• 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.

  • Advanced X-ray Topography Tool Offers More Insights into Semiconductor Material Quality

    X-ray transmission topogram of the 101 reflex for a full 100 mm 4H SiC wafer and a more detailed section of the wafer. Fraunhofer IISB

    Fraunhofer IISB and Rigaku Europe SE are starting a strategic partnership in order to support the European semiconductor industry in improving and better understanding their wafer quality and yield by employing the Rigaku XRTmicron advanced X-ray topography tool. Rigaku Europe SE and Fraunhofer IISB in Erlangen are pleased to announce the formation of a strategic partnership to revolutionize the characterization of semiconductor materials by X-ray topography; therefore, Rigaku has installed the latest generation X-ray topography tool, the Rigaku XRTmicron imaging system, at Fraunhofer IISB.

  • Chemical Reactions in the Light of Ultrashort X-ray Pulses from Free-electron Lasers

    Ultrashort X-ray pulses (pink) ionize neon gas in the center of the ring. An infrared laser (orange) deflects the electrons (blue) on their way to the detectors. Image: Terry Anderson / SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

    Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

  • First Users at European XFEL

    DESY's Anton Barty (left) and Henry Chapman (right), seen at the SPB/SFX instrument, were in one of the first two user groups. Photo: DESY, Lars Berg

    The first users have now started experiments at the new international research facility in Schenefeld. “This is a very important event, and we are very happy that the first users have now arrived at European XFEL so we can do a full scale test of the facility” said European XFEL Managing Director Prof. Dr. Robert Feidenhans’l. ”The instruments and the supporting teams have made great progress in the recent weeks and months. Together with our first users, we will now do the first real commissioning experiments and collect valuable scientific data. At the same time, we will continue to further advance our facility and concentrate on further improving the integration and stability of the instrumentation” he added.

  • Fraunhofer Institutes develop non-destructive quality test for hybrid cast components

    Aluminum FRP joint produced by low-pressure die casting. (c) Fraunhofer IFAM

    Lightweight design is increasingly applying trend-setting hybrid structures made of fiber composite materials and lightweight metal alloys, combining the advantages of both types of materials in hybrid construction techniques. In the current state of the art, the joints are bonded or riveted. In recent years at Fraunhofer IFAM, a new type of joining technology has been developed for various types of hybrid joints in high pressure die casting. In comparison with conventional joining techniques, the cast parts have advantages in package size, lower weight, and galvanic isolation.

  • Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

    Radio map of the relic at the outskirts of the galaxy cluster CIZA J2242+53 in a distance of about two billion light years, observed with the Effelberg radio telescope at 3 cm wavelength. Maja Kierdorf et al., 2017, A&A 600, A18

    Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

    The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

  • Goettingen Researchers Combine Light and X-ray Microscopy for Comprehensive Insights

    STED image (left) and x-ray imaging (right) of the same cardiac tissue cell from a rat. University of Goettingen

    Researchers at the University of Goettingen have used a novel microscopy method. In doing so they were able to show both the illuminated and the "dark side" of the cell. The results of the study were published in the journal Nature Communications. (pug) The team led by Prof. Dr. Tim Salditt and Prof. Dr. Sarah Köster from the Institute of X-Ray Physics "attached" small fluorescent markers to the molecules of interest, for example proteins or DNA. The controlled switching of the fluorescent dye in the so-called STED (Stimulated Emission Depletion) microscope then enables highest resolution down to a few billionth of a meter.

  • High Resolution Without Particle Accelerator

    Silvio Fuchs in a laboratory of the Institute of Optics and Quantum Electronics of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena. (Photo: Jan-Peter Kasper/FSU Jena)

    A first for physics – University of Jena physicists are first to achieve optical coherence tomography with XUV radiation at laboratory scale.

    A visit to the optometrist often involves optical coherence tomography. This imaging process uses infrared radiation to penetrate the layers of the retina and examine it more closely in three dimensions, without having to touch the eye at all. This allows eye specialists to diagnose diseases such as glaucoma without any physical intervention.

