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Materials Science - Physics - 08.02.2021
Droplets perform daredevil feats on gel surfaces
Scientists have succeeded in making droplets flow just as fast on soft surfaces as on hard ones by changing the surface texture. Welcome to the amazing world of soft substrates. These materials are made of silicon gels and have the same texture as panna cotta - but without the delicious flavor. They are used in a range of applications, especially in the pharmaceutical industry, because their biocompatible and antiadhesive properties make them resistant to corrosion and bacterial contamination.

Physics - 28.01.2021
Physicists develop record-breaking source for single photons
Physicists develop record-breaking source for single photons
Researchers at the University of Basel and Ruhr University Bochum have developed a source of single photons that can produce billions of these quantum particles per second. With its record-breaking efficiency, the photon source represents a new and powerful building-block for quantum technologies. Quantum cryptography promises absolutely secure communications.

Physics - Chemistry - 27.01.2021
Size of helium nucleus measured more precisely than ever before
In experiments at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, an international research collaboration with ETH Zurich involvement has measured the radius of the atomic nucleus of helium five times more precisely than ever before. With the aid of the new value, fundamental physical theories can be tested. After hydrogen, helium is the second most abundant element in the universe.

Physics - 26.01.2021
Physics challenges the optimal size of parliaments
Physics challenges the optimal size of parliaments
Analyzing a classic paper that has influenced the size of parliaments for almost half a century, an EPFL physicist discovers major flaws with its methodology, challenges its fundamental assumptions, and calls for a complete and careful re-think of its government-governing rule. What is the best size of a parliament? That is a question at the center of many countries today, including the 2020 referendum in Italy where almost 70% of voters selected to slash the number of members of parliament by about a third.

Physics - Computer Science - 25.01.2021
Lasers and virtual reality to revolutionize watch-crystal engraving
Lasers and virtual reality to revolutionize watch-crystal engraving
EPFL engineers teamed up with luxury watchmaker Vacheron Constantin to develop an innovative system that uses lasers to create 3D sculptures within sapphire watch crystals.

Astronomy / Space Science - Physics - 21.01.2021
How our planets were formed
How our planets were formed
Terrestrial planets versus gas and ice giants: A new theory explaining why the inner solar system is so different to the outer regions runs counter to the prevailing wisdom. The theory was proposed by an international research group with ETH Zurich's participation. Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars in the inner solar system are relatively small, dry planets, unlike Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune in the outer regions, planets that contain much greater quantities of volatile elements.

Physics - Chemistry - 19.01.2021
Solar activity reconstructed over a millennium
Solar activity reconstructed over a millennium
An international team of researchers led by ETH Zurich has reconstructed solar activity back to the year 969 using measurements of radioactive carbon in tree rings. Those results help scientists to better understand the dynamics of the sun and allow more precise dating of organic materials using the C14 method.

Physics - Electroengineering - 11.01.2021
Electrically switchable qubit can tune between storage and fast calculation modes
Electrically switchable qubit can tune between storage and fast calculation modes
To perform calculations, quantum computers need qubits to act as elementary building blocks that process and store information. Now, physicists have produced a new type of qubit that can be switched from a stable idle mode to a fast calculation mode. The concept would also allow a large number of qubits to be combined into a powerful quantum computer, as researchers from the University of Basel and TU Eindhoven have reported in the journal -Nature Nanotechnology-.

Astronomy / Space Science - Physics - 22.12.2020
How Nearby Galaxies Form Their Stars
How Nearby Galaxies Form Their Stars
How stars form in galaxies remains a major open question in astrophysics. A new UZH study sheds new light on this topic with the help of a data-driven re-analysis of observational measurements. The star-formation activity of typical, nearby galaxies is found to scale proportionally with the amount of gas present in these galaxies.

Physics - 21.12.2020
When light and atoms share a common vibe
Scientists from EPFL, MIT, and CEA Saclay demonstrate a state of vibration that exists simultaneously at two different times. They evidence this quantum superposition by measuring the strongest class of quantum correlations between light beams that interact with the vibration. An especially counter-intuitive feature of quantum mechanics is that a single event can exist in a state of superposition - happening bothhere andthere , or bothtoday andtomorrow .

