Combining a tiny drug capsule with antibodies under acidic conditions results in the antibodies attaching to the drug carrier in a stable way. This makes targeting for nanocarriers possible. Stefan Schuhmacher

Scientists at the Mainz University Medical Center and the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have developed a new method to enable miniature drug-filled nanocarriers to dock on to immune cells, which in turn attack tumors. In the future, this may lead to targeted treatment that can largely eliminate damage to healthy tissue.

Graphic: Wilfried Weber


Scientists from the University of Freiburg have developed materials systems that are composed of biological components and polymer materials and are capable of perceiving and processing information. These biohybrid systems were engineered to perform certain functions, such as the counting signal pulses in order to release bioactive molecules or drugs at the correct time, or to detect enzymes and small molecules such as antibiotics in milk. The interdisciplinary team presented their results in some of the leading journals in the field, including Advanced Materials and Materials Today.

Dr. Torsten Schwarz, postdoctoral researcher at the MPIE, analyzed the local clustering and gradients of sodium with the atom probe (seen in the image). Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH


Green energy gained by photovoltaic amounts ca. 6% of Germany’s gross power production . The most common solar cells currently used are made out of silicon. So-called CIGS, solar cells out of copper, indium, gallium and selen (Cu(In,Ga)(S,Se)2, are a promising alternative with an efficiency of ca. 23%, which is the conversion rate of light to electricity. In comparison to conventional silicon solar cells, CIGS consumes less material and production energy and are thus cheaper in production and environmentally friendly.

The graphical image used for the cover of the JCTC (see picture below). Image: Daria Kokh/HITS

HITS researchers developed tauRAMD, a tool to predict drug-target residence times from short simulations. The method is illustrated on the cover page of July 2018 issue of the Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation, software is freely available. The design of a drug with a desired duration of action, whether long or short, is usually a complicated and expensive trial-and-error process guided only by a mix of expert intuition and serendipity.

Motor proteins (green dots) move along microtubules like on a highway. Image: G. Merck / TUM

Most people have never heard of them, and yet every living being needs them to survive: fine protrusions of cells known as cilia. They allow sperm to move, form fine protective hairs in the lungs and play a crucial role in the differentiation of organs in embryos. A research team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has now reconstructed the protein complex responsible for transport within cilia, which plays a decisive role in their functioning.

The molecular ruby in a solid (red) and dissolved (yellow) state can be used for contactless optical measurement of pressure. photo/©: Sven Otto, JGU


Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and at the Université de Montréal in Canada have developed a molecular system capable of very precise optical pressure measurements. The gemstone ruby served as the source of inspiration. However, the system developed by the team headed by Professor Katja Heinze at the JGU Institute of Inorganic Chemistry and Analytical Chemistry and Professor Christian Reber at the Université de Montréal is a water-soluble molecule, not an insoluble solid.

Laser pulse sequences (u.l.) cause 2D spectra (u.r.): In EEI2D spectroscopy (b.l.), two originally separate excitations meet. With 2D mass spectrometry (r.), ion photoproducts are detected. Graphic: Tobias Brixner, JMU

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy. "Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy.

The authors were able to show exactly how a specific RNA binding protein (blue) recognizes pri-miR-18a (pink) and changes its structure in such a way that it develops into mature miRNA-18a. Picture modified from Kooshapur et al.

An international research team led by Helmholtz Zentrum München, Technical University of Munich and the University of Edinburgh has used an integrated structural biological approach to elucidate the maturation of a cancer-causing microRNA in gene regulation. In the future, the authors hope to develop new therapies based on the findings presented in ‘Nature Communications’.

With the tip of the scanning tunnelling microscope, lead atoms (yellow) can be moved on a surface of iron (grey) into different magnetisation directions. Copyright: AG Berndt

Better control over the physical effect could improve data storage in future. Modern storage technology with ever-smaller and more powerful hard drives cannot function without them: the effects of so-called magnetoresistance ensure that the data stored magnetically on hard disks can be read electronically. In doing so, even a small change in the magnetic field leads to a relatively large adjustment of the electrical resistance of a material.

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.

Flexible film substrate of 1.25 meter width at the roll-to-roll coating line „atmoFlex 1250”. © Fraunfofer FEP

The Fraunhofer FEP has succeeded in developing a new technology for the production of ultra-smooth polymer films as part of the "OptiPerm" project. This project received funding from the European Union and the Saxony State Ministry of Economics, Labor and Transport (grant agreement no. 3000651169).

Electronmicroscopic image of the chip with asymmetric plasmonic antennas made from gold on sapphire. Image: Alexander Holleitner / TUM

A team headed by the TUM physicists Alexander Holleitner and Reinhard Kienberger has succeeded for the first time in generating ultrashort electric pulses on a chip using metal antennas only a few nanometers in size, then running the signals a few millimeters above the surface and reading them in again a controlled manner. The technology enables the development of new, powerful terahertz components.

The intelligent sensor node-based monitoring and optimization system, for instance, improves combined systems on twin-screw extruders. Photo: Coperion

Already today modern production systems can communicate with their surroundings and manage themselves. Industry 4.0 is on the rise and cyber-physical systems (CPS) are the essential components of this development. Intelligent sensors for monitoring and controlling production processes ensure that connected work processes can run reliably.

Sebastian Siol showing a sample of heterostructural oxides, which could be a promising coating for smart windows. Empa

Sebastian Siol is looking for new materials with unusual properties that were so far not accessible in experiments. To do this, he connects partners who don't really fit together: One partner forces the other into a state that would not be possible without the unlikely pairing. Siol also makes sure that the crystal bonds last in everyday life. Only then are they interesting for industrial applications.

Nanobodies track receptors from the cell surface to the center of the cell (the Golgi apparatus). Right: electron microscope image. Image: University of Basel, Biozentrum

Researchers at the University of Basel’s Biozentrum have developed a method for tracing the movement of proteins within the cell. They tagged proteins with tiny nanosensors, so-called nanobodies, which enable the scientists to live track and trace the proteins' pathway through the cell. The method described in the current issue of PNAS is suitable for a wide range of research purposes.

An anchor for a watch component made of single-crystal synthetic diamond. Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF

SNSF-funded researchers have developed a new technique for carving materials to create micromechanical systems. In particular, they have created a miniscule watch component out of synthetic single-crystal diamond.