Media Releases 2013

22. December 2013


Superconductivity switched on by magnetic field

Media Releases Research Using Neutrons Materials Research Matter and Material

Superconductivity and magnetic fields are normally seen as rivals – very strong magnetic fields normally destroy the superconducting state. Physicists at the Paul Scherrer Institute have now demonstrated that a novel superconducting state is only created in the material CeCoIn5 when there are strong external magnetic fields. This state can then be manipulated by modifying the field direction. The material is already superconducting in weaker fields, too. In strong fields, however, an additional second superconducting state is created which means that there are two different superconducting states at the same time in the same material.

17. December 2013


Experiments in the clouds – how soot influences the climate

Media Releases Energy and Environment Environment

PSI-researcher Martin Gysel receives prestigious European funding (ERC Consolidator Grant) for his studies on the role of soot in cloud formation and global warming.

12. December 2013


The Paul Scherrer Institute runs two of the energy competence centres of the Swiss government

Energy and Environment Media Releases

As part of the Energy Strategy 2050 the Swiss government and parliament have decided to increase support for energy research in Switzerland. This includes the setting up of seven interuniversity networked Swiss Competence Centres in Energy Research (SCCERs). In the SCCERs ETH Domain institutions, the universities and the universities of the applied sciences are to join forces with industrial partners to develop new competencies and solutions in the decisive action areas of the shift in energy policy. The Paul Scherrer Institute PSI will act as the leading house in two of the SCCERs – storage and biomass – that have already been given the green light. They will begin their work in 2014.

17. November 2013


How botox binds to neurons

Media Releases Biology Research Using Synchrotron Light Human Health

Botox is a highly dangerous toxin that causes paralysis. In cosmetic applications it is used to temporarily eliminate wrinkles and in medicine as a treatment for migraine or to correct strabismus. An international research team has now established how the toxin molecule binds to the neuron whose activity is then blocked by the poison. The findings may be useful for the development of improved drugs with a lower risk of overdosage.

12. November 2013


Electrons with a split personality

Media Releases Research Using Synchrotron Light Materials Research Matter and Material

Above the transition temperature, some electrons in the superconducting material La1.77Sr0.23CuO4 behave as if they were in a conventional metal, others as in an unconventional one – depending on the direction of their motion. This is the result of experiments performed at the SLS. The discovery of this anisotropy makes an important contribution towards understanding high-temperature superconductors. The effect will also have to be taken into account in future experiments and theories of high-temperature superconductors.

24. October 2013


A promising new method for the diagnosis of breast cancer

Media Releases Medical Science Human Health

A new mammography procedure that could generate substantial added value for the diagnosis of breast cancer in medical practice has just been published in the scientific journal “Investigative Radiology”. The method was developed at PSI in cooperation with the Certified Breast Centre at the Kantonsspital (cantonal hospital in) Baden and Philips as an industrial partner and is making the tiniest tissue changes visible. This has the potential to improve the early detection of breast cancer. Further studies in women suffering from breast cancer are to prove in a definitive manner the added value of the method.

17. October 2013


PSI-researcher Helena Van Swygenhoven awarded prestigious ERC Grant

Media Releases Research Using Neutrons Research Using Synchrotron Light Materials Research

Helena Van Swygenhoven, materials researcher at the Paul Scherrer Institute and professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), has been awarded an ERC Advanced Grant. This prestigious EUR 2.5 million grant from the European Research Council will enable Van Swygenhoven to launch the new research project MULTIAX. Under this project, she will investigate what happens in metallic materials during deformation - a question important for the production processes for car parts. Furthermore, the project will also develop new methods that can be used to study materials at large research facilities. These methods will be accessible to experts from research and industry.

16. October 2013


Die Ursprünge der ersten Fische mit „Zähnen“

Media Releases Research Using Synchrotron Light User Experiments Biology

Mit Hilfe von Röntgenlicht aus der Synchrotron Lichtquelle Schweiz des PSI ist es Paläontologen der Universität Bristol gelungen, ein Rätsel um den Ursprung der ersten Wirbeltiere mit harten Körperteilen zu lösen. Sie haben gezeigt, dass die „Zähne“ altertümlicher Fische (der sogenannten Conodonten) unabhängig von den Zähnen und Kiefern heutiger Wirbeltiere entstanden sind. Die Zähne dieser Wirbeltiere haben sich vielmehr aus einem Panzer entwickelt, der dem Schutz vor den Conodonten, den ersten „Raubtieren“, diente.

