Photon Science Division (PSD)Research into extremely small structures at the molecular and atomic level leads to discoveries which are closely related to material properties as we know them on a larger scale, such as their strength, electrical conductivity or magnetisation. The best material or structure for any particular application will only be found if we understand the relationship between the microscopic and the macroscopic. As a result, there are many and varied uses for this research, e.g. for new types of materials and surfaces, for modern technologies, for biology and medicine, and for the environmentally-acceptable use of energy.
The Paul Scherrer Institut also researches the composition of materials and surface structures for use in fuel cells and innovative types of batteries. In addition, synchrotron light will provide insights into microscopic damage to materials and into the complex structure of bio-molecules which will, for example, make the targeted manufacture of new pharmaceuticals possible.
Objects with dimensions of thousandths of millionths of a meter are known as nanostructures. This minuteness will revolutionise every area of our technological world, whether in information transfer and data storage, or in sensors for biology, medicine and ecology. For example, specialists at PSI are working together on interdisciplinary projects to develop biosensors, artificial noses and optical electronics.
Towards X-ray Transient Grating Spectroscopy at SwissFELThe 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. The results of their work at the Swiss Free Electron Laser have been published in the journal Optics Letters.
Electronics should get smaller, faster, and above all more energy-efficient. These themes are also present in several research groups at PSI. From incremental improvements to complete rethinking – who is currently working on what?
A method developed by PSI researchers makes X-ray images of materials even better. The researchers took a number of individual images while moving an optical lens. From these, with the help of computer algorithms, they generated one overall image.
If you make electronic components smaller, they unfortunately get hotter. Also, we will soon reach the limit of technically feasible miniaturisation. At PSI, Gabriel Aeppli and Christian Rüegg are working on fundamentally new, physical solutions for better computers and data storage devices.
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.
Helping chemists to understand degradation and stabilization of catalytic nanoporous gold structuresIt is difficult for X-rays to compete in spatial resolution with electrons, but they can probe relatively large bulk sample volumes at atmospheric pressure in a non-destructive manner. This makes X-ray tomography a promising tool to investigate catalytic nanoporous materials under real operating conditions. In this work researchers from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and the University of Bremen in Germany compared X-ray ptychographic tomography, electron tomography and focused ion beam-scanning electron microscopy performed on a nanoporous sponge-like gold material with numerous applications, including selective oxidation and sustainable production of chemicals. As it turns out, the X-ray based method is the most suitable for in situ or sequential post-mortem analysis of volumes after thermal annealing, which researchers want to pursue in the future.
Claire Donnelly dissertation research awardsClaire Donnelly, Mesoscopic Systems (ETH Zurich - PSI), was awarded the COMSOL SPS Award in Computational Physics, the Werner Meyer-Ilse Memorial Award, the ETH Medal for an outstanding doctoral thesis, and the American Physical Society Richard L. Greene Dissertation Award. These awards recognize the exceptional quality and importance of her dissertation on “Hard X-ray Tomography of Three Dimensional Magnetic Structures”, carried out in collaboration with Sebastian Gliga, the CXS group, and the OMNY project. Experiments have been carried out at the cSAXS beamline. She will continue her research at the University of Cambridge with a Leverhulme Fellowship supported by the Newton Trust. We wish her every success! - Image courtesy of the APS.
The electronics industry expects a novel high-performance transistor made of gallium nitride to offer considerable advantages over present-day high-frequency transistors. Yet many fundamental properties of the material remain unknown. Now, for the first time, researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have observed electrons while they were flowing in this promising transistor. For that they used one of the world's best sources of soft X-rays at PSI's Swiss Light Source SLS.
Data storage devices based on novel materials are expected to make it possible to record information in a smaller space, at higher speed, and with greater energy efficiency than ever before. Movies shot with the X-ray laser show what happens inside potential new storage media, as well as how the processes by which the material switches between two states can be optimised.
Oles Sendetskyi, winner of a Founder Fellowship at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, wants to use polarity reversal in nanomagnets to develop a sustainable power source for small devices.