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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.
Molecular energy machine as a movie star
Using the Swiss Light Source SLS, PSI researchers have recorded a molecular energy machine in action and thus revealed how energy production at cell membranes works. For this purpose, they developed a new investigative method that could make the analysis of cellular processes significantly more effective than before.
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.
This time, it's all bio: SwissFEL makes protein structures visible
For the development of new medicinal agents, accurate knowledge of proteins is crucial. In a pilot experiment, researchers have now, for the first time, used the X-ray free-electron laser SwissFEL of PSI for the examination of protein crystals.
How do dye-sensitised solar cells work, and what's behind the brilliant new mobile phone displays? The ultrashort X-ray pulses at SwissFEL reveal the chemical reactions that take place inside these devices and could help to make them even more efficient and cost-effective.
Movie directors with extra roles
Data storage devices based on novel materials are expected to make it possible to record information in a smaller space, at higher speed, and with greater energy efficiency than ever before. Movies shot with the X-ray laser show what happens inside potential new storage media, as well as how the processes by which the material switches between two states can be optimised.
Biological light sensor filmed in action
Using X-ray laser technology, a team led by researchers of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI has recorded one of the fastest processes in biology. In doing so, they produced a molecular movie that reveals how the light sensor retinal is activated in a protein molecule. Such reactions occur in numerous organisms. The movie shows for the first time how a protein efficiently controls the reaction of the embedded light sensor.
Hollywood in the Würenlingen woods
With the X-ray laser SwissFEL, researchers at PSI want to produce movies of biomolecules in action. This can reveal how our eyes function or how new drugs work.
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.
First experiment at SwissFEL carried out successfully
The years of careful planning and construction have paid off: At the newest large-scale research facility of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI – the X-ray free-electron laser SwissFEL – the first experiment has been carried out successfully. With that, two goals have been achieved: First, a new scientific result is already expected. Second, the interaction of the many individual components of the highly complex facility is being optimised.
Research experience from California benefits Swiss X-ray free-electron laser SwissFEL
An X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL) is capable of visualizing extremely fast structural and electronic processes. Pilot experiments will take place at the PSI's Swiss Free-Electron Laser (SwissFEL) from the end of 2017 on. Two current publications in Science and Nature Communications demonstrate the kind of outstanding scientific work that is enabled by such facilities. The work was carried out at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) in California. Two of the leading authors behind these studies have now relocated to the PSI in order to share their expertise as SwissFEL expands its capabilities.
To the limits of the feasible
The company Daetwyler made the undulators for the X-ray free-electron laser SwissFEL of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, to a precision of one-tenth of the width of a hair.
Second beamline for SwissFEL
This year the first pilot experiments are starting at the X-ray free-electron laser SwissFEL. The X-ray light generated by SwissFEL will enable a broad spectrum of experiments. Beginning in 2020, a second beamline will provide for a still greater variety.
Today, on 5 December 2016, the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI held an inauguration ceremony for its new large-scale research facility SwissFEL, with Johann N. Schneider-Ammann, President of the Swiss Confederation, in attendance.
SwissFEL in the home stretch: The first electrons are here
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.
Catching proteins in the act
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.
Cooperation with nature
With SwissFEL, a new landscape takes shapeBarely completed, the building housing the X-ray free-electron laser SwissFEL has disappeared again beneath a mound of earth. Since then, planting and landscaping have been under way on and around this major research facility of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI. Its special location, in a forest, demands that SwissFEL be integrated in an environmentally appropriate way. So the facility is, from the outside, nearly invisible. And rare animals and plants have gained new living space.
To the beam tunnel
Since the autumn of 2015, the SwissFEL beam tunnel has been filling up with the machine components for the new PSI large research facility. Piece by piece, the pre-assembled components are being brought to their final destination.
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.
Perfect beamlines go unnoticed
Interview with Luc PattheyLuc Patthey is in charge of designing and implementing the beamlines for the X-ray free-electron laser SwissFEL. In this Interview, he explains the requirements the beamlines need to meet for the X-ray light pulses generated by SwissFEL to reach the experiments in an optimal form and what role collaborations play in the development of beamlines.