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Materials Science - Innovation - 04.04.2024
Airy cellulose from a 3D printer
Airy cellulose from a 3D printer
Ultra-light, thermally insulating and biodegradable: Cellulose-based aerogels are versatile. researchers have succeeded in 3D printing the natural material into complex shapes that could one day serve as precision insulation in microelectronics or as personalized medical implants. At first glance, biodegradable materials, inks for 3D printing and aerogels don't seem to have much in common.

Materials Science - 28.03.2024
3D images reveal link between crack complexity and material toughness
3D images reveal link between crack complexity and material toughness
By capturing a rare glimpse into three-dimensional crack formation in brittle solids, researchers have found that complex cracks require more energy to advance than simple ones; a discovery that could improve materials testing and development. The last time you dropped a favorite mug or sat on your glasses, you may have been too preoccupied to take much notice of the intricate pattern of cracks that appeared in the broken object.

Chemistry - Materials Science - 06.03.2024
Quest for materials with defects
Quest for materials with defects
Is it possible to convert CO2 back to fuels or other useful chemicals? Absolutely - but not in a very targeted way just yet. Empa researcher Alessandro Senocrate is looking at defects in materials that will help us achieve this goal. Can we undo the burning of oil, gas and coal? With a renewable source of electricity, some water and a suitable catalyst, the excess CO2 in the atmosphere could become a resource, for example for the production of synthetic fuels, so-called synfuels.

Materials Science - Innovation - 01.03.2024
Turning waste into gold
Turning waste into gold
Researchers have recovered the precious metal from electronic waste. Their highly sustainable new method is based on a protein fibril sponge, which the scientists derive from whey, a food industry byproduct. Transforming base materials into gold was one of the elusive goals of the alchemists of yore.

Materials Science - Innovation - 09.02.2024
Innovative coating prevents limescale formation
Innovative coating prevents limescale formation
Wherever hot water flows, limescale is never far away. In households, this is a nuisance; in thermal power stations, it's an expensive problem. Now researchers at ETH Zurich have found an answer. Hot water tanks, washing machines, kettles: limescale forms in every domestic appliance that comes into contact with (hot) water - especially in areas where the water is hard, meaning high in calcium.

Materials Science - 08.02.2024
When nanoplastics are not what they seem
When nanoplastics are not what they seem
Textiles made of synthetic fibers release microand nanoplastics during washing. researchers have now been able to show: Some of the supposed nanoplastics do not actually consist of plastic particles, but of water-insoluble oligomers. The effects they have on humans and the environment are not yet well-understood.

Materials Science - Innovation - 29.01.2024
Sound-powered sensors stand to save millions of batteries
Sound-powered sensors stand to save millions of batteries
Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a sensor that utilises energy from sound waves to control electronic devices. This could one day save millions of batteries. Sensors that monitor infrastructure, such as bridges or buildings, or are used in medical devices, such as prostheses for the deaf, require a constant supply of power.

Health - Materials Science - 16.01.2024
Soldering wounds with light and nano thermometers
Soldering wounds with light and nano thermometers
Not every wound can be closed with needle and thread. researchers have now developed a soldering process with nanoparticles that gently fuses tissue. The soldering technique is expected to prevent wound healing disorders and life-threatening complications from leaking sutures. The team recently published the promising method in the journal Small Methods and applied for a patent.

Physics - Materials Science - 11.01.2024
Laser additive manufacturing: listening for defects as they happen
Laser additive manufacturing: listening for defects as they happen
Researchers from EPFL have resolved a long-standing debate surrounding laser additive manufacturing processes with a pioneering approach to defect detection. The progression of laser additive manufacturing - which involves 3D printing of metallic objects using powders and lasers - has often been hindered by unexpected defects.

Materials Science - Environment - 01.12.2023
Replicating the structure of bird feathers
Modelled on nature: researchers have developed a new material that replicates the structure responsible for the blue feathers of the North American song bird, among many other birds. It also has other striking advantages. The eastern bluebird is a special bird. The blue of its feathers is unique. However, this colour is not based on pigments but on the special structure of the feather.

