The new beamline at PSI's X-ray free-electron laser SwissFEL will soon be ready for action. In December, Athos delivered laser light for the first time − even sooner than expected, to the delight of the researchers responsible for its construction.
On January 30th, 2020, the WHO declared the recent outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a public health emergency of international concern. It declared that there is an urgent need to improve our understanding of the newly identified virus and its possible future evolution as well as to contain the spread; to develop precise diagnostics and treatment, and to improve the public health response and patient care.
The newest large research facility at the Paul Scherrer Institute, SwissFEL, has been completed. In January 2019 it began regular operation. Henrik Lemke, head of the SwissFEL Bernina research group, gives an interim report.
Using the Swiss Light Source SLS, PSI researchers have recorded a molecular energy machine in action and thus revealed how energy production at cell membranes works. For this purpose, they developed a new investigative method that could make the analysis of cellular processes significantly more effective than before.
PSI School for Master Degree Students - Introducing Photons, Neutrons and Muons for Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Science
From 17 – 21 June 2019 the Neutron and Muon Division (NUM) and the Photon Science Division (PSD) of PSI hosted 18 Master Degree students of physics, chemistry, materials and interdisciplinary science, as well as nuclear engineering to provide an introduction to the characterization of materials with large scale facilities like SINQ, SμS, SLS and SwissFEL. The course taught a basic understanding of how photons, neutrons and muons interact with matter, and how this knowledge can be used to solve specific problems in materials research.
Details of the program can be found at http://indico.psi.ch/event/PSImasterschool
The typical mode of operation at XFEL facilities uses the so-called self-amplified spontaneous emission (SASE) process to generate the short, bright X-ray pulses. This mode of operation is stochastic in nature, causing some variance in intensity and spectrum on a shot-to-shot basis, which makes certain types of crystallographic measurements much more challenging.
The high brilliance of new X-ray sources such as X-ray Free Electron Laser opens the way to non-linear spectroscopies. These techniques can probe ultrafast matter dynamics that would otherwise be inaccessible. One of these techniques, Transient Grating, involves the creation of a transient excitation grating by crossing X-ray beams on the sample. Scientists at PSI have realized a demonstration of such crossing by using an innovative approach well suited for the hard X-ray regime.
A major milestone in the commissioning of SwissFEL has been reached: the first pump-probe experiments on proteins have been successfully carried out. Crystals of several retinal-binding proteins were delivered in a viscous jet system and a femtosecond laser was used to start the isomerization reaction. Microsecond to sub-picosecond snapshots were then collected, catching the retinal proteins shortly after isomerization of the chromophore.
A team with three researchers from the ETH Domain has been awarded a prestigious EU grant. Today, they received the contract signed by the EU confirming the extraordinary 14 million euros funding. With it, they will investigate quantum effects which could become the backbone of future electronics.