Scientific Highlighs Swiss Light Source (SLS) 2015

17 December 2015


Mass density distribution of intact cell ultrastructure

The determination of the mass density of cellular compartments is one of the many analytical tools that biologists need to unravel the extremely complex structure of biological systems. Cryo X-ray nanotomography reveals absolute mass density maps of frozen hydrated cells in three dimensions.

17. December 2015

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Preserved Embryos Illustrate Seed Dormancy in Early Angiosperms

The discovery of exceptionally well-preserved, tiny fossil seeds dating back to the Early Cretaceous corroborates that flowering plants were small opportunistic colonizers at that time, according to a new Yale-led study.

2 December 2015


First EIGER X 16M in operation at the Swiss Light Source

The macromolecular crystallography beamline X06SA at the Swiss Light Source, a synchrotron operated by Paul Scherrer Institute, is the first one in the world to upgrade its detector to an EIGER X 16M.

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.

16. November 2015

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Observation of Fermi-Arc Spin Texture in TaAs

The study of nontrivial topological semimetals (TSM) is an emerging subject, providing a new frontier in topological aspects beyond insulators. Here, we have investigated the spin texture of surface Fermi arcs in the recently discovered Weyl semimetal TaAs using spin- and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy. The experimental results demonstrate that the Fermi arcs are spin polarized. The measured spin texture fulfills the requirement of mirror and time-reversal symmetries and is well reproduced by our first-principles calculations, which gives strong evidence for the topologically nontrivial Weyl semimetal state in TaAs. The consistency between the experimental and calculated results further confirms the distribution of chirality of the Weyl nodes determined by first principles calculations.

13. November 2015

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Excited states at interfaces of a metal-supported ultrathin oxide film

At the PEARL beamline, metal-supported ultrathin oxide films have been studied which are a class of materials of technological importance in various research fields such as catalysis, spintronics, or nanoelectronics.

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.

12 November 2015

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X-ray nanotomography aids the production of eco-friendly solar cells

Polymer solar cells are in the spotlight for sustainable energy production of the future. Characterization of these devices by X-ray nanotomography helps to improve their production using environmentally friendly materials.

11. November 2015

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Controlling tunnelling in methane loss from acetone ions by deuteration

At the imaging Photoelectron Photoion Coincidence (iPEPICO) endstation of the VUV beamline evidence of H-atom tunneling was shown.

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.

18. October 2015


Fermi states and anisotropy of Brillouin zone scattering in the decagonal Al–Ni–Co quasicrystal

Quasicrystals (QCs) are intermetallic alloys where excellent long-range order coexists with lack of translational symmetry in one or more dimensions. These materials have a high potential in application as a material for a solar cells, hydrogen storage applications, heat insulating layers, and others.

6 October 2015

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2015 Otto Kratky award

Marianne Liebi was awarded the 2015 Otto Kratky award by the Helmholtz-Centre Berlin for excellence in the field of small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) analysis. The award was bestowed in the last SAS2015 conference in Berlin. Marianne is a postdoctoral fellow in the coherent X-ray scattering group (CXS) in PSI, carrying out research in scanning SAXS measurement and analysis in 2D and 3D. Image credit ©HZB/Michael Setzpfandt

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.

21 August 2015

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In Situ Serial Crystallography Workshop at the SLS

The Macromolecular Crystallography group at SLS is organizing a three days workshop on in situ serial crystallography ( between November 17 and 19, 2015. It will be dedicated in the presentation of a novel method facilitating the structure determination of membrane proteins, which are highly important pharmaceutical targets but are difficult to handle using 'classical' crystallographic tools. Designed for 20 Ph.D. students, postdocs and young scientists from both academia and industry, the workshop will consist of introductory lectures, followed by hands-on practicals on in meso or lipidic cubic phase (LCP) crystallization, on in situ serial crystallography data collection using a micro-sized beam and on data processing.