  • High-speed camera snaps bio-switch in action

    The riboswitch 'button' before, during and after coupling of the ligand (green), from left to right. Credit: Yun-Xing Wang and Jason Stagno, National Cancer Institute

    X-ray experiment opens new route to study biochemical reactions. With a powerful X-ray camera, scientists have watched a genetic switch at work for the first time. The study led by Yun-Xing Wang from the National Cancer Institute of the U.S. reveals the ultrafast dynamics of a riboswitch, a gene regulator that can switch individual genes on and off. The innovative technique used for this investigation opens up a completely new avenue for studying numerous fundamental biochemical reactions, as the team reports in a fast-track publication in the journal Nature.

  • Millimeter-Wave Radars for Efficient Industrial Sensors

    The compact w-band radar is about the size of a cigarette box. © Fraunhofer IAF


    See what is hidden from the human eye. Preserve the view when optical sensors fail. Radars make the invisible visible. Based on millimeter waves penetrating plastics, cardboard, wood and textiles, they are able to see what's inside packaging, behind walls or behind smoke and fog. Researchers at Fraunhofer IAF have taken advantage of the unique characteristics of millimeter-waves and have developed a compact W-band radar module that is ideally suited for use in industrial sensors: It screens packaged goods and gives precise information about their contents.

  • Nanomagnetism in X-ray Light

    Left: X-ray microscope image of a magnetic skyrmion. Right: Snapshot of the spin waves generated by a magnetic plate excited by microwaves (red: magnetization fully directed upward, blue: downward). © MPI-IS Stuttgart

    Today’s most advanced scanning X-ray microscope is operated by the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems at Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin.
    The MAXYMUS scanning X-ray microscope has its home at Berlin’s synchrotron radiation source BESSY II at Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin. Scientific support is provided by Dr. Markus Weigand from the “Modern Magnetic Systems” department at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS) under the management of Professor Dr. Gisela Schütz. MAXYMUS stands for “MAgnetic X-raY Micro and UHV Spectroscope”. The special fea-tures of this scanning X-ray microscope are its variable specimen environment and broad application spectrum. “It makes it possible to observe ultra-fast processes at 20 times better resolution compared to an optical microscope,” explains Professor Dr. Gisela Schütz.

  • New Method Speeds Up Development of Medication

    In the laboratory of Bernhard Spingler (r.), trainee Philipp Nievergelt (l.) made an important contribution to determine the crystal structures of organic salts faster and easier. UZH

    UZH researchers have developed a novel method that speeds up the process of determining crystal structures of organic salts and significantly reduces the effort required to do so. As about 40 percent of all active pharmaceutical ingredients are salts, this new crystallographic method is set to greatly accelerate drug development.

  • New Method to Create Ultrafast 3D Images of Nanostructures

    Protein structures of viruses can be analysed much faster. Image: Leibniz Universität Hannover. © Dr. Hamed Merdji, CEA-Saclay


    Lensless microscopy with X-rays, or coherent diffractive imaging, is a promising approach. It allows researchers to analyse complex three-dimensional structures, which frequently exist in nature, from a dynamic perspective. Whilst two-dimensional images can already be generated quickly and in an efficient manner, creating 3D images still presents a challenge. Generally, three-dimensional images of an object are computed from hundreds of individual images. This takes a significant amount of time, as well as large amounts of data and high radiation values.

  • Novel 3D Printed Polymer Lenses for X-ray Microscopes: Highly Efficient and Low Cost

    Overview of the fabrication method. The micrographs are imaged by a scanning electron microscope. Umut Sanli

    Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart invented a new and cost-effective method for making X-ray lenses with nanometer-sized features and excellent focusing capabilities. By using an advanced 3D printing technique, a single lens can be manufactured under a minute from polymeric materials with extremely favorable X-ray optical properties, hence the costs of prototyping and manufacturing are strongly reduced. High-throughput and high-yield manufacturing processes of such lenses are sought after world-wide, which is why the scientists have filed a patent for their invention.

  • Observing and Controlling Ultrafast Processes with Attosecond Resolution

    Measuring chamber at TUM’s Department of Physics. Photo: Michael Mittermair / TUM

    Many chemical processes run so fast that they are only roughly understood. To clarify these processes, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has now developed a methodology with a resolution of quintillionths of a second. The new technology stands to help better understand processes like photosynthesis and develop faster computer chips.

