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News from the Lab (news.myScience.ch)

  • News from the Lab’ is a selection of scientific works that are significant or interesting for a broad readership. 
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Chemistry - Physics - 24.03.2016
Complex cheese
Complex cheese
What would Italian pasta be like without Parmesan? No other cheese compares when it comes to flavoring dishes. But why? This is precisely the question that prompted a study by chemists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). They found 31 active flavors that create a chemosensory signature when combined.

Physics - Mechanical Engineering - 21.03.2016
Sensitive quantum particles
Sensitive quantum particles
The quantum mechanical entanglement of particles plays an important role in many technical applications. To date, however, the effect has been difficult to measure experimentally. Physicists from the Technical University of Munich (TUM), the University of Innsbruck and the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) in Barcelona have now developed a new protocol to detect entanglement of many-particle quantum states using established measuring methods.

Chemistry - Physics - 10.03.2016
Efficiency of water electrolysis doubled
Efficiency of water electrolysis doubled
Water electrolysis has not yet established itself as a method for the production of hydrogen. Too much energy is lost in the process. With a trick researchers of the Technical University of Munich (TUM), the Ruhr University Bochum and Leiden University have now doubled the efficiency of the reaction.

Chemistry - Physics - 09.03.2016
Mechanism for Radiation Damage Identified
Mechanism for Radiation Damage Identified
What exactly are the processes when x-ray photons damage biomolecules with a metal centre? This question has been investigated by a team of scientists at the Institute for Physical Chemistry of Heidelberg University. Using the methods of quantum chemistry, they examined the underlying electronic processes caused by x-ray absorption.

Life Sciences - Physics - 18.02.2016
A tunnel through the head
A tunnel through the head
Humans use the time delay between the arrival of a sound wave at each ear to discern the direction of the source. In frogs, lizards and birds the distance between the ears is too small. However, they have a cavity connecting the eardrums, in which internal and external sound waves are superimposed. Using a universal mathematical model, researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have now for the first time shown how new signals are created in this "inner ear" used by animals for localizing sounds.

Life Sciences - Physics - 15.02.2016
Using Light To Control Protein Transport From Cell Nucleus
Using Light To Control Protein Transport From Cell Nucleus
Light can be used to control the transport of proteins from the cell nucleus with the aid of a light-sensitive, genetically modified plant protein. Biologists from Heidelberg University and the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) working in the field of optogenetics have now developed such a tool. The researchers, under the direction of Dr. Barbara Di Ventura and Roland Eils, employed methods from synthetic biology and combined a light sensor from the oat plant with a transport signal.

Life Sciences - Physics - 05.02.2016
If cells run out of oxygen, they start to shine green
If cells run out of oxygen, they start to shine green
Without oxygen, cells cannot survive. If the oxygen supply drops, for example due to a heart attack, long-term damage may result. However, just how serious such damage really is can only be assessed hours or even days later. For the first time now, and using light microscopy, scientists in Münster have observed reduced oxygen supply directly in individual cells.

Physics - Electroengineering - 01.02.2016
Superconductivity in the land of the
Superconductivity in the land of the "heavy fermions"
An international research team has discovered nonclassical superconductivity at extremely low temperatures in a compound of ytterbium, rhodium, and silicon. The project was a collaboration among physicists of the Technical University of Munich (TUM), the Walther Meissner Institute of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences in Garching, the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids in Dresden, Rice University (Houston, USA), and Renmin University (Beijing, China).

Physics - Health - 28.01.2016
How crystals precipitate cell death
Crystal formation plays a defining role in the pathogenesis of a range of common diseases, such as gout and atherosclerosis. LMU researchers led by Hans-Joachim Anders have now elucidated how the insoluble deposits induce cell death. The formation of crystalline deposits in the extracellular medium is a defining feature of several widespread illnesses.

Chemistry - Physics - 28.01.2016
Small is different
Small is different
In the production of margarine millions of tons of unsaturated fatty acids are converted from vegetable oils using hydrogen. While searching for improved catalysts for these so-called hydrogenation reactions, a German-American research team made a discovery that puts a 50-year old rule in question: In catalytic particles comprising only a few atoms, shape and size influence reactivity much more strongly then previously thought.

