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.

24 January 2022

Cosmic chemistry in the lab

Using DESY's free-electron laser FLASH, scientists have recreated some of the harsh environment of interstellar space in the lab and analysed the reaction of astrochemical molecules to these conditions. The results show a comprehensive picture of the dynamics of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) under extreme ultraviolet radiation in a vacuum – resembling the cosmic environment between the stars of our ...

18 January 2022

Sub-picosecond metamagnetic phase transition in FeRh

Spintronics, the manipulation of electron spins and magnetic moments, is aimed at supplying an alternative to conventional electronics technology which uses the change of electronic states to store and transfer information using binary bits. At FLASH, an international research team, including the Central European Institute of Technology (CEITEC) in Brno (Czech Republic) and the University of Mainz, has now addressed ...

17 January 2022

Researchers discover cause of puzzling seismic discontinuity

At a depth of 660 kilometres, there is an abrupt change in the speed at which seismic waves travel through Earth's interior. However, for hitherto unknown reasons this striking seismic discontinuity splits into two below cold subduction zones, where the oceanic crust sinks into the mantle below the continental crust. With high-pressure experiments at PETRA III and at the Japanese X-ray light source SPring-8, a ...

14 January 2022

Watching the charge move in photoexcited molecules

An international research team led by Markus Gühr’s group at the University of Potsdam performed laser experiments at FLASH to monitor charge motions in light-excited molecules of thiouracil, which is a modified nucleobase. This class of molecules has a variety of medical applications, including possible novel cancer therapies. Their basic research now published in Nature Communications opens up the possibility ...

13 January 2022

Unraveling the active sites in new Zn-based catalyst for efficient propane dehydrogenation

The economic and environmental importance of catalysis research can hardly be overestimated. Basically, almost any commercial product nowadays has been in direct or indirect contact with some kind of catalyst during the production process. The need for more sustainable products is a challenge for the chemical industry since many products are still made of fossil sources, like e.g. oil. Due to their high stability, ...

11 January 2022

Hexagonal Si-Ge class of semiconducting alloys prepared by using pressure and temperature


A team of scientists from European and US research institutions have succeeded in synthesizing and characterizing a complete new bulk Si-Ge materials landscape, important for optoelectronic applications. The conditions under which each composition of this new materials landscape is formed, pressures of between 12 and 17 GPa and temperatures of 1500–1800 K, are reported in ...

06 January 2022

Nanoparticles that store hydrogen


An innovative approach could turn nanoparticles into simple reservoirs for storing hydrogen. The highly volatile gas is considered a promising energy carrier for the future, which could provide climate-friendly fuels for airplanes, ships and lorries, for example, as well as allowing climate-friendly steel and cement production – depending on how the hydrogen gas is generated. However, storing ...