Overview 2017

14 December 2017

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We start with 500 million muons

Research Using Muons

Materials for future electronics can be studied with muons. In this interview, PSI researchers Alex Amato and Thomas Prokscha explain the special characteristics of these elementary particles.

7 December 2017

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First experiment at SwissFEL carried out successfully

Media Releases SwissFEL Large Research Facilities

The years of careful planning and construction have paid off: At the newest large-scale research facility of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI – the free-electron X-ray laser SwissFEL – the first experiment has been carried out successfully. With that, two goals have been achieved: First, a new scientific result is already expected. Second, the interaction of the many individual components of the highly complex facility is being optimised.

30 November 2017

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More than a prototype

Media Releases Research Using Neutrons Industrial co-operation

Jean-Baptiste Mosset, winner of a Founder Fellowship at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, wants to commercialise a neutron detector to spot plutonium and uranium.

22 November 2017

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Driving into danger with the blue lights flashing


The PSI radiation protection service is responsible for missions not only at the Institute, but throughout the canton of Aargau. Four times a year the unit practises for an emergency.

17 November 2017

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PSI spin-off GratXray wins Swiss Technology Award 2017

Research Using Synchrotron Light Human Health

A spin-off from PSI has received this year's Swiss Technology Award: The young company GratXray is developing a new method for early diagnosis of breast cancer.

15 November 2017

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Still no sign of dark matter

Media Releases Matter and Material Research Using Neutrons

No evidence of dark matter made of axions – result of an experiment at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI further constrains theories about the nature of dark matter.

8 November 2017

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A new bio-robot

Media Releases Biology Human Health Industrial co-operation Radiopharmacy

With a new method for modifying antibodies, Philipp Spycher, winner of a Founder Fellowship at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, wants to develop drugs that are more stable and, thus, have fewer side-effects.

24 October 2017

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Stress test passed

ESI Platform Energy and Environment Renewable Energies

With a technology developed at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, around 60 percent more biogas can be produced from bio-waste than with conventional methods. But can it stand the test in practice as well? A 1,000-hour test at the Werdhölzli biowaste digestion and wastewater treatment plant in Zurich was able to answer this question with a clear yes. It was carried out in cooperation with the Zurich-based energy provider Energie 360°. The analysis of the stress test is now available.

10 October 2017

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From golden emperor to filled Buddha

Matter and Material Research Using Neutrons Research Using Synchrotron Light

Ancient metal objects are illuminated by neutrons at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI. This enables researchers to discover what is hidden inside them, how they were made and how they can be preserved.

4 October 2017

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Bedeutung der Strukturanalyse von Biomolekülen unterstrichen


Der Nobelpreis für Chemie 2017 wurde für die Entwicklung der Strukturanalyse von biologischen Einzelmolekülen mittels ultragekühlter Elektronenmikroskopie verliehen. Die Preisvergabe unterstreicht die fundamentale Bedeutung der Strukturanalyse von Biomolekülen für die moderne Biologie – eines Forschungsgebiets, auf dem das Paul Scherrer Institut PSI in der Schweiz eine führende Rolle einnimmt.

26 September 2017

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Atmosphere in X-ray light

Media Releases Energy and Environment Research Using Synchrotron Light Environment

PSI researchers have developed an experimental chamber in which they can recreate atmospheric processes and probe them with unprecedented precision, using X-ray light from the Swiss Light Source SLS. In the initial experiments, they have studied the production of bromine, which plays an essential role in the decomposition of ozone in the lower layers of the atmosphere. In the future, the new experiment chamber will also be available for use by researchers from other scientific fields.

20 September 2017

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X-ray and neutron imaging for palaeontologists and archaeologists

Matter and Material Research Using Neutrons Research Using Synchrotron Light

Federica Marone illuminates objects with high-intensity X-ray beams, Eberhard Lehmann with neutrons. Both have used their methods to give palaeontologists and archaeologists a new view into the past.

14 September 2017

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The hard worker from Val Mesolcina

Matter and Material Research Using Muons Particle Physics

For Aldo Antognini, physics and conviviality are in the blood

PSI researcher Aldo Antognini has received more than 2.2 million Swiss francs from the EU for his latest experiment. He wants to find out how magnetism is distributed in the proton. The particle physicist will be able to apply not only his scientific and technical talents, but his social flair as well.

23 August 2017

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Custom-tailoring better metallic materials

Materials Research

Using the large research facilities at PSI, Helena Van Swygenhoven-Moens examines the inner workings of metals. The watch industry needs small, robust springs and engineers are interested in turbine blades made of stress resistant materials.

17 August 2017

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More than just spilling the beans

Media Releases ESI Platform Renewable Energies Energy and Environment

Because of their high nitrogen content, spent coffee grounds are a popular garden fertilizer. Recycled in this manner, they already contribute to an environmentally friendly waste management. But they have the potential to deliver much more: a new procedure developed at the PSI allows high quality methane to be formed from spent coffee grounds. PSI researchers involved in a pilot project carried out in cooperation with the Swiss food producer Nestlé were able to show that spent coffee grounds left over during the production of instant coffee can be efficiently re-used elsewhere.

