An artistic view of frequency conversion from near-infrared to mid-infrared through a nonlinear crystal. Shortwave radiation enters a crystal and drives electron motion. The electrons cannot fully follow the frequency of the light field and partially oscillate at lower frequencies. In this way mid-infrared radiation is generated. Copyright: Alexander Gelin

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Illustration of the nano structure. Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems together with researchers at the University of Heidelberg and the University of Stuttgart use a technique called DNA origami to mimic a multitude of vital movements seen in nature, such as the sliding motion exerted by protein motors during cell division. Their invention, which is a thousand times smaller than a human hair, features a preliminary attempt to construct nanoscale analogues of the mysterious natural machines in living cells.

Corrosion protection with flake-type metalphosphate particles. Source: Uwe Bellhäuser; free within this context

Research scientists at INM developed a special type of flake-type-shaped metal-phosphate particles: They show improved passivation ability and improved diffusion barrier against corrosive substances. Besides zinc phosphate also newly developed manganese phosphate flakes are available.

Electrospinning: thin fibers for flexible, transparent electrodes. Source: Use Bellhäuser

Flexible, transparent, and conductive electrodes (FTCEs) are a key enabling technology for the new generation of flexible, printable and wearable electronics. The touchscreens and displays of the future will be curved and flexible and integrated into cars, phones, or medical technology. Tapping and wiping can only work on flexible devices, when flexible materials are used for touchscreens and electric circuits, but not brittle materials like indium tin oxide or silicon. For this purpose, INM - Leibniz Institute for New Materials is working with the process of electrospinning, a technique that produces ultra-fine fibers that are up to 100 times thinner than a human hair.

Bracelet with flexible OLED © LYTEUS

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, presents first wearable OLED bracelet at Wearable Europe 2018, from April 11th to 12th in Berlin, Germany at booth no. P12 together with VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and Holst Centre from Netherlands.

Dr. Jazmin Duarte did atom probe measurements to characterize the oxigen distribution in the alloy. Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung GmbH


Severe plastic deformation and powder processing techniques are used to produce nanostructured materials with tailor-made compositions and without the effort of precasting. They allow the production of novel metallic nanocrystalline materials by mechanically alloying immiscible elements. Oxide contamination during the processing of these powders still hinders this method to be applied in industry comprehensively. Meanwhile it is also known that oxygen could be used beneficially to influence morphology, mechanical properties and thermal stability of nanostructured alloys.

CONAN transforms the 3D structure of the protein ubiquitin into a 2D contact map. Left: Structure of ubiquitin, colored by residue index. Right: Inter-residue distance map computed by CONAN. Image: Csaba Daday, HITS

CONAN to the rescue! The new software-package for molecular dynamic simulations compresses 3D data to contact maps and helps to analyze protein structures. The tool developed at HITS CONAN (CONtact ANalysis) has now been presented in the latest issue of „Biophysical Journal“. Proteins constantly move and change their conformation. Molecular dynamics typically answers the question of what the possible conformations of proteins are. Proteins, however, have a highly complicated and crowded structure, and understanding the changes in their behavior is a challenging task due to the high number of coordinates to monitor.

Prof. Stefan Seelecke (l.) and Steffen Hau will be exhibiting a model of their vibrating conveyor system at Hannover Messe. Credit: Oliver Dietze

Using artificial-muscle actuators, Stefan Seelecke and his team of engineers at Saarland University have developed a new self-optimizing conveyor technology that adapts itself to the size, weight and desired speed of the materials being conveyed. The technology makes use of silicone polymer-based artificial muscles to transport dry bulk materials of all kinds, from foodstuffs to small metal components. By exploiting the properties of electromechanically active polymers, the Saarbrücken research team has built an actuator that they install at intervals below the conveyor belt.

To showcase their technology at Hannover Messe, the engineers Philipp Linnebach (r.) and Paul Motzki (l.) have come up with a playful way of demonstrating its capabilities. Credit: Oliver Dietze

They might only be made from thin silicon film, but they can squeeze down hard, deliver a powerful thrust, vibrate or hold any required position. And because they can act as sensors, they are becoming important tools in technical applications. Stefan Seelecke and his team at Saarland University are developing a new generation of polymer film-based engineering components that can be used as continuous switches, self-metering valves, motorless pumps or even as tactile aids for touchscreens. The technology needs neither rare earths nor copper, it is cheap to produce and consumes very little energy and components made using it are astonishingly light.

A conventional boron-boron double bond (left) and its extremely stable biradical relative.

The world of chemistry has witnessed another step forward: researchers at the University of Würzburg in Germany have succeeded in twisting molecules so much that their double bonds have been completely destroyed. The result: unusually stable biradicals. Boron has a range of uses throughout everyday life, from laundry bleaches to heat-proof glass and ceramics.

Partners of the POC-Iniative.

In the development of new medications and medical engineering, there is a gap between the discovery of new potential active ingredients and products and their further development into medicinal products and medical devices by the industry. The Helmholtz Association and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, together with the Deutsche Hochschulmedizin, have now jointly brought the Proof-of-Concept initiative into being. It promotes the translation of innovative, promising research projects.

The team grinds up samples of rocks and other materials to nano-sized particles, such as iron ore (photo). They can be used as reference materials for precise calibration of measuring devices. Simon Nordstad / Kiel University

Young start-up team from Kiel University develops new reference materials for direct microanalysis of solids. How badly plants are affected by contaminated soil, what the sea floor can reveal about past climate periods, or what yield an ore mine could deliver in future - an analysis of the chemical composition of minerals and rocks can often provide valuable information. For accurate results, not only are high-quality measuring devices required, but also first-class reference materials, in order to be able to accurately calibrate the instruments.

NRW nanoconference 2018

The NRW Nano Conference is Germany’s largest conference with international appeal in the field of nanotechnologies. It takes place every two years at changing locations. More than 700 experts from science, industry and politics meet for two days to promote research and application of the key technology at the network meeting.

Visualization of a current through an OLED, flowing via a thin molecular layer (center) from an electrode (left) to an organic semiconductor (right). Copyright: Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, have received an unexpected result: They have discovered a new method to improve contacts in OLEDs. This new approach leads to a higher energy efficiency and can be used in almost any organic semiconductor element.

Single molecule fluorescence spectroscopy makes the binding principle of unstructured proteins visible. Christoph Schumacher, dunkelweiss

UZH researchers have discovered a previously unknown way in which proteins interact with one another and cells organize themselves. This new mechanism involves two fully unstructured proteins forming an ultra-high-affinity complex due to their opposite net charge. Proteins usually bind one another as a result of perfectly matching shapes in their three-dimensional structures.

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.