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.

16 November 2018

X-ray fluorescence imaging could open up new diagnostic possibilities in medicine


A high-precision X-ray technique, tested at PETRA III, could catch cancer at an earlier stage and facilitate the development and control of pharmaceutical drugs. The test at DESY’s synchrotron radiation source, which used so-called X-ray fluorescence for that purpose, has proved very promising, as is now being reported in ...

15 November 2018

High-pressure experiments reveal new forms of a silica


By compressing the rare mineral coesite an international team of scientists has discovered unexpected forms of silica with unusual crystal structures. The findings of the team lead by DESY scientist Elena Bykova could have direct implications not only for the understanding of silicate liquids in the deep interior of Earth, but also for theories of planet formation. The results were reported in the ...

09 November 2018

Innovative experimental scheme can create mirror molecules


Exploring the mystery of the molecular handedness in nature, scientists have proposed a new experimental scheme to create custom-made mirror molecules for analysis. The research team from DESY, Universität Hamburg and University College London around group leader Jochen Küpper describes the innovative method in the journal Physical Review Letters. This technique can make ordinary molecules ...

05 November 2018

When is a laser a real laser?


Pulsed lasers are intense and coherent light sources, and the latest category is that of X-ray Free Electron Lasers (FEL), such as FLASH and the European XFEL in Hamburg or FERMI in Trieste (Italy). It is well known that coherence leads to interference phenomena which are for example visible in the famous double slit experiment by Young (spatial coherence) and interferometer experiment ...

26 October 2018

New technique enables spatial separation of peptide structures


A team of scientists at DESY and Universität Hamburg has reached another milestone towards the direct imaging of individual biomolecules: the group led by Jochen Küpper from the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science developed a new experimental technique which enables the separation of different peptide structures in order to analyze and image them separately. The scientists report their ...

19 October 2018

Extremely small magnetic nanostructures with invisibility cloak imaged at PETRA III


In novel concepts of magnetic data storage, it is intended to send small magnetic bits back and forth in a chip structure, store them densely packed and read them out later. The magnetic stray field generates problems when trying to generate particularly tiny bits. Now, researchers at the Max Born Institute (MBI), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and DESY were able to put an ...

18 October 2018

Single particle imaging without symmetry constraints at XFELs


An international team of researchers, led by scientists from DESY and Kurchatov Institute (Moscow, Russia), has presented a workflow from single-particle imaging (SPI) data, measured at X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs), to a three-dimensional reconstruction of the structure. They published their findings in the journal of the International Union of Crystallography ...

12 October 2018

Modified optical centrifuge has potential to open up new ways for the study of superrotors


Using corkscrew-shaped laser pulses, scientists at DESY have devised a sophisticated optical centrifuge that can make molecules rotate rapidly about a desired molecular axis. The innovative method opens up new ways to control and study super fast spinning molecules, called superrotors. Until now, optical centrifuges can make molecules rotate about one specific axis only. The new scheme lets scientists ...

10 October 2018

“Quantum boiling” reveals relativity in atoms


In a way of “quantum boiling” with intense X-ray flashes, scientists have stripped xenon atoms of most of their electrons. The international team around DESY researcher Sang-Kil Son and Robin Santra from the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science and Daniel Rolles and Artem Rudenko from Kansas State University report their study in the journal Nature Communications. The experiments reveal ...

09 October 2018

Hot aluminum etches smooth nano-holes in semiconductors


A German-French research team. including scientists from DESY, has identified surprising properties of nano-holes in semiconductor materials produced by a promising technique: In their experiments, hot aluminum droplets have etched remarkable smooth holes in an aluminum gallium arsenide (AlGaAs) substrate. The method is suitable, among other things, for the production of so-called quantum dots, which can ...

02 October 2018

First experiments at Europe's new X-ray laser reveal unknown structure of antibiotics killer


An international collaboration led by DESY and consisting of over 120 researchers has announced the results of the first scientific experiments at Europe's new X-ray laser European XFEL. The pioneering work not only demonstrates that the new research facility can speed up experiments by more than an order of magnitude, it also reveals a previously unknown structure of an enzyme responsible for ...

