news from the lab 2011

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Mathematics - Physics - 22.11.2011
Mapping a fixed point
Mapping a fixed point
For fifty years, mathematicians have grappled with the so-called “fixed point? theorem. A team has now found an elegant, one-page solution that opens up new perspectives in physics and economics. Take a map of the world. Now put it down on the ground in Central Park, against a rock on Mount Everest, or on your kitchen table; there will always be a point on the map that sits exactly on the actual physical place it represents.

Physics - 31.10.2011
Successful LHC proton run
Successful LHC proton run
After some 180 days of running and four hundred trillion proton proton collisions, the LHC's 2011 proton run came to an end at 5.15pm yesterday evening. For the second year running, the LHC team has largely surpassed its operational objectives, steadily increasing the rate at which the LHC has delivered data to the experiments.

Environment - Physics - 04.10.2011
A guiding light for new directions in energy production
A guiding light for new directions in energy production
Advances in the field could help solve the energy challenge. The science of light and liquids has been intimately entwined since Léon Foucault discovered the speed of light in 1862, when he observed that light travels more slowly in water than in air.

Physics - Materials Science - 26.09.2011
A faster, cheaper method for making transistors and chips
A faster, cheaper method for making transistors and chips
It may soon be possible manufacture the miniscule structures that make up transistors and silicon chips rapidly and inexpensively. EPFL scientists are currently investigating the use of dynamic stencil lithography, a recent but not yet perfected method, for creating nanostructures. Faster, less expensive, and better.

Physics - 23.09.2011
Are neutrinos faster than the speed of light?
Are neutrinos faster than the speed of light?
Researchers measured that the neutrinos travel at a velocity 20 parts per million above the speed of light, nature's cosmic speed limit. This is a result of t he OPERA experiment which observes neutrino beams from CERN 730 km away at a Laboratory near Rome. The OPERA result is based on the observation of over 15000 neutrino events measured at Gran Sasso, and appears to indicate that the neutrinos travel at a velocity 20 parts per million above the speed of light, nature's cosmic speed limit.

Astronomy / Space Science - Physics - 21.09.2011
Could the Higgs boson explain the size of the Universe?
Could the Higgs boson explain the size of the Universe?
The Universe wouldn't be the same without the Higgs boson. This legendary particle plays a role in cosmology and reveals the possible existence of another closely related particle. The race to identify the Higgs boson is on at CERN. This Holy Grail of particle physics would help explain why the majority of elementary particles possess mass.

Materials Science - Physics - 08.09.2011
The tarte tatin throws a new light on photovoltaics
The tarte tatin throws a new light on photovoltaics
Manufacturing solar cells that are one thousand times thinner than conventional cells. That is the challenge the researchers have set for themselves.

Physics - 07.09.2011
Pyramidal dots for future quantum computers
Pyramidal dots for future quantum computers
The enigmatic quantum dot is the basic building block for quantum computers. Physicists have developed a new theory to determine the optical properties of these dots based on the principles of symmetry. Physicists from EPFL have created a pyramidal dot that's just shy of 100 nanometers high, about 200 atoms on a side.

Physics - Electroengineering - 31.08.2011
An innovative method for measuring nanoparticles
An innovative method for measuring nanoparticles
Precise measurement of the molecular weight, size and density of a nanoparticle in a single procedure is now possible, thanks to an ultracentrifugation method. Although nanoparticles are used in a variety of domains - such as medicine, solar energy and photonics - there is still much about them to be discovered.

Health - Physics - 02.08.2011
New method for the diagnosis of cancer
New method for the diagnosis of cancer
Researchers have developed a new breast cancer diagnostic method, and is now carrying out first tests on non-preserved human tissue. This new method should be able to reveal structures that cannot be seen using conventional mammography. Standard procedures only determine the extent to which X-rays are attenuated by various tissue structures.

Life Sciences - Physics - 27.07.2011
A closer look at cells
A closer look at cells
Many substances and nutrients are exchanged across the cell membrane. Scientists have developed a method to observe these exchanges, by taking a highly accurate count of the number of proteins found there. Proteins on the cell surface play an essential role in the survival of the cell. They govern the exchanges between the interior and the exterior.

Physics - Environment - 07.07.2011
How will Swiss radioactive waste be disposed of?
How will Swiss radioactive waste be disposed of?
If Switzerland does indeed abandon nuclear energy within the time-frame announced by the Swiss Confederation, the question of the burial and disposal of the accumulated waste needs to be addressed.

Physics - Pharmacology - 01.07.2011
Tackling tumors with iron oxide
Tackling tumors with iron oxide
Detecting cancer cells and destroying them, injecting drugs with extreme precision into diseased cells in the human body - these are just two examples of what scientists are attempting to accomplish using iron oxide nanoparticles.

Physics - Materials Science - 30.06.2011
Memory breakthrough for the first time
Memory breakthrough for the first time
For the first time, scientists have demonstrated that a relatively new memory technology, known as phase-change memory (PCM), can reliably store multiple data bits per cell over extended periods of time. This significant improvement advances the development of low-cost, faster and more durable memory applications for consumer devices, including mobile phones and cloud storage, as well as high-performance applications, such as enterprise data storage.

Physics - 24.06.2011
The trouble with bubbles
The trouble with bubbles
Controlling a boiling plasma at several million degrees Celsius - that's the challenge of nuclear fusion, our great energy hope for the future. Two research project advance the state of knowledge in the domain. If plasmas can be controlled, then it may one day be possible to use nuclear fusion as an energy source.

Physics - Electroengineering - 30.05.2011
Energy from the stars
Energy from the stars
The international ITER project is setting out to store the energy of stars in a reactor. To meet this challenge, scientists must be able to measure the properties of matter in fusion. Researchers have just successfully tested some sensors that are necessary for the ITER prototype. The scientists' ambition is to keep matter with a temperature of several million degrees contained here on Earth.

Chemistry - Physics - 21.04.2011
A material heals itself
A material heals itself
Imagine: Your 6-year-old found a nail in the garage and drew pictures across the side of your new car.

Physics - 25.03.2011
First pictures from SwissCube
First pictures from SwissCube
SwissCube is the first Swiss satellite in history and extremely small. It has been successfully launched from the Sriharikota space station in India in September 2009.

Electroengineering - Physics - 30.01.2011
A material to revolutionize electronics
A material to revolutionize electronics
Smaller and more energy-efficient electronic chips could be made using molybdenite. A recent study shows that this material has distinct advantages over traditional silicon or graphene for use in electronics applications.

Physics - 25.01.2011
How strong is the weak force?
How strong is the weak force?
The weak force is one of the four fundamental forces of Nature. Although we hardly encounter processes governed by the weak force in our everyday life, it is still of crucial importance; e.g., being responsible for the processes that make the Sun shine. A research team performed experiments that allowed them to determine a parameter crucial for the strength of the weak force with unprecedented accuracy of 0.6 parts per million.