Material sciences

  • “Bethe Strings” Experimentally Demonstrated as Many-Body Quantum States for the First Time

    In SrCo₂V₂O₈ the cobalt ions (CO²⁺) form in the interior of a chain of edges-linked oxygen octahedra a quasi-one-dimensional electron spin chain with spin S = ½. © Universität Augsburg/IfP/EP V

    The synthesis of quasi one-dimensional magnets and their investigation by means of optical spectroscopy in extremely high magnetic fields led to success. Augsburg /AL/KPP - “Bethe strings” are excitations of strongly bound electron spins in one-dimensional quantum spin systems. These quantum spin states are named after the physicist Hans Bethe, who first described them theoretically in 1931.

  • “Electricity as a Raw Material” at ACHEMA 2018: Green Energy for Sustainable Chemistry

    Demonstrator for the production of ethene from CO2. Fraunhofer IGB

    Hydrogen peroxide, ethene, alcohols: The Fraunhofer lighthouse project “Electricity as a raw material” is developing electrochemical processes that use renewable electricity to synthesize basic chemicals - with the aim of making the chemical industry more sustainable. From June 11 to 15, Fraunhofer UM-SICHT will be presenting the results together with eight other Fraunhofer Institutes at ACHEMA 2018.

  • “Showcasing the Bioeconomy” – Bio-based Products and Research Highlights at Hannover Fair 2019

    Showcase Bioeconomy at the Hannover Messe, hall 2. Steffen Ullmann, BCM BioEconomy Cluster Management GmbH

    Visitors will have the opportunity to experience the bioeconomy’s latest product innovations and research findings at Hannover Messe. Other types of events, such as the International Bioeconomy Conference, promote the establishment of international partnerships and drive economic change towards a bioeconomy.

    Nineteen research projects currently being funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) will be presented at the joint stand “Showcasing the Bioeconomy” at Hannover Messe 2019. We are co-exhibitors with our cluster partners.

  • 10nm Pattern Generation Using Thermal Scanning Probe Lithography Enabled by Simplified Materials and Processes

    High resolution metal lines fabricated by means of lit-off process. (c) PiBond Oy

    Thermal scanning probe lithography (tSPL) has been used to create patterns with sub-20 nm half pitch resolution. Pattern generation uses a thermally sensitive resist and spin coatable hard mask materials to transfer the resist patterns. Spin coatable materials permit users of tSPL to reduce time and cost of the patterning process.

  • 15-meter Roll-to-roll Device is World’s Longest OLED

    This 15-meter roll-to-roll device is the world’s longest OLED. © Lyteus

    Working within the framework of Lyteus, Holst Centre and Fraunhofer FEP step into the spotlight with the creation of the world’s longest single-device OLED. At a stunning 15 meters in length it opens the door to ‘endless OLEDs’ that manufacturers and designers can then easily tailor to their own needs. Lyteus brings together leaders in OLED technology from across Europe to create a pilot production line and product development services for OLED products. Working together, Holst Centre and Fraunhofer FEP successfully demonstrated the possibility for continuous production of OLEDs of any length. This both reduces the cost of production and enables “cut-to-fit” lighting for applications such as transportation, architecture and interior design.

  • 3D printer inks from the woods

    Rod-like cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) approximately 120 nanometers long and 6.5 nanometers in diameter under the microscope. (Image: Empa)

    Empa researchers have succeeded in developing an environmentally friendly ink for 3D printing based on cellulose nanocrystals. This technology can be used to fabricate microstructures with outstanding mechanical properties, which have promising potential uses in implants and other biomedical applications.

    In order to produce 3D microstructured materials for automobile components, for instance, Empa researchers have been using a 3D printing method called “Direct Ink Writing” for the past year (DIW, see box). During this process, a viscous substance – the printing ink – is squeezed out of the printing nozzles and deposited onto a surface, pretty much like a pasta machine.

  • 3D Printers to Produce Precisely Fitting Plastic Parts for Lightweight Construction

    The researchers use continuous fibres in their fibre-reinforced plastics. Credits: Koziel/TUK

    3D printers are becoming ever more important: they can be used to quickly produce the desired products. Researchers at Technische Universität Kaiserslautern are also working with this system: in order to optimize the printing result for plastics, they examine the conditions required during printing. In this context, the composition of the material also plays a role. With their fibre-reinforced plastic, they rely on fibres that are completely built into the plastic like a string. This is interesting, for example, for the lightweight construction of vehicles. They will present their work at the Hannover Messe from 1 to 5 April at the Rhineland-Palatinate research stand (Hall 2, Stand B40).

