Tiny Magnets as a Model System
Scientists use nano-rods to investigate how matter assemblesTo make the magnetic interactions between the atoms visible, scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have developed a special model system. It is so big that it can be easily observed under an X-ray microscope, and mimics the tiniest movements in Nature. The model: rings made from six nanoscale magnetic rods, whose north and south poles attract each other. At room temperature, the magnetisation direction of each of these tiny rods varies spontaneously. Scientists were able to observe the magnetic interactions between these active rods in real time. These research results were published on May 5 in the journal Nature Physics.
Germanium – zum Leuchten gezogen
Forscher des PSI und der ETH Zürich haben mit Kollegen vom Politecnico di Milano in der aktuellen Ausgabe der wissenschaftlichen Fachzeitschrift "Nature Photonics" eine Methode erarbeitet, einen Laser zu entwickeln, der schon bald in den neuesten Computern eingesetzt werden könnte. Damit könnte die Geschwindigkeit, mit der einzelne Prozessorkerne im Chip miteinander kommunizieren, drastisch erhöht werden. So würde die Leistung der Rechner weiter steigen.This news release is only available in German.
Memory effect now also found in lithium-ion batteries
Lithium-ion batteries are high performance energy storage devices used in many commercial electronic appliances. Certainly, they can store a large amount of energy in a relatively small volume. They have also previously been widely believed to exhibit no memory effect. That’s how experts call a deviation in the working voltage of the battery, caused by incomplete charging or discharging, that can lead to only part of the stored energy being available and an inability to determine the charge level of the battery reliably. Scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, together with colleagues from the Toyota Research Laboratories in Japan have now however discovered that a widely-used type of lithium-ion battery has a memory effect. This discovery is of particularly high relevance for advances towards using lithium-ion batteries in the electric vehicle market. The work was published today in the scientific journal Nature Materials.
X-ray Laser: A novel tool for structural studies of nano-particles
Prominent among the planned applications of X-ray free electron laser facilities, such as the future SwissFEL at the Paul Scherrer Institute, PSI, are structural studies of complex nano-particles, down to the scale of individual bio-molecules. A major challenge for such investigations is the mathematical reconstruction of the particle form from the measured scattering data. Researchers at PSI have now demonstrated an optimized mathematical procedure for treating such data, which yields a dramatically improved single-particle structural resolution. The procedure was successfully tested at the Swiss Light Source synchrotron at PSI.
Observing Engine Oil Beneath Metal
Developmental Engineers from the firm LuK (D) wanted to see right through the metal housing of a clutch. They wanted to observe how the oil that lubricates and cools a clutch is distributed. A transparent disc becomes dirty very quickly, and X-rays merely reveal the metal. These engineers therefore turned to scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute, who illuminated the metal with neutrons and thus made the lubricating oil visible. The results surprised everyone: only three of the eight lamellae were sufficiently lubricated.
Computed tomography provides real-time 3D pictures showing how oil and water flow in porous rock
For the first time, experiments using computed tomography have allowed scientists to observe in 3D the flow of oil and water in real rock on an unprecedented scale. The new approach trailed and the information gathered by the experiments contribute to an improved understanding of multiphase flow and transport in porous media.
Building rights agreement signed
A new Large Research Facility, SwissFEL, is to be built in the Würenlingen forest, very close to the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI). On Friday, February 22, 2013, the building permit was signed with the Citizens’ Commune of Würenlingen.
A glimpse inside the control centres of cell communication
Numerous processes taking place within our body, such as sight, smell or taste, are accomplished by an important family of sensors on cell surfaces, which are known as G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR). Researchers have now compared the hitherto known structures of GPCRs and discovered a stabilising framework of fine struts that is characteristic for the architecture of the entire GPCR family. Knowledge about this constructional feature, which has been conserved over the course of evolution, can be of significant assistance in the development of new pharmaceuticals.
Superconductors surprise with intriguing properties
Scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute, together with Chinese and German collaborators, have obtained new insights into a class of high-temperature superconductors. The experimental results of this fundamental research study indicate that magnetic interactions are of central importance in the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity. This knowledge could help to develop superconductors with enhanced technical properties in the future.
