstrated the writing and deleting of isolated magnetic Skyrmions at room temperature in ferrimagnetic multilayer superlattice stacks using electrical currents.

27. Februar 2018
Left: X-ray absorption spectra from supersaturated calcium carbonate solutions taken with a liquid microjet at the PHOENIX beamline. Comparison of the spectra with theoretical modeling shows the dominance of various ion pairs in solution, as expected in a classical solution. Right: image of liquid microjet in PHOENIX endstation.

Are supersaturated calcium carbonate solutions classical or non-classical ?

Classical theory predicts that supersaturated carbonate solutions consist mostly of ions and ion pairs, with a small number of larger clusters present in the solution. The population of the different sized clusters in a solution is solely defined by the cluster’s size dependent Free Energy. If clusters are large enough they serve as nucleation germs for a new solid phase. The nucleation occurs once the surface free energy barrier posed by the new solid-liquid interface is overcome by the free energy win from bulk phase growth.

29. Januar 2018

Unravelling structure sensitivity in CO2 hydrogenation over nickel

Using a unique set of well-defined silica-supported Ni nanoclusters (1–7 nm) and advanced characterization methods it was proved how structure sensitivity influences the mechanism of catalytic CO2 reduction, the nature of which has been long debated.

21. Dezember 2017

Power from nanomagnets

Media Releases Industrial co-operation Matter and Material Materials Research Micro- and Nanotechnology

Oles Sendetskyi, winner of a Founder Fellowship at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, wants to use polarity reversal in nanomagnets to develop a sustainable power source for small devices.