Scientific Highlights

28 March 2022
Hercules School 2022 group photo

Hercules School 2022

PSI hosted again the Hercules School in March 2022. We had the pleasure to welcome 20 international PhD students, PostDocs and scientists to demonstrate our state-of-the-art techniques and methodologies at our large scale facilities, the Swiss Light Source (SLS), the Swiss Spallation Neutron Source (SINQ) and our free electron laser SwissFEL.

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2 September 2021

Watch them growing: New mechanistic insights into catalytic methane coupling

Methane valorization is a promising technology to utilize this platform compound to produce aromatics and hydrocarbons. Researchers from PSI and ETH Zürich unveiled this reaction mechanism and observed the molecular growth from the ground up. Besides stepwise CH3 addition,  novel routes involving the dimerization of resonantly stabilized propargyl (C3H3) radicals to benzene (C6H6) were identified. These mechanistic insights will aid the development of valorisation strategies.

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26 March 2021

Important elementary reactions of lignin catalytic pyrolysis revealed

To develop sustainable lignin valorization strategies, a solid understanding of the underlying reaction mechanism is critical. By detection of highly reactive and elusive intermediates, new light could be shed on one of the most basic elementary reactions in lignin catalytic fast pyrolysis.

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25 March 2021
Hercules teaser


During the week of March 15 – 19, we had the pleasure to welcome 20 international PhD students, PostDocs and assistant professors at PSI, taking part in the first virtual HERCULES SCHOOL on Neutrons & Synchrotron Radiation.

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24 November 2020

Ruzicka Prize

The Ružička ​Prize 2020 goes to Dr. Patrick Hemberger (PSI) for his research on understanding the mechanisms of catalytic fast pyrolysis by unveiling reactive intermediates in heterogeneous catalysts.

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1 August 2020

Methylbismuth: First observation of an organometallic biradical reactive intermediate

Open shell organometallic bismuth are promising agents for catalytic applications, but difficult to characterize due to their high reactivity. The simplest methylbismuth (Bi-CH3), a biradical species, was in-situ synthesized and spectroscopically characterized for the first time. Electronic and thermochemical properties could be obtained, which will guide future synthetic applications.

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26 March 2019
Operando spectroscopy techniques, including PEPICO, unravel the mechanistic origin of halogen-dependent selectivities in oxyhalogenation.

Selective Alkane Functionalization to Olefins

Light alkanes are abundantly available and cheap resources that are often burned at oil wells because of the missing infrastructure for valorization. Novel technologies are needed for their selective functionalization to use natural gas as an energy vector in the transition between the oil and the renewables era. Catalytic oxyhalogenation may unlock the transformation of cheap and abundant alkanes into commodities. When chlorine-based reactions are compared with bromine, improved selectivities above an iron catalyst arise from surface-confinement of the reaction mechanism in the case of chlorine as halogen.

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