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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.

Microtechnics - Materials Science - 24.11.2020
Miniscule robots of metal and plastic
Miniscule robots of metal and plastic
Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a technique for manufacturing micrometre-long machines by interlocking multiple materials in a complex way. Such microrobots will one day revolutionise the field of medicine. Robots so tiny that they can manoeuvre through our blood vessels and deliver medications to certain points in the body - researchers have been pursuing this goal for years.

Materials Science - 19.11.2020
New process narrows the gap between natural and synthetic materials
New process narrows the gap between natural and synthetic materials
Skin and cartilage are both strong and flexible - properties that are hard to replicate in artificial materials. But a new fabrication process, developed by scientists at EPFL, brings lifelike synthetic polymers a step closer. Natural materials like skin, cartilage and tendons are tough enough to support our bodyweight and movements, yet flexible enough that they don't crack easily.

Chemistry - Materials Science - 18.11.2020
Decoding the way catalysts work
Decoding the way catalysts work
Splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen is an important chemical reaction, especially considering that the use of hydrogen as an energy source in sustainable mobility in the future. An international research team has now decoded how one of the catalysts used in this reaction works. Hydrogen is a key element for achieving sustainable mobility in the future, especially "green" hydrogen produced by splitting water using renewable power.

Transport - Materials Science - 15.10.2020
Volatile for heavy trucks
Volatile for heavy trucks
In future, commercial vehicles will not only have to emit less CO2 but also meet stricter exhaust emission limits. Many experts expect that this could herald the end for fossil diesel. One possible alternative is dimethyl ether: The highly volatile substance burns very cleanly and can be produced from renewable energy.

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 - Materials Science - 12.10.2020
Well-formed disorder for versatile light technologies
Well-formed disorder for versatile light technologies
Researchers at ETH have managed to make an efficient material for broadband frequency doubling of light using microspheres made of disordered nanocrystals. The crucial idea for the method arose during a coffee break. In the future, the new approach could be used in lasers and other light technologies.

Materials Science - Physics - 09.10.2020
Modeling eternity in the rock laboratory
Modeling eternity in the rock laboratory
Cement is one of the key materials for the safe storage of radioactive waste. What is needed is an almost infinite durability of the containers. Empa researchers are therefore analyzing material systems that can handle this task. Exploratory tunnel in the Mont Terri international rock laboratory. Since 1996, rock formations that could play a role in the storage of radioactive waste have been investigated here.

Materials Science - Chemistry - 08.10.2020
Making disorder for an ideal battery
Making disorder for an ideal battery
Manufacturing safer, more powerful batteries that use geopolitically stable resources requires solid electrolytes and replacing lithium with sodium. A chemical solution is now being offered to battery developers. The lithium batteries that power our electronic devices and electric vehicles have a number of drawbacks.

Materials Science - Physics - 05.10.2020
Lego-like assembly of zeolitic membranes improves carbon capture
Lego-like assembly of zeolitic membranes improves carbon capture
EPFL chemical engineers have developed a new way to manufacture zeolitic membranes, state-of-the-art materials used for gas separation in harsh conditions. Zeolites are porous minerals that occur both naturally but also are being synthesized artificially. Because they are stable and durable, zeolites are used for chemical catalysis, purification of gases and liquids, and even in medical applications such as drug delivery and blood-clotting powders, e.g. the QuickClot trauma bandages used in the US military.

Chemistry - Materials Science - 01.10.2020
Chemical innovation stabilizes best-performing perovskite formulation
Chemical innovation stabilizes best-performing perovskite formulation
Researchers have successfully overcome a limiting problem with stabilizing the best-performing formulation of metal-halide perovskite films, a key player in a range of applications, including solar cells. Perovskites are a class of materials made up of organic materials bound to a metal. Their fascinating structure and properties have propelled perovskites into the forefront of materials' research, where they are studied for use in a wide range of applications.

Materials Science - Health - 30.09.2020
How local forces deform the lipid membranes
How local forces deform the lipid membranes
ETH Zurich researchers have been able to show why biological cells can take on such an astonishing variety of shapes: it has to do with how the number and strength of  local forces acting on the cell membrane from within. This knowledge feeds into the development of better minimal model systems and artificial cells.

Materials Science - Environment - 29.09.2020
Filtering radioactive elements from water
Filtering radioactive elements from water
Some time ago, ETH researchers developed a filter membrane made out of whey proteins and activated carbon. In a new study, they now demonstrate just how efficient this membrane is at filtering radioactive elements from contaminated water. The nuclear accident in Fukushima remains etched into people's memories.

Physics - Materials Science - 23.09.2020
Nanostructures with a unique property
Nanostructures with a unique property
Nanoscale vortices known as skyrmions can be created in many magnetic materials. For the first time, researchers at PSI have managed to create and identify antiferromagnetic skyrmions with a unique property: critical elements inside them are arranged in opposing directions. Scientists have succeeded in visualising this phenomenon using neutron scattering.

Materials Science - Life Sciences - 16.09.2020
Anti-reflective coating inspired by fly eyes
Anti-reflective coating inspired by fly eyes
A team from the University of Geneva has artificially reproduced a nanoscale coating on different types of surfaces that usually covers the eyes of fruit flies, and which provides anti-reflective, anti-adhesive properties. The eyes of many insects, including the fruit fly, are covered by a thin and transparent coating made up of tiny protuberances with anti-reflective, anti-adhesive properties.

Computer Science - Materials Science - 11.09.2020
Machine-learning helps sort out massive materials' databases
EPFL and MIT scientists have used machine-learning to organize the chemical diversity found in the ever-growing databases for the popular metal-organic framework materials. Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are a class of materials that contain nano-sized pores. These pores give MOFs record-breaking internal surface areas, which can measure up to 7,800 m2 in a single gram of material.

Environment - Materials Science - 27.08.2020
Mini power plants from coated blue-green algae
Mini power plants from coated blue-green algae
Blue-green algae are among the oldest living creatures on Earth and have perfected the use of sunlight over billions of years. Empa scientists have now equipped these humble unicellular organisms with semiconductor coatings to create mini power plants, which supply biofuels and are photocatalytically active in sunlight.

Materials Science - Innovation - 20.08.2020
Aerogel - the micro structural material of the future
Aerogel - the micro structural material of the future
Aerogel is an excellent thermal insulator. So far, however, it has mainly been used on a large scale, for example in environmental technology, in physical experiments or in industrial catalysis. Empa researchers have now succeeded in making aerogels accessible to microelectronics and precision engineering: An article in the latest issue of the scientific journal "Nature" shows how 3D-printed parts made of silica aerogels and silica composite materials can be manufactured with high precision.

Astronomy / Space Science - Materials Science - 19.08.2020
New instrument for the search for life in space
New instrument for the search for life in space
Researchers at the University of Bern have developed the highly sensitive instrument ORIGIN for future space missions, which can detect minute traces of life. Space agencies such as NASA have already expressed interest in testing ORIGIN for future missions. For example, the instrument could be used for missions to the icy moons Europa (Jupiter) and Enceladus (Saturn).

Physics - Materials Science - 13.08.2020
Uranium reveals its true nature
Uranium reveals its true nature
Scientists have made a significant discovery in how nanoscale minerals form naturally, including the way in which they transition from a soluble to a solid state. Their findings could be used to inform radioactive waste management. Most people are familiar with uranium as a fuel for nuclear power plants.
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