Artificial metalloenzyme penetrates a mammalian cell, where it accelerates the release of a hormone. This activates a gene switch which then leads to the production of a fluorescent indicator protein. University of Basel, Yasunori Okamoto

Complex reaction cascades can be triggered in artificial molecular systems: Swiss scientists have constructed an enzyme than can penetrate a mammalian cell and accelerate the release of a hormone. This then activates a gene switch that triggers the creation of a fluorescent protein. The findings were reported by researchers from the NCCR Molecular Systems Engineering, led by the University of Basel and ETH Zurich.

Brilliant colors – a researcher demonstrates the brightness of the light emitted by quantum dots. © Fraunhofer IAP, Photographer: Till Budde

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

Structure of a volume-regulated chloride channel (center: ribbon diagram, right: selectivity filter, left: regions with positively charged amino acids). Raimund Dutzler, UZH

Biochemists at the University of Zurich have determined the detailed structure of a volume-regulated chloride channel. This cellular valve is activated in response to swelling to prevent the cell from bursting. The protein also plays an important role in the uptake of chemotherapeutics and the release of neurotransmitters after a stroke. The controlled regulation of its activity thus opens up a promising strategy for novel therapies.

In-situ filling of a printed perovskite solar cell at Fraunhofer ISE. © Fraunhofer ISE

Photovoltaics (PV) is one of the key technologies of a sustainable energy supply based on renewable energy. Besides silicon-based photovoltaics, which presently dominates the market, there are other materials, such as perovskite, that also show great potential. Scientists are testing the proof of concept of these new types of solar cells.

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.

Ball bouncing chaotically in a stadium (top). If it starts near an unstable trajectory, it remains close to this trajectory for some time but eventually escapes (bottom). IST Austria/Maksym Serbyn

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics. Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a quantum simulator.

A picture of a tumor (green) generated with the newly developed technique. Jan Laufer

Making tumour cells glow: Medical physicists at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) have developed a new method that can generate detailed three-dimensional images of the body's interior. This can be used to more closely investigate the development of cancer cells in the body. The research group presents its findings in "Communication Physics", a journal published by the Nature Publishing Group.

DZIF scientists (from left to right): Alexander Klimka, Sonja Mertins, Paul Higgins. Uniklinik Köln/Klimka

Early detection of antibiotic resistant pathogens can be life-saving. DZIF-scientists at the Institute for Medical Microbiology, Immunology and Hygiene, University of Cologne, have developed an antibody-based diagnostic test, which can identify carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii bacteria in only 10 minutes – in a process similar to a pregnancy test.

In the experiments, a steel ball slides over the ice surface which consists of rapidly tumbling mobile water molecules that are only loosely bounded to the underlying ice. © Nagata/MPI-P

Everybody knows that sliding on ice or snow, is much easier than sliding on most other surfaces. But why is the ice surface slippery? This question has engaged scientists for more than a century and continues to be subject of debate. Researchers from AMOLF, the University of Amsterdam and the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz, have now shown that the slipperiness of ice is a consequence of the ease with which the topmost water molecules can roll over the ice surface.

Light-induced superconductivity in K3C60 was investigated at high pressure in a Diamond Anvil Cell. Jörg Harms, MPSD

A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.

The long non-coding RNA called A-ROD functions within a loop to recruit proteins to the DKK1 gene.  © E. Ntini / Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics

Enhancers are regulatory regions of the DNA, giving rise to “long non-coding RNAs” (lncRNAs), which are known as crucial regulators of gene expression. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin now have shown that a lncRNA called A-ROD is only functional the moment it is released from chromatin into the nucleoplasm. In the current issue of Nature Communications the researchers demonstrate that the regulatory interaction requires dissociation of A-ROD from chromatin, with target specificity ensured within the pre-established chromosomal proximity. This can heavily influence our understanding of dynamic regulation of gene expression in biological processes.

Scientists in Vienna characterised important cancer genes using SLAMseq, an innovative method for visualizing sudden changes in gene transcription. IMP

In a paper in the journal “Science”, researchers from the Vienna BioCenter combine cutting-edge technologies to decipher regulatory functions of important cancer genes. Key to this success is an innovative method called “SLAMseq”, which allows the direct detection of sudden changes in gene expression and thereby revolutionizes the way scientists can investigate effects of genes and drugs.

With the wheel within, the researchers hit upon an extremely simple principle to set polymer materials into spontaneous motion. Picture: Falko Ziebert

Physicists and material scientists have succeeded in constructing a motor and an energy storage device from one single component. They used an elastic polymer fibre closed into a ring that was made to rotate on application of an external energy supply. The researchers from the universities in Heidelberg and Strasbourg (France) hope that this mechanism will spur the development of intelligent materials with precisely defined functions. The findings were published in the journal “Nature Materials”.

Light microscopy image of a welded connection’s weld structure. © Fraunhofer IWM

High-strength steels play a vital role in the construction of modern vehicles and machines. If these steels are welded during the production of components, mobile hydrogen atoms can cause problems within the material: the atoms accumulate slowly at highly stressed areas of a component, resulting in the steel becoming brittle at these locations. This can result in so-called cold break formations which can lead to component failure. Dr. Frank Schweizer of the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM has developed a simulation method with which component manufacturers can assess cold break tendencies and adjust their production accordingly.

Computer simulations of the motion across the surface of a metal suggest that in the presence of a layer of bromide ions (magenta) sulphur atoms (yellow) change their positions by dipping into it. Copyright: Deuchler

Physics team at Kiel University investigates influence of ions on atomic motions. In batteries, fuel cells or technical coatings, central chemical processes take place on the surface of electrodes which are in contact with liquids. During these processes, atoms move over the surface, but how this exactly happens has hardly been researched. Physicists at Kiel University want to gain a better understanding of these motions, and the role of the chemical components involved. To do so, they observe with highest microscopic resolution how sulphur atoms move on copper electrodes, which are immersed in different saline solutions.

Microtubules, gliding through the optical near field (blue) of a nanostructured gold surface. The quantum dots (green) react to the local field by increasing their fluorescence rate. Graphic: Heiko Groß

Physicists from Dresden and Würzburg have developed a novel method for optical microscopy. Using biological motors and single quantum dots, they acquire ultra-high-resolution images. The resolution of conventional optical microscopy is limited by the fundamental physical principle of diffraction to about one half of the wavelength of the light: If the distance between two objects is smaller than this so-called "diffraction limit", they can no longer be visually separated - their image appears "blurred ". To acquire optical images at the scale of few nanometers, this is clearly not sufficient.