News from the SNI network

Image: Department of Physics, University of Basel

Data storage using individual molecules

Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal small, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.


Image: Department of Physics, University of Basel

Cryo-force spectroscopy reveals the mechanical properties of DNA components

Physicists from the University of Basel have developed a new method to examine the elasticity and binding properties of DNA molecules on a surface at extremely low temperatures. With a combination of cryo-force spectroscopy and computer simulations, they were able to show that DNA molecules behave like a chain of small coil springs. The researchers reported their findings in Nature Communications.


Image: Department of Physics, University of Basel

Super superlattices: The moiré patterns of three layers change the electronic properties of graphene

Combining an atomically thin graphene and a boron nitride layer at a slightly rotated angle changes their electrical properties. Physicists at the University of Basel have now shown for the first time the combination with a third layer can result in new material properties also in a three-layer sandwich of carbon and boron nitride. This significantly increases the number of potential synthetic materials, report the researchers in the scientific journal Nano Letters.


Image: Department of Physics, University of Basel

Spontaneous spin polarization demonstrated in a two-dimensional material

Physicists from the University of Basel have demonstrated spin alignment of free electrons within a two-dimensional material. Writing in the latest edition of Nature Nanotechnology, they described their observation of spontaneous spin polarization, which cannot occur in ideal two-dimensional materials according to a well-known theorem from the 1960s.


EU research funding for two SNI Board members Alex Schier and Ernst Meyer

The European Research Council has awarded two University of Basel scientists each a generously endowed ERC Advanced Grant. Biologist Professor Alex Schier and physicist Professor Ernst Meyer will each receive funding in the six figures for their innovative research projects.

Image: Department of Physics, University of Basel

9.1 million euros for trinational quantum research

The project Quantum Science and Technologies at the European Campus (QUSTEC) has been selected by the European Commission as a joint international and interdisciplinary doctoral program in quantum sciences and technologies. Led by Eucor – The European Campus, it will bring together the Universities of Basel, Freiburg and Strasbourg, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and IBM Research Zurich.

Image: Department of Physics, University of Basel

Unprecedented insight into two-dimensional magnets using diamond quantum sensors

For the first time, physicists at the University of Basel have succeeded in measuring the magnetic properties of atomically thin van der Waals materials on the nanoscale. They used diamond quantum sensors to determine the strength of the magnetization of individual atomic layers of the material chromium triiodide. In addition, they found a long-sought explanation for the unusual magnetic properties of the material. The journal Science has published the findings.


Image: D-BSSE, ETH Zürich

Mechanobiology based on atomic force microscopy

Over the last three decades, atomic force microscopy (AFM) has become a key platform for the characterization of morphological and mechanical properties of living biological systems. An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the SNI network has summarized the pros and cons of atomic force microscopy in the journal Nature Reviews Physics, describing how AFM technology can be combined with other methods. The researchers also discuss how mechanical properties can be directly linked to function.


Image: Department of Physics, University of Basel

Decoupled graphene thanks to potassium bromide

The use of potassium bromide in the production of graphene on a copper surface can lead to better results. When potassium bromide molecules arrange themselves between graphene and copper, it results in electronic decoupling. This alters the electrical properties of the graphene produced, bringing them closer to pure graphene, as reported by physicists from the universities of Basel, Modena and Munich in the journal ACS Nano.


The combination is key

Scientists from the SNI network have described how electron diffraction can be used to determine crystal structures efficiently. As part of the Nano Argovia project A3EDPI, the researchers combined an EIGER hybrid pixel detector with a classical electron microscope and calibrated the system to allow the quick and reliable calculation of diffraction data. 

Writing in the journal Acta Crystallographica, they describe the results of this interdisciplinary collaboration by researchers from the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), the Universities of Basel and Dortmund, ETH Zurich, and Dectris (Baden-Daettwil).