Health - Materials Science - 28.11.2023
Bacteria, stay out!
Bacteria, stay out!
Antimicrobial hospital curtains Hospital germs and pathogens are not always transmitted directly from person to person. They can also spread via germ-contaminated surfaces and objects. researchers, together with the chemical company BASF, Spiez Laboratory and the Technical University of Berlin, have now developed coated textiles that inhibit or even kill pathogens.

Materials Science - Innovation - 27.10.2023
3D printed reactor core makes solar fuel production more efficient
3D printed reactor core makes solar fuel production more efficient
Using a new 3D printing technique, researchers at ETH Zurich have developed special ceramic structures for a solar reactor. Initial experimental testing show that these structures can boost the production yield of solar fuels. In recent years, engineers at ETH Zurich have developed the technology to produce liquid fuels from sunlight and air.

Materials Science - Environment - 26.09.2023
Trust is good - control is better
Trust is good - control is better
Although strict limits exist, batteries can still contain too many harmful ingredients such as mercury, cadmium and lead. The Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) has therefore launched a control campaign. Empa has laid the foundations for this with a specially developed method for analyzing heavy metals .

Physics - Materials Science - 01.09.2023
Peering into Nanofluidic Mysteries One Photon at a Time
Peering into Nanofluidic Mysteries One Photon at a Time
EPFL and University of Manchester researchers unlock secrets of nanofluidics using a 2D material and light. A discovery in the field of nanofluidics could shake up our understanding of molecular behavior on the tiniest scales. Research teams at EPFL and the University of Manchester have revealed a previously hidden world by using the newly found fluorescent properties of a graphene-like 2D material, boron nitride.

Materials Science - Innovation - 29.08.2023
Rechargable revolution
Rechargable revolution
The Empa spin-off BTRY wants to revolutionize rechargeable batteries: Their thin-film batteries are not only safer and longer-lasting than conventional lithium-ion batteries, they are also much more environmentally friendly to manufacture and can be charged and discharged in just one minute. For now, the battery is very small, but the founders have big plans for it.

Materials Science - Chemistry - 22.08.2023
New epoxy resin resists flames and reduces waste
New epoxy resin resists flames and reduces waste
Researchers have developed an epoxy resin that can be repaired and recycled, in addition to being flame-retardant and mechanically strong. Potential applications range from coating for wooden flooring to composites in aerospace and railways. Epoxy resins are tough and versatile polymers. In combination with glass or carbon fibers, they are used, for example, to manufacture components for aircraft, cars, trains, ships and wind turbines.

Chemistry - Materials Science - 18.07.2023
Improving high-temperature stability of perovskite solar cells
Improving high-temperature stability of perovskite solar cells
Researchers have found a way to significantly improve the operational stability of perovskite solar cells at high temperatures, which is necessary for their use in terawatt power grids. Perovskite solar cells (PSCs) have gained attention for their high power-conversion efficiencies and low-cost solution processing.

Materials Science - Electroengineering - 04.07.2023
The chameleon effect
The chameleon effect
Is it possible to 3D print biodegradable sensors and displays? Researchers from Empa's Cellulose & Wood Materials laboratory have developed a cellulose-based material that allows just that. The mixture of hydroxpropyl cellulose with water, carbon nanotubes and cellulose nanofibrils changes color when heated or stretched - without the addition of any pigments.

Physics - Materials Science - 03.07.2023
An unexpected antenna for nanoscale light sources
An unexpected antenna for nanoscale light sources
Researchers at ETH have created an antenna for light sources on a chip using an unusual placement of a semiconductor material. In the future, efficient nanoscale LEDs and lasers could be produced in this way. The fast switching and modulation of light is at the heart, among other things, of modern data transfer, in which information is sent through fibre optic cables in the shape of modulated light beams.

Innovation - Materials Science - 20.06.2023
Swim and run without changing
Swim and run without changing
Just in time for summer: The Swiss start-up Swijin is launching a new sportswear category with its SwimRunner - a sports bra together with matching bottoms that works as both swimwear and running gear and dries in no time.
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