Nanoparticles in the blood: The stealth cap prevents blood components from adhering. The surface has been cross-linked by UV radiation and is therefore stable in biological systems. HZDR/Sahneweiß/istockphoto.com/Thomas-Soellner/Molekuul

A team of scientists from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), in collaboration with the Monash University Australia, has succeeded in significantly increasing the stability and biocompatibility of special light-transducing nanoparticles. The team has developed so-called “upconverting” nanoparticles that not only convert infrared light into UV-visible light, but also are water-soluble, remain stable in complex body fluids such as blood serum, and can be used to store medications. They have created a tool that could potentially make the fight against cancer significantly more effective. The results were published in the journal "Angewandte Chemie" (DOI: 10.1002/anie.201811003).

Like the earthworm: The new INM breathing system lubricates itself when pressure is applied to the material. Source: Iris Maurer; free within this press release

Earthworms are always clean, even if they come from moist, sticky soil. They owe this to a dirt-repellent, lubricating layer, which forms itself again and again on its skin. Researchers at INM have now artificially recreated this system of nature: They developed a material with a surface structure that provides itself with lubricant whenever pressure is applied. Because the lubricated material reduces friction and prevents the growth of microbes, scientists can envision numerous applications in industry and biomedicine.

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".

Nanorobots injected into the eye on their way towards the retina. Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems

Scientists developed specially coated nanometer-sized vehicles that can be actively moved through dense tissue like the vitreous of the eye. So far, the transport of nano-vehicles has only been demonstrated in model systems or biological fluids, but not in real tissue. The work was published in the journal Science Advances and constitutes one step further towards nanorobots becoming minimally-invasive tools for precisely delivering medicine to where it is needed.

In the Laboratory a structured silicon carbide crystal is heated in a preparation chamber of a scanning tunneling microscope, so that small graphene structures can be formed. Photo: TU Chemnitz/Jacob Müller

For the first time, the targeted functionalization of carbon-based nanostructures allows the direct mapping of current paths, thereby paving the way for novel quantum devices. Computers are getting faster and increasingly powerful. However, at the same time computing requires noticeably more energy, which is almost completely converted to wasted heat. This is not only harmful to the environment, but also limits further miniaturization of electronic components and increase of clock rates. A way out of this dilemma are conductors with no electrical resistance.

The watch springs are electroplated on a gold plated silicon wafer, coated with a light-sensitive paint. Empa

What happens when something keeps getting smaller and smaller? This is the type of question Empa researcher Johann Michler and his team are investigating. As a by-product of their research completely novel watch springs could soon be used in Swiss timepieces. Applied research is not always initiated by industry – but oftentimes it yields results that can swiftly be implemented by companies. A prime example can be seen on the Empa campus in Thun: Tiny watch springs are on display at the Laboratory for Mechanics of Materials and Nanostructures.

Steffen Schmidt-Eberle and colleague Thomas Stolz working in their lab at Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics to gain fundamental insights for future quantum technologies. Photo: Lukas Husel / MPQ

Recent advances in quantum research have made it possible to map the strong interactions between Rydberg atoms on optical photons by making use of electro-magnetically induced transparency. Now, for the first time, researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have exploited this mechanism to implement a photon-photon quantum gate. This all-optical logic gate provides precise control over single photons, and its realization opens a route to new applications in quantum communication and quantum networks.

Rubidium atoms are excited to their Rydberg states in a glass cell at room temperature. The volume between the glass plates is so thin that colored interference rings are visible to the naked eye. Universität Stuttgart/Max Kovalenko

Researchers of the Center for Integrated Quantum Science and Technology IQST at the 5th Institute of Physics at the University of Stuttgart (Head: Prof. Tilman Pfau) have developed a novel, promising variant of a light source for the smallest possible energy packages - a so-called single-photon source. Their work has been published in the latest issue of the journal Science.*

A wave of laser light hits the magnetic material, shaking the electron spins (arrows). This weakens magnetism and induces Weyl fermions in the laser-shaken material. Jörg Harms, MPSD

Researchers from the Theory Department of the Max Planck Institute for Structure and Dynamics (MPSD) in Hamburg and North Carolina State University in the US have demonstrated that the long-sought magnetic Weyl semi-metallic state can be induced by ultrafast laser pulses in a three-dimensional class of magnetic materials dubbed pyrochlore iridates. Their results, which have now been published in Nature Communications, could enable high-speed magneto-optical topological switching devices for next-generation electronics.

