Scientific Highlights from PSI's research divisions
Research with Neutrons and Muons (NUM)
At an interface between a topological insulator (TI) and a conventional superconductor (SC), superconductivity has been predicted to change dramatically and exhibit novel correlations. In particular, the induced superconductivity by an s-wave SC in a TI can develop an order parameter with a p-wave component. Here we present experimental evidence for an unexpected proximity-induced novel super- conducting state in a thin layer of the prototypical TI, Bi2Se3 proximity coupled to Nb.
Noncollinear magnetic order arises for various reasons in several magnetic systems and exhibits interesting spin dynamics. Despite its ubiquitous presence, little is known of how magnons, otherwise stable quasiparticles, decay in these systems, particularly in metallic magnets. Using inelastic neutron scattering, we examine the magnetic excitation spectra in a metallic noncollinear antiferromagnet CrB2, in which Cr atoms form a triangular lattice and display incommensurate magnetic order. Our data show intrinsic magnon damping ...
Photon Science Division (PSD)
In topological materials, electrons can display behaviour that is fundamentally different from that in ‘conventional’ matter, and the magnitude of many such ‘exotic’ phenomena is directly proportional to an entity known as the Chern number. New experiments establish for the first time that the theoretically predicted maximum Chern number can be reached — and controlled — in a real material.
Moon-shot missions, such as those of Horizon Europe, require exceptional solutions, and the world-leading Analytical Research Infrastructures of Europe (ARIEs) are one of the key places those solutions can be sought. The ARIE Joint Position Paper highlighting how the common, complementary approach will help address the societal challenges of the Horizon Europe Missions framework programme was presented today.
Biology and Chemistry (BIO)
Forschende des Paul Scherrer Instituts PSI haben einen wichtigen Teil eines Signalweges aufgeklärt, der Informationen durch die Zellmembran in das Innere einer Zelle überträgt. Dieser existiert bei allen Säugetieren und spielt unter anderem bei der Regulierung des Herzschlages eine wichtige Rolle. Die neuen Erkenntnisse könnten zu neuen Therapien führen.
Gebhard Schertler ist Leiter des Forschungsbereichs Biologie und Chemie am Paul Scherrer Institut PSI und Professor für Strukturbiologie an der ETH Zürich. In diesem Interview spricht er über die biologische Forschung am PSI und die Zukunft der Medikamentenentwicklung.
General Energy (ENE)
Atmospheric aerosols are considered the single largest uncertainty in assessing the human contribution to global warming and amongst the top five health risks worldwide. Our ability to investigate aerosol sources, their formation processes in the gas-phase, and their societal impacts is largely governed by our capability to measure their molecular constituents in real-time. Researchers at PSI have combined for the first time ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry with high time resolution and sensitivity for the molecular analysis of aerosols.
Newly discovered rapid particle growth rates may be the answer to the mystery of aerosol formation in urban smog
Aerosols, suspended particles or droplets, play a key role in Earth’s atmosphere’s energy balance. They can also result in smog formation in cities, which leads to low visibility and serious health risks for the population. A recent study published in Nature outlines a newly discovered mechanism that may play a key role in the continued survival of particles in wintertime smog.
Nuclear Energy and Safety Research (NES)
Ein Interview über Fahrzeugantriebe mit Christian Bauer, Wissenschaftler am Labor für Energiesystemanalyse des PSI und spezialisiert auf Lebenszyklus- und Nachhaltigkeitsanalysen.
Assessment of stress corrosion cracking incidents in Alloy 182 – reactor pressure vessel dissimilar metal welds
Several stress corrosion cracking (SCC) incidents recently occurred in Alloy 182 - reactor pressure vessel (RPV) dissimilar metal welds in boiling water reactors (BWR). These SCC cracks tend to grow towards the RPV due to weld microstructure and residual stress profiles and might grow into the RPV. They thus represent a serious potential safety concern. PSI has evaluated under which conditions such cracks could grow into the RPV and also developed SCC crack growth disposition curves for the RPV steels that can be used for safety assessments of such cracks. With these curves that were recently accepted as a new Code Case N-896 in the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code, sufficient safety margins could be demonstrated for such crack configurations with the current inspection intervals of the periodic in-service inspection.
We have produced hard x-ray free-electron laser (FEL) radiation with unprecedented large bandwidth tunable up to 2%. The experiments have been carried out at SwissFEL, the x-ray FEL facility at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland. The bandwidth is enhanced by maximizing the energy chirp of the electron beam, which is accomplished by optimizing the compression setup. We demonstrate continuous tunability of the bandwidth with a simple method only requiring a quadrupole magnet. The generation of such broadband FEL pulses will improve the efficiency of many techniques such as x-ray crystallography and spectroscopy, opening the door to significant progress in photon science. It has already been demonstrated that the broadband pulses of SwissFEL are beneficial to enhance the performance of crystallography, and further SwissFEL users plan to exploit this large bandwidth radiation to improve the efficiency of their measurement techniques.
The emittance is a fundamental parameter of particle distributions accounting for the average spread of the particles’ positions and momenta. We have generated and characterized intense ultralow-emittance electron beams, setting new standards for electron linear accelerators. The measurements have been carried out at the SwissFEL accelerator of PSI. SwissFEL is one of the few X-ray free-electron lasers (FELs) worldwide, which are cutting-edge research instruments to investigate matter with resolutions at the level of atomic processes.