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Swiss Light Source - SLS

The Swiss Light Source (SLS) at the Paul Scherrer Institut is a third-generation synchrotron light source. With an energy of 2.4 GeV, it provides photon beams of high brightness for research in materials science, biology and chemistry.

Part of the SYN department

Three laboratories (LSB, LSC, LSK) are centered around the Swiss Light Source (SLS).

The SYN-department comprises four laboratories. The fourth is the Laboratory for Micro- und Nanotechnology (LMN).


The operation of the beamlines at the SLS is split into three thematic areas:
Current operation status:

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Upcoming Events

Show All Scientific Events
Mechanical Properties and Microstructure of Porous Magnesium Composites
Speaker Qizhen Li, School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Washington State University, Pullman, USA
Tuesday 17 November 2015 / WBBA/008
Contact Helena van Swygenhoven (2931)
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Industrial use of the Swiss Light Source

The main goal of the SLS Techno Trans AG is to facilitate industrial use of the SLS. If you are not an expert in a particular technique or you are unsure of which technique is best suited for your application(s), we can help you. Our Mission is to coordinate any and all services for industrial/proprietary users - we are your one stop shop!
Please get in contact with us: SLS Techno Trans AG


19. November 2015

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3D nanostructure of a bone made visible

Media Releases Biology Research Using Synchrotron Light Human Health

Bones are made up of tiny fibres that are roughly a thousand times finer than a human hair. Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have developed a new computer-based algorithm with which they were able to visualize the localised order and alignment of these nanostructures inside an entire piece of bone for the first time.

12. November 2015

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Matter and Material Research Using Synchrotron Light

In a series of experiments at the Swiss Light Source SLS, physicists from the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have discovered a particle, the existence of which was predicted eighty-six years ago. It is a member of the particle family that also includes the electron, the carrier of electrical currents. The particle now discovered is massless and can exist only within a special class of materials known as Weyl semi-metals.

5. November 2015

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Structure of concrete disease solved

Media Releases Research Using Synchrotron Light Matter and Material

When bridges, dam walls and other structures made of concrete are streaked with dark cracks after a few decades, the culprit is the so-called the concrete disease. Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and Empa have now solved the structure of the material produced in these cracks at atomic level - and have thereby discovered a previously unknown crystalline arrangement of the atoms.

29. October 2015

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X-ray research in the UFO

Matter and Material Research Using Synchrotron Light Large Research Facilities

At first glance, the Swiss Light Source SLS stands out as a striking building. The inside reveals a setting of cutting-edge research. A journey through a world where electrons race a slalom course and X-rays help decode proteins.

21. September 2015

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Tiny magnets mimic steam, water and ice

Media Releases Materials Research Matter and Material Research Using Muons Micro- and Nanotechnology

Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) created a synthetic material out of 1 billion tiny magnets. Astonishingly, it now appears that the magnetic properties of this so-called metamaterial change with the temperature, so that it can take on different states; just like water has a gaseous, liquid and a solid state.

8. September 2015

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The key to charging a lithium-ion battery rapidly

Media Releases Energy and Environment Research Using Synchrotron Light

Lithium iron phosphate batteries are very durable and can be charged relatively quickly. Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), ETH Zurich and Japanese car manufacturer Toyota reveal the reasons for these properties in a new study. The findings were made possible thanks to measurements using a new method at the Swiss Light Source (SLS) at PSI.

3. September 2015

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In search of the smallest bit

Matter and Material Research Using Synchrotron Light Materials Research

For increasingly compact storage media, magnetic areas – the memory bits – also need to become smaller and smaller. But just how small can a magnet be? Frithjof Nolting and his colleagues at the Paul Scherrer Institute investigate the surprising phenomena in the field of nanomagnetism.

2. July 2015

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Seven nanometres for the electronics of the future

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

Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute have succeeded in creating regular patterns in a semiconductor material that are sixteen times smaller than in today’s computer chips. As a result, they have taken an important step closer towards even smaller computer components. Industry envisages structures on this scale as the standard for the year 2028.

26. May 2015

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Together, not alone

Research Using Synchrotron Light SwissFEL SwissFEL Experiments Human Health

Decoding biomolecules at SwissFEL and SLS
Proteins are a coveted but stubborn research object. A method developed for x-ray free-electron lasers and PSI’s future SwissFEL should now help researchers to make good headway in this field. It involves x-raying many small, identical protein samples consecutively at short intervals, thereby avoiding the main problem that protein research has faced thus far: producing samples in a sufficient size.

21. May 2015


From inside an eggshell

Research Using Synchrotron Light Large Research Facilities

Tiny cavities inside eggshells supply the materials that stimulate and control the shell’s growth. Using a novel imaging technique, researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), ETH Zurich and the Dutch FOM Institute AMOLF have succeeded in depicting these voids in 3D for the first time. In doing so, they lift an old limitation of tomographic images and hope that one day medicine will also benefit from their method.

