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Physics - Materials Science - 19.07.2019
Better thermal conductivity by adjusting the arrangement of atoms
Better thermal conductivity by adjusting the arrangement of atoms
Adjusting the thermal conductivity of materials is one of the challenges nanoscience is currently facing. Together with colleagues from the Netherlands and Spain, researchers from the University of Basel have shown that the atomic vibrations that determine heat generation in nanowires can be controlled through the arrangement of atoms alone.

Environment - Materials Science - 12.07.2019
5000 tons of plastic released into the environment every year
5000 tons of plastic released into the environment every year
In order to estimate for the first time the exact extent of plastic pollution in Switzerland, the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) has mandated Empa researchers to calculate how much plastic gets into the environment. Empa has analyzed the seven most frequently used types of plastic. According to the study, more than 5000 tons of plastic are discharged into the environment every year.

Health - Materials Science - 08.07.2019
The most successfull flat share in the world
The most successfull flat share in the world
Biofilms are enormously resistant accumulations of germs, which can cause serious problems, especially in hospitals. Like a single large creature, they can spread within wounds or colonize implants or biomedical products. With novel materials and surfaces researchers intend to combat the sturdy pathogens.

Health - Materials Science - 08.07.2019
Why do bones fail?
Can analytical methods from materials science help us better understand human bones' A research team at Empa in Thun is pursuing precisely this approach. Osteoporosis is a wide­spread disease. Every third woman and every fifth man are affected by bone loss with ad­vanc­ing age. A frequent consequence of this is a fracture of the femoral neck - a painful injury that massively impairs the quality of life of those affected.

Materials Science - Health - 08.07.2019
Deceptively real
The human heart still poses great challenges to modern medicine. More than ten million people in Europe suffer from heart failure, and quite a few of them need a donor organ. Artificial heart pumps are used to bridge the waiting time, but complications are not uncommon. The "Zurich Heart" project, in which Empa is a partner, is developing solutions.

Materials Science - Health - 08.07.2019
Wood on our Skin
Wood on our Skin
Physiological parameters in our blood can be determined without painful punctures. Empa researchers are currently working with a Canadian team to develop flexible, biocompatible nanocellulose sensors that can be attached to the skin. The 3D-printed analytic chips made of renewable raw materials will even be biodegradable in future.

Materials Science - Health - 08.07.2019
Scars: gone with the foam
Scars: gone with the foam
Poorly healing wounds and severe scarring are more than just a cosmetic problem; they can significantly impair a person's mobility and health. Empa researchers have now developed a foam that is supposed to prevent excessive scarring and help wounds to heal quickly. An essential ingredient: the yellow ginger tumeric.

Materials Science - Environment - 21.06.2019
Perovskite solar cells tested for real-world performance - in the lab
Perovskite solar cells tested for real-world performance - in the lab
Researchers bring diurnal and seasonal variations into the lab to test the performance of perovskite solar cells under realistic conditions. It was only ten years ago that metal-halide perovskites were discovered to be photovoltaic materials. Today, perovskite solar cells made are almost as efficient as the best conventional silicon ones, and there is much hope that they will become a highly efficient and low-cost alternative, as they can be manufactured by rather simple and fast methods like printing.

Materials Science - Physics - 04.06.2019
New material with magnetic shape memory
New material with magnetic shape memory
Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI and ETH Zurich have developed a new material whose shape memory is activated by magnetism. It retains a given shape when it is put into a magnetic field. It is a composite material consisting of two components. What is special about the new material is that, unlike previous shape-memory materials, it consists of a polymer and droplets of a so-called magnetorheological fluid embedded in it.

Materials Science - 29.05.2019
Desired deformation
Desired deformation
Since last week there is a unique wooden building in the Remstal near Stuttgart: a tower made of self-formed spruce boards. The method, which has been developed at Empa and ETH Zurich, uses the natural swelling and shrinking of wood under the influence of moisture and thus enables a new and unexpected architecture for the construction with the renewable and sustainable resource of wood.