Physics - 28.01.2016
What Are The Special Properties Of An Atomic Gas?
What Are The Special Properties Of An Atomic Gas?
In a laboratory experiment, physicists at the Center for Quantum Dynamics of Heidelberg University have succeeded in determining the equation of state for an atomic gas, which can be used to precisely describe the thermodynamic properties of this physical system. According to Associate Tilman Enss and Selim Jochim, the equation lays the foundation for further experiments using ultracold atoms to better understand the mechanisms of superconductivity, i.e., the lossless conduction of electricity.

Life Sciences - Physics - 18.01.2016
Blood cells in action
In experiments and computer simulations, researchers repeatedly deformed red blood cells, let them "wriggle" and then analysed their behaviour. Three tiny spheres hold the cells in place during the process, while the movements of the cell membrane are measured with the help of a fourth sphere. The "wrapper" of the blood cell consists of a lipid double layer and a cytoskeleton; active forces, produced for example by an ion pump, move the membrane (red arrows) and fluids (green arrows) locally in opposite directions.

Chemistry - Physics - 07.01.2016
X-rays reveal details of plastic solar cell production
X-rays reveal details of plastic solar cell production
Plastic solar cells are light, easy to install, and readily produced using a printer. Nevertheless, the processes that take place on the molecular scale during the production of organic solar cells are not yet entirely clear. Researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have now managed to observe these processes in real time.

Physics - Environment - 22.12.2015
New Device Measures Nitrogen Dioxides In Exhaust from Preceding Vehicle
New Device Measures Nitrogen Dioxides In Exhaust from Preceding Vehicle
Depending on its age, condition and even engine, how much does an individual vehicle pollute the urban air? Researchers from Heidelberg University are looking into the matter. The team led by environmental physicist Dr. Denis Pöhler has developed an innovative device that can measure nitrogen dioxides in the exhaust of the preceding vehicle.

Physics - Mathematics - 09.12.2015
Quantum physics problem proved unsolvable
Quantum physics problem proved unsolvable
A mathematical problem underlying fundamental questions in particle and quantum physics is provably unsolvable, according to scientists at UCL, Universidad Complutense de Madrid - ICMAT and Technical University of Munich. It is the first major problem in physics for which such a fundamental limitation could be proven.

Chemistry - Physics - 07.12.2015
New approaches for hybrid solar cells
New approaches for hybrid solar cells
Using a new procedure researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Ludwig Maximillians University of Munich (LMU) can now produce extremely thin and robust, yet highly porous semiconductor layers. A very promising material - for small, light-weight, flexible solar cells, for example, or electrodes improving the performance of rechargeable batteries.

Physics - 20.11.2015
Quantum Simulation: A Better Understanding of Magnetism
Researchers at Heidelberg University have devised a new way to study the phenomenon of magnetism. Using ultracold atoms at near absolute zero, they prepared a model that simulates the behaviour of electrons in a solid, which enables the investigation of magnetic properties. The findings of the team led by Prof. Selim Jochim of the Institute for Physics are expected to contribute to a better understanding of the fundamental processes in solids and lead to the development of new types of materials over the long term.

Physics - Life Sciences - 19.11.2015
Details from the inner life of a tooth
Details from the inner life of a tooth
Both in materials science and in biomedical research it is important to be able to view minute nanostructures, for example in carbon-fiber materials and bones. A team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM), the University of Lund, Charité hospital in Berlin and the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI) have now developed a new computed tomography method based on the scattering, rather than on the absorption, of X-rays.

Physics - Astronomy / Space Science - 18.11.2015
Calibrating Quantum Machines
Theoretical Physicists at Freie Universität Berlin Develop Method to Detect Functioning of Quantum Machines Scientists at Freie Universität Berlin have developed a new method to certify the proper functioning of quantum machines. Such quantum machines allow the simulation of complex systems that cannot be simulated even with modern supercomputers.

Physics - 17.11.2015
Perpetual youth for batteries?
Perpetual youth for batteries?
A key issue with lithium ion batteries is aging. It significantly reduces their potential storage capacity. To date, very little is known about the causes of the aging effects. Scientists from the Department of Technical Electrochemistry and the Research Neutron Source FRM II at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have now come a step closer to identifying the causes in their latest experiments.
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