Physics

Physics is the study of science that deals with matter, energy, motion, and force through time and space. 
Physics in nanotechnology embodies segments such as quantum computing, laser technology, photonics as some examples.

  • A new spin on electronics

    The spin of electrons transports information in this conducting layer between two isolators. Image: Christoph Hohmann / NIM

    Interface between insulators enables information transport by spin.
    Modern computer technology is based on the transport of electric charge in semiconductors. But this technology’s potential will be reaching its limits in the near future, since the components deployed cannot be miniaturized further. But, there is another option: using an electron’s spin, instead of its charge, to transmit information. A team of scientists from Munich and Kyoto is now demonstrating how this works.

  • A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

    Illustration of the two-photon blockade. Top: Irradiated by a laser pulse a single atom in free space can absorb and emit only one photon at a time, without constraints on the direction of the photons. Middle: A system consisting of a cavity can absorb and emit an unlimited number of photons. Below: In case of the strongly coupled atom-cavity system the frequency of the laser light can be chosen such that the system can store and emit two photons at maximum. MPQ, Quantum Dynamics Division

    Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons. The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called Poisson-distribution. There are, however, light sources with non-classical photon number distributions that can only be described by the laws of quantum mechanics. A well-known example is the single-photon source that may find application in quantum cryptography for secret key distribution or in quantum networks for connecting quantum memories and processors. However, for many applications in nonlinear quantum optics light pulses with a certain fixed number of photons, e.g. two, three or four, are highly desirable.

  • A Sensor System Learns to "Hear": Reliable Detection of Failures in Machines and Systems

    The sensor system inspects the rotating cutting unit of a combine harvester for defective vibrations or noises. Fraunhofer IZFP / Uwe Bellhäuser

    Researchers of the Fraunhofer Institute for Nondestructive Testing IZFP in Saarbrücken have developed a sensor system that can detect failures or imperfections in systems and machines quickly and reliably by means of an acoustic noise assessment similar to human hearing. The "hearing" sensor system AcoustiX has already been successfully deployed by John Deere, the American global market leader in the fields of agricultural engineering, to inspect the cutting units of combine harvesters. In the event that large-scale machines or plants are already in operation, defects or defectively assembled components may result in malfunction of machines and thus in production shutdown and economic loss.

  • A signal boost for molecular microscopy

    A signal boost for molecular microscopy | Schematic illustration of the experiment. Graphic: MPQ, Laser Spectroscopy Division

    Cavity-enhanced Raman-scattering reveals information on structure and properties of carbon nanotubes. The inherently weak signals are amplified by using special micro cavities as resonator, giving a general boost to Raman spectroscopy as a whole.

  • A Space-Time Sensor for Light-Matter Interactions

    By using trains of extremely short electron pulses, LAP researchers have obtained time-resolved diffraction patterns from crystalline samples. In this image, patterns captured at attosecond intervals have been superimposed, thus revealing, in real time, the kind of electron motions that underlie atomic and subatomic phenomena. (Photo: Baum/Marimoto)

    Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms. The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a billionth of a second). What exactly happens in such an astonishingly short time has so far remained largely inaccessible.

  • A Transistor of Graphene Nanoribbons

    The microscopic ribbons lie criss-crossed on the gold substrate. Empa

    Transistors based on carbon nanostructures: what sounds like a futuristic dream could be reality in just a few years' time. An international research team working with Empa has now succeeded in producing nanotransistors from graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, as reported in the current issue of the trade journal "Nature Communications." Graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, so-called graphene nanoribbons, have special electrical properties that make them promising candidates for the nanoelectronics of the future:

  • A Water-Based, Rechargeable Battery

    Research on the water electrolyte: Empa researcher Ruben-Simon Kühnel connecting a test cell to the charger with the concentrated saline solution. Empa

    Water could form the basis for future, particularly inexpensive rechargeable batteries. Empa researchers have succeeded in doubling the electrochemical stability of water with a special saline solution. This takes us one step closer to using the technology commercially. In the quest to find safe, low-cost batteries for the future, eventually we have to ask ourselves a question: Why not simply use water as an electrolyte? 

