Interview with Daniel GrolimundAt the Swiss Light Source SLS, researcher Daniel Grolimund is responsible for a beamline where the arrangement of chemical bonds in different objects can be determined. These capabilities prove valuable to researchers in the most diverse disciplines: to battery researchers as well as biologists, archeologists, and many more. In this interview Grolimund talks about the variety of topics and the challenges that come with this diversity.
How can surplus power that can’t be fed into the electric grid be made usable? A fictitious day at the Energy System Integration Platform at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI.
The material neodymium nickel oxide is either a metal or an insulator, depending on its temperature. The possibility to control this transition electrically makes the material a potential candidate for transistors in modern electronic devices. By means of a sophisticated development of X-ray scattering, researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have now been able to track down the cause of this transition: electrons around the oxygen atoms are rearranging.
At the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, a small group of scientists is using theoretical models to explore an alternative for future nuclear reactors: so-called molten salt reactors. This helps to secure Switzerland’s expertise regarding globally relevant questions in the area of nuclear energy and reactor safety, for today and tomorrow.
Physicists at the PSI’s large-scale research facilities are thinking beyond the Nobel Prize theories
This year’s Nobel Prize for Physics goes to David Thouless, Duncan Haldane, and Michael Kosterlitz. The Academy also cited, in its background report, experiments carried out by Michel Kenzelmann, who today is a laboratory head at the PSI. He and other researchers at the PSI continue to do experiments based on the theories now honoured by the Nobel Prize.
Christian Rüegg has been awarded a prestigious Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). With this funding he will continue to investigate how the smallest magnetic building blocks of matter interact.
SwissFEL building, 24 August 2016: In the control room above the beam tunnel of the X-ray free-electron laser SwissFEL, the atmosphere is intense and focussed. Marco Pedrozzi’s team has big plans for this late August afternoon. The last adjustments have been made — it’s time to press the big button and start up the electron source. The goal: SwissFEL should generate its first electrons. A report.
This fall, the time has come: The Energy System Integration Platform at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI goes into operation. Today, in the framework of the double conference Networked Energy Research Switzerland, it was presented to the media and around 150 representatives from politics, industry, and science.
Thanks to an ultramodern research method, scientists have successfully looked inside transformers and observed the magnetic domains at work in the interior of a transformer’s iron core. Transformers are indispensable in regulating electricity both in industry and in domestic households. The current research results show that the new examination method can be profitably applied to develop more efficient transformers.
Proteins are indispensable building blocks of life. They play a vital role in many biological processes. Researchers have now been able to show how the ultrafast processes by which proteins do their work can be studied with free-electron X-ray lasers such as SwissFEL at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI. Free-electron X-ray lasers generate extremely short and intense pulses of X-ray light. Currently there are just two such facilities in operation, worldwide. The results were published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.
The deuteron — just like the proton — is smaller than previously thoughtThe deuteron — one of the simplest atomic nuclei, consisting of just one proton and one neutron — is considerably smaller than previously thought. This new research finding fits with a 2010 study in which, similarly, the proton was measured at the Paul Scherrer Institute and, likewise, a smaller value than expected was found. The result from 2010 formed the basis for what has been known since then as the proton radius puzzle.
Researchers at the PSI have for the first time used a cyclotron to produce the radionuclide scandium-44 in a quantity and concentration as needed for medical treatment. With that, they have achieved the first precondition for scandium-44 to be used one day for medical tests in hospitals.
Researchers at the PSI have developed a detector called POLAR. It is designed to search out and investigate extreme eruptions of energy from the depths of the universe. This coming September, POLAR will be launched into orbit with a Chinese space mission.
Despite its great potential, solar energy still faces one big problem: the sun doesn’t always shine and its energy is hard to store. Now, researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and the ETH Zurich have unveiled a chemical process that uses the sun’s thermal energy to convert carbon dioxide and water directly into high-energy fuels: a procedure developed on the basis of a ground-breaking material combination of cerium oxide and rhodium.
Researchers at the Swiss Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and ETH Zurich have developed a simple and cost-effective procedure for significantly enhancing the performance of conventional Li-ion rechargeable batteries. Whether in wristwatches, smartphones, laptops or cars, the use of rechargeable batteries will be optimized in all areas of application, considerably extending storage capacity as well as cutting down charging times.
PSI researcher Kurt Ballmer-Hofer is concerned with the question of how tumours could be starved by preventing the development of blood vessels. After 40 years of research that yielded many fundamental insights about the formation of blood vessels, one of the key molecules has been found; further research is expected to enable clinical applications.
As capacities for producing solar and wind energy increase, integrating these into the existing energy system is becoming more of a challenge. The ESI platform is testing methods for successful integration. The answer: storing surplus energy as gas.
Natural-gas vehicles are on the way, and they need catalytic converters for the exhaust too. While work is under way at Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research, to optimise natural-gas engines and catalytic converters, the PSI is specialising in research methods that enable very precise observation of catalytic converters. For this work, the PSI researchers have now developed a universal measurement chamber in which catalytic converters can be studied with a variety of different analytical methods, yet always under the same conditions.
At the PSI, the Heavy Elements Research Group explores the exotic, unstable atoms at the end of the periodic table of elements. The dream: to discover one day the island of stability that could exist beyond the elements charted so far on the chemists' map.
Interview with Oksana ZaharkoNew scientific questions demand ever better experimental equipment. In this interview, PSI researcher Oksana Zaharko reports on the challenges of setting up a new instrument for research with neutrons.