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Physics - Materials Science - 10.10.2022
Nanomaterial from the Middle Ages
Nanomaterial from the Middle Ages
To gild sculptures in the late Middle Ages, artists often applied ultra-thin gold foil supported by a silver base layer. For the first time, scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have managed to produce nanoscale 3D images of this material, known as Zwischgold. The pictures show this was a highly sophisticated mediaeval production technique and demonstrate why restoring such precious gilded artefacts is so difficult.

Materials Science - Innovation - 03.10.2022
Researchers want to make salt printing marketable
Researchers want to make salt printing marketable
Materials scientists Nicole Kleger and Simona Fehlmann have developed a 3D printing process for creating salt templates that they can fill with other materials. One area of application is the creation of highly porous lightweight metal components. The two Pioneer Fellows are now trying to transfer this process to industry.

Materials Science - 27.09.2022
'Cushions' against rail noise and vibrations
’Cushions’ against rail noise and vibrations
To reduce rail noise for residents, noise barriers or quieter wheel systems and brakes are not the only options. An inconspicuous component under the railway tracks is a beacon of hope for quieter rail traffic for a team of researchers with Empa involvement - and first tests on passing trains show a positive effect.

Electroengineering - Materials Science - 30.08.2022
Green electronics made from wood
Green electronics made from wood
Sustainable electronic components can be made from wood with the help of a novel process that uses a laser to engrave electrically conductive structures on veneers. A research team at Empa and at ETH's Institute for Building Materials has developed a practical and versatile method for making wooden surfaces electrically conductive.

Materials Science - 23.08.2022
A material that can learn and remember like the brain
A material that can learn and remember like the brain
EPFL scientists have found that vanadium oxide (VO2), a material used in electronics, has the ability to remember the entire history of the stimuli it receives. This is the first material to be identified as such, but there may be others. This discovery was a fluke. Mohammad Samizadeh Nikoo, a PhD student in the Power Semiconductor Devices Laboratory (POWERlab) , wanted to study the transition of vanadium oxide (VO2).

Materials Science - 23.08.2022
Material that can learn like the brain
Material that can learn like the brain
Researchers have discovered that Vanadium Dioxide (VO2), a compound used in electronics, is capable of "remembering" the entire history of previous external stimuli. This is the first material to be identified as possessing this property, although there could be others. Mohammad Samizadeh Nikoo, a PhD candidate at EPFL's Power and Wide-band-gap Electronics Research Laboratory (POWERlab), made a chance discovery during his research on phase transitions in Vanadium Dioxide (VO2).

Materials Science - Chemistry - 28.07.2022
A paper battery with water switch
A paper battery with water switch
A team of researchers at Empa developed a water-activated disposable paper battery. The researchers suggest that it could be used to power a wide range of low-power, single-use disposable electronics - such as smart labels for tracking objects, environmental sensors and medical diagnostic devices - and minimize their environmental impact.

Materials Science - Physics - 22.06.2022
Colour vision
Colour vision
Colours can be created in surprisingly different ways. And in addition to being pleasing to the eye, colour can also serve a useful purpose. -Asking why chocolate is brown is like asking why the sky is blue,- says Ralph Spolenak, Professor of Nanometallurgy in the Department of Materials at ETH Zurich.

Materials Science - Chemistry - 16.06.2022
Graphene dust not harmful
Graphene dust not harmful
Graphene-based particles released from polymer composites after abrasion induce negligible health effects. Under the leadership of Empa, an international research team of the Graphene Flagship project conducted a study on the health risks of graphene-containing nanoparticles and recently published the results in Journal of Hazardous Materials.

Agronomy / Food Science - Materials Science - 02.06.2022
Avatar against food waste
Avatar against food waste
Around one third of all food worldwide ends up in the trash bin instead of on our plate. With the help of digital twins, researchers at Empa and Stellenbosch University are now aiming to reduce food waste, for example in the case of citrus fruits, along the production and supply chains. The hygrothermal measurement data needed to improve the shelf life of oranges and the like would actually be available.

