news from the lab 2017

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Physics/Materials Science



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Chemistry - Physics / Materials Science - 30.12.2017
A step towards cheap aluminium batteries
A step towards cheap aluminium batteries
The energy transition depends on technologies that allow the inexpensive temporary storage of electricity from renewable sources. A promising new candidate is aluminium batteries, which are made from cheap and abundant raw materials. Scientists from Maksym Kovalenko's research group, which is based at both ETH Zurich and in Empa's Laboratory for Thin Films and Photovoltaics , are researching and developing batteries made from abundant raw materials.

Chemistry - Physics / Materials Science - 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.

Chemistry - Physics / Materials Science - 23.12.2017
Search engine for «smart wood»
Search engine for «smart wood»
Mark Schubert modifies wood properties with the aid of the enzyme laccase. However, the search for suitable ingredients is complex - a bit like trying to find the key to an unknown lock. Instead of long, expensive series of experiments, Schubert uses artificial intelligence as it gets him to the goal more quickly.

Physics / Materials Science - Business / Economics - 21.12.2017

Physics / Materials Science - 20.12.2017

Physics / Materials Science - Health - 18.12.2017
Using gold nanoparticles to destroy viruses
Using gold nanoparticles to destroy viruses
EPFL researchers have created nanoparticles that attract viruses and, using the pressure resulting from the binding process, destroy them. This revolutionary approach could lead to the development of broad-spectrum antiviral drugs.  HIV, dengue, papillomavirus, herpes and Ebola - these are just some of the many viruses that kill millions of people every year, mostly children in developing countries.

Physics / Materials Science - 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 / Materials Science - Chemistry - 08.12.2017
Guanidinium stabilizes perovskite solar cells at 19% efficiency
Guanidinium stabilizes perovskite solar cells at 19% efficiency
Incorporating guanidinium into perovskite solar cells stabilizes their efficiency at 19% for 1000 hours under full-sunlight testing conditions. With the power-conversion efficiency of silicon solar cells plateauing around 25%, perovskites are now ideally placed to become the market's next generation of photovoltaics.

Health - Physics / Materials Science - 08.12.2017

Physics / Materials Science - 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 / Materials Science - 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 / Materials Science - Innovation / Technology - 05.12.2017

Chemistry - Physics / Materials Science - 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 / Materials Science - Computer Science / Telecom - 16.11.2017
The stacked colour sensor
The stacked colour sensor
Red-sensitive, blue-sensitive and green-sensitive colour sensors stacked on top of each other instead of being lined up in a mosaic pattern - this principle could allow image sensors with unprecedented resolution and sensitivity to light to be created.

Physics / Materials Science - 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.

Electroengineering - Physics / Materials Science - 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.

Physics / Materials Science - Business / Economics - 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 / Materials Science - Mechanical Engineering - 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 / Materials Science - Health - 31.10.2017
Illuminated pajamas treat newborns
Illuminated pajamas treat newborns
Babies who suffer from jaundice after birth are treated with shortwave light. Empa researchers have now developed illuminated pajamas that replace the treatment in an incubator.

Art and Design - Physics / Materials Science - 19.10.2017
As black as ebony
As black as ebony
Like many tropical wood types, ebony is an endangered species that is tricky to use, such in in-strument manufacturing.
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