Micro- and Nanotechnology
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?
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.
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.
Nanotechnology enables new insights into chemical reactions
Eighty percent of all products of the chemical industry are manufactured with catalytic processes. Catalysis is also indispensable in energy conversion and treatment of exhaust gases. Industry is always testing new substances and arrangements that could lead to new and better catalytic processes. Researchers of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI in Villigen and ETH Zurich have now developed a method for improving the precision of such experiments, which may speed up the search for optimal solutions.
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.
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.
Seven nanometres for the electronics of the future
Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute have succeeded in creating regular patterns in a semiconductor material that are sixteen times smaller than in today’s computer chips. As a result, they have taken an important step closer towards even smaller computer components. Industry envisages structures on this scale as the standard for the year 2028.
Research geared towards the future
Interview with Gabriel AeppliGabriel Aeppli has been head of synchrotron radiation and nanotechnology research at PSI since 2014. Previously, the Swiss-born scientist set up a leading research centre for nanotechnology in London. In this interview, Aeppli explains how the research approaches of the future can be implemented at PSI's large research facilities and talks about his view of Switzerland.
Split x-ray flash shows rapid processes
SwissFEL, PSI’s x-ray laser, is to render the individual steps of very rapid processes visible. A new method will facilitate especially precise experiments: the individual x-ray flashes are split into several parts that arrive at the object under examination one by one. The principle of the method harks back to the ideas of the earliest high-speed photography.
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.
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.
The cleanest place at the Paul Scherrer Institute
Highly sensitive processes take place in the cleanrooms of the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) as a single dust particle in the wrong place could have disastrous consequences. Here is a glimpse behind the scenes in rooms that are so clean even pencils are prohibited.
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.
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.
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.
Built-in Germanium Lasers could make Computer Chips faster
Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) researchers have investigated the mechanisms necessary for enabling the semiconductor Germanium to emit laser light. As a laser material, Germanium together with Silicon could form the basis for innovative computer chips in which information would be transferred partially in the form of light. This technology would revolutionise data streaming within chips and give a boost to the performance of electronics.
Ultra-short X-ray laser pulses precisely surveyed for the first time
X-ray lasers are modern light sources from which scientists expect to obtain new knowledge about the structure and function of materials at the atomic level. The scientific value of an X-ray laser stands or falls on the quality of the ultra-short X-ray pulses it produces and which researchers use to illuminate their samples. An international team led by scientists from the Paul Scherer Institute, PSI, has now precisely measured these pulses
Diamanten sind auch des Forschers bester Freund
Einem vom PSI geleiteten Forscherteam ist es gelungen, harte Röntgenlaserstrahlung 100'000-fach zu konzentrieren und so an einem Punkt Röntgenstrahlung zu erzeugen, die so intensiv war wie wohl nirgends zuvor. Als Linsen verwendeten die Forscher winzige Ringstrukturen aus Diamant à dem Material, das am besten dem Röntgenlaserlicht standhält. Diese Entwicklung schafft die Voraussetzung für einen Teil der Experimente am SwissFEL, dem geplanten Röntgenlaser des PSI.This news release is only available in German.
Moving Monopoles Caught on Camera
For decades researchers have searched for magnetic monopoles à isolated magnetic charges that can move freely like electric charges. Now a team of researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute and University College Dublin have been able to produce monopoles in the form of quasiparticles in an assembly of nanoscale magnets and have directly observed how they move.
A possible new career for a vital biomolecule
As a component of the haemoglobin molecule, porphyrin enables the transport of oxygen within the human body. In a slightly altered form, it may find also applications in technical devices. Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute and the University of Basel have shown that a magnetic property of the molecule can be switched on and off by means of a simple chemical procedure, so that the molecule can be used as a tiny molecular switch.