14. October 2013


A glimpse at the future of global energy supply

Media Releases Energy and Environment

How will the world secure its energy supply in 2050 and what are the possible economic, ecological and social implications of different pathways and choices? These questions are answered by researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI in cooperation with the World Energy Council WEC in a study examining two scenarios covering different dimensions of economic, social, policy and technology development. The results of the study, which has now been concluded, will be presented from 13 to 17 October at the WEC’s World Energy Congress in the South Korean town of Daegu

6. October 2013


Particle formation in the atmosphere – further aspect unveiled via the CLOUD experiment at CERN

Media Releases Energy and Environment Environment

Clouds consist of cloud droplets that are formed from tiny particles floating in the atmosphere. How these particles develop, however, largely remains a mystery. The formation of particles from amines and sulphuric acid has now been described for the first time – a milestone in atmospheric research.

22. August 2013


Kanton und Paul Scherrer Institut stellen PARK innovAARE vor

Media Releases

Hightech-Zone in Villigen als idealer Netzwerkstandort für schweizerischen Innovationspark

Der Kanton Aargau und das Paul Scherrer Institut (PSI) stellen das Konzept PARK innovAARE für einen Netzwerkstandort des schweizerischen Innovationsparks vor. Die unmittelbare Nähe zum PSI mit seinen Grossforschungsanlagen macht das untere Aaretal zu einem idealen Standort, wo Spitzenforschung und unternehmerische Innovationstätigkeit sich beflügeln.
This news release is only available in French and German.

11. August 2013


Magnetisation controlled at picosecond intervals

Media Releases Matter and Material Materials Research SwissFEL

A terahertz laser developed at the Paul Scherrer Institute makes it possible to control a material’s magnetisation precisely at a timescale of picoseconds. In their experiment, the researchers shone extremely short light pulses from the laser onto a magnetic material. The light pulse’s magnetic field was able to deflect the magnetic moments from their idle state in such a way that they exactly followed the change of the laser’s magnetic field with only a minor delay. The terahertz laser used in the experiment is one of the strongest of its kind in the world.

8. August 2013


Five times less platinum: fuel cells could become economically more attractive thanks to novel aerogel catalyst

Media Releases Energy and Environment

Fuel cells that convert hydrogen into power and only produce pure water as a by-product have the potential to lead individual mobility into an environmentally friendly future. The Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) has been researching and developing such low-temperature polymer electrolyte fuel cells for more than 10 years and initial field tests have already demonstrated the successful use of these fuel cells in cars and buses. However, further research is still required to improve the durability and economic viability of the technology. An international team of researchers involving the PSI has now manufactured and characterised a novel nanomaterial that could vastly increase the efficiency and shelf-life of these fuel cells – as well as reduce material costs.

29. July 2013


Pancreas: new procedure detects tumours more efficiently

Media Releases Medical Science Human Health

Better than CT and MRI: researchers at the Inselspital Berne, the University Hospital Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute have devised a new method to detect small tumours in the pancreas.

12. July 2013


Ferromagnetic and antiferromagnetic – at the same time

Media Releases Matter and Material Materials Research

Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) have made thin, crystalline layers of the material LuMnO3 that are both ferromagnetic and antiferromagnetic at the same time. The LuMnO3 layer is ferromagnetic close to the interface with the carrier crystal. As the distance increases, however, it assumes the material’s normal antiferromagnetic order while the ferromagnetism steadily becomes weaker. The possibility of producing two different magnetic orders within a material could be of major technical importance.

8. July 2013


Weltmeister aus dem PSI

Media Releases

Silvan Melchior, Elektronik-Lernender vom PSI, hat bei der Weltmeisterschaft der Berufslernenden in Leipzig die Goldmedaille in seinem Fachgebiet gewonnen. Insgesamt sind in dem Fach 16 Lernende aus 16 Ländern angetreten. Insgesamt hat das Schweizer Team mit neun Gold-, drei Silber-, fünf Bronzemedaillen sowie 18 Diplomen den zweiten Gesamtplatz hinter Korea belegt.
This news release is only available in German.

