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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 - 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.

Physics - Materials Science - 08.03.2019
Super superlattices: The moiré patterns of three layers change the electronic properties of graphene
Super superlattices: The moiré patterns of three layers change the electronic properties of graphene
Combining an atomically thin graphene and a boron nitride layer at a slightly rotated angle changes their electrical properties. Physicists at the University of Basel have now shown for the first time the combination with a third layer can result in new material properties also in a three-layer sandwich of carbon and boron nitride.

Materials Science - Innovation - 06.03.2019
A self-healing composite
A self-healing composite
Researchers from EPFL's Laboratory for Processing of Advanced Composites have developed a material that can easily heal after being damaged. This cutting-edge composite could be used in aircraft, wind turbines, cars and sports equipment. When a wind turbine blade or an airplane is hit by something, the damaged part has to be either replaced or patched with resin.

Music - Materials Science - 05.03.2019
Virtual noise
Virtual noise
Railway noise is annoying. Trains cause numerous sleepless nights, especially in the vicinity of residential areas. This makes it all the more important to optimize trains and tracks in such a way as to dampen sounds. Empa researchers have devised a computer simulation that demonstrates how railway noise is created in the first place and which technical measures are effective in preventing it.

Physics - Materials Science - 12.02.2019
Next-generation optics in just two minutes of cooking time
Next-generation optics in just two minutes of cooking time
One of the key building blocks of flexible photonic circuits and ultra-thin optics are metasurfaces. And EPFL engineers have now discovered a simple way of making these surfaces in just a few minutes - without needing a clean room - using a method already employed in manufacturing. Their findings have just been published.

Physics - Materials Science - 08.02.2019
Cryo-force spectroscopy reveals the mechanical properties of DNA components
Cryo-force spectroscopy reveals the mechanical properties of DNA components
Physicists from the University of Basel have developed a new method to examine the elasticity and binding properties of DNA molecules on a surface at extremely low temperatures. With a combination of cryo-force spectroscopy and computer simulations, they were able to show that DNA molecules behave like a chain of small coil springs.

Materials Science - Health - 07.02.2019
How safe is graphene?
How safe is graphene?
Graphene is considered one of the most interesting and versatile materials of our time. The application possibilities inspire both research and industry. But are products containing graphene also safe for humans and the environment? A comprehensive review, developed as part of the European graphene flagship project with the participation of Empa researchers, investigated this question.

Materials Science - 22.01.2019
Fireproofing made of recycled paper
Fireproofing made of recycled paper
Scientists at Empa teamed up with isofloc AG to develop an insulating material made of recycled paper. It is ideal for prefabricated wooden elements and even multistory timber houses, and protects the construction against fire. What's more: The additive it contains is harmless to humans, animals and the environment.

Materials Science - 08.01.2019
Rare metals from e-waste
Rare metals from e-waste
This year, beautifully wrapped laptops, mobile phones or even new TV sets lay under numerous Christmas trees. They are enthusiastically put into use - and the old electronic devices are disposed of. The e-waste contains resources such as neodymium, indium and gold. What happens to the valuable materials' And how much rare metal is contained in mobile phones, computers and monitors that are still in use today? Empa researchers have investigated these questions.

Physics - Materials Science - 04.01.2019
Excitons pave the way to more efficient electronics
Excitons pave the way to more efficient electronics
After developing a method to control exciton flows at room temperature, EPFL scientists have discovered new properties of these quasiparticles that can lead to more energy-efficient electronic devices. They were the first to control exciton flows at room temperature. And now, the team of scientists from EPFL's Laboratory of Nanoscale Electronics and Structures (LANES) has taken their technology one step further.

Innovation - Materials Science - 17.12.2018
Top-notch research is the basis for a successful technology transfer
Top-notch research is the basis for a successful technology transfer
In such a highly competitive environment as scientific research, it is a good idea to ask yourself on a regular basis just how well you fare by international comparison. With this in mind, Empa conducted a peer review last October: eleven international experts from all of Empa's areas of activity scrutinized the institute's output in research and innovation and compared it with the rest of the world.

Materials Science - Environment - 15.12.2018
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.
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