  • Added bacterial film makes new mortar resistant to water uptake

    Added bacterial film makes new mortar resistant to water uptake | The surface of the hybrid mortar (left) is covered with tiny crystalline spikes. This results in the so-called lotus effect which does not occur on the untreated mortar (right) Illustration: Stefan Grumbein / TUM

    Moisture can destroy mortar over time – for example when cracks form as a result of frost. A team of scientists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has found an unusual way to protect mortar from moisture: When the material is being mixed, they add a biofilm – a soft, moist substance produced by bacteria.

    Oliver Lieleg usually has little to do with bricks, mortar and concrete. As a professor of biomechanics at the Institute of Medical Engineering (IMETUM) and the Department of Mechanical Engineering, he mainly deals with biopolymer-based hydrogels or, to put it bluntly, slime formed by living organisms.These include bacterial biofilms, such as dental plaque and the slimy black coating that forms in sewage pipes. “Biofilms are generally considered undesirable and harmful. They are something you want to get rid of,” says Oliver Lieleg. “I was therefore excited to find a beneficial use for them.”

  • Added Disorder Drives Transition to Photonic Topological Insulator

    A honeycomb waveguide structure with helical waveguides acts as a photonic topological insulator so that light is guided along the surface. Copyright: University of Rostock/Alexander Szameit, Lukas Maczewsky

    As the journal Nature reported recently, a research group led by the Rostock physicist Professor Alexander Szameit, in collaboration with colleagues in Israel and the U.S., experimentally demonstrated that a messy topological insulator can be restored in its properties by inducing random disorder.

  • Additive Manufacturing: Budget-friendly Retrofit of Module for Wire-based Laser Deposition Welding

    Processing head "LMD-W-20-L" for wire-based laser deposition welding. Graphic: Fraunhofer IPT

    When economic or safety considerations rule out the use of powder materials in additive manufacturing, the option of wire-feed laser deposition welding resents itself. The Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT in Aachen has developed a smart laser module for wire deposition welding, which can easily be integrated within existing process chains, handling systems or machine tools. The engineers from Aachen will be unveiling the LMD-W-20-L module for the first time to the visitors from industry at Formnext, the Fair for Additive Technologies in Frankfurt/Main, Hall 3, Booth E70, 13-16 November 2018.

  • Adhesive Process Developed for Shingle Cell Technology

    Pilot process to apply an electrically conductive adhesive to shingled cells carried out on the industrial stringer in the Module-TEC of Fraunhofer ISE. (C) Fraunhofer ISE

    The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg has developed a special adhesive process to interconnect silicon solar cells for the industrial production of shingle modules. The market demand for shingle modules is rising rapidly due to their high efficiency and pleasing aesthetics. The cell stringer at Fraunhofer ISE is unique in Germany. It offers a wide range of possibilities for the prototype production of this highly efficient module.

  • ADIR Project: Lasers Recover Valuable Materials

    Contactless exposure and unsoldering of circuit board components by means of laser radiation in a recycling process of the “ADIR” project.

    Taking electronic devices apart that are no longer in use to recover valuable raw materials – this is an essential aspect of the future of urban mining. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is taking a pioneering role internationally in the EU project “ADIR - Next generation urban mining – Automated disassembly, separation and recovery of valuable materials from electronic equipment”. Launched in September 2015, this project is scheduled to run until 2019. It comprises nine project partners from four countries, who are researching how strategically important materials from old cell phones and printed circuit boards can be retrieved and recycled.

  • Alloys From the Laser Printer

    These small sized samples are made out of oxide dispersion strengthened titanium aluminides and have been made as part of the PhD-work. Empa

    In the future, new designer alloys for aerospace applications can be manufactured using the 3-D laser melting process (Additive Manufacturing). Pioneering work in this field was provided by Empa researcher Christoph Kenel, who works today at Northwestern University (Chicago). Empa grants him the Research Award 2017. Titan-Aluminum alloys are combining low density, high strength and oxidation resistance at elevated temperatures and are therefore of high technical relevance e.g. in aerospace engineering.