24 September 2018

Silicon in a state of shock


Silicon is one of the most abundant elements in nature and is used for many technical applications such as solar cells or microchips. The international team that included scientists from DESY and Europe's new X-ray laser European XFEL conducted the experiments at the Linac Coherent Light Source at SLAC National Laboratory in the US.  Some properties of the semimetal have not been examined in ...

01 August 2018

Novel liquid jet nozzle for high repetition diffraction experiments at free-electron lasers


A team of researchers, led by scientists from DESY, has demonstrated the successful use of a new type of liquid jet at high pulse repetition rates at FLASH. The study shows that liquid jets recover in time for the next pulse even at very short inter-pulse times of only 220 nanoseconds. Furthermore the researchers conducted the first crystal diffraction experiments using X-ray pulse ...

26 July 2018

What’s causing the voltage fade in Lithium-rich NMC cathode materials for batteries?


Researchers, also from DESY and led by a University of California San Diego team, have published work on cathode materials in the journal Nature Energy. The study, partly performed at PETRA III at DESY and the Advanced Photon Source APS in Argonne (US), explains what is causing the performance-reducing “voltage ...

17 July 2018

High-pressure experiments allow the spread of seismic waves to be observed in the mineral ferropericlase


Scientists have used a new experimental approach at PETRA III to simulate the way in which seismic waves propagate within a sample, while closely observing the changes taking place inside the material itself. In their study, they were able to show how a process occurring in the mineral ferropericlase above a certain pressure influences the speed with which such waves are propagated. This finding could ...

28 June 2018

Scientists image millions of nerve cells with the help of PETRA III


A team of researchers from Göttingen has successfully applied a special variant of X-ray imaging to brain tissue. With the combination of high-resolution measurements at DESY's X-ray light source PETRA III and data from a laboratory X-ray source, Tim Salditt's group from the Institute of X-ray Physics at the Georg August University of Göttingen was able to visualize about 1.8 million ...

06 June 2018

New insight into the transition zone of the Earth’s interior


Just like graphite turns to diamond under high pressure and temperature, many other minerals transform under extreme conditions in the Earth's interior. Scientists from DESY, worked together with an international group from scientist from the University of Bayreuth and institutions from Japan. They used X-rays from the synchrotron source SPring-8 in Japan to examine a particular solid-state ...

04 June 2018

Low dose X-Ray speckle spectroscopy reveals dynamics in liquids


A newly developed experimental method allows to study the dynamics of atoms and molecules at PETRA III with much lower radiation doses than previously possible. This opens the door for dynamical investigations of very radiation sensitive samples such as for example proteins in solution. The new method takes full advantage of the large number of pixels of modern X-ray detectors and the large coherent ...

30 May 2018

Experiment proves different chemical reactivity of para- and ortho-water


Water molecules exist in two different forms with almost identical physical properties. For the first time, researchers, also from DESY, have now shown that these forms can exhibit different chemical reactivities. These results were reported by researchers from the University of Basel and their colleagues from DESY and the University of Hamburg in the scientific journal Nature ...

16 May 2018

Worlds strongest bio-material outperforms steel and spider silk


At DESY's X-ray light source PETRA III, a team led by Swedish researchers has produced the strongest bio-material that has ever been made. The artifical, but bio-degradable cellulose fibres are stronger than steel and even than dragline spider silk, which is usually considered the strongest bio-based material. The team headed by Daniel Söderberg from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in ...

16 May 2018

Worlds fastest water heater - 100,000 degrees in 0.000 000 000 000 075 seconds


Scientists, also from DESY, have used a powerful X-ray laser to heat water from room temperature to 100,000 degrees Celsius in less than a tenth of a picosecond (millionth of a millionth of a second). The experimental set-up, that can be seen as the world's fastest water heater, produced an exotic state of water, from which researchers hope to learn more about the peculiar characteristics of ...

