Scientific Highlights from Research Division
Photon Science (PSD)
At the X-ray free-electron laser SwissFEL of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, the second beamline is currently being put into operation. With Athos, researchers want to understand how catalysts work or how biomolecules cause hereditary diseases.
The first experimental observation of three-dimensional magnetic ‘vortex rings’ provides fundamental insight into intricate nanoscale structures inside bulk magnets, and offers fresh perspectives for magnetic devices.
Measurements at the Swiss Light Source SLS have helped to understand how the only known natural protein-mineral crystal is formed. It is part of the fascinating glass skeleton of sponges.
The Ružička Prize 2020 goes to Dr. Patrick Hemberger (PSI) for his research on understanding the mechanisms of catalytic fast pyrolysis by unveiling reactive intermediates in heterogeneous catalysts.
During the past decade, scientists have put high effort to achieve sub-10 nm resolution in X-ray microscopy. Recent developments in high-resolution lithography-based diffractive optics, combined with the extreme stability and precision of the PolLux and HERMES scanning X-ray microscopes, resulted now in a so far unreached resolution of seven nanometers in scanning soft X-ray microscopy. Utilizing this highly precise microscopy technique with the X-ray magnetic circular dichroism effect, dimensionality effects in an ensemble of interacting magnetic nanoparticles can be revealed.
The Bio Nano spinout of Prof. Aeppli has launched new travel assistance websites that provide continually updated information on restrictions such as multi-day quarantines imposed on travel between countries, together with the latest pandemic predictions so that travellers can make informed decisions.
For the construction of the SwissFEL facility in 2013, around five hectares of forest were cleared and transformed into a new habitat for flora and fauna. Biologists and forest engineers have now assessed the results of the renaturization project and are excited about the progress to date.
At PSI, researchers decipher the structure of the proteins in bacteria and viruses. This knowledge can aid, for example, in the development of drugs against infectious diseases. But before the investigation can begin, an extremely tricky problem has to be solved: the crystallisation of the molecules.