Physics - Materials Science - 16.12.2020
Big step with small whirls
Big step with small whirls
Skyrmions are small magnetic objects that could revolutionize the data storage industry and also enable new computer architectures. However, before they can be utilized in such applications, there are still a number of challenges that need to be overcome. A team of Empa researchers has now succeeded for the first time in producing a tunable multilayer system in which two different types of skyrmions - the future bits for "0" and "1" - can exist at room temperature, as they recently reported in the renowned .

Life Sciences - Physics - 14.12.2020
Bacterial nanopores open the future of data storage
Bioengineers at EPFL have developed a nanopore-based system that can read data encoded into synthetic macromolecules with higher accuracy and resolution than similar methods on the market. The system is also potentially cheaper and longer-lasting, and overcomes limitations that prevent us from moving away from conventional data storage devices that are rapidly maxing out in capacity and endurance.

Physics - Materials Science - 09.12.2020
"Game changer" perovskite can detect gamma rays
Scientists at EPFL have developed a game-changing perovskite material that can be used as a cheaper and highly efficient alternative to gamma-ray detectors. Perovskites are materials made up of organic compounds bound to a metal. Propelled into the forefront of materials' research because of their structure and properties, perovskites are earmarked for a wide range of applications, including in solar cells, LED lights, lasers, and photodetectors.

Physics - Materials Science - 25.11.2020
Phytoplankton disturbed by nanoparticles
Phytoplankton disturbed by nanoparticles
Due to its antibacterial properties, nanosilver is used in a wide range of products from textiles to cosmetics. But nanosilver if present at high concentrations also disrupts the metabolism of algae that are essential for the aquatic food web dynamics and the production of terrestrial oxygen. Products derived from nanotechnology are efficient and highly sought-after, yet their effects on the environment are still poorly understood.

Chemistry - Physics - 18.11.2020
A sulfur molecule to block the coronavirus
A sulfur molecule to block the coronavirus
Some viruses can get inside cells via a mechanism that involves sulfur organic molecules. Chemists at UNIGE have discovered effective inhibitors and blocked the uptake of SARS-CoV-2. The cell membrane is impermeable to viruses: to get inside and infect a cell, they use a range of strategies to exploit the cellular and biochemical properties of the membranes.

Physics - Electroengineering - 09.11.2020
A new candidate material for Quantum Spin Liquids
A new candidate material for Quantum Spin Liquids
Using a unique material, EPFL scientists have been able to design and study an unusual state of matter, the Quantum Spin Liquid. The work has significant implications for future technologies, from quantum computing to superconductivity and spintronics. In 1973, physicist and later Nobel laureate Philip W. Anderson proposed a bizarre state of matter: the quantum spin liquid (QSL).

Computer Science - Physics - 05.11.2020
Next-generation computer chip with two heads
Next-generation computer chip with two heads
EPFL engineers have developed a computer chip that combines two functions - logic operations and data storage - into a single architecture, paving the way to more efficient devices. Their technology is particularly promising for applications relying on artificial intelligence. It's a major breakthrough in the field of electronics.

Physics - 21.10.2020
Optical wiring for large quantum computers
Optical wiring for large quantum computers
Researchers at ETH have demonstrated a new technique for carrying out sensitive quantum operations on atoms. In this technique, the control laser light is delivered directly inside a chip. This should make it possible to build large-scale quantum computers based on trapped atoms. Hitting a specific point on a screen with a laser pointer during a presentation isn't easy - even the tiniest nervous shaking of the hand becomes one big scrawl at a distance.

Materials Science - Physics - 15.10.2020
Hanging by a colored thread
Hanging by a colored thread
High-performance fibres that have been exposed to high temperatures usually lose their mechanical properties undetected and, in the worst case, can tear precisely when lives depend on them. For example, safety ropes used by fire brigades or suspension ropes for heavy loads on construction sites. Empa researchers have now developed a coating that changes color when exposed to high temperatures through friction or fire.

Physics - 15.10.2020
Altering the properties of 2D materials at the nanometer scale
Altering the properties of 2D materials at the nanometer scale
Scientists have developed a method for changing the physical properties of 2D materials permanently using a nanometric tip. Their approach, which involves deforming the materials, paves the way to using these materials in electronic and optoelectronic devices. Materials all come with their own set of properties - they can be insulating, semi-conducting, metallic, transparent or flexible, for example.