09 May 2018

X-ray laser opens new view on Alzheimer proteins


A new experimental method, designed by DESY scientists, permits the X-ray analysis of amyloids, a class of large, filamentous biomolecules which are an important hallmark of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. An international team of researchers headed by DESY scientists has used a powerful X-ray laser to gain insights into the structure of different amyloid samples. The X-ray ...

02 May 2018

Freeze-framing nanosecond movements of nanoparticles


A team of scientists from DESY, the Advanced Photon Source APS and National Accelerator Laboratory SLAC, both in the US, have developed and integrated a new method for monitoring ultrafast movements of nanoscopic systems. With the light of the X-ray laser LCLS at the research center SLAC in Stanford, they took reciprocal space pictures of nanoparticle movements taking only the billionth of a second ...

13 April 2018

High-energy X-ray method promises 3D images of intact biological cells


A concept for a novel X-ray microscope, developed by DESY scientists, promises three-dimensional images of delicate objects like biological cells using a thousand times less damaging radiation than conventional methods. The novel microscope would allow to image whole cells at high resolution in their native environment, without freezing, cutting or staining them. Pablo Villanueva-Perez, Saša Bajt ...

03 April 2018

Pocket accelerator combines four functions in one device


DESY scientists have created a miniature particle accelerator for electrons that can perform four different functions at the push of a button. The experimental device is driven by a Terahertz radiation source and can accelerate, compress, focus and analyse electron bunches in a beam. Its active structures measure just a few millimetres across. The developers from the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science ...

26 March 2018

Edges and corners increase efficiency of catalytic converters


Catalytic converters for cleaning exhaust emissions are more efficient when they use nanoparticles with many edges. This is one of the findings of a study carried out at PETRA III at DESY. A team of scientists from the DESY NanoLab watched live as noxious carbon monoxide (CO) was converted into common carbon dioxide (CO2) on the surface of noble metal nanoparticles like those used in catalytic ...

26 February 2018

Metal offers improved method of making graphene


Scientists, also from DESY, have been exploring a promising way of producing layers of graphene with particularly few defects. This coveted carbon allotrope spontaneously forms on nickel surfaces on which carbon has previously been deposited. The extremely high quality of the graphene produced and the relatively low temperature of around 400 degrees Celsius used in the process make this method interesting ...

09 February 2018

X-ray spot on fillet of pork


A team of Swedish and German scientists has been using X-rays at the PETRA III synchrotron light source to study the decomposition of meat. In experiments carried out on fibres taken from fillets of pork, the researchers examined how the quality of the meat was affected by the storage temperature and by parameters affected by the amount of stress experienced by the pigs before slaughter. The results ...

08 February 2018

X-ray experiments reveal exact details of self-catalysed growth for the first time


At DESY's X-ray source PETRA III, scientists have followed the growth of tiny wires of gallium arsenide live. Their observations reveal exact details of the growth process responsible for the evolving shape and crystal structure of the crystalline nanowires. The findings also provide new approaches to tailoring nanowires with desired properties for specific applications. The scientists, headed by ...

06 February 2018

Liquid crystal molecules form nano rings


At DESY's X-ray source PETRA III, scientists have investigated an intriguing form of self-assembly in liquid crystals: When the liquid crystals are filled into cylindrical nanopores and heated, their molecules form ordered rings as they cool – a condition that otherwise does not naturally occur in the material. This behavior allows nanomaterials with new optical and electrical properties, as the ...

01 January 2018

Deep insights from diamonds


Diamonds have unparalleled value for geoscientific research. With measurements at DESY's X-ray source PETRA III and elsewhere, an international team including researchers from the University of Bayreuth recently discovered that inclusions of iron-containing garnet are highly oxidized in diamonds that originate at great depths. These tiny pieces of minerals help to explain chemical processes in the ...

16 January 2018

Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes


What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team, including researchers from DESY,  has worked out the details of how important bioinorganic electron transfer systems operate. Using a combination of very different, time-resolved measurement methods at DESY's X-ray source PETRA III and other facilities, the scientists were able to show ...