3. July 2013


Laying of the corner stone for the new large research facility SwissFEL

Media Releases SwissFEL SwissFEL Construction

At the ceremony on 3 July 2013, not only did the PSI lay the corner stone for the new large research facility SwissFEL, but it also paved the way for the continuation of twenty-five years of successful research at the institute.

4. June 2013


ecoinvent – The World’s Leading LCA Database Launches Version 3.0

Media Releases Energy and Environment

The life cycle inventory database ecoinvent forms the basis for life cycle assessment projects, eco-design, and product environmental information. Since 2003, ecoinvent has enabled companies to manufacture their products more in harmony with the environment, policymakers to implement new policies, and consumers to adopt more environmentally friendly behaviour. The new version 3.0 is a further milestone in life cycle assessment: new and updated data offer ecoinvent users a greater number of possible applications in the areas of e.g. chemical production, foodstuffs, vegetables and electricity.

5. May 2013


Tiny Magnets as a Model System

Media Releases Matter and Material Materials Research Research Using Synchrotron Light

Scientists use nano-rods to investigate how matter assembles
To make the magnetic interactions between the atoms visible, scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have developed a special model system. It is so big that it can be easily observed under an X-ray microscope, and mimics the tiniest movements in Nature. The model: rings made from six nanoscale magnetic rods, whose north and south poles attract each other. At room temperature, the magnetisation direction of each of these tiny rods varies spontaneously. Scientists were able to observe the magnetic interactions between these active rods in real time. These research results were published on May 5 in the journal “Nature Physics”.

22. April 2013


Germanium – zum Leuchten gezogen

Media Releases Matter and Material Micro- and Nanotechnology Materials Research

Forscher des PSI und der ETH Zürich haben mit Kollegen vom Politecnico di Milano in der aktuellen Ausgabe der wissenschaftlichen Fachzeitschrift "Nature Photonics" eine Methode erarbeitet, einen Laser zu entwickeln, der schon bald in den neuesten Computern eingesetzt werden könnte. Damit könnte die Geschwindigkeit, mit der einzelne Prozessorkerne im Chip miteinander kommunizieren, drastisch erhöht werden. So würde die Leistung der Rechner weiter steigen.
This news release is only available in German.

14. April 2013


Memory effect now also found in lithium-ion batteries

Media Releases Energy and Environment Industrial co-operation

Lithium-ion batteries are high performance energy storage devices used in many commercial electronic appliances. Certainly, they can store a large amount of energy in a relatively small volume. They have also previously been widely believed to exhibit no memory effect. That’s how experts call a deviation in the working voltage of the battery, caused by incomplete charging or discharging, that can lead to only part of the stored energy being available and an inability to determine the charge level of the battery reliably. Scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, together with colleagues from the Toyota Research Laboratories in Japan have now however discovered that a widely-used type of lithium-ion battery has a memory effect. This discovery is of particularly high relevance for advances towards using lithium-ion batteries in the electric vehicle market. The work was published today in the scientific journal Nature Materials.

8. April 2013


X-ray Laser: A novel tool for structural studies of nano-particles

Media Releases SwissFEL Matter and Material

Prominent among the planned applications of X-ray free electron laser facilities, such as the future SwissFEL at the Paul Scherrer Institute, PSI, are structural studies of complex nano-particles, down to the scale of individual bio-molecules. A major challenge for such investigations is the mathematical reconstruction of the particle form from the measured scattering data. Researchers at PSI have now demonstrated an optimized mathematical procedure for treating such data, which yields a dramatically improved single-particle structural resolution. The procedure was successfully tested at the Swiss Light Source synchrotron at PSI.

3. April 2013


Observing engine oil beneath metal

Media Releases Matter and Material Research Using Neutrons

Developmental Engineers from the firm LuK (D) wanted to see right through the metal housing of a clutch. They wanted to observe how the oil that lubricates and cools a clutch is distributed. A transparent disc becomes dirty very quickly, and X-rays merely reveal the metal. These engineers therefore turned to scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute, who illuminated the metal with neutrons and thus made the lubricating oil visible. The results surprised everyone: only three of the eight lamellae were sufficiently lubricated.

25. February 2013


Computed tomography provides real-time 3D pictures showing how oil and water flow in porous rock

Media Releases

For the first time, experiments using computed tomography have allowed scientists to observe in 3D the flow of oil and water in real rock on an unprecedented scale. The new approach trailed and the information gathered by the experiments contribute to an improved understanding of multiphase flow and transport in porous media.