Materials Science - Physics - 23.05.2019
Producing electricity at estuaries using light and osmosis
Producing electricity at estuaries using light and osmosis
Researchers at EPFL are working on a technology to exploit osmotic energy - a source of power that's naturally available at estuaries, where fresh water comes into contact with seawater. In a laboratory experiment, the team reproduced the real-world conditions that occur where rivers meet the sea (pH and salt concentration) and showed that, by shining light on a system comprising salt, water and a membrane three atoms thick, it was possible to optimize electricity production.

Environment - Materials Science - 13.05.2019
Microplastics in freshwaters
Microplastics in freshwaters
Sea birds dying in agony with a belly full of plastic garbage; plastic accumulations as big as islands: Virtually everyone has seen pictures like these today. But there are also plastic particles that are barely visible to the eye - microplastics. The danger posed by these tiny particles has hardly been researched to date.

Environment - Materials Science - 09.05.2019
Building-integrated photovoltaics: aesthetic, efficient and widely accepted
Building-integrated photovoltaics: aesthetic, efficient and widely accepted
Within the scope of National Research Programme "Energy Turnaround" (NRP 70), researchers studied photovoltaic systems integrated into the roofs and façades (BIPV) of existing buildings from the point of view of aesthetic, ecological and economic criteria. Their findings: all developers and architects could use this technology for the renovation of existing buildings.

Materials Science - Innovation / Technology - 09.05.2019
Design meets research
Design meets research
In the planned project "Re-FREAM" designers develop new and innovative fashion concepts in cooperation with researchers from all over Europe and completely rethink processes, traditions, production methods as well as design and functionality of clothing. Empa is also involved as a research partner. "We live in the most exciting era of mankind", write the initiators of the "Re-FREAM" project on their website.

Physics - Materials Science - 07.05.2019
New material also reveals new quasiparticles
New material also reveals new quasiparticles
Researchers at PSI have investigated a novel crystalline material that exhibits electronic properties that have never been seen before. It is a crystal of aluminum and platinum atoms arranged in a special way. In the symmetrically repeating unit cells of this crystal, individual atoms were offset from each other in such a way that they - as connected in the mind's eye - followed the shape of a spiral staircase.

Materials Science - Physics - 02.05.2019
Watching concrete explode
Watching concrete explode
Even if concrete is not flammable, it can be hazardous in tunnel fires: high-performance concrete can explode at high temperatures. Although the phenomenon is well known, the physics behind it have not yet been fully understood. Empa researchers have now made the processes inside concrete visible for the first time using real-time-neutron radiography and tomography.

Physics - Materials Science - 25.04.2019
Unprecedented insight into two-dimensional magnets using diamond quantum sensors
Unprecedented insight into two-dimensional magnets using diamond quantum sensors
For the first time, physicists at the University of Basel have succeeded in measuring the magnetic properties of atomically thin van der Waals materials on the nanoscale. They used diamond quantum sensors to determine the strength of the magnetization of individual atomic layers of the material chromium triiodide.

Materials Science - Environment - 15.04.2019
The wood magician
The new head of Empa's Cellulose & Wood Materials lab, Gustav Nyström, has taken everyone by surprise by setting unconventional goals. However, paper batteries and nanocellulose sensors have one main objective: to help solve fundamental, socially relevant questions. When Gustav Nyström sees a tree, he sees more than just a biological marvel.

Materials Science - Environment - 02.04.2019
Rotten to the core
Rotten to the core
Fungi that decompose tree trunks can conjure up real works of art in wood. In nature, however, the decay-causing fungi not only decorate the tree, but also destroy it. Empa researchers are now teaching the fungi how to draw. The result: upscale marbled wood that can be processed into design furniture or musical instruments.

Materials Science - 08.03.2019
Researchers simulate the process of adhesive wear
Researchers simulate the process of adhesive wear
Using high-performance computer simulations, EPFL researchers were able to observe how surface roughness changes when two materials rub together. Their findings, which provide insight into friction and wear mechanisms, have implications for areas ranging from engineering to the study of tectonic faults.
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