  • 3D-Druck: Maßgeschneiderte Einlegesohlen für Diabetes-Patienten

    3D-Strukturen aus TPU für Einlegesohlen. Die Strukturen wurden über CAD ausgelegt, ihre Eigenschaften simuliert und mit Experimenten abgeglichen. Fraunhofer IWM

    Einlegesohlen für Diabetes-Patienten stellen Orthopädieschuhtechniker bislang in Handarbeit her. Künftig können die Spezialisten die Sohlen kostengünstiger als bisher mit einer neuartigen Software entwerfen und mithilfe von 3D-Druckern herstellen. Die Vorteile: Die mechanischen Eigenschaften der Einlegesohlen lassen sich besser analysieren und wissenschaftlich bewerten. Drückt der Schuh? Üblicherweise verlagert man in diesem Fall das Gewicht und entlastet die schmerzende Stelle. Bei Diabetes-Patienten jedoch verkümmern oftmals die Nervenenden im Fuß – die Betroffenen spüren die schmerzende Stelle nicht. Dies kann zu Druckstellen und schließlich zu Wunden führen, die schlecht verheilen. Abhilfe oder zumindest Linderung versprechen Einlegesohlen, die an der verletzten Stelle sehr weich sind und die Orthopädieschuhtechniker in Handarbeit aus verschiedenen Materialien passgenau anfertigen.

  • A Boost for Photosynthesis

    Cryo-EM structure of the linked complexes of CcmM (red) and Rubisco (green) in liquid droplets (yellow). Formation of this network is the first step in carboxysome biogenesis in cyanobacteria. Illustration: Huping Wang, Andreas Bracher © MPI of Biochemistry

    Photosynthesis is a fundamental biological process which allows plants to use light energy for their growth. Most life forms on Earth are directly or indirectly dependent on photosynthesis. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Germany have collaborated with colleagues from the Australian National University to study the formation of carboxysomes – a structure that increases the efficiency of photosynthesis in aquatic bacteria. Their results, which were now published in Nature, could lead to the engineering of plants with more efficient photosynthesis and thus higher crop yields.

  • A Burst of ”Synchronous” Light

    Superlattices under the microscope (white light illumination). Empa

    Excited photo-emitters can cooperate and radiate simultaneously, a phenomenon called superfluorescence. Researchers from Empa and ETH Zurich, together with colleagues from IBM Research Zurich, have recently been able to create this effect with long-range ordered nanocrystal superlattices. This discovery could enable future developments in LED lighting, quantum sensing, quantum communication and future quantum computing. The study has just been published in the renowned journal "Nature".

  • A Fine-tuned Laser Welds More Effectively

    Cardiac pacemakers are usually housed in a titanium housing that is welded together from two parts. Empa has optimized the frequency of the working laser so that no black edges appear during welding, which would reduce the value of the medical product. Image: istockphoto

    Using laser technology Empa scientists optimized a technique to weld the electronics of implantable pacemakers and defibrillators into a titanium case. The medtech company Medtronic is now using the method worldwide to produce these devices. In Tolochenaz (Canton of Vaud) the US medtech company Medtronic produces one out of five heart pacemakers available on the global market and one out of four defibrillators. The electronics of these implantable devic-es are housed in titanium cases, which thus far were welded hermetically with a solid state flash laser. However, the lasers are high-maintenance and often the source of irregularities. Moreover, they require water cooling and take up a lot of space.

  • A laser for divers

    Laser cutting of sheet piling under water. Photo: LZH

    Working under water is personnel- and time-intensive. The Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) is therefore working on developing a laser-based, automated process for cutting sheet piling under water, together with the Institute of Materials Science of the Leibniz Universität Hannover. Sheet piling protects fortified shore areas, or can be used to dry out these areas if repairs are necessary. If the sheet piling must be dismantled, divers must cut the walls into smaller pieces using a cutting torch. Normally, a diver can cut about 20 meters a day, which corresponds to a speed of about 0.07 meters per minute. In the project LuWaPro, scientists at the LZH have now developed a process which uses a disc laser for torch cutting. The divers thus only carries out a supervisory role. The process can be used to separate the metal sheets, which are usually 10 mm thick for sheet piling, at speeds of up to 0.9 m/min.

