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PSI Facility News III/2022
30 September 2022

Dear Colleagues

You may have noticed lately some news on a possible case of scientific fraud in the field of molecular biology, to be specific in the field of Alzheimer research. The situation is not very clear yet, however, if confirmed, it would represent a major failure of the scientific process. This is very serious as it all happened multiple times in peer-reviewed publications and the scientific results under discussion have been pivotal in the field of Alzheimer research. 

Roland Horisberger

Large sums of public research money were spent and many researchers have oriented themselves based on the results by the University of Minnesota group that may now turn out to be fraudulent. 

As a Research Integrity (RI) Ombudsperson I certainly wonder how such situations can possibly arise. Each historical case is probably unique but I think it is worth to think about organizational measures to minimize the risks for similar cases at our institute. Having a RI Ombudsperson shows that PSI is taking the issue of research integrity very seriously. The person entrusted should be independent of the laboratory hierarchy and operations but at the same time be quite knowledgeable about the lab in general and the specific research done at PSI.

Our laboratory is insofar in a special situation that we operate large facilities where our scientific research is performed. Experiments and allocated beam time are decided by a rather stringent review machinery. Scientific programme committees ensure and check the quality of the results obtained. I think that the detailed knowledge of the reviewing experts gives a certain institutional insurance that a major scientific fraud would be caught. In my professional career as a particle physicist I have been reviewed like this many times. Such reviews are normally public and allow other scientists, sometimes even from other fields to scrutinize the presented research. Such open reviews are a step towards an Open Research and Open Data policy. This can certainly help to improve the transparency and the integrity of the science done. In view of the Open Data policy, the large facility laboratories like PSI also have a special role, given their substantial IT infrastructure. I refer to the excellent editorial in the last PSI Facility Newsletter. And last but not least we must have a clear programme to educate young scientists on proper scientific conduct and how to avoid pitfalls in data interpretation and statistical analysis. This is what we try to offer to the young PhD students during their thesis work at PSI.

Roland Horisberger, Dr. Prof. emer.
Ombudsperson Research Integrity

Next proposal submission deadlines

SLS: PX beamlines 15 October 2022
SINQ 15 November 2022
SµS 01 December 2022
CHRISP 09 January 2023
SwissFEL 15 March 2023
SLS: non-PX beamlines tba

An overview of all proposal submission deadlines of the PSI facilities can be found here.

Research highlights

Three PSI research facilities reveal magnetic crossover

SLS/SINQ/SμS — Dynamic magnetic crossover at the origin of the hidden order in the van der Waals antiferromagnet CrSBr

The two-dimensional van der Waals material CrSBr exhibits a remarkable spectrum of magneto-electric properties that make it a promising ingredient for spin-based electronic devices. However, the complexity of its behaviour also poses a challenge when it comes to gaining a fundamental mechanistic understanding of this system. To unravel the magnetic and structural characteristics of CrSBr, and how they change with temperature, researchers led by the University of Geneva have now carried out complementary experiments at three PSI facilities — SµS, SINQ and SLS — as well as magnetization measurements. In doing so, they obtained deep insight into the dynamic magnetic landscape of this layered material, finding in particular evidence for a spin dimensionality crossover at ~40 K, which they suggest to be at the origin of a low-temperature hidden order in CrSBr.

S.A. López-Paz et al., Nature Communications 13, 4745 (2022)
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-32290-4 

More information

Reaction insights help make sustainable liquid fuels

SLS — Elucidation of radical- and oxygenate-driven paths in zeolite-catalysed conversion of methanol and methyl chloride to hydrocarbons

Methanol, produced from carbon dioxide in the air, can be used to make carbon-neutral fuels. But to do this, the mechanism by which methanol is turned into liquid hydrocarbons has to be better understood, so that the catalytic process can be optimised. Now, researchers from ETH Zurich and PSI have gained unprecedented insight into this complex mechanism by exploiting operando photoelectron photoion coincidence (PEPICO) spectroscopy, which has recently been established at the VUV beamline of SLS as a powerful analytical tool in catalytic reactions. PEPICO combines photoelectron spectroscopy and mass spectrometry, to give detailed information on the gas-phase reaction intermediates, including the differentiation between isomers. The findings now obtained underline the potential of the method to provide valuable mechanistic insights into complex reaction networks. 

