Scientific Highlights from PSI's research divisions
Condensed Matter Research with Neutrons and Muons (NUM)
Reference: R. Takagi et al, Physical Review Letters 120, 037203 (2018)
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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.
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.
Under the lead of LSK member, "Rapid structure determination of microcrystalline molecular compounds using electron diffraction", published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/anie.201811318 has attracted great attention in the chemistry community.
In the first half of the 19th century, a series of large volcanic eruptions in the tropics led to a temporary global cooling of Earth's climate. That Alpine glaciers grew and subsequently receded again during the final phase of the so-called Little Ice Age was due to a natural process. This has now been proven by PSI researchers on the basis of ice cores.
Gebhard Schertler is head of the research division Biology and Chemistry at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and professor for Structural Biology at ETH Zurich. In this interview he talks about biological research at PSI and the future of drug development.
Using X-ray laser technology, a team led by researchers of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI has recorded one of the fastest processes in biology. In doing so, they produced a molecular movie that reveals how the light sensor retinal is activated in a protein molecule. Such reactions occur in numerous organisms. The movie shows for the first time how a protein efficiently controls the reaction of the embedded light sensor.
Progress in non intrusive laser based measurements of gas-phase thermoscalars and supporting modeling near catalytically reacting interfaces
Heterogeneous and combined hetero/homogeneous chemical processes have attracted increased attention in many energy conversion systems, which include large scale power generation, microreactors for portable power generation, household burners, fuel processing technologies and automotive exhaust gas aftertreatment. Progress in such systems crucially depends on the development of catalysts with enhanced activity and thermal stability and on the comprehensive understanding of the fundamental processes occurring near gas solid reacting interfaces. Recent advances in non intrusive lased based measurements of gas phase thermoscalars over the catalyst boundary layer are reviewed. Such measurements, combined with theoretical analyses and numerical simulations, have fostered fundamental investigations of the catalytic and gas phase chemical processes and their coupling at industrially relevant operating conditions. The methodology for assessing local catalytic reaction rates and validating gas phase reaction mechanisms under steady conditions using 1D Raman and planar laser induced fluorescence (PLIF) of radical species, respectively, is presented first. Progress in the measurement of minor and major stable species using PLIF is outlined and the potential of this technique as a suitable method for assessing the catalytic reactivity under dynamic operating conditions is discussed. State of the art numerical modeling necessary for the interpretation of the measurements is presented in parallel with the laser based techniques. Turbulence modeling, direct numerical simulation (DNS) and near wall non intrusive measurements of species concentrations and velocity have clarified aspects of the complex interplay between interphase turbulent transport and hetero /homogeneous kinetics. Controlling parameters are the competition between the heterogeneous and homogeneous reaction pathways, diffusional imbalance of the deficient reactant, flow laminarization induced by the hot catalytic walls, and fuel leakage through the gaseous reaction zone that leads to concurrent catalytic and gas phase combustion. Experimental needs for assessing turbulent fluctuations of catalytic reaction rates as well as for investigating intrinsic instabilities (heterogeneously or homogeneously driven) are discussed. Future directions for combining in situ surface science diagnostics with in situ non intrusive gas phase thermoscalar diagnostics and for advancing current numerical tools are finally proposed.
* Funding for LArge international REsearch projects.