Physics - Materials Science - 27.05.2022
A talk about how far food travels before reaching our plates
Researchers at ETH Zurich have succeeded for the first time in trapping excitons - quasiparticles consisting of negatively charged electrons and positively charged holes - in a semiconductor material using controllable electric fields. The new technique is important for creating single photon sources as well as for basic research.

Materials Science - Innovation - 23.05.2022
Objects can now be 3D-printed in opaque resin
Objects can now be 3D-printed in opaque resin
A team of EPFL engineers has developed a 3D-printing method that uses light to make objects out of opaque resin in a matter of seconds. Their breakthrough could have promising applications in the biomedical industry, such as to make artificial arteries. Back in 2017, engineers at EPFL's Laboratory of Applied Photonic Devices (LAPD), within the School of Engineering, designed a 3D printer capable of fabricating objects almost instantaneously.

Materials Science - Physics - 12.05.2022
Black holes as noise traps
Black holes as noise traps
Anyone who lives in an old building with wooden floors knows the problem: Even if the neighbors from above glide across the floor with graceful elegance, it sounds as if you were living under a bowling alley. Impact sound is a challenge even for the most modern wooden buildings. Scientists at Empa are now tinkering with a solution.

Physics - Materials Science - 05.05.2022
Glowing glass droplets on the ISS
Glowing glass droplets on the ISS
Together with researchers from Ulm and Neuchâtel, Empa will soon be studying material samples on the ISS. The material in question are super-hard and corrosion-resistant alloys of palladium, nickel, copper and phosphorus - also known as "metallic glasses". A high-tech company from La Chaux-de-Fonds, which produces materials for the watch industry, is also involved.

Materials Science - 03.05.2022
A solution to perovskite solar cell scalability problems
A solution to perovskite solar cell scalability problems
Scientists at EPFL have found a way to overcome power loss and the manufacturing complexity of scaling up perovskite solar cells. Perovskites are hybrid materials made from metal halides and organic compounds. They have attracted a lot of interest in the field of solar energy because of their light-harvesting capacities combined with a low cost of manufacturing, making them prime candidates for overtake the market from their silicon counterparts.

Environment - Materials Science - 29.04.2022
Improving the efficiency of tandem solar cells
Improving the efficiency of tandem solar cells
Scientists in Neuchâtel have developed a tandem solar cell that can deliver a certified efficiency of 29. This achievement was made possible by combining a perovskite solar cell with a textured silicon solar cell. Solar cells made of silicon are used widely but have limited power-conversion yields. These yields will likely top out at around 27% in the foreseeable future, owing to fundamental thermodynamic limitations.

Materials Science - 08.04.2022
Maintaining the structure of gold and silver in alloys
Maintaining the structure of gold and silver in alloys
EPFL engineers have developed a low-temperature annealing method that maintains the structure of gold and silver when the two metals are combined in an alloy. Their discovery will prove useful in the manufacture of contact lenses, holographic optical elements and other optical components, since the new alloys reflect the full spectral range.

Health - Materials Science - 29.03.2022
In the heat of the wound
In the heat of the wound
A bandage that releases medication as soon as an infection starts in a wound could treat injuries more efficiently. researchers are currently working on polymer fibers that soften as soon as the environment heats up due to an infection, thereby releasing antimicrobial drugs. It is not possible to l from the outside whether a wound will heal without problems under the dressing or whether bacteria will penetrate the injured tissue and ignite an inflammation.

Physics - Materials Science - 14.03.2022
Novel X-ray lens facilitates glimpse into the nanoworld
Novel X-ray lens facilitates glimpse into the nanoworld
PSI scientists have developed a ground-breaking achromatic lens for X-rays. This allows the X-ray beams to be accurately focused on a single point even if they have different wavelengths. The new lens will make it much easier to study nanostructures using X-rays, according to a paper just published by the researchers in the scientific.

Materials Science - Electroengineering - 14.03.2022
Scientists create new lead-free piezoelectric materials
Scientists create new lead-free piezoelectric materials
Researchers have discovered that gadolinium-doped cerium oxide, a compound they created in the lab, could be a promising alternative to certain piezoelectric materials: it has the same proprieties yet may be 100 times more effective. It's also lead-free, unlike the best piezoelectric materials, which means that it could be employed in bio-compatible medical applications.