Matter and Material

Understanding the properties of materials

The manifold characteristics of the matter making up the world around us are determined by what kinds of atoms they are made of, how these atoms are arranged, and how they move.

Most researchers in the Matter and Material field at the Paul Scherrer Institute are trying to clarify the link between the internal structure and the observable properties of various materials. For example, they are investigating why some materials are good conductors of electricity, while others do not conduct at all; why one material is magnetic though another is not; how biological molecules are constructed, and how they carry out their biological function.

Particle physics
Investigations into the smallest building blocks of matter

At the Laboratory for Particle Physics, researchers investigate the fundamental structures of matter. Thus, they are studying the properties of elementary particles – the smallest building blocks of matter.

Experiments at PSI's large research facilities
provide essential insights into the structure of matter

PSI's Matter and Material research is concentrated around the Institute's large research facilities. These facilities produce probes – beams composed of particles or X-ray radiation, which researchers can pass through the materials under examination in order to gain unique insights into their internal structure. The facilities are unique in Switzerland, in some cases they are the only ones in the world. The experimental opportunities at the large research facilities are not only used by researchers from the PSI, but are available to scientists from universities, other research institutes and industrial companies.

Additional Information