Research and tinkering – SwissFEL in 2019
The newest large research facility at the Paul Scherrer Institute, SwissFEL, has been completed. In January 2019 it began regular operation. Henrik Lemke, head of the SwissFEL Bernina research group, gives an interim report.
Visualising strong magnetic fields with neutrons
For the first time, PSI researchers have used neutrons to visualise very strong magnetic fields that are up to one million times stronger than Earth's magnetic field. This now makes it possible to study magnets that are already installed in devices such as magnetic resonance tomography systems or alternators.
Weyl fermions discovered in another class of materials
A particular variety of particles, the so-called Weyl fermions, had previously only been detected in certain non-magnetic materials. But now researchers at PSI have experimentally proved their existence for the first time in a specific paramagnetic material.
New material with magnetic shape memory
PSI researchers have developed a material whose shape memory is activated through magnetism. Application areas for this new kind of composite material include, for example, medicine, space flight, electronics, and robotics.
New material also reveals new quasiparticles
Researchers at PSI have investigated a novel crystalline material at the Swiss Light Source SLS that exhibits electronic properties never seen before. Among other things, they were able to detect a new type of quasiparticle: so-called Rarita-Schwinger fermions.
A compass pointing West
Researchers at PSI have discovered a new phenomenon of magnetism with the help of the Swiss Light Source SLS. Certain groups of atoms behave like a compass pointing West. This could make computers much more powerful.
Watching electrons and switching bits on
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?
Now it's time for something new
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.
EU grants 14 million to Swiss Researchers
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.
Making the impossible possible
Use of multiferroic materials promises more energy-efficient computers because in these, an electric field would suffice to achieve magnetic data storage. Researchers at PSI have now made such a material suitable for computer operating temperatures.
On the path to new high-performance transistors
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.
Light for biomolecules and super-fast processes
The 16th of May is the International Day of Light. The research carried out with light at PSI enables advances in biology and pharmacology and also promotes the development of new materials for data storage and new technologies for personalised medicine.
Power from nanomagnets
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.
Custom-tailoring better metallic materials
Using the large research facilities at PSI, Helena Van Swygenhoven-Moens examines the inner workings of metals. The watch industry needs small, robust springs and engineers are interested in turbine blades made of stress resistant materials.
Diving into magnets
For the first time, scientists have made visible the directions of the magnetisation inside a 3D magnetic object. The smallest details in their visualisation were ten thousand times smaller than a millimetre. Among others, the magnetic structure contained one outstanding kind of pattern: magnetic singularities called Bloch points, which up to now were only known in theory.
Nanomaterial helps store solar energy: efficiently and inexpensively
Efficient electrolysers are needed in order to store sun and wind energy in the form of hydrogen. Thanks to a new material developed by researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and Empa, these devices are likely to become less costly and more efficient in the future. Researchers were also able to demonstrate that this new material can be reliably produced in large quantities, showing its performance capability in an electrolysis cell—the main component of an electrolyser.
Fuel and chemicals from plant waste
Lignin, as a constituent of many plants, accumulates in large quantities and could theoretically be used as a precursor material for production of fuels and chemicals. Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and ETH Zurich have developed a method with which the processes that take place in the catalytic breakdown of lignin can be observed in detail. The knowledge thus gained could enable targeted improvement of production methods in the future.
Quartz powder for the battery of the future
PSI materials researchers have developed a method that provides crucial insights into the charging and discharging processes of lithium-sulphur batteries. And the method revealed: with quartz powder added to the battery, its available energy increases and the gradual loss of capacity is much weaker.
3-D X-ray imaging makes the finest details of a computer chip visible
Researchers at the PSI have made detailed 3-D X-ray images of a commercially available computer chip. In their experiment, they examined a small piece that they had cut out of the chip beforehand. This sample remained undamaged throughout the measurement. It is a major challenge for manufacturers to determine if, in the end, the structure of their chips conforms to the specifications. Thus these results represent one important application of an X-ray tomography method that the PSI researchers have been developing for several years.
Selectively conductive or insulating
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.