Research Highlights

In this category especially chosen Research Highlights are presented in more detail, which have been published in a peer reviewed journal. Please recommend interesting papers, which are suitable for future highlights, to Wiebke Laasch.

17 March 2017

Scientists synthesise first sample of transparent silicon nitride at DESY


Scientists have synthesised the first transparent sample of a popular industrial ceramic at DESY. The result is a super-hard window made of cubic silicon nitride that can potentially be used under extreme conditions like in engines, as the Japanese-German team writes in the journal Scientific Reports. Cubic silicon nitride (c-Si3N4) forms under high pressure and is the ...

16 March 2017

Double flow concept widens spectrum for protein crystallography


Thanks to an innovative nozzle, scientists can now analyse more types of proteins while using fewer of the hard-to-get protein crystals. As the inventors - DESY scientist Saša Bajt from the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) headed the team - write in the journal Scientific Reports, the nozzle can reduce protein consumption eightfold in serial X-ray crystallography experiments. ...

02 March 2017

Scientists develop spectacles for X-ray lasers


An international team of scientists, including researchers from DESY, has tailored special X-ray glasses to concentrate the beam of an X-ray laser stronger than ever before. The individually produced corrective lens eliminates the inevitable defects of an X-ray optics stack almost completely and concentrates three quarters of the X-ray beam to a spot with 250 nanometres (millionths of a millimetre) ...

23 February 2017

X-rays from PETRA III reveal weaving of golden coat


Applying nanoscale metal coatings to thin polymer films is of interest for various promising industrial applications, for example as a means of increasing the efficiency of organic solar cells. The properties of the metal coatings need to be precisely adjusted, depending on the application in question. At DESY, scientists have now studied in real time how the structure of a fine gold coating produced by ...

14 February 2017

X-ray pulses reveal structure of viral cocoon


An international team, including scientists from DESY, has used high-intensity X-ray pulses to determine the structure of the crystalline protein envelope of an insect virus. Their analysis reveals the fine details of the building blocks that make up the viral cocoon down to a scale of 0.2 nanometres (millionths of a millimetre) – approaching atom-scale resolution. The tiny viruses with their ...

08 February 2017

Under pressure: Heliums forms stable compound


Using high pressure, an international team of researchers has produced a stable sodium-helium crystal. In experiments partly carried out at PETRA III, they  were able to confirm the compound. This discovery comes as a surprise as Helium does not react with other elements under normal conditions. The scientists around Artem R. Oganov of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) in ...

07 February 2017

Researchers unravel dynamics of electron clouds


A US-German research team, including scientists from DESY,  has elucidated the ultra-fast dynamics of electron clouds in xenon atoms. Using attosecond technology, the scientists around Stephen R. Leone from the University of California in Berkeley were able to measure the reactions of the electrons to the strong field of an intense laser pulse in real time. Quantum mechanical modelling of the process ...

02 February 2017

X-ray vision reveals new crystal structure in “gum metal”


Scientists from the Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung (MPIE) have observed a new phase transformation in a titanium alloy at the X-ray source PETRA III at DESY. The mechanism they discovered could further our understanding of some surprising properties of certain alloys and be used to develop new materials. The team around main author Jian Zhang of the MPIE in Düsseldorf presents its ...

24 January 2017

Foundation for new type of solar cell


An interdisciplinary team of researchers, also from DESY, has laid the foundations for an entirely new type of photovoltaic cell. In this new method, infrared radiation is converted into electrical energy using a different mechanism from that found in conventional solar cells. The mechanism behind the new solid-state solar cell made of the mineral perovskite relies on so-called polaron excitations, which ...

24 January 2017

X-ray study throws light on key process for production


A Swedish-German team of researchers has cleared up a key process for the artificial production of silk. With the help of the intense X-rays from  PETRA III, DESY's research light source, the scientists could watch just how small protein pieces, called nanofibrils, lock together to form a fibre. Surprisingly, the best fibres are not formed by the longest protein pieces. Instead, the strongest ...

12 January 2017

First attosecond timing in a kilometre-wide laser-microwave network


Scientists at DESY have set up the world's most precise ‘metronome’ for a kilometre-wide network. The timing system synchronizes a 4.7-kilometer-long laser-microwave network with 950 attoseconds precision. An attosecond is a quintillionth of a second, or a millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a second. Such installations can provide the beat for recording ultrafast X-ray snapshots of ...