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.

02 April 2019

Exotic properties of iridium compounds


Scientists at DESY’s X-ray source PETRA III and the London Centre for Nanotechnology, at University College London, have developed a new method for examining the astonishing properties of a special class of iridium oxides known as iridates. The team of principal author Pavel Alexeev, from the Dynamics Beamline P01 at PETRA III, is presenting the procedure ...

02 April 2019

New method for imaging electronic orbitals in solids - Study at PETRA III


Orbital states are quantum mechanical constructions that describe the probability to find an electron in an atom, molecule or solid.  We know from atomic physics that an s-orbital is spherical or that a p-orbital is dumbbell-shaped, but how do the complicated distributions of the electrons that contribute to chemical bonds in solids look like? ...

29 March 2019

How virtual photons alter atomic X-ray spectra


Certain X-ray optical properties of metal atoms can be controlled with the help of virtual photons. This has been demonstrated for the first time by a DESY research team at PETRA III, by using the highly brilliant radiation from this X-ray light source at DESY. In the journal Physical Review Letters they report on how the X-ray spectra of metal atoms can be controlled by virtual photons. This ...

22 March 2019

The taming of the light screw


Scientists from DESY, the MPSD, the University of Hamburg and the CUI Cluster of Excellence create high-order harmonics from solids with controlled polarization states, taking advantage of both crystal symmetry and attosecond electronic dynamics. The newly demonstrated technique might find intriguing applications in petahertz electronics and for spectroscopic studies of novel quantum materials.


20 March 2019

Researchers generate the shortest ultraviolet laser pulse ever


Researchers at CFEL at DESY have generated a 1.9-femtosecond ultraviolet laser light pulse - setting a record for ultraviolet (UV) laser pulses with the shortest duration. The experiments, published in the recent issue of the scientific journal Optics Letters, outshine the previous record of 2.8 femtoseconds, set in 2010.



The 1.9-femtosecond pulse (1 femtosecond is a millionth of ...

15 March 2019

Scientists go to extremes to reveal make-up of Earth’s core


Experiments conducted at extreme conditions, also at PETRA III at DESY, are giving scientists new insights into the chemical make-up of the Earth’s core. Advanced laboratory techniques reveal that our planet’s metal centre – more than 1,800 miles below the surface – also contains silicon, an ...

04 March 2019

Scientists develop printable water sensor


A new, versatile plastic-composite sensor can detect tiny amounts of water. The 3d printable material, developed by a Spanish-Israeli team of scientists and studied at PETRA III, is cheap, flexible and non-toxic and changes its colour from purple to blue in wet conditions. The researchers lead by Pilar Amo-Ochoa from the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM) used DESY’s X-ray light source to ...

11 February 2019

Innovative method enables new view into Earth's interior


An innovative X-ray method enables new high-pressure investigations of samples under deep mantle conditions. The technique, which was developed by a team led by Georg Spiekermann from DESY, the German Research Centre for Geosciences GFZ and the University of Potsdam, extends the range of instruments available to high-pressure researchers. Successful tests of the new method at DESY's X-ray light source ...

04 February 2019

What keeps spiders on the ceiling?


Hunting spiders easily climb vertical surfaces or move upside down on the ceiling. A thousand tiny hairs at the ends of their legs make sure they do not fall off. Like the spider’s exoskeleton, these bristle-like hairs (so-called setae) mainly consist of proteins and chitin, which is a polysaccharide. To find out more about their fine structure, an interdisciplinary research team from the Biology ...

01 February 2019

X-rays reveal layout of loaded drug transporter


Experiments at DESY's X-ray source PETRA III have revealed the first structure of a biological transporter protein loaded with a pro-drug. Prodrugs are inactive medications that are metabolized into an active, functional form within the body. They can hijack the human nutrient transporter proteins PepT1 or PepT2 that are located in the cell membrane and usually channel peptides derived from digested ...

31 January 2019

Simulating meteorite impacts in the lab


A US-German research team has simulated meteorite impacts in the lab and followed the resulting structural changes in two feldspar minerals with X-rays as they happened. The results of the experiments at DESY and at Argonne National Laboratory in the US show that structural changes can occur at very different pressures, depending on the compression rate. The findings, published in the 1 February issue of ...

24 January 2019

Platinum forms Nano-Bubbles


Platinum, a noble metal, is oxidised more quickly than expected under conditions that are technologically relevant. This has emerged from a study jointly conducted by the DESY NanoLab and the Vienna University of Technology. Devices that contain platinum, such as the catalytic converters used to reduce exhaust emissions in cars, can suffer a loss in efficacy as a result of this reaction. The team around ...