A. Cesarini et al., Nature Catalysis 5, 605 (2022)
DOI: 10.1038/s41929-022-00808-0

More information

A model system for topological magnonics

SINQ — Dipolar spin-waves and tunable band gap at the Dirac points in the 2D magnet ErBr3

‘Magnonic’ devices are based on manipulating the dynamics of spin waves in artificial nanostructures, and they offer the prospect of information processing and storage at low energy consumption. Of particular interest in this context are materials with topologically protected surface states. Typically, topological properties emerge from spin–orbit interactions, but now a team led by PSI researchers establish in a combined experimental and theoretical study that in the two-dimensional van der Waals honeycomb magnet ErBr3 the magnetic properties are governed entirely by dipolar interactions — which is of practical relevance as these interactions are always present in magnetic solids. The team furthermore demonstrates that ErBr3 features a tunable band gap at the Dirac points, making ErBr3 a promising model system for exploring the reversible control of spin waves.

C. Wessler et al., Communications Physics 5, 185 (2022)
DOI: 10.1038/s42005-022-00965-5

More information

Nickelate superconductors are intrinsically magnetic

SμS — Intrinsic magnetism in superconducting infinite-layer nickelates

The discovery, in 2019, of superconductivity in Nd0.8Sr0.2NiO2 introduced a new family of layered nickelate superconductors that has since been considerably extended. Several studies suggest the presence of strong electron correlations in these materials, a feature that often leads to the emergence of magnetism. Whether magnetism is relevant for superconductivity in the nickelates remained, however, an open question. An international team of researchers now reports muon-spin rotation/relaxation studies of a series of superconducting infinite-layer nickelates, performed at the LEM facility of SμS. For all the compounds studied, they found an intrinsic magnetic ground state arising from local moments on the nickel sublattice, regardless of rare-earth-ion species or doping — a finding that indicates that the family of infinite-layer nickelates is intrinsically magnetic, including in the superconducting state.

J. Fowlie et al., Nature Physics 18, 1043 (2022)
DOI: 10.1038/s41567-022-01684-y

More information

A versatile new modality

SwissFEL — Ultrafast single-particle imaging with intense X-ray pulses

Ultrafast single-particle imaging with intense X-ray pulses from free-electron laser sources provides a novel approach for visualizing structure and dynamics on the nanoscale, offering new capabilities for research in physics and biology as well as in the chemical sciences. Members of the Maloja team at SwissFEL now give in a review article a broad overview of this emerging field. They highlight selected applications, from nanoparticle morphology and growth dynamics to the behaviour of superfluid nanodroplets to biological systems and aerosol research, and discuss current developments that push the field further towards time-resolved imaging of ultrafast dynamics and imaging of transient electronic structure. To round off, they provide an outlook to the ever increasing opportunities for ultrafast imaging experiments, with a focus on the new SwissFEL Maloja endstation. 

Z. Sun et al., Chimia 76, 529 (2022)
DOI: 10.2533/chimia.2022.529

A unique opportunity for expanding horizons

CHRISP — The 25th edition of the Zuoz Summer School

Close to 100 participants came together from 14–20 August 2022 for the 25th Zuoz Summer School on particle physics in the Lyceum Alpinum, against the stunning backdrop of the Swiss Alps. The bi-annual school offers young physicists didactical introductions to advanced concepts in particle physics. The topic of this year's school was ‘Vision and Precision’, featuring lectures about the ‘big questions’, statistics, and how to obtain physics results from raw data, as well as about precision calculations and experiments at the energy and intensity frontier. A special feature of the Zuoz school is the mix between experimentalists and theorists, with ample time for discussions and exchange of ideas and experiences. Not least, the school serves as an opportunity for the young scientist to network and to get hopefully a wider perspective on the rich field of particle physics. 