3 August 2017

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Testing the Limits for the Patients’ Benefit

Human Health Medical Science Proton Therapy

Proton therapy is already a success story at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI but researchers remain dedicated to making treatment faster and safer.

20 July 2017

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Diving into magnets

Media Releases Materials Research Matter and Material Research Using Synchrotron Light

For the first time, scientists have made visible the directions of the magnetisation inside a 3D magnetic object. The smallest details in their visualisation were ten thousand times smaller than a millimetre. Among others, the magnetic structure contained one outstanding kind of pattern: magnetic singularities called Bloch points, which up to now were only known in theory.

17 July 2017

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Nanomaterial helps store solar energy: efficiently and inexpensively

Media Releases Storage Energy and Environment Renewable Energies ESI Platform Materials Research

Efficient electrolysers are needed in order to store sun and wind energy in the form of hydrogen. Thanks to a new material developed by researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and Empa, these devices are likely to become less costly and more efficient in the future. Researchers were also able to demonstrate that this new material can be reliably produced in large quantities, showing its performance capability in an electrolysis cell—the main component of an electrolyser.

7 July 2017

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Research experience from California benefits Swiss X-ray free-electron laser SwissFEL

Media Releases SwissFEL Matter and Material

An X-ray free-electron laser (XFEL) is capable of visualizing extremely fast structural and electronic processes. Pilot experiments will take place at the PSI's Swiss Free-Electron Laser (SwissFEL) from the end of 2017 on. Two current publications in Science and Nature Communications demonstrate the kind of outstanding scientific work that is enabled by such facilities. The work was carried out at the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) in California. Two of the leading authors behind these studies have now relocated to the PSI in order to share their expertise as SwissFEL expands its capabilities.

29 June 2017

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Fuel and chemicals from plant waste

Media Releases Research Using Synchrotron Light Materials Research Matter and Material Energy and Environment

Lignin, as a constituent of many plants, accumulates in large quantities and could theoretically be used as a precursor material for production of fuels and chemicals. Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and ETH Zurich have developed a method with which the processes that take place in the catalytic breakdown of lignin can be observed in detail. The knowledge thus gained could enable targeted improvement of production methods in the future.

21 June 2017

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Injector 2: a pre-accelerator for protons

Large Research Facilities

As fundamental building blocks of matter, protons are part of all the things that surround us. At the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, though, they step out of their usual role and are deployed to generate other particles, namely neutrons and muons, which are then used to study materials. But for that, the protons first have to be accelerated. An important role in this is played by a three-stage accelerator facility, in the middle of which stands the accelerator known as Injector 2.

14 June 2017

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From the garage to the world

Research Using Neutrons

In 1999, PSI researchers founded the spin-off firm SwissNeutronics. Today the company has a staff of 15, sells high-precision components to research institutions all over the world, and still is based in the small town of Klingnau – not far from PSI.

7 June 2017

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Big help for small children

Human Health Medical Science Proton Therapy

When small children develop cancer, the whole family is affected. Staff at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI’s Centre for Proton Therapy combine target-oriented proton beam irradiation and a caring, warm-hearted atmosphere to help these children.

29 May 2017

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To the limits of the feasible

Large Research Facilities SwissFEL SwissFEL Technology

The company Daetwyler made the undulators for the free-electron X-ray laser SwissFEL of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, to a precision of one-tenth of the width of a hair.

8 May 2017

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Quartz powder for the battery of the future

Media Releases Energy and Environment Materials Research

PSI materials researchers have developed a method that provides crucial insights into the charging and discharging processes of lithium-sulphur batteries. And the method revealed: with quartz powder added to the battery, its available energy increases and the gradual loss of capacity is much weaker.

4 May 2017

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Making a valuable resource usable with water

Media Releases Energy and Environment Research Using Synchrotron Light

In oil extraction sites, gaseous methane is simply burned, even though it could actually be a useful precursor material for fuels and products of the chemical industry. One way to make methane usable is to convert it to methanol. Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and ETH Zurich have now developed a new chemical process that allows this conversion in an efficient and inexpensive way.

27 April 2017

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Getting a Handle on Safety

Medical Science Human Health Proton Therapy

Proton beams don’t just cure cancer. They can also damage healthy tissue. To make sure that this doesn’t happen, PSI’s Centre for Proton Therapy carries out over 350 safety tests a year. The results speak for themselves: several thousand patients have undergone proton irradiation treatment here in Villigen. There’s never been an accident.

18 April 2017

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Successful for 20 years: Probing materials with particles

Media Releases Matter and Material Research Using Neutrons Large Research Facilities

Whether they study materials for the electronics of the future, batteries, or swords from the Bronze Age — for 20 years researchers from a range of disciplines have been using the Swiss Spallation Neutron Source SINQ of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI for their investigations. At a symposium on 18 April, researchers looked back on the facility's successes and presented plans for modernisation.

