news from the lab 2017

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Chemistry - Physics - 26.12.2017
Traces in scrap
Traces in scrap
Last year Empa's inorganic analytics lab was granted the status of "Reference Laboratory" within the scope of the ProSUM project, funded by the EU. Fine-grained samples of shredder waste from scrapped cars, e-waste or mine dumps from all over Europe end up here. Empa chemists find out what is in them, what is worth extracting and what could be dangerous for staff at recycling plants.

Physics - Innovation / Technology - 21.12.2017

Physics - 20.12.2017

Physics - Chemistry - 09.12.2017
Quantum chains in graphene nanoribbons
Quantum chains in graphene nanoribbons
Empa researchers, together with researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz and other partners, have achieved a breakthrough that could in future be used for precise nanotransistors or - in the distant future - possibly even quantum computers, as the team reports in the current issue of the scientific journal «Nature».

Physics - Electroengineering - 07.12.2017
First experiment at SwissFEL carried out successfully
First experiment at SwissFEL carried out successfully
The years of careful planning and construction have paid off: At the newest large-scale research facility of the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI - the free-electron X-ray laser SwissFEL - the first experiment has been carried out successfully. With that, two goals have been achieved: First, a new scientific result is already expected.

Physics - Electroengineering - 06.12.2017
The quantum waltz of electrons hints at the next generation of chips
The quantum waltz of electrons hints at the next generation of chips
EPFL researchers have successfully measured some of the quantum properties of electrons in two-dimensional semiconductors. This work in the field of spintronics could one day lead to chips that are not only smaller but that also generate less heat. A group of spintronics researchers at EPFL is using new materials to reveal more of the many capabilities of electrons.

Physics - Innovation / Technology - 05.12.2017

Chemistry - Physics - 04.12.2017
Humidity switches molecular diode off and on
Humidity switches molecular diode off and on
Molecular electronics is a growing research area where scientists study electrical properties of the molecules with a chemically programmed function. Molecules can function as diodes, switches and transistors, all with a typical length of few nanometers. An international group of scientists from University of Bern, Leiden University, Delft University of Technology, and Chuo University has developed the first switchable molecular diode.

Physics - Astronomy / Space Science - 15.11.2017
Still no sign of dark matter
Still no sign of dark matter
Measurements at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI further constrain theories about the nature of dark matter Experts are largely in agreement that a major portion of the mass in the universe consists of so-called dark matter. Its nature, however, remains completely obscure. One kind of hypothetical elementary particle that might make up the dark matter is the so-called axion.

Materials Science - Physics - 10.11.2017
A rubber power station
A rubber power station
Researchers from Empa have developed a flexible material that generates electricity when stressed. In future, it might be used as a sensor, integrated into clothing or even implanted in the human body, for instance, to power a pacemaker.

Pharmacology - Physics - 08.11.2017
A new bio-robot
A new bio-robot
With a new method for modifying antibodies, drugs are developped showing more stability and, thus, having fewer side-effects. At the time Spycher, a postdoctoral radiopharmaceutical researcher at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, was concerned with the question of how active agents could be bound to antibodies more efficiently.

Physics - 08.11.2017
Liquid shock absorbers
Liquid shock absorbers
Researchers have determined how certain liquids stiffen in response to powerful impacts. At first glance, colloids resemble homogeneous liquids such as milk or blood plasma. But in fact they consist of particles in suspension. Some colloids have remarkable properties: they may stiffen following an impact and absorb surface shocks.

Physics - Life Sciences - 26.10.2017
How much does life weigh?
How much does life weigh?
ETH researchers have developed a scale for measuring cells. It allows the weight of individual living cells, and any changes in this weight, to be determined quickly and accurately for the first time. The invention has also aroused significant interest both in and outside the field of biology. From earthworms and sunflowers to human beings, we are all made up of cells, so it's no surprise that researchers are hard at work investigating these building blocks of life.

Life Sciences - Physics - 25.09.2017
Bacterial Nanosized Speargun Works Like a Power Drill
Bacterial Nanosized Speargun Works Like a Power Drill
In order to get rid of unpleasant competitors, some bacteria use a sophisticated weapon - a nanosized speargun.

Physics - Materials Science - 07.09.2017
New microscopy method offers one-shot 3D imaging of nanostructures
New microscopy method offers one-shot 3D imaging of nanostructures
EPFL scientists have developed a scanning transmission electron microscopy method that can quickly and efficiently generate 3D representations of curvilinear nanostructures. Image caption: Superposed, tilt-less electron microscopy stereo image (color-filtered) of carbon nanospheres decorated with nanoparticles.

Physics - Materials Science - 04.09.2017
Carving diamonds for optical components
Carving diamonds for optical components
Thanks to a new technique developed at EPFL, optical diffraction gratings can now be made out of pure diamond, with their surfaces smoothed down to the very last atom. These new devices can be used to alter the wavelength of high-powered lasers or in cutting-edge spectrographs. A team of EPFL researchers has developed an unconventional way of microscopically cutting diamonds into a particular shape and smoothing them at an atomic level.

Chemistry - Physics - 21.08.2017
Weaving with nanothreads
Weaving with nanothreads
For the first time, ETH researchers have succeeded in applying a millennia-old method for making fabrics to create a completely organic nanoweave.

Physics - Astronomy / Space Science - 04.08.2017
Possible explanation for the dominance of matter over antimatter in the Universe
Possible explanation for the dominance of matter over antimatter in the Universe
Media releases, information for representatives of the media Media Relations (E) Neutrinos and antineutrinos, sometimes called ghost particles because difficult to detect, can transform from one type to another. The international T2K Collaboration announces a first indication that the dominance of matter over antimatter may originate from the fact that neutrinos and antineutrinos behave differently during those oscillations.

Physics - Chemistry - 04.08.2017
Building a graphene-based nanotube biosensor
Building a graphene-based nanotube biosensor
Summer Series: Edward Honein has joined EPFL's Laboratory of Nanobiotechnology from the American University of Beirut.

Chemistry - Physics - 31.07.2017
Clarifiying complex chemical processes with quantum computers
Clarifiying complex chemical processes with quantum computers
Science and the IT industry have high hopes for quantum computing, but descriptions of possible applications tend to be vague. Researchers at ETH Zurich have now come up with a concrete example that demonstrates what quantum computers will actually be able to achieve in the future. Specialists expect nothing less than a technological revolution from quantum computers, which they hope will soon allow them to solve problems that are currently too complex for classical supercomputers.
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