Research Divisions and Labs
The institute is organized into five research and two service divisions.
Research with Neutrons and Muons (NUM)
The NUM division focuses on the research with neutrons and muons. The division operates the spallation neutron source SINQ, the Swiss muon source SμS and the PSI source of ultracold neutrons UCN. The in-house research covers a wide range of activities from particle physics on the one hand to solid state physics (magnetism, superconductivity), materials sciences and soft condensed matter on the other. The division consists of six laboratories and one staff group.
- Particle Physics LTP
- Neutron Scattering and Imaging LNS
- Muon Spin Spectroscopy LMU
- Neutron and Muon Instrumentation LIN
- Multiscale Materials Experiments LMX
- PSI User Office and Guesthouse User Office
Photon Science (PSD)
The Photon Science Division (PSD) operates two User Facilities, i.e. the Swiss Light Source (SLS) and the X-ray Free Electron Laser (SwissFEL). These facilities are divided into six laboratories, and these in turn, operate 18 beamlines in total, as well as the clean room facilities. Research is performed by external users as well as by PSI scientists.
Energy and Environment (ENE)
Research at ENE comprises all aspects of human energy use, with the ultimate goal of promoting development towards a sustainable energy supply system. Technologies are being advanced for the utilization of renewable energy sources, low-loss energy storage, efficient conversion, and low emission energy use. Experimental and model-based assessment of these emissions forms the basis of a comprehensive assessment of economic, ecological and environmental consequences, for both present and future energy supply systems.
Nuclear Energy and Safety (NES)
The Paul Scherrer Institute has a long tradition in energy research. With respect to nuclear energy, PSI has a unique position in Switzerland. This is due to its heavy infrastructure, namely the Hot Laboratory with so-called
hot cells, well equipped and shielded zones for work and research on radioactive material. Based on this infrastructure, PSI's large facilities (SLS and SINQ) and the know-how of its collaborators, the division is involved in three main topics of research: Safety of currently operating light-water reactors, safety characteristics of future reactor concepts and related fuel cycles, and long-term safety of deep geological repositories for nuclear wastes of all kind.
Biology and Chemistry (BIO)
The division of Biology and Chemistry at PSI is subdivided into three laboratories pursuing research in the areas of cell and structural biology, biomolecular imaging and radio-pharmacy.
The Laboratory of Biomolecular Research (LBR) works on three broad, overlapping research topics: (i) membrane protein structure and function, (ii) structure-function relationships of macromolecular assemblies of the cell and (iii) new methods for bio-structural analysis. LBR’s principal investigators have academic freedom in achieving the scientific goals of their projects. The LBR is responsible for key research instrumentation at PSI: electron microscopy, biophysical instruments and light microscopy, protein production; with SLS, the LBR is sharing responsibility for the protein crystallisation facility. The LBR Young Researchers Network (LYRN) organises scientific and social activities to complement LBR’s excellent research infrastructure, providing an attractive environment for young scientists in structural biology.
The Center of Radiopharmaceutical Sciences pursues research in the fields of tracer preparation and in vivo imaging of tissues, in particular of disseminated tumors that cannot be removed surgically or by external radiation therapy. The laboratory is operated jointly by ETH Zürich and PSI. The laboratory creates therapeutic molecules by combining particular types of biomolecules, such as for instance antibodies, with radioactive nuclides. These reagents are used to image tumors and to selectively target and destroy tumor cells in animal models. PSI cooperates with universities, hospitals and the pharmaceutical industry to ensure the most effective coordination of its basic research capabilities with clinical applications.
Scientific Computing, Theory and Data (SCD)
Division Large Research Facilities (GFA)
The Division of Large Research Facilities (GFA) is responsible for the construction, operation and development of the particle accelerators at PSI. Accelerator facilities form the backbone of the main research activities at PSI. The high intensity proton accelerator (HIPA) is used to generate muons for muon spin spectroscopy (LMU ), and neutrons by spallation from a target (SINQ ). The Swiss Light Source (SLS) is a state-of-the-art electron storage ring which generates high brightness photon beams for users of synchrotron radiation (PSD ).
A hard X-Ray Free Electron Laser, SwissFEL, was inaugurated at the end of 2016. It is based on a low emittance 5.8 GeV linear electron accelerator. The facility provides extremely short, very bright pulses of X-rays for time resolved experiments. Construction of a soft X-ray free electron laser (ATHOS), driven by the same electron linac, has also begun. These instruments are used by a large national and international multi-disciplinary research community.
GFA is also responsible for the operation of a compact proton cyclotron and attached beamlines (PROSCAN), dedicated to the treatment of cancer patients within the Centre for Proton Therapy (ZPT). A third rotating gantry, GANTRY 3, was recently added to this treatment facility. A major upgrade of the SLS is currently under design. This upgrade will result in an increase of the brightness of the source by two orders of magnitude.
Division Logistics (LOG)
The division of Logistics provides technical and administrative services for the whole institute.