Scientific Highlights and News Swiss Light Source (SLS) 2016

9 November 2016


The Smallest Magnet

Single holmium atoms adsorbed on few monolayers of magnesium oxide are extraordinarily stable magnets. They retain a significant fraction of their magnetization when the external magnetic field is switched off. This has been shown recently in a study combining x-ray magnetic circular dichroism performed at the Swiss Light Source (SLS) and at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) as well as scanning tunneling microscopy. The results open perspectives of storing and processing information at ultrahigh density.

11 October 2016

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Selectively conductive or insulating

Media Releases Matter and Material Materials Research Research Using Synchrotron Light

The material neodymium nickel oxide is either a metal or an insulator, depending on its temperature. The possibility to control this transition electrically makes the material a potential candidate for transistors in modern electronic devices. By means of a sophisticated development of X-ray scattering, researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have now been able to track down the cause of this transition: electrons around the oxygen atoms are rearranging.

20 October 2016


Novel insulating phase in iron-pnictide materials

The first example of an insulating phase which is close to the superconducting phase in an iron-pnictide system has been recently observed in heavy Cu-doped NaFe1-xCuxAs (x > 0.3). A combined study by angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) and density functional theory (DFT) calculations revealed that on-site Coulomb repulsion and enhanced Hund’s rule coupling are responsible for the insulating behavior. The results show that the insulating phase in NaFe0.5Cu0.5As resembles the situation in the parent compounds of the high-Tc cuprate superconductors.

19 July 2016


Magnesium Oxide Boosts the Hysteresis of Single-Molecule Magnets

Researchers from PSI and EPFL have demonstrated that the magnetization hysteresis and remanence of TbPc2 single-molecule magnets drastically depends on the substrate on which they are deposited. If a few atomic layers thick magnesium oxide film grown on a silver substrate is used, a record wide hysteresis and record large remanence can be obtained. Single-molecule magnets are attractive for molecular spintronics applications such as information processing or storage.

14 July 2016


Shedding light on the origins of high-Tc superconductivity in bismuth oxides

Researchers have overcome a number of challenges in order to employ an advanced probe in the study of an unusual material, barium bismuth oxide (BaBiO3) – an insulating parent compound of a family of high-temperature superconductors known since the late 80s. In order to finally realize the experiments, the researchers grew and studied thin films of the material completely in situ under ultrahigh vacuum conditions. The results show that superconductivity in bismuth oxides emerges out of a novel insulating phase, where hole pairs located on combinations of the oxygen orbitals are coupled with distortions of the crystal lattice.

4 May 2016


How does food look like on the nanoscale?

The answer to this question could save food industry a lot of money and reduce food waste caused by faulty production. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen and the Paul Scherrer Institut have obtained a 3D image of food on the nanoscale using ptychographic X-ray computed tomography. This work paves the way towards a more detailed knowledge of the structure of complex food systems.

11 April 2016


Tailoring Novel Superconductivity

The Angle Resolved Photoemission Spectroscopy (ARPES) measurements performed on 2DEL at STO surface revealed that, at low carrier density, electrons are always accompanied by a quantized dynamic lattice deformation. Together with the electron, these phonon-cloud formed a new composite quasiparticle called Fröhlich polaron.

11 April 2016

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Researchers find key to zinc rich plants to combat malnutrition

The diet in many developing countries is lacking zinc, but researchers have just solved the riddle of how to get more zinc into crop seeds. The discovery has been published in Nature Plants, and the research was led by University of Copenhagen.

By Johanne Uhrenholt Kusnitzoff

17. March 2016

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New particle could form the basis of energy-saving electronics

Media Releases Research Using Synchrotron Light Materials Research Matter and Material

The Weyl fermion, just discovered in the past year, moves through materials practically without resistance. Now researchers are showing how it could be put to use in electronic components.

30 March 2016

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Watching lithium move in battery materials

In order to understand limitations in current battery materials and systematically engineer better ones, it is helpful to be able to directly visualize the lithium dynamics in materials during battery charge and discharge. Researchers at ETH Zurich and Paul Scherrer Institute have demonstrated a way to do this.

7 March 2016

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High-performance thermoelectric nanocomposites from nanocrystal building blocks

Using an assembly of colloidal nanocrystals a Ag-PbS nanocomposite was produced with increased thermoelectic figures of merit up to 1.7K at 850 K. EXAFS spectroscopy at the Ag K-edge was essential to show that Ag does not dissolve in PbS nanoparticles but preserved the individual nanodomains. This reduces the PbS intergrain energy barriers for charge transport

27. January 2016

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Slowed down current could point the way to energy-saving computers

Media Releases Matter and Material Research Using Synchrotron Light

Computers and other electronic devices account for a substantial portion of worldwide energy use. With today’s technologies, it is not possible to reduce this energy consumption significantly any further; chips in the energy-saving electronics of the future will hence have to be made from novel materials. Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have now found important clues in the search for such materials.