  • An Acoustic Cage for Electrons

    In a piezo-electric solid (PE), counter-propagating surface-acoustic waves generate a time-dependent, periodic electric potential for electrons confined to a two-dimensional plane, i.e. a two-dimensional electron gas (2DEG); the resulting acoustic lattices are one- or two-dimensional, depending on the geometry of the setup. At high SAW frequencies, the potential can be effectively described by a time-independent pseudo-lattice. The motion of electrons at potential minima can be described by a harmonic oscillator, superimposed by small-amplitude, high-frequency micro-oscillations. (Graphic: from the original publication)

    International team of scientist develops new concept for trapping and manipulating electrons with sound waves. The ability to trap and control electrons and other quasi-particles for the study of isolated single particles as well as many-body systems in a solid-state environment can be of major importance for understanding the behaviour of correlated electrons in technologically relevant materials. Because of their – compared to atoms – extremely small masses, these point-like particles are very fast and mobile. This, however, makes them hard to hold in place.

  • An Atomic Quantum Bit Made Switchable

    Depending on the orientation of an applied magnetic field, quantum tunneling of the magnetisation allows to either freeze or to flip magnetic moments. © University of Augsburg/IfP/EKM

    One bit per atom: Augsburg-based physicists and US colleagues are reaching the ultimate limit for nanoscale data storage

  • An Experiment Seeks to Make Quantum Physics Visible to the Naked Eye

    Predictions from quantum physics have been confirmed by countless experiments, but no one has yet detected the quantum physical effect of entanglement directly with the naked eye. This should now be possible thanks to an experiment proposed by a team around a theoretical physicist at the University of Basel. The experiment might pave the way for new applications in quantum physics.

  • An International Team of Physicists Discovered a Coherent Amplification Effect in Laser Excited Dielectrics

    Copyright: Uni Kassel

    An international team of physicists from the University of Kassel, led by Prof. Thomas Baumert, and the University of Aarhus, led by Prof. Peter Balling, discovered that ultra-short laser pulses are amplified in a laser excited piece of glass. This amplification, similar to a classical laser, is directed and of coherent nature. By utilizing theoretical models and simulations, the researchers were able to understand and reproduce the multi-step process leading to the “Laser Amplification in Excited Dielectrics” (short: LADIE) named effect. Their results were published online in the well-known research journal Nature Physics.

  • An Unlikely Marriage Among Oxides

    Sebastian Siol showing a sample of heterostructural oxides, which could be a promising coating for smart windows. Empa

    Sebastian Siol is looking for new materials with unusual properties that were so far not accessible in experiments. To do this, he connects partners who don't really fit together: One partner forces the other into a state that would not be possible without the unlikely pairing. Siol also makes sure that the crystal bonds last in everyday life. Only then are they interesting for industrial applications.

  • Antiferromagnets Prove their Potential for Spin-Based Information Technology

    Crystal structure of Mn2Au with antiferromagnetically ordered magnetic moments  Ill./©: Libor Šmejkal, JGU

    Physicists at Mainz University demonstrate technologically feasible read-out and writing of digital information in antiferromagnets / Basic principle for ultrafast and stable magnetic memory. Within the emerging field of spin-based electronics, or spintronics, information is typically defined by the orientation of the magnetization of ferromagnets. Researchers have recently been also interested in the utilization of antiferromagnets, which are materials without macroscopic magnetization but with a staggered orientation of their microscopic magnetic moments. Here the information is encoded in the direction of the modulation of the magnetic moments, the so-called Néel vector.

  • Artificial Agent Designs Quantum Experiments

    The artificial agent uses optical elements such as this beam splitter to construct new and optimized experiments. Harald Ritsch

    On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.