12 April 2017

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The double agents


They have two e-mail addresses, two offices, and two filing cabinets in two locations: Around 60 of the researchers at PSI are at the same time professors or lecturers at a Swiss university. PSI and the universities also profit from these researchers with double affiliations.

6 April 2017

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Second beamline for SwissFEL

SwissFEL SwissFEL Technology SwissFEL Experiments

This year the first pilot experiments are starting at the free-electron X-ray laser SwissFEL. The X-ray light generated by SwissFEL will enable a broad spectrum of experiments. Beginning in 2020, a second beamline will provide for a still greater variety.

16 March 2017

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3-D X-ray imaging makes the finest details of a computer chip visible

Media Releases Materials Research Micro- and Nanotechnology Matter and Material Research Using Synchrotron Light

Researchers at the PSI have made detailed 3-D X-ray images of a commercially available computer chip. In their experiment, they examined a small piece that they had cut out of the chip beforehand. This sample remained undamaged throughout the measurement. It is a major challenge for manufacturers to determine if, in the end, the structure of their chips conforms to the specifications. Thus these results represent one important application of an X-ray tomography method that the PSI researchers have been developing for several years.

14 March 2017

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Rays of hope for patients

Medical Science Human Health Proton Therapy

For over 30 years, patients with a particular form of ocular tumour have been treated at PSI by means of proton irradiation. The tiny particles hit their target with millimetre precision, without endangering other structures of the eye. The irradiation facility OPTIS, developed at the PSI Center for Proton Therapy of the PSI, is a success story, considering that for more than 90 percent of the patients treated to date, the eye could be saved.

28 February 2017

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Welcome to Esiville

Media Releases ESI Platform Energy and Environment Renewable Energies

A new visitor’s station at PSI tells the story of a Swiss town that makes the change from a conventional energy supply to one with new renewable energy sources.

23 February 2017

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In start-up companies, getting it done is a matter of survival

Biology Medical Science Human Health

A pharmaceuticals manager at Roche for a long time, now he is the founder of a biotech firm on the campus of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI: Michael Hennig knows the trends in the medical sector. In this interview he explains why the medicine of the future needs the innovation power of publicly funded research, and why he chose to locate his start-up leadXpro so close to PSI.

9 February 2017

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How Switzerland could supply its electric power in 2050

Environment Energy and Environment Renewable Energies ESI Platform

The Laboratory for Energy Systems Analysis at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI is investigating how Switzerland’s electricity supply might look, up to the year 2050, under a variety of boundary conditions. On the basis of their calculations, the lab’s researchers are able to generate insights on possible future developments of the energy sector, for example, determine how an ambitious reduction in CO2 emissions could be achieved at the lowest possible cost.

1 February 2017

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Historical copper, trapped in ice

Media Releases Environment Energy and Environment

Until now, the onset of copper production in South America was still unclear. Hardly any written records or artefacts from the early high cultures in Peru, Chile, and Bolivia have been preserved. Now, however, researchers of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI in Villigen (Switzerland) have tracked down the evidence. Through analysis of ice from the Illimani glacier in the Bolivian Andes, they found out that copper was being mined and smelted in South America since around 700 BC.

31 January 2017

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In cold water

Human Health Medical Science Biology

Martin Ostermaier wanted to break out of the comfort zone of science. Now, instead of pipettes, the biochemist is dealing with investors and patent law.

23 January 2017

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Higher methane yield from bio-waste

ESI Platform Energy and Environment Renewable Energies

Within Switzerland’s bio-waste a huge amount of precious energy is hidden. That’s because valuable methane, the main constituent of natural gas, can be obtained from it. With a technology developed at PSI, the yield of methane from bio-waste could be increased considerably in the future. A long-term test conducted in cooperation with Energie 360° at the Werdhölzli fermentation and wastewater treatment plant is expected to advance this technology further along its path to industrial use.

19 January 2017

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Added value for cancer patients

Human Health Medical Science Proton Therapy

At the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, cancer patients receive a treatment that is unique in Switzerland: proton therapy. This state-of-the-art form of radiation therapy against cancer has major advantages, compared to conventional irradiation, in terms of effectiveness and side-effects. The PSI has its own Center for Proton Therapy dedicated to this special treatment. Its pioneering work has not only helped several thousand patients, but also has fundamentally changed proton therapy worldwide.

5 January 2017

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Nanotechnology enables new insights into chemical reactions

Media Releases Energy and Environment Research Using Synchrotron Light Micro- and Nanotechnology

Eighty percent of all products of the chemical industry are manufactured with catalytic processes. Catalysis is also indispensable in energy conversion and treatment of exhaust gases. Industry is always testing new substances and arrangements that could lead to new and better catalytic processes. Researchers of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI in Villigen and ETH Zurich have now developed a method for improving the precision of such experiments, which may speed up the search for optimal solutions.