Measuring the rarity of a particle decayIn the so-called MEG experiment at the PSI, researchers are searching for an extremely rare decay signature from a certain kind of elementary particles known as muons. More precisely, they are quantifying its improbability. According to their latest number, this decay occurs less than once in 2.4 trillion events. By means of this result, theoretical physicists can sort out which of their approaches to describing the universe will hold up against reality.
At PSI, scientists are developing new medicines against cancer. These contain radioactive substances that can be injected into the patients and thus make their way to the tumour. There, in direct contact, their radiation should destroy the cancer cells. Before such a radioactive medicine can be tested on patients in the first clinical trials, however, its safety must be guaranteed to ensure that the patient will not be harmed. Therefore every agent is produced at the PSI under sterile conditions and tested – separately for each patient, and only on the doctor's order.
Im Januar und Februar 2016 wurden unter strengen Sicherheitsvorkehrungen rund 20kg Plutonium im Eigentum des Bundes in die USA transportiert. Es handelt sich dabei um Material, das seit den 1960er Jahren auf dem Areal des heutigen Paul Scherrer Instituts (PSI) gelagert worden war. Das Plutonium stammte aus wiederaufbereiteten Brennstäben des von 1960 bis 1977 betriebenen Forschungsreaktors Diorit. Der Bundesrat beschloss 2014 im Rahmen des Nuclear Security Summit-Prozesses, das Plutoniumlager aufzulösen und damit zur weltweiten Sicherung von Nuklearmaterial beizutragen.This news release is only available in French and German.
With SwissFEL, a new landscape takes shapeBarely completed, the building housing the X-ray free-electron laser SwissFEL has disappeared again beneath a mound of earth. Since then, planting and landscaping have been under way on and around this major research facility of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI. Its special location, in a forest, demands that SwissFEL be integrated in an environmentally appropriate way. So the facility is, from the outside, nearly invisible. And rare animals and plants have gained new living space.
Start of the public examination period for decommissioning of the nuclear facility Proteus at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSIThe nuclear research facility Proteus is a so-called zero-power reactor. In service, the thermal output of the reactor was limited to a maximum of 1 kW. That means this is an experimental reactor that was run at a power level so low that it did not require cooling. Proteus went into service in 1968. The PSI would like to decommission the facility. The decommissioning project is now being publicly announced in the legally prescribed, official publications.
Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have developed a drug to trace and treat a particularly malignant strain of thyroid cancer more effectively. One advantage of the new drug is that it can be used to treat a strain of thyroid cancer where the established treatment is ineffective. The researchers at PSI have developed the new drug to such an extent that an initial study conducted on cancer patients at the University Hospital Basel can now get underway.
Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute have produced large numbers of detailed models of the Matterhorn, each one less than a tenth of a millimetre in size. With this, they demonstrated how 3-D objects so delicate could be mass-produced. Materials whose surface is covered with a pattern of such tiny 3-D structures often have special properties, which could for example help to reduce the wear and tear of machine parts.
Start of the public examination period for renewed authorization to operate the research facility hotlab at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSIThe hotlab at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI is a facility, unique in Switzerland, where researchers study highly radioactive materials in specially shielded chambers called hot cells. It serves the needs of applied materials research on highly radioactive samples from core structural components and fuel rods from nuclear power plants, research reactors, and the PSI radiation facilities. Through its operation of the hotlab, the Paul Scherrer Institute also contributes to the safety of the nuclear power plants in Switzerland. Around thirty staff members attend to the hotlab's safety technology and analysis infrastructure.
New insights into the workings of important drug receptorsMany medical drugs operate on specific receptors located in the outer walls of our body’s cells. One of these is called the beta-1 adrenergic receptor. Among other things, it is responsible for palpitation, the racing pulse that we feel with stage fright or infatuation. How it transmits signals to the cellular interior can now be revealed in detail. These findings could help scientists better understand many drugs' mode of action.
Interview with Stefan Janssen, Head of the User OfficeStefan Janssen is Head of the User Office at Paul Scherrer Institute PSI. In an interview, he explains why the PSI’s large research facilities are popular with researchers coming from other institutions, how he handles the many applications and how he supports users who come here to conduct experiments.
Computers and other electronic devices account for a substantial portion of worldwide energy use. With today’s technologies, it is not possible to reduce this energy consumption significantly any further; chips in the energy-saving electronics of the future will hence have to be made from novel materials. Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have now found important clues in the search for such materials.
On application of the ETH Board, the Federal Council reappointed the Director of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, Joël Mesot, and the Director of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, Konrad Steffen, for another four years on 20 January 2016. Joël Mesot’s third term of office will start on 1 August 2016, Konrad Steffen’s second term of office on 1 July 2016.
There are tumours where nothing seems to help: not chemotherapy, not external radiation therapy, not an operation. Often, they have already metastasised and can no longer be destroyed using conventional methods. The only option left here is internal radiotherapy with targeted radioactive drugs that strike directly at the heart of the disease. In order to make this possible, twenty specialists have been conducting research at the Centre for Radiopharmaceutical Sciences at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, a joint facility of PSI, ETH Zurich and the University Hospital Zurich.
Usually, superconductors expel magnetic fields. In type II superconductors, however, thin channels – so-called flux tubes – are formed. The magnetic field is guided through these tubes while the rest of the material remains field-free and superconducting. In the metal niobium, the flux tubes bunch together into small islands that create complex patterns similar to those found in other fields of nature. A team of researchers from PSI and TU München were the first to conduct neutron experiments to study these patterns in niobium and determine the distribution of the islands in detail.
Since the autumn of 2015, the SwissFEL beam tunnel has been filling up with the machine components for the new PSI large research facility. Piece by piece, the pre-assembled components are being brought to their final destination.
What does a physicist do when his experiment needs an extremely precise time measurement? So precise that existing electronics cannot help him? A scientist from the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI simply decided to develop his own solution. The result is called DRS4, a high-precision electronic chip that could unlock the physics of our entire universe. As an additional benefit, the chip is already helping doctors to localise brain tumours with great accuracy.
Allen Warnungen vor den Folgen des Klimawandels zum Trotz und unbeeindruckt von politischen Absichtserklärungen: Die weltweiten Kohlendioxidemissionen steigen und steigen. Hauptverantwortlich dafür sind Kohle- und Gaskraftwerke, die den zunehmenden Strombedarf decken. Könnte man deren Kohlendioxidemissionen dauerhaft im Boden speichern, anstatt damit Atmosphäre und Klima zu belasten? Und wäre das auch für die Schweiz interessant? Diese Fragen beleuchtet der neueste Energie-Spiegel des PSI.This news release is only available in German.
Bones are made up of tiny fibres that are roughly a thousand times finer than a human hair. Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have developed a new computer-based algorithm with which they were able to visualize the localised order and alignment of these nanostructures inside an entire piece of bone for the first time.
In a series of experiments at the Swiss Light Source SLS, physicists from the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have discovered a particle, the existence of which was predicted eighty-six years ago. It is a member of the particle family that also includes the electron, the carrier of electrical currents. The particle now discovered is massless and can exist only within a special class of materials known as Weyl semi-metals.
When bridges, dam walls and other structures made of concrete are streaked with dark cracks after a few decades, the culprit is the so-called the concrete disease. Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and Empa have now solved the structure of the material produced in these cracks at atomic level - and have thereby discovered a previously unknown crystalline arrangement of the atoms.