22. February 2013


Building rights agreement signed

Media Releases SwissFEL SwissFEL Construction

A new Large Research Facility, SwissFEL, is to be built in the Würenlingen forest, very close to the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI). On Friday, February 22, 2013, the building permit was signed with the Citizens’ Commune of Würenlingen.

14. February 2013


A glimpse inside the control centres of cell communication

Media Releases Biology Human Health

Numerous processes taking place within our body, such as sight, smell or taste, are accomplished by an important family of sensors on cell surfaces, which are known as G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR). Researchers have now compared the hitherto known structures of GPCRs and discovered a stabilising framework of fine struts that is characteristic for the architecture of the entire GPCR family. Knowledge about this constructional feature, which has been conserved over the course of evolution, can be of significant assistance in the development of new pharmaceuticals.

12. February 2013


Superconductors surprise with intriguing properties

Media Releases Matter and Material Research Using Synchrotron Light

Scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute, together with Chinese and German collaborators, have obtained new insights into a class of high-temperature superconductors. The experimental results of this fundamental research study indicate that magnetic interactions are of central importance in the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity. This knowledge could help to develop superconductors with enhanced technical properties in the future.

12. February 2013


Joint venture in the bioenergy and resource efficiency sector: PSI and FHNW establish joint institute

Media Releases Energy and Environment Renewable Energies

The Institute of Biomass and Resource Efficiency was founded by the two institutions, PSI (Paul Scherrer Institute) and FHNW (University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland), at the start of 2013. The aim of this new institute is to tackle the issue of resource efficiency throughout Switzerland, concentrating simultaneously on energy and material for the first time, and to thus make a significant contribution to the Federal Government’s "Energy Strategy 2050". The focus is on the sustainable use of biomass.

8. February 2013


Focussed construction expertise for the SwissFEL

Media Releases SwissFEL SwissFEL Construction

The joint venture EquiFEL Suisse, a consortium of three well-established Swiss companies, has been awarded the contract as general contractor for the construction of the SwissFEL building and for providing the necessary technical infrastructure. The contract for work and services was signed by the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and the joint venture yesterday evening.

7. February 2013


Imaging fluctuations with X-ray microscopy

Media Releases

X-rays are used to investigate nanoscale structures of objects as varied as single cells or magnetic storage media. Yet, high-resolution images impose extreme constraints on both the X ray microscope and the samples under investigation. Researchers at the Technische Universität München the PSI now showed how to relax these conditions without loss of image quality. They further showed how to image objects featuring fast fluctuations, such as the rapid switching events that determine the life time of data storage in magnetic materials.

31. January 2013


Magnetic nano-chessboard puts itself together

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

Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute and the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research have been able to intentionally ‘switch off’ the magnetization of every second molecule in an array of magnetized molecules and thereby create a ‘magnetic nano-chessboard’. To achieve this, they manipulated the quantum state of a part of the molecules in a specific way.

25. January 2013


Proton size puzzle reinforced!

Media Releases Particle Physics Research Using Muons Large Research Facilities Matter and Material

An international team of scientists confirmed the surprisingly small value of the proton radius with laser spectroscopy of exotic hydrogen. The experiments were carried out at PSI which is the only research institute in the world providing the necessary amount of muons for the production of the exotic hydrogen atoms made up of a muon and a proton.

7. January 2013


The weak side of the proton

Media Releases Matter and Material Research Using Muons Particle Physics

An international research team has determined with a high level of accuracy, how the proton participates in the weak interaction – one of the fundamental forces of nature. Their results confirm the predictions of the Standard Model of particle physics. The experiment observed the probability of muon capture by protons – a process governed by the weak interaction. The experiment was conducted at the Paul Scherrer Institute, the only institute in the world with an accelerator capable of generating enough muons for carrying out this project in a realistic timeframe.

3. January 2013


How stabilised cell fibres prevent cancer cell division

Media Releases Human Health Biology Research Using Synchrotron Light

Anti-cancer drugs are used under the heading of “Chemotherapeutics” to prevent cells from dividing. Because the cells in a growing tumour divide more frequently than others, tumour cells are damaged more severely. Scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute and the ETH Zurich have now clarified the exact mechanism of action of one class of these drugs. The data acquired is so accurate, that targeted drugs could now be developed that are even better suited to fulfil their task.