13. May 2015


Research geared towards the future

Research Using Synchrotron Light Large Research Facilities Materials Research Micro- and Nanotechnology SwissFEL

Interview with Gabriel Aeppli
Gabriel Aeppli has been head of synchrotron radiation and nanotechnology research at PSI since 2014. Previously, the Swiss-born scientist set up a leading research centre for nanotechnology in London. In this interview, Aeppli explains how the research approaches of the future can be implemented at PSI's large research facilities and talks about his view of Switzerland.

24. March 2015


Split x-ray flash reveals rapid processes

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SwissFEL, PSI’s x-ray laser, is to render the individual steps of very rapid processes visible. A new method will facilitate especially precise experiments: the individual x-ray flashes are split into several parts that arrive at the object under examination one by one. The principle of the method harks back to the ideas of the earliest high-speed photography.

20. March 2015


Nanometres in 3D

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

Scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute and ETH Zurich have created 3D images of tiny objects showing details down to 25 nanometres. In addition to the shape, the scientists determined how particular chemical elements were distributed in their sample and whether these elements were in a chemical compound or in their pure state.

17. February 2015


Prepared for the SwissFEL

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For many years, PSI researchers have been testing experimental methods that will provide insights into novel materials for electronic devices. Using a special trick to make the Swiss Light Source (SLS) at PSI generate light with similar properties to that of PSI’s x-ray laser SwissFEL, the researchers were able to demonstrate that the experiments planned for SwissFEL are possible and they are now building an experimental station at SwissFEL.

12. January 2015


Batman lights the way to compact data storage

Media Releases Matter and Material Research Using Synchrotron Light Materials Research

Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) have succeeded in switching tiny, magnetic structures using laser light and tracking the change over time. In the process, a nanometre-sized area bizarrely reminiscent of the Batman logo appeared. The research results could render data storage on hard drives faster, more compact and more efficient.

15. December 2014

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Shortcut to protein portraits

Media Releases Research Using Synchrotron Light Biology

All living organisms, from bacteria to humans, rely on proteins to perform their vital functions. How these proteins accomplish their tasks depends on their structure. Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute have now devised a novel method to determine the crystal structure of proteins using X-ray light, which could also hasten the development of new drugs in future. The study will be published in the journal Nature Methods on 15 December.

2. December 2014

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Innovation Award on Synchrotron Radiation 2014 for high-resolution 3D hard X-ray microscopy

The 2014 Innovation Award on Synchrotron Radiation was bestowed to researchers Ana Diaz, Manuel Guizar-Sicairos, Mirko Holler, and Jörg Raabe from the Paul Scherrer Institut, Switzerland, for their contributions to method and instrumentation development, which have set new standards in high-resolution 3D hard X-ray microscopy.

19. October 2014


Puzzling new behaviour observed in high-temperature superconductors

Media Releases Matter and Material Materials Research Research Using Synchrotron Light

New effect might be important for emergence of High-Temperature Superconductivity
An international team of researchers has observed a new, unexpected kind of behaviour in copper-based high-temperature superconductors. Explaining the new phenomenon – an unexpected form of collective movement of the electrical charges in the material – poses a major challenge for the researchers. A success in explaining the phenomenon might be an important step toward understanding high-temperature superconductivity in general. The crucial experiments were conducted at the Paul Scherrer Institute.

12. October 2014


Useful for spintronics: Big surprises in a thin surface region

Media Releases Research Using Synchrotron Light Materials Research Matter and Material

The need for ever faster and more efficient electronic devices is growing rapidly, and thus the demand for new materials with new properties. Oxides, especially ones based on strontium titanate (SrTiO3), play an important role here. A collaborative project headed by scientists from the PSI has now revealed properties of strontium titanate that make it an important base material for applications in spintronics.

Hugo Dil receives Heinrich Rohrer medal

Hugo Dil, former member of the PSI and extensive user of the SLS, has been awarded the Heinrich Rohrer Medal by the Surface Science Society of Japan.
Read more about it

4. September 2014


New material generated with light

Media Releases Research Using Synchrotron Light Large Research Facilities Materials Research Matter and Material SwissFEL SwissFEL Experiments

PSI researchers garner experience for SwissFEL experiments
Aided by short laser flashes, researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute have managed to temporarily change a material’s properties to such a degree that they have – to a certain extent –created a new material. This was done using the x-ray laser LCLS in California. Once the PSI x-ray laser SwissFEL is up and running, experiments of this kind will also be possible at PSI.

21. August 2014


Jurassic Welsh mammals were picky eaters, study finds

Media Releases Research Using Synchrotron Light

New analyses of tiny fossil mammals from South Wales are shedding light on the function and diets of our earliest ancestors, a team led by researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Leicester report in the journal Nature. The team used CT scanning with synchrotron X-rays at PSI’s Swiss Light Source to reveal in unprecedented detail the internal anatomy of the mammals’ tiny jaws.