20 August 2015

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New insight into receptor signalling

A team of 72 investigators across 25 institutions including researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institut obtained the X-ray structure of a rhodopsin–arrestin complex, which represents a major milestone in the area of G-protein-coupled-receptor (GPCR), a protein family recognized in the award of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

7. August 2015

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Nanoscale switch for vortex polarization mediated by Bloch core formation in magnetic hybrid systems

Vortices are fundamental magnetic topological structures characterized by a curling magnetization around a highly stable nanometric core.

7. August 2015


Element-Specific X-Ray Phase Tomography of 3D Structures at the Nanoscale

Recent advances in fabrication techniques to create mesoscopic 3D structures have led to significant developments in a variety of fields including biology, photonics, and magnetism. Further progress in these areas benefits from their full quantitative and structural characterization.

9. July 2015

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Correlating the Core-Shell Composition and the Surface Structure to the Magnetic Properties for Magnetite-Maghemite Nanoparticles in the 5-15 nm Range

Very small superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles were characterized by innovative synchrotron X-ray total scattering methods and Debye function analysis, developed at the X04SA Materials Science beamline of SLS.

18. June 2015

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Reduction of Mn19 Coordination Clusters on a Gold Surface

The surface-induced changes of the oxidation state and magnetic properties of Mn ion clusters have been probed by X-ray absorption spectroscopy and X-ray magnetic circular dichroism.

18. June 2015


Concept of a multichannel spin-resolving electron analyzer based on Mott scattering

The spin of electron plays a crucial role in many physical phenomena, ranging from the obvious example of magnetism, via novel materials for spintronics applications, to high-temperature superconductivity. Spin- and angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy (SARPES) gives the most direct access to the spin aspects of the electronic structure, but the one-channel detection principle of all presently available SARPES spectrometers severely limits their efficiency. A team of Swiss and Russian scientists has developed a revolutionary concept of a multichannel electron spin detector based on Mott scattering as the spin selective process and imaging-type electron optics.

18. June 2015


Fermi Surface of Three-Dimensional La1−xSrxMnO3 Explored by Soft-X-Ray ARPES: Rhombohedral Lattice Distortion and its Effect on Magnetoresistance

A research team led by scientists from the Swiss Light Source has for the first time established three-dimensional (3D) electronic structure of the perovskite compound La1−xSrxMnO3 connected with its colossal magnetoresistance. Instrumental for this study has been the use of the new experimental technique of soft-x-ray ARPES, available at the ADRESS beamline, with its intrinsically sharp definition of 3D electron momentum.

26. May 2015

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Together, not alone

Research Using Synchrotron Light Large Research Facilities SwissFEL 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.

26 March 2015

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Multiresolution X-ray tomography, getting a clear view of the interior

Researchers at PSI have developed a technique that combines tomography measurements at different resolution levels to allow quantitative interpretation for nanoscale tomography on an interior region of interest of the sample. In collaboration with researchers of the institute AMOLF in the Netherlands and ETH Zurich in Switzerland they showcase their technique by studying the porous structure within a section of an avian eggshell. The detailed measurements of the interior of the sample allowed the researchers to quantify the ordering and distribution of an intricate network of pores within the shell.

24. March 2015


Split x-ray flash reveals rapid processes

Large Research Facilities SwissFEL Micro- and Nanotechnology

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

SwissFEL Large Research Facilities

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.

3. February 2015


Ultrafast structural dynamics of the Fe-pnictide parent compound BaFe2As2

Understanding the interplay of the various degrees of freedom such as the electrons, spins and lattice is essential for many complex materials, including the high-temperature superconductors.

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.

12. January 2015


Nanoscale sub-100 picosecond all-optical magnetization switching in GdFeCo microstructure

Ultrafast magnetization reversal driven by femtosecond laser pulses has been shown to be a promising way to write information. Seeking to improve the recording density has raised intriguing fundamental questions about the feasibility of combining ultrafast temporal resolution with sub-wavelength spatial resolution for magnetic recording. Here we report on the experimental demonstration of nanoscale sub-100 ps all-optical magnetization switching, providing a path to sub-wavelength magnetic recording.