News from the networkSNI INSight December 2020
Efficient valves for electron spins
Researchers at the University of Basel in collaboration with colleagues from Pisa have developed a new concept that uses the electron spin to switch an electrical current. In addition to fundamental research, such spin valves are also the key elements in spintronics – a type of electronics that exploits the spin instead of the charge of electrons. The results were published in the scientific journal Communications Physics.
A highly light-absorbent and tunable material
By layering different two-dimensional materials, physicists at the University of Basel have created a novel structure with the ability to absorb almost all light of a selected wavelength. The achievement relies on a double layer of molybdenum disulfide. The new structure’s particular properties make it a candidate for applications in optical components or as a source of individual photons, which play a key role in quantum research. The results were published in the scientific journal Nature Nanotechnology.
A tiny instrument to measure the faintest magnetic fields
Physicists at the University of Basel have developed a minuscule instrument able to detect extremely faint magnetic fields. At the heart of the superconducting quantum interference device are two atomically thin layers of graphene, which the researchers combined with boron nitride. Instruments like this one have applications in areas such as medicine, besides being used to research new materials.
Bioactive nano-capsules to hijack cell behavior
Many diseases are caused by defects in signaling pathways of body cells. In the future, bioactive nanocapsules could become a valuable tool for medicine to control these pathways. Researchers from the University of Basel have taken an important step in this direction: They succeed in having several different nanocapsules work in tandem to amplify a natural signaling cascade and influence cell behavior.
How bacteria reinforce their protective shield
Researchers at the University of Basel have discovered a new mechanism by which bacteria ensure that their outer cell membrane remains intact and functional even under hostile conditions. This mechanism is important for the pathogen’s survival in the host. The study provides new insights underlying pathogenic virulence.
An artificial cell on a chip
Researchers at the University of Basel have developed a precisely controllable system for mimicking biochemical reaction cascades in cells. Using microfluidic technology, they produce miniature polymeric reaction containers equipped with the desired properties. This “cell on a chip” is useful not only for studying processes in cells, but also for the development of new synthetic pathways for chemical applications or for biological active substances in medicine.
It’s getting colder outside, the nights are getting longer, and many leisure activities are currently on hold. Luckily, we’re now entering the Advent season, when we can make our homes a little cozier with the help of fairy lights and cookies. What’s more, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute of the University of Basel is demonstrating festive experiments that people can try out at home to keep themselves entertained over Advent.
Quick and sensitive identification of multidrug-resistant germs
Researchers from the University of Basel have developed a sensitive testing system that allows the rapid and reliable detection of resistance in bacteria. The system is based on tiny, functionalized cantilevers that bend due to binding of sample material. In the analyses, the system was able to detect resistance in a sample quantity equivalent to 1–10 bacteria.
Christof Sparr receives ERC Consolidator Grant
The European Research Council (ERC) awards three researchers from the University of Basel with one of the coveted ERC Consolidator Grants. One of these is Prof. Dr. Christof Sparr.
He investigates new synthetic methods to control the configuration of stereoisomers with higher-order stereogenic elements. These are chemical compounds with identical binding patterns that differ in the spatial arrangements of their atoms.