30. July 2014


Insulator makes electrons move in an ordered way

Media Releases Research Using Synchrotron Light Materials Research Matter and Material

Researchers at the PSI, the EPFL and the Chinese Academy of Science, have proven that the material SmB6 shows all the properties of a so called topological insulator – a material with electric currents flowing along its surface with all of them being polarized. Here, the property is very robust, i.e. the only current that can flow is spin polarized and is not easily destroyed by small irregularities in the structure or composition of the material. Spin polarized currents are necessary for spintronics, electronics using the electrons’ spin.

6. August 2014

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Fast scanning coherent X-ray imaging using Eiger

The smaller pixel size, high frame rate, and high dynamic range of next-generation photon counting pixel detectors expedites measurements based on coherent diffractive imaging (CDI). The latter comprises methods that exploit the coherence of X-ray synchrotron sources to replace imaging optics by reconstruction algorithms. Researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institut have recently demonstrated fast CDI image acquisition above 25,000 resolution elements per second using an in-house developed Eiger detector. This rate is state of the art for diffractive imaging and even on a par with the fastest scanning X-ray transmission instruments. High image throughput is of crucial importance for both materials and biological sciences for studies with representative population sampling.

15. May 2014


Phase contrast improves mammography

Media Releases Medical Science Human Health

Phase contrast X-ray imaging has enabled researchers at ETH Zurich, the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) and the Kantonsspital Baden to perform mammographic imaging that allows greater precision in the assessment of breast cancer and its precursors. The technique could improve biopsy diagnostics and follow-up.

25. March 2014


X-rays film inside live flying insects – in 3D

Media Releases Biology Research Using Synchrotron Light User Experiments

Scientists have used a particle accelerator to obtain high-speed 3D X-ray visualizations of the flight muscles of flies. The team from Oxford University, Imperial College, and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) developed a groundbreaking new CT scanning technique at the PSI’s Swiss Light Source to allow them to film inside live flying insects. The movies offer a glimpse into the inner workings of one of nature’s most complex mechanisms, showing that structural deformations are the key to understanding how a fly controls its wingbeat.

6. March 2014


Observed live with x-ray laser: electricity controls magnetism

Media Releases Research Using Synchrotron Light Materials Research Matter and Material SwissFEL

Researchers from ETH Zurich and the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI demonstrate how the magnetic structure can be altered quickly in novel materials. The effect could be used in efficient hard drives of the future.

6. February 2014

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X-ray tomography reaches 16 nm isotropic 3D resolution

Researchers at PSI reported a demonstration of X-ray tomography with an unmatched isotropic 3D resolution of 16 nm in Scientific Reports. The measurement was performed at the cSAXS beamline at the Swiss Light Source using a prototype instrument of the OMNY (tOMography Nano crYo) project. Whereas this prototype measures at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, the OMNY system, to be commissioned later this year, will provide a cryogenic sample environment in ultra-high vacuum without compromising imaging capabilities. The researchers believe that such a combination of advanced imaging with state-of-the-art instrumentation is a promising path to fill the resolution gap between electron microscopy and X-ray imaging, also in case of radiation-sensitive materials such as polymer structures and biological systems.

16. January 2014

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SwissFEL Undulator Prototype in the Injector Test facility - self-amplified spontaneous emission achieved

On December 5th, the 17 tons SwissFEL undulator prototype (In-vacuum Undulator U15) has been successfully moved from the Undulator lab (SLS) to the SwissFEL Injector Test Facility (SITF). The commissioning of the U15 prototype with electron beam is an important step to validate the U15 design and also to detect possible improvements before full series production. At first, the alignment procedure of the U15 segment with the electron beam has been tested. The test was extremely successful - the beginning of the SASE (self-amplified spontaneous emission) amplification could be seen last night. Please watch the short movie SASE.

9. January 2014

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International Year of Crystallography 2014 - Paul Scherrer Institut is IYCr Supporter

The International Year of Crystallography 2014 (IYCr2014) commemorates not only the centennial of X-ray diffraction, which allowed the detailed study of crystalline material, but also the 400th anniversary of Kepler’s observation in 1611 of the symmetrical form of ice crystals, which began the wider study of the role of symmetry in matter. Twenty two large research facilities, among them the SLS, sponsor the UNESCO/IUCr Open Labs and Summit Meetings initiatives during the International Year of Crystallography - see IYCr Supporter.

6. January 2014


Super-volcano triggers recreated in X-ray laboratory

Scientists have reproduced conditions inside the magma chamber of a super-volcano to understand what it takes to trigger its explosion. These rare events represent the biggest natural catastrophes on Earth except for the impact of giant meteorites. Using synchrotron X-rays, the scientists established that super volcano eruptions may occur spontaneously, driven only by magma pressure without the need for an external trigger. The results are published in Nature Geoscience, online publication, January 2014.