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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.

Health - Materials Science - 11.08.2020
A wound dressing that kills bacteria
A wound dressing that kills bacteria
In order to combat bacterial wound infections, Empa researchers have developed cellulose membranes equipped with antimicrobial peptides. Initial results show: The skin-friendly membranes made of plant-based materials kill bacteria very efficiently. If germs invade a wound, they can trigger a long-lasting infection that may fail to heal or even spread throughout the body, leading to life-threatening blood poisoning (sepsis).

Physics - Materials Science - 10.08.2020
"Simulation microscope" examines transistors of the future
Since the discovery of graphene, two-dimensional materials have been the focus of materials research. Among other things, they could be used to build tiny, high-performance transistors. Researchers at ETH Zurich and EPF Lausanne have now simulated and evaluated one hundred possible materials for this purpose and discovered 13 promising candidates.

Physics - Materials Science - 10.08.2020
A highly light-absorbent and tunable material
A highly light-absorbent and tunable material
By layering different two-dimensional materials, physicists at the University of Basel have created a novel structure with the ability to absorb almost all light of a selected wavelength. The achievement relies on a double layer of molybdenum disulfide. The new structure's particular properties make it a candidate for applications in optical components or as a source of individual photons, which play a key role in quantum research.

Materials Science - Health - 07.08.2020
A titanate nanowire mask that can eliminate pathogens
A titanate nanowire mask that can eliminate pathogens
Filter "paper" made from titanium oxide nanowires is capable of trapping pathogens and destroying them with light. This discovery by an EPFL laboratory could be put to use in personal protective equipment, as well as in ventilation and air conditioning systems. As part of attempts to curtail the Covid-19 pandemic, paper masks are increasingly being made mandatory.

Life Sciences - Materials Science - 04.08.2020
Cells relax their membrane to control protein sorting
Cells relax their membrane to control protein sorting
Researchers have succeeded in measuring the tension of the membrane of an organelle forming inside a cell. The tension in the outer membrane of cells plays an important role in a number of biological processes. A localised drop in tension, for example, makes it easier for the surface to be bending inward and form invaginations that will become free vesicles inside the cell.

Materials Science - Physics - 03.08.2020
Using viscous metals in micro fibers
Using viscous metals in micro fibers
Scientists have developed the first micro-structured fibers with a viscous metal inside - a perfect example of what cross-disciplinary teamwork can achieve. Platinum, copper, nickel and phosphorous - those are the components of an amorphous metal alloy with excellent mechanical properties. The alloy is also very corrosion-resistant and attract much interest in watchmaking and micromechanics.

Computer Science - Materials Science - 23.07.2020
Technology that makes it feel like you're touching virtual objects
Adding to the richness of virtual reality, EPFL researchers have created soft actuators that can simulate the feeling of touching a virtual object with your fingers.  In the virtual world, the objects you pick up do not exist: you can see that cup or pen, but it does not feel like you're touching them.

Materials Science - Physics - 15.07.2020
Using magnetic worms to engineer nanoscale communication systems
Using magnetic worms to engineer nanoscale communication systems
Researchers at EPFL have shown that electromagnetic waves coupled to precisely engineered structures known as artificial ferromagnetic quasicrystals allow for more efficient information transmission and processing at the nanoscale. Their research also represents the first practical demonstration of Conway worms, a theoretical concept for the description of quasicrystals.

Physics - Materials Science - 10.07.2020
Cherned up to the maximum
Cherned up to the maximum
Topological materials are a new class of materials that could enable completely new types of electronic components and superconductors. In topological materials, electrons can behave differently than in conventional materials. The extent of these "exotic" phenomena depends on the so-called Chern number.

Materials Science - 06.07.2020
Outsmarting self-organization
Outsmarting self-organization
Researchers at ETH Zurich have coaxed tiny spheres made of polymer gels into forming complex patterns by themselves through a two-step process. Surfaces with tailor-made optical and mechanical properties could be realized in this way. When retiling the bathroom or the terrace using, for instance, square, rectangular or hexagonal tiles, the result will be a simple and regular pattern - assuming one doesn't make any mistakes.

Materials Science - Electroengineering - 02.07.2020
The lightest shielding material in the world
The lightest shielding material in the world
Researchers have succeeded in applying aerogels to microelectronics: Aerogels based on cellulose nanofibers can effectively shield electromagnetic radiation over a wide frequency range - and they are unrivalled in terms of weight. Electric motors and electronic devices generate electromagnetic fields that sometimes have to be shielded in order not to affect neighboring electronic components or the transmission of signals.

Physics - Materials Science - 25.06.2020
X-ray vision and eavesdropping ensure quality
X-ray vision and eavesdropping ensure quality
With an X-ray experiment at the European Synchrotron ESRF in Grenoble (France), Empa researchers were able to demonstrate how well their real-time acoustic monitoring of laser weld seams works. With almost 90 percent reliability, they detected the formation of unwanted pores that impair the quality of weld seams.

Physics - Materials Science - 24.06.2020
Wavy surfaces for better light control
Wavy surfaces for better light control
Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a method for the production of wavy surfaces with nanometre precision. In the future this method could be used, for instance, to make optical components for data transmission on the internet even more efficient and compact. The importance of light-based technologies for our society was demonstrated once more in recent weeks.
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