Schematic representation of the new spin qubit consisting of four electrons (red) with their spins (blue) in their semiconductor environment (grey). Copyright: Maximilian Russ/Guido Burkard

A theoretical concept to realize quantum information processing has been developed by Professor Guido Burkard and his team of physicists at the University of Konstanz. The researchers have found ways to shield electric and magnetic noise for a short time. This will make it possible to use spins as memory for quantum computers, as the coherence time is extended and many thousand computer operations can be performed during this interval. The study was published in the current issue of the journal “Physical Review Letters”.

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.

Emission of single photons stemming from remote quantum dots. The wavelength of the single photons is manipulated by mixing them with strong laser fields within small crystals. University of Stuttgart/Kolatschek

Scientists are working on the totally bug-proof communication – the so-called quantum communication. Current approaches for long-distance signal transmission rely on repeaters which are based on a crucial effect, the interference of two photons, that is, two individual light quanta coming from distant sources. Physicists from University of Stuttgart and Saarland University, in Germany, were now able to manipulate the single photons by means of small crystals without compromising their quantum mechanical nature. This manipulation is necessary to transmit the signal via optical fibers which may enable a large-area quantum network. The results were now published in Nature Nanotechnology.

The illustrations show in comparison how the blood circulation in the human body (left) and the channels on the multi-organ chip (right) supply the liver, the kidneys and other organs or tissues. © Fraunhofer IWS Dresden

Dresden Fraunhofer engineers have developed a so-called "multi-organ chip". This microsystem from the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS Dresden, which has now received an "EARTO Innovation Award" in Brussels, simulates the blood circulation and the organs of animals or humans. The "lab-on-a-chip" will help industry to develop new drugs and cosmetics more quickly than before. But what is even more important: "We see good opportunities to eliminate the need for many animal experiments," emphasized Dr. Udo Klotzbach, Business Unit Manager Microtechnology at Fraunhofer IWS. In addition, this system opens the door to individualized medicine a little further, in which doctors can determine an exactly fitting therapy for each patient within days instead of years.

A metal-organic framework could serve as a replacement for the semiconductor silicon in the future. © MPI-P

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz (Germany) together with scientists from Dresden, Leipzig, Sofia (Bulgaria) and Madrid (Spain) have now developed and characterized a novel, metal-organic material which displays electrical properties mimicking those of highly crystalline silicon. The material which can easily be fabricated at room temperature could serve as a replacement for expensive conventional inorganic materials used in optoelectronics.

The novel topological insulator built in the Würzburg Institute of Physics: a controllable flow of hybrid optoelectronic particles (red) travels along its edges. (Picture: Karol Winkler)

For the first time, physicists have built a unique topological insulator in which optical and electronic excitations hybridize and flow together. They report their discovery in "Nature". Topological insulators are materials with very special properties. They conduct electricity or light particles on their surface or edges only but not on the inside. This unusual behaviour could eventually lead to technical innovations which is why topological insulators have been the subject of intense global research for several years.

Hardmetal sample with complex geometry on FFF standard printer Hage3D 140 L, in which larger components can be perspectively printed as well. © Fraunhofer IKTS

Extremely hard tools are required in forming technology, metal-cutting and process engineering. They are conventionally made by powder pressing. Although this achieves a high degree of hardness, it is often necessary to carry out a complex and therefore expensive post-processing. Additive manufacturing enables complex geometries, but has been limited in terms of hardness and component size so far. Researchers at the Fraunhofer IKTS in Dresden have now adapted the 3D printing process Fused Filament Fabrication for hardmetals. The development meets all requirements for the first time.