Topic Overview

Research at the Paul Scherrer Institute

The scientific topics studied at the Paul Scherrer Institute can be grouped into four main research areas: Future Technologies, Energy and Climate, Health Innovation and Fundamentals of Nature. New scientific discoveries are made here not only by PSI’s own researchers, but by external scientists using PSI’s large research facilities for their experiments. Apart from their own research, the important tasks performed by PSI’s scientists and engineers include the continuous development of the Institute’s experimental infrastructure.

Future Technologies

The manifold characteristics of materials are determined by the type of atoms they are made of, how these atoms are arranged, and how they move. In the research area Future Technologies, scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute are trying to clarify this link between the internal structure and the observable properties of different materials. They want to use this knowledge as fundamental principles for new applications – whether in medicine, information technology or energy generation and storage – or to explore innovative manufacturing processes for industry.

Energy and Climate

The goal of PSI’s energy research is to develop processes for sustainable energy use. These include greener energy generation, the use of renewable energy sources, and energy storage with minimal losses. Technologies for safer use of nuclear energy are also being developed. Climate and environmental research focus on the chemical processes that take place in the atmosphere.

Health Innovation

In the area of Health Innovation, research focuses on understanding essential processes in living organisms at the molecular level and developing new methods for diagnosing and treating diseases. Since 1984 cancer patients have been treated at the proton therapy facility on the PSI campus. This method offers much less aggressive cancer treatment for specific types of cancer. PSI scientists continuously refine and extend the facility to make the treatment even more effective and adaptable for a greater variety of tumours.

Fundamentals of Nature

Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute are looking for answers to essential questions concerning the underlying structures of matter and the fundamental principles of nature. They study the composition and properties of elementary particles – the smallest building blocks of matter – or investigate the structure of biological molecules and how they perform their function. The knowledge gathered in this way opens up new approaches to innovative solutions in science, medicine and technology.

Topic Overview (in alphabetical order)