  • Scientists shrink electron gun to matchbox size

    A miniature electron gun driven by Terahertz radiation: An ultraviolett pulse (blue) back-illuminates the gun photocathode, producing a high density electron bunch inside the gun. The bunch is immediately accelerated by ultra-intense single cycle Terahertz pulses to energies approaching one kilo-electronvolt (keV). These high-field optically-driven electron guns can be utilized for ultrafast electron diffraction or injected into the accelerators for X-ray light sources. Credit: W. Ronny Huang, CFEL/DESY/MIT

    Terahertz technology has the potential to enable new applications.In a multi-national effort, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from DESY and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has built a new kind of electron gun that is just about the size of a matchbox. Electron guns are used in science to generate high-quality beams of electrons for the investigation of various materials, from biomolecules to superconductors. They are also the electron source for linear particle accelerators driving X-ray free-electron lasers.

  • Splicing Together a Thin Film in Motion

    The principle of time-spliced imaging is depicted here for a simulated evolution of magnetic field lines from four rotating magnetic dipoles that have the same initial anti-ferromagnetic structure as the studied material, neodymium nickelate. The early frames in the time series pin down the set of possible reconstructions at later times, sharpening the image recovery by ruling out erroneous solutions. (c) Jörg Harms / MPSD

    Technology reliant on thin film materials has become ubiquitous in our everyday life. Control of the electronic properties of materials at the nanometer level is reflected in advances of computers, solar energy and batteries. The electronic behavior of thin films is heavily influenced by the contact with their surroundings, as exemplified by the recent discovery of 2D superconductivity at a thin film interface. However, information about how such entwined states come into existence is limited by the lack of tools capable of visualizing such buried interfaces.

  • The crystal harmony of light

    Polarization-shaped high-harmonics (bright waveform) emerge from the inside of a bulk crystal (lattice). Fabian Langer, University of Regensburg

    High-harmonic lightwaves tailored on demand by crystal symmetry. Light is made of an oscillating electric and magnetic field. In order to tune its properties, one would ultimately like to shape these fields directly – a specifically daunting challenge when the oscillation frequency is high. A team of physicists from Regensburg (Germany), Marburg (Germany), and Ann Arbor (USA) has now realized a way to directly tailor lightwaves emitted by accelerated electrons inside a solid, with the aid of the crystal’s symmetry. The results of this breakthrough will be reported in the upcoming issue of Nature Photonics. For several years, physicists have been able to routinely produce extremely short flashes of light in the hard ultraviolet or even soft x-ray spectral region. For this purpose, a method called high-harmonic generation is employed, where a strong near-infrared laser rips electrons from an atomic gas and slams them back into the nuclei to emit ultraviolet radiation upon recollision.

  • Three Kinds of Information from a Single X-Ray Measurement

    The physicists Dr Andreas Johannes (l.) and Prof. Dr Carsten Ronning in a laboratory at the Institute of Solid State Physics of Friedrich Schiller University Jena. (Photo: Jan-Peter Kasper/FSU Jena)

    Physicists at Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany) and partners develop new measurement method for active nanoscale components. Jena (Germany, 08.12.2017) Whatever the size of mobile phones or computers are, the way in which such electronic devices operate relies on the interaction between various materials. For this reason, engineers as well as researchers need to know exactly how specific chemical elements inside a computer chip or a transistor diode behave, and what happens when these elements bond.

  • Three-dimensional Structure of Skyrmions Becomes Visible for the First Time

    Three-dimensional structure of skyrmions. (c) Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems.

    Skyrmions are three-dimensional structures that occur in magnetic materials. They are magnetic vortices a few nanometers in size in which atomic elementary magnets are arranged in closed vortex structures. Skyrmions are topologically protected, meaning that their shape cannot be changed. First described in the 1950s by the mathematician Tony Skyrme, their three-dimensional structure is less than one hundred nanometers in size. It was thus not possible to make the structure visible – until now.