Joint venture in the bioenergy and resource efficiency sector: PSI and FHNW establish joint institute
The Institute of Biomass and Resource Efficiency was founded by the two institutions, PSI (Paul Scherrer Institute) and FHNW (University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland), at the start of 2013. The aim of this new institute is to tackle the issue of resource efficiency throughout Switzerland, concentrating simultaneously on energy and material for the first time, and to thus make a significant contribution to the Federal Government’s "Energy Strategy 2050". The focus is on the sustainable use of biomass.
Focussed construction expertise for the SwissFEL
The joint venture EquiFEL Suisse, a consortium of three well-established Swiss companies, has been awarded the contract as general contractor for the construction of the SwissFEL building and for providing the necessary technical infrastructure. The contract for work and services was signed by the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and the joint venture yesterday evening.
Imaging fluctuations with X-ray microscopy
X-rays are used to investigate nanoscale structures of objects as varied as single cells or magnetic storage media. Yet, high-resolution images impose extreme constraints on both the X ray microscope and the samples under investigation. Researchers at the Technische Universität München the PSI now showed how to relax these conditions without loss of image quality. They further showed how to image objects featuring fast fluctuations, such as the rapid switching events that determine the life time of data storage in magnetic materials.
Magnetic nano-chessboard puts itself together
Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute and the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research have been able to intentionally switch off’ the magnetization of every second molecule in an array of magnetized molecules and thereby create a magnetic nano-chessboard’. To achieve this, they manipulated the quantum state of a part of the molecules in a specific way.
Proton size puzzle reinforced!
An international team of scientists confirmed the surprisingly small value of the proton radius with laser spectroscopy of exotic hydrogen. The experiments were carried out at PSI which is the only research institute in the world providing the necessary amount of muons for the production of the exotic hydrogen atoms made up of a muon and a proton.
The weak side of the proton
An international research team has determined with a high level of accuracy, how the proton participates in the weak interaction à one of the fundamental forces of nature. Their results confirm the predictions of the Standard Model of particle physics. The experiment observed the probability of muon capture by protons à a process governed by the weak interaction. The experiment was conducted at the Paul Scherrer Institute, the only institute in the world with an accelerator capable of generating enough muons for carrying out this project in a realistic timeframe.
How stabilised cell fibres prevent cancer cell division
Anti-cancer drugs are used under the heading of Chemotherapeutics to prevent cells from dividing. Because the cells in a growing tumour divide more frequently than others, tumour cells are damaged more severely. Scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute and the ETH Zurich have now clarified the exact mechanism of action of one class of these drugs. The data acquired is so accurate, that targeted drugs could now be developed that are even better suited to fulfil their task.
The evolutionary origins of our pretty smile
Until recently, it was not obvious whether the earliest vertebrates (animals with a backbone) which had jawbones already possessed teeth or not. Now, an international research team has shown that the jaws of the prehistoric fish Compagopiscis already had teeth. This means that teeth appeared at the same evolutionary time as jaws à or at least shortly afterwards. The leaders of this project were scientists from the University of Bristol, England, who carried out their decisive experiments at the SLS at PSI.
X-rays provide insights into volcanic processes
Experiments performed at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) investigate processes inside volcanic materials that determine whether a volcano will erupt violently or mildly. In the experiments, scientists heated small pieces of volcanic material similarly to conditions present at the beginning of a volcanic eruption. They used X-rays from the SLS to observe, in real time, what happens to the rock as it goes from the solid to the molten state.
Nobelpreiswürdig: G-Protein-gekoppelte Rezeptoren
Der Nobelpreis für Chemie geht in diesem Jahr an Robert J. Lefkowitz und Brian K. Kobilka. Sie haben herausgefunden, wie eine Familie von Rezeptoren funktioniert, die man G-Protein-gekoppelte Rezeptoren (GPCR) nennt. Auch am PSI leisten Wissenschaftler Beiträge auf diesem Forschungsgebiet.This news release is only available in German.
Silicon – Close to the Breaking Point
Stretching a layer of silicon can lead to internal mechanical strain which can considerably improve the electronic properties of the material. Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute and the ETH Zurich have created a new process from a layer of silicon to fabricate extremely highly strained nanowires in a silicon substrate. The researchers report the highest-ever mechanical stress obtained in a material that can serve as the basis for electronic components. The long term goal aim is to produce high-performance and low-power transistors for microprocessors based on such wires.