More information

News from the user facilities

SLS: The X06DA-PXIII upgrade, preparing for the SLS 2.0

The Macromolecular Crystallography (MX) beamline X06DA-PXIII had its last experiment on 11 April 2022, before being dismantled for a major upgrade prior to the SLS 2.0 machine upgrade. The MX group decided to start this process early, as a means both to spread out the upgrades of the three MX beamlines over a longer period of time, and to offer a testbed for the new generation of hardware and software foreseen at SLS 2.0.

While the overall project is progressing well, there were several delays on the critical path related to the current worldwide supply-chain issue. Adjustments in scope and regarding technical solutions had to be made. Nonetheless, the work is expected to be completed before the dark period, and in addition to the performance improvements for MX experiments, the early upgrade is currently serving to sort out initial problems of systems and software related to SLS 2.0.

During this time X06DA-PXIII users have been moved to X06SA-PXI.

Read more

SINQ: Upgraded high-intensity diffractometer DMC enters user programme

The cold neutron diffractometer DMC for powder and single-crystal applications has been extensively modernized in recent years. After replacing the cold neutron guide, DMC was equipped with a large high-performance neutron detector. Special features are high detection efficiency, coverage of a large solid angle, and two-dimensional readout. The increase in count rate for powder experiments by more than an order of magnitude, as well as the event-based neutron detection enable novel applications and experimental possibilities that were not feasible at SINQ so far. In addition to efficient powder experiments, the large solid angle covered, combined with dedicated software for data reduction and transformation, enables a new single-crystal mode for mapping reciprocal planes.

The state-of-the-art detector has been successfully commissioned and DMC is back in user operation. DMC will be fully available for research proposals for powder and single-crystal experiments at the upcoming SINQ deadline on 15 November.
Read more

SwissFEL: Athos just got even better

An upgrade at the Athos soft X-ray beamline of SwissFEL will open up new experimental capabilities. Using an external laser system with well-defined pulse and coherence properties to ‘seed’ the emission of X-ray photons, and thus imprint well-defined optical properties on the beam, the upgrade gives the beamline unprecedented stability. With this, experiments at attosecond timescales that probe the movements of electrons in chemical reactions become possible.

The full upgrade is a two-phase project, the first of which has now been successfully completed. On completion of the second phase, Athos will be the first fully coherent soft X-ray FEL in the world — enabling a range of exotic experiments that probe the interaction of intense, coherent X-ray beams with matter.
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CHRISP: PiM1 channel found fit for high-precision π, μ and e scattering measurements

The MUon Scattering Experiment MUSE measures simultaneously elastic muon–proton and electron–proton scattering, with the goal of obtaining insight into the proton charge radius puzzle, lepton universality, and two-photon exchange. MUSE uses the PiM1 secondary beam channel, which was designed for high-precision pion scattering measurements. We now precisely determined the properties of the electron and muon beams in the channel, comparing the π/μ/e beam G4beamline simulation with several experimental measurements.

The positions of the different particle species were found to be consistent within roughly 2 mm, indicating that their momenta are consistent to within approximately 0.02 %. We conclude that the muon and electron beams have similar properties to the pion beam and to each other, and that the PiM1 channel in its present condition is suited for high-precision π, μ, and e scattering measurements.
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JUSAP - The Joint Users Association

Dear Colleagues

The 18th General Assembly (GA) meeting of the European synchrotron and FEL user organisation (ESUO) was held at the SOLEIL synchrotron, as a hybrid event, on 29—30 August 2022. ESUO representatives from 27 ESUO countries (21 participants on-site and 11 participants online), together with several colleagues from the ELETTRA, ESRF, HZB and SOLEIL synchrotron radiation user facilities, as well as other participants from the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) 

Joanna Hoszowska

and the European Neutron Scattering Association (ENSA) attended the meeting. Various discussion topics related to present and future ESUO activities were tackled. Please do not hesitate to read the meeting report which will be made accessible soon here.

Good news about payment methods!  It is now possible to upload your PSI badge cashlessly directly with your credit card.

The next JUSAP board meeting is scheduled for 4 October 2022. We encourage all members of the PSI user community to contact us regarding any issues that concern user operation at PSI.

Joanna Hoszowska
on behalf of the JUSAP panel