Five hundred thousand times less likely than winning the lottery
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.
Transport von aufgelösten Plutoniumlager des Bundes in die USA ist erfolgt
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.
A micrometer-sized model of the Matterhorn
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.
Probing what sets the heart racing
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.
Slowed down current could point the way to energy-saving computers
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.
Reappointment of the Directors of PSI and WSL
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.
Neutrons reveal distribution of flux-tube islands
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.
3D nanostructure of a bone made visible
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.
concrete disease solved
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.
Put in perspective
Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have succeeded in using commercially available camera technology to visualise terahertz light. In doing so, they are enabling a low-cost alternative to the procedure available to date, whilst simultaneously increasing the comparative image resolution by a factor of 25. The special properties of terahertz light make it potentially advantageous for many applications. At PSI, it will be used for the experiments on the X-ray free-electron laser SwissFEL.
New method will enable most accurate neutron measurement yet
Our universe consists of significantly more matter than existing theories are able to explain. This is one of the great puzzles of modern science. One way to clarify this discrepancy is via the neutron’s so-called electric dipole moment. In an international collaboration, researchers at PSI have now devised a new method which will help determine this dipole moment more accurately than ever before.
Water pathways make fuel cells more efficient
Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) have developed a coating technique in the laboratory conditions that could raise the efficiency of fuel cells. The PSI scientists have already applied to patent the technique, which is suitable for mass production.
Tiny magnets mimic steam, water and ice
Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) created a synthetic material out of 1 billion tiny magnets. Astonishingly, it now appears that the magnetic properties of this so-called metamaterial change with the temperature, so that it can take on different states; just like water has a gaseous, liquid and a solid state.
The key to charging a lithium-ion battery rapidly
Lithium iron phosphate batteries are very durable and can be charged relatively quickly. Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), ETH Zurich and Japanese car manufacturer Toyota reveal the reasons for these properties in a new study. The findings were made possible thanks to measurements using a new method at the Swiss Light Source (SLS) at PSI.
New details of the transmission of stimuli in living organisms unveiled
Researchers unveil new details of how cells in a living organism process stimuli. So-called G-proteins, which help conduct external stimuli that reach a cell into its interior, play a central role here. For the first time, the study shows which parts of the G-proteins are vital for their function. Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, ETH Zurich, the pharmaceutical company Roche and the British MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology report their results in the journals Nature and Nature Structural and Molecular Biology.
Magnets made of non-magnetic metals
For the first time, an international research team has demonstrated how to generate magnetism in metals that aren’t naturally magnetic, such as copper. The discovery could help develop novel magnets for a wide range of technical applications. Crucial measurements to understand this phenomenon were carried out at PSI à the only place where magnetic processes inside materials can be studied in sufficient detail.
Particulate matter from modern gasoline engines damages our lungs
For years, studies have proved that fine dust from petrol engines can damage our health. Modern engine technology does not help, either, as researchers from the University of Bern and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) reveal.
Nanometres in 3D
Scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute and ETH Zurich have created 3D images of tiny objects showing details down to 25 nanometres. In addition to the shape, the scientists determined how particular chemical elements were distributed in their sample and whether these elements were in a chemical compound or in their pure state.
Gasoline beats mining
Until it was banned, leaded gasoline dominated the manmade lead emissions in South AmericaLeaded gasoline was a larger emission source of the toxic heavy metal lead than mining in South America à even though the extraction of metals from the region’s mines historically released huge quantities of lead into the environment. Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and the University of Bern have discovered evidence of the dominance of leaded gasoline based on measurements in an ice core from a Bolivian glacier. The scientists found that lead from road traffic in the neighbouring countries polluted the air twice as heavily as regional mining from the 1960s onwards. The study is to be published in the journal Science Advances on 6 March 2015.
New laser for computer chips
Germanium-Zinn-Halbleiterlaser lässt sich direkt auf Siliziumchips aufbringenWinzige Laser, die in Computerchips aus Silizium eingebaut werden, sollen in Zukunft die Kommunikation innerhalb der Chips und zwischen verschiedenen Bauteilen eines Computers beschleunigen. Lange suchten Experten nach einem dafür geeigneten Lasermaterial, das sich mit dem Fertigungsprozess von Siliziumchips vereinbaren lässt. Wissenschaftler des Forschungszentrums Jülich und des Paul Scherrer Instituts PSI haben hier nun einen wichtigen Fortschritt erzielt.This news release is only available in German.