Pressure vessel (autoclave) for the hydrogenation of fluorinated pyridines. The reactions are carried out at a hydrogen pressure of 50 bar. Frank Glorius

A team of chemists at the University of Münster led by Prof. Frank Glorius have developed a new, simple synthetic method for producing fluorinated piperidines –which had previously been very difficult. These compounds play a major role in the development of new active ingredients. The results have just been published in the online edition of the journal “Nature Chemistry”.

First author Aurore Dupin and Prof. Friedrich Simmel at the fluorescence microscope. Image: U. Benz / TUM

Friedrich Simmel und Aurore Dupin, researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), have for the first time created artificial cell assemblies that can communicate with each other. The cells, separated by fatty membranes, exchange small chemical signaling molecules to trigger more complex reactions, such as the production of RNA and other proteins. Scientists around the world are working on creating artificial, cell-like systems that mimic the behavior of living organisms. 

Physicist Martin Hauck fits a silicon carbide transistor into the measuring apparatus: researchers at FAU have discovered a method for finding defects at the interfaces of switches. FAU/Michael Krieger, Martin Hauck

 

Transistors are needed wherever current flows, and they are an indispensable component of virtually all electronic switches. In the field of power electronics, transistors are used to switch large currents. However, one side-effect is that the components heat up and energy is lost as a result. One way of combating this and potentially making considerable savings is to use energy-efficient transistors. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have developed a simple yet accurate method for finding defects in the latest generation of silicon carbide transistors. This will speed up the process of developing more energy-efficient transistors in future. They have now published their findings in the renowned journal Communications Physics.*

Through contact with water, the seed of Neopallasia pectinata from the family of composite plants forms a slimy sheath. The white cellulose fibres anchor it to the seed surface. © Kreitschitz

 

The seeds of some plants such as basil, watercress or plantain form a mucous envelope as soon as they come into contact with water. This cover consists of cellulose in particular, which is an important structural component of the primary cell wall of green plants, and swelling pectins, plant polysaccharides. In order to be able to investigate its physical properties, a research team from the Zoological Institute at Kiel University (CAU) used a special drying method, which gently removes the water from the cellulosic mucous sheath. The team discovered that this method can produce extremely strong nanofibres from natural cellulose. In future, they could be especially interesting for applications in biomedicine. The team’s results recently appeared as the cover story in the journal Applied Materials & Interfaces.

The Gram-negative Klebsiella pneumoniae bacterium often becomes resistant to common antibiotics. NIAID/CC BY 2.0

Many common antibiotics are increasingly losing their effectiveness against multi-resistant pathogens, which are becoming ever more prevalent. Bacteria use natural means to acquire mechanisms that protect them from harmful substances. For instance against the agent albicidin: Harmful Gram-negative bacteria possess a protein that binds and inactivates albicidin. The underlying resistance mechanism has been investigated at atomic resolution by scientists from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) and the associated Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS).

Jena doctoral student Benjamin Kintzel looks at a laboratory vessel containing crystals of a novel molecule that may possibly be used in a quantum computer. Photo: Jan-Peter Kasper/FSU

 

Quantum computers could vastly increase the capabilities of IT systems, bringing major changes worldwide. However, there is still a long way to go before such a device can actually be constructed, because it has not yet been possible to transfer existing molecular concepts into technologies in a practical way. This has not kept researchers around the world away from developing and optimising new ideas for individual components. Chemists at Friedrich Schiller University in Jena (Germany) have now synthesised a molecule that can perform the function of a computing unit in a quantum computer. They report on their work in the current issue of the research journal ‘Chemical Communications’.

A flat molecule on a surface comprised of bismuth atoms (blue) and silver atoms (grey). The central manganese atom (red) is capable of changing its position. Graphic: Jens Kügel & Michael Karolak

For the first time, physicists from the University of Würzburg have successfully positioned an organic molecule on a substrate realizing two stable configurations. This may have application potential in molecular spintronics. It looks like a cross with four arms of equal length that have a central atom at their intersection. All atoms are arranged in one plane so that the molecule is absolutely planar – at least in the normal state.

The molecule organises itself on the electrode surface until a dense, uniform monolayer is formed. HZB/Saule Magomedoviene

A team at the HZB has discovered a new method for producing efficient contact layers in perovskite solar cells. It is based on molecules that organise themselves into a monolayer. The study was published in Advanced Energy Materials and appeared on the front cover of the journal. In recent years, solar cells based on metal halide perovskites have achieved an exceptional increase in efficiency. These materials promise cost-effective and flexible solar cells, and can be combined with conventional PV materials such as silicon to form particularly efficient tandem solar cells.

The printing of pure copper is attractive in plant engineering and construction. TRUMPF

The TruPrint 5000 is preheated to 500 degrees Celsius to print high-strength tool steel without cracks // A green laser in the 3D printer processes copper and precious metals // New applications in tool and mold making, medical devices and the jewelry industry. TRUMPF's latest 3D printer processes significantly more materials than conventional systems.

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.

The international research team is working on a treatment on dementia like Alzheimer, which leads to a death of neuronal cells. © shutterstock.com/Naeblys

About 29 million people around the world are affected by the disease "Alzheimer". In an international collaboration, scientists of the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz together with teams from Italy, Great Britain, Belgium and the USA are now working together on an approach for a therapy. On the one hand, the goal is to understand the processes occurring in the brain that lead to the disease; on the other hand the development of a method for targeted drug delivery.