  • A Material with Promising Properties

    Picture of a hybrid particle taken by a transmission electron microscope. Pictured are the inorganic (dark) and organic (light) lamellas that the particle is made of, as well as the tubular shapes (the low-contrast area in the middle). Through vaporisation with Europium, the hybrid stage can be transformed into pure EuO. Copyright: University of Konstanz

    Konstanz scientist synthesises an important ferromagnetic semiconductor. The Collaborative Research Centre CRC 1214 at the University of Konstanz has developed a method for synthesising Europium (II) oxide nanoparticles - a ferromagnetic semiconductor that is relevant for data storage and data transport. Ferromagnetic semiconductors have attracted increasing attention over the last decade. Their properties make them promising functional materials that can be used in the field of spin-based electronics (spintronics). Spintronics is of crucial importance for the storage and transport of information.

  • A Materials Scientist’s Dream Come True

    Christian Dolle, Peter Schweizer und Prof. Dr. Erdmann Spiecker (von links nach rechts) beim anipulieren von Versetzungen an ihrer Nano-Werkbank, einem erweiterten Elektronenmikroskop. Mingjian Wu

    In the 1940s, scientists first explained how materials can deform plastically by atomic-scale line defects called dislocations. These defects can be understood as tiny carpet folds that can move one part of a material relative to the other without spending a lot of energy. Many technical applications are based on this fundamental process, such as forging, but we also rely on the power of dislocations in our everyday life: in the crumple zone of cars dislocations protect lives by transforming energy into plastic deformation. FAU researchers have now found a way of manipulating individual dislocations directly on the atomic scale – a feat only dreamt of by materials scientists.

  • A New Home for Optical Solitons

    Developement of new enhancement cavities at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics. Thorsten Naeser

    Laser physicists based at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics run by the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics and the Ludwig-Maximilian University have, for the first time, generated dissipative solitons in passive, free-space resonators. Solitons are the most stable of all waves. Under conditions that result in the dispersion of all other waveforms, a soliton will continue undisturbed on its solitary way, without changing its shape or velocity in the slightest. The self-stabilizing properties of solitons explain their immense significance to the field of laser optics, in particular for the generation of ultrashort light pulses.

  • A New Knob to Control and Create Higher Harmonics in Solids

    When exciting crystals such as silicon by an intense elliptically or circularly polarized light pulse (red), circularly polarized higher harmonics (green & blue) can be generated. Nicolas Tancogne-Dejean + Joerg M. Harms, MPSD

    Scientists at the MPSD and CFEL have demonstrated the possibility of using a new knob to control and optimize the generation of high-order harmonics in bulk materials, one of the most important physical processes for generating high-energy photons and for the ultrafast manipulation of information.

  • A new spin on electronics

    The spin of electrons transports information in this conducting layer between two isolators. Image: Christoph Hohmann / NIM

    Interface between insulators enables information transport by spin.
    Modern computer technology is based on the transport of electric charge in semiconductors. But this technology’s potential will be reaching its limits in the near future, since the components deployed cannot be miniaturized further. But, there is another option: using an electron’s spin, instead of its charge, to transmit information. A team of scientists from Munich and Kyoto is now demonstrating how this works.

  • A Sensor System Learns to "Hear": Reliable Detection of Failures in Machines and Systems

    The sensor system inspects the rotating cutting unit of a combine harvester for defective vibrations or noises. Fraunhofer IZFP / Uwe Bellhäuser

    Researchers of the Fraunhofer Institute for Nondestructive Testing IZFP in Saarbrücken have developed a sensor system that can detect failures or imperfections in systems and machines quickly and reliably by means of an acoustic noise assessment similar to human hearing. The "hearing" sensor system AcoustiX has already been successfully deployed by John Deere, the American global market leader in the fields of agricultural engineering, to inspect the cutting units of combine harvesters. In the event that large-scale machines or plants are already in operation, defects or defectively assembled components may result in malfunction of machines and thus in production shutdown and economic loss.

  • A Space-Time Sensor for Light-Matter Interactions

    By using trains of extremely short electron pulses, LAP researchers have obtained time-resolved diffraction patterns from crystalline samples. In this image, patterns captured at attosecond intervals have been superimposed, thus revealing, in real time, the kind of electron motions that underlie atomic and subatomic phenomena. (Photo: Baum/Marimoto)

    Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms. The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a billionth of a second). What exactly happens in such an astonishingly short time has so far remained largely inaccessible.

  • A Transistor of Graphene Nanoribbons

    The microscopic ribbons lie criss-crossed on the gold substrate. Empa

    Transistors based on carbon nanostructures: what sounds like a futuristic dream could be reality in just a few years' time. An international research team working with Empa has now succeeded in producing nanotransistors from graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, as reported in the current issue of the trade journal "Nature Communications." Graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, so-called graphene nanoribbons, have special electrical properties that make them promising candidates for the nanoelectronics of the future: