Material sciences

  • Towards Data Storage at the Single Molecule Level

    The tip of the STM (yellow) assumes the role of a hard drive’s reading and writing head for the molecule attached to the copper nitride surface (black). Figure/Copyright: Manuel Gruber

    The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

  • Transforming biochar into fuel gas

    SunCoal produces biocoal from biomass in a short process time. Quality control staff at the pilot-scale plant.  © SunCoal GmbH

    Until now it has been difficult to utilise the energy provided by biogenic residues resulting from landscape management waste products, garden waste and similar materials from agriculture, horticulture and food production. This is due to their high moisture content and inhomogeneous composition. In a new process, these materials are first converted into biochar and then into a fuel gas for driving an engine-operated CHP unit. The BINE-Projektinfo brochure entitled “Syngas from biocoals” (04/2017) presents the plants. These utilise a new entrained-flow gasifier that has been specially developed for small units.

  • Transporting more electricity through new lines

    Both the wires in the core and the aluminium zirconium wires in the jacket contribute to the tensile strength.  © 3M Deutschland GmbH

    The volume of electricity generated by wind energy and photovoltaic systems is increasing in the German power grid. This electricity has to be transported over long distances to urban areas and industrial centres. Newly developed high-temperature conductors now offer a way of increasing the maximum power capacity that can be transmitted through existing power lines. The BINE Projektinfo brochure entitled "The hotline in the grid" (13/2016) presents the new transmission lines. With a comparable conductor cross-section, these can almost double the transport capability of existing transmission lines.

  • TU Berlin: First Imaging of Free Nanoparticles in Lab Experiment Using High-Intensity Laser Source

    Pill-shaped helium nanodroplets can be detected through curved structures in the scatter image. © MBI

    Joint press release
    Technische Universität Berlin, Max Born Institute for Nonlinear Optics and Short Pulse Spectroscopy (MBI) and University of Rostock. 

    In a joint research project, scientists from the Max Born Institute for Nonlinear Optics and Short Pulse Spectroscopy (MBI), the Technische Universität Berlin and the University of Rostock have managed for the first time to image free nanoparticles in a laboratory experiment using a high-intensity laser source. Previously, the structural analysis of these extremely small objects via single-shot diffraction was only possible at large-scale research facilities using so-called XUV and x-ray free electron lasers.

  • TUM and JGU activate new source of ultra-cold neutrons

    Researchers from TUM and JGU during installation work on the Mainz TRIGA UCN source

    Collaborative project results in the construction of a second UCN source at the TRIGA research reactor in Mainz / Blueprint for Munich-based high-efficiency source. Researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have opened a new chapter in their long-standing collaboration concerning the generation of ultra-cold neutrons (UCN). A second source of ultra-cold neutrons has recently been installed at the TRIGA research reactor in Mainz. In initial tests, this source has been delivering excellent results. Neutrons are the neutral particles that form part of the atomic nucleus. In unbound form, as so-called free neutrons, they are unstable and decay rapidly. Experiments with ultra-cold neutrons are of special relevance for fundamental research in physics, particularly in the fields of cosmology and particle physics. For this purpose, free neutrons are cooled to very low temperatures, slowing down their movement to a level where they can be stored in special containers.

  • Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

    A team of physicists clocked the time it takes electrons to leave a dielectric after their generation with extreme ultraviolet light. The measurement (false colour plot) was the first of its kind in a dielectric material and yielded a time of 150 attoseconds (as), from which the physicists determined that inelastic scattering in the dielectric takes about 370 as. Dennis Luck, Thorsten Naeser

    An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

    We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence relatively still in a dielectric crystal lattice. This idyll has now been heavily shaken up by a team of physicists from various research institutions, including the Laboratory of Attosecond Physics (LAP) at the Ludwig-Maximillian’s-Universität Munich (LMU) and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ), the Institute of Photonics and Nanotechnologies (IFN-CNR) in Milan, the Institute of Physics at the University of Rostock, the Max Born Institute (MBI) in Berlin, the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Hamburg and the University of Hamburg.

  • Two Dimensional Circuit with Magnetic Quasi-Particles

    Classical integrated circuit (left) in contrast to integrated magnon circuit with two dimensional connections. Credit: AG Hillebrands

    Whether smart phone, computer or dialysis machine – there is no electronic device without chips and their electronic components inside. The individual circuit elements are therefore often wired using three dimensional so called bridge constructions. Currently, physicists at Technische Universität Kaiserslautern are working on a more efficient variation, where specific quasiparticles named magnons instead of electrons are being used. They have shown for the first time, in an initial model, that magnon current flow is possible in an integrated magnon circuit, in which case the components are only being connected two dimensionally. These investigations have been published in ‘Science Advances’

  • Two-dimensional wonder material could make computers even faster

    Graphene is an atomic-scale honeycomb lattice made of carbon atoms.

    From generation to generation, high technology products are getting faster and more powerful. Again and again, new materials with new properties are needed to allow for continuous technological progress. On the search for promising future materials, scientists of Wilhelm-Ostwald-Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry at Leipzig University and Jacobs University Bremen were the first ones to investigate the properties of a promising new so-called two-dimensional material, germanium phosphide. Thanks to their research, it could become possible to make computer processors even smaller and faster to make solar cells more efficient.

  • Ultraclean Metal-Like Conductivity in Semimetallic WP2

    WP2 and MoP2 exhibit both very large conductivity as well as extremely high MR together due to the robust Weyl points and hydrodynamic effects at low temperature. Nitesh Kumar/ MPI CPfS

    Ultraclean metals show high conductivity with a high number of charge carriers, whereas semiconductors and semimetals with low charge carriers normally show a low conductivity. This scenario in semimetals can be changed if one can protect the carriers from scattering. In a recent study, scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids in Dresden, in collaboration with High Field Magnet Laboratory (HFML-EMFL), Netherlands; Dresden High Magnetic Field Laboratory (HLD-EMFL) and Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland show extremely large conductivity in a semimetal, WP2. The conductivity of ~ 3 x 108 -1cm-1 in WP2 at 2 K is comparable to highly conducting metals like potassium and copper of the similar purity.

  • Ultrafast Snapshots of Relaxing Electrons in Solids

    Attosecond flashes of light and x-rays take snapshots of fleeting electrons in solids. Graphic: MPQ, Attoelectronics Group

    Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

  • Upgrade for Biogas

    Liquid energy reservoir: Prof. Josef Hofmann demonstrates how to extract ice-cold biomethane. This compound is a thousand times more energy rich than biogas. Hochschule Landshut

    Biogas facilities are important drivers for the energy transition, yet, for many operators, they are no longer profitable. Conversion to biomethane can make such facilities more flexible and energy efficient ─ as well as opening up new business segments to the operators. Researchers at the Landshut University of Applied Sciences and the Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences have developed just such a process. Germany is scheduled to be generating 55 to 60 per cent of its electrical power from renewable energy sources by 2025 – currently it is around a third. However, photovoltaic systems only achieve their full capacity during the day in summer, and wind energy plants are usually only viable in exposed areas. The power demand during the dark winter months outstrips the production capacity of renewable sources. To some extent, biogas plants can compensate for these fluctuations and help to secure power continuity.

  • Using Mirrors to Improve the Quality of Light Particles

    A property of NV centers in diamond is that the states of their electron spins can be determined from the photons they emit. (Image: University of Basel, Department of Physics)

    Scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute have succeeded in dramatically improving the quality of individual photons generated by a quantum system. The scientists have successfully put a 10-year-old theoretical prediction into practice. With their paper, published recently in Physical Review X, they have taken an important step towards future applications in quantum information technology.

  • Virtual Technology Center for Efficient Solar Cells

    For the cleanroom of Fraunhofer ISE, the consortium implemented a remote monitoring for cells in diffusion tube. Fraunhofer ISE

    Linking up systems to a virtual network in order to make solar cell production in Baden Württemberg more efficient – this was the aim of the “InES” research project. With a cloud infrastructure developed by Fraunhofer IPA and both mobile and browser-based applications, the consortium is now able to share the use of machines at different sites. Remote monitoring of processes and automated test data transfers were also implemented.

  • Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

    Phthalocyanines with iron (orange) and manganese (violet) centers co-assemble on a gold surface into a checkerboard pattern. University of Basel, Department of Physics

    Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

    Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets would be suitable for use as sensors, data storage devices or in a quantum computer, since the two-dimensional arrangement allows the magnification state of the individual atoms or molecules to be selected. For mathematical and geometrical reasons, however, it has so far not been possible to produce two-dimensional ferrimagnets.

  • Waschen für die Mikrowelt – Potsdamer Physiker entwickeln lichtempfindliche Seife

    Initialen der Universität Potsdam, geschrieben in der Monolage von Mikropartikeln. Prof. Dr. Svetlana Santer.

    Betrachtet man das Reinigen verschmutzter Wäsche nicht unter hauswirtschaftlichem, sondern unter physikalischem Aspekt, könnte man sagen, dass bei diesem Vorgang die Staub- und Fettpartikel durch sogenannte amphiphile Moleküle umhüllt und somit aus den Textilien entfernt werden. Physiker der Universität Potsdam haben jetzt gezeigt, dass dieser alltägliche Vorgang auch in der Mikro- und Nanotechnologie auf neue Weise genutzt werden kann. Die Wissenschaftler veröffentlichten ihre Forschungsergebnisse in der aktuellen Ausgabe der Zeitschrift „Scientific Reports“.

  • What Even Einstein didn't Know

    Kienberger's team has developed a measurement method that allows to determine the time between the recording of an X-ray photon and the emission of an electron. A. Heddergott/ TUM

    It provides the basis for solar energy and global communications: the photoelectric effect. Albert Einstein described it over a century ago. For the first time, scientists from the Technical University of Munich (TUM), the Max-Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ), and the TU Wien have now measured the absolute duration of the light absorption and of the resulting photoelectron which is released from a solid body.

  • What makes erionite carcinogenic?

    Fibers of the mineral erionite with adhering particles, taken by a transmission electron microscope at the Institute of Geosciences of the University Jena. Photo: Kilian Pollok/FSU Jena

    Jena University mineralogists provide new findings on carcinogenic silicate.

    The mineral erionite is considered to be highly carcinogenic and is on the World Health Organisation’s list of substances that cause cancer. A few years ago, an entire village in Turkey actually had to be moved, because the substance was very common in the surrounding area and every second inhabitant died of a particular type of cancer caused by breathing in erionite particles. Up to now it has been thought that iron as a constituent element of the mineral erionite is the reason for the carcinogenic effect. However, mineralogists of Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany), together with colleagues from the University of Modena (Italy), have discovered that this metal does not even appear in the crystal structure of erionite.

  • When Proteins Shake Hands

    Hybrid protein nanofibers at formation. (Dr Izabela Firkowska-Boden/FSU Jena)

    Materials scientists from Jena (Germany) create innovative nanomaterial from natural substances. Be it in spider silk, wood, the spaces between body cells, in tendons, or as a natural sealant for small wounds: protein fibres are found virtually everywhere in nature. These small protein fibres, also referred to as protein nanofibres by experts, often have outstanding properties such as a high stability, biodegradability, or antibacterial effect.

  • World Premiere at Formnext: Green Laser from TRUMPF Prints Copper and Gold

    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.

  • World´s Smallest Jet Engine Invented in Stuttgart

    Urea reacts with the enzymes on the inside wall of the nanotube and this biocatalytic reaction propels the tube forward. MPI-IS

    For the second time, Dr. Samuel Sánchez from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart receives the Guinness World Record for the smallest nanotube travelling through fluid like a jet engine. Stuttgart (lb) - Dr. Samuel Sánchez is thrilled, just like last time he received a Guinness World Record for the smallest jet engine ever created. Sánchez is a Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Stuttgart where he heads the smart nano-bio-devices group. Together with scientist Xing Ma from China, the 37-year-old developed an engine 220 nm in diameter, roughly 200 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.