EmpaNews No 33 published

Focus: International Year of Chemistry

21 mai 2011 | SABINE VOSER MÖBUS

Every material – just like every substance – is made up of chemical elements. It’s no wonder, then, that a large number of chemists are hard at work at Empa. They are looking into new materials which are expected to be more effective, less expensive and environmentally friendlier than those being used today. For this, they are synthesising countless as yet unknown materials and studying their properties.


A further important area for chemistry is analytics. Researchers can, for example, follow how long-lasting pollutants, some of which have been banned for decades, can accumulate in various ecosystems. On the occasion of the “International Year of Chemistry”, EmpaNews takes a peek into laboratories.

We hope you will enjoy reading our magazine!

Further Information: PDF of the Focus



Research and Development

  • In atomic resolution
    For the first time, scientists from Empa and ETH Zurich have, in collaboration with a Dutch team, managed to measure the atomic structure of individual nanoparticles. The technique, recently published in “Nature”, could help better understand the properties of nanoparticles in future.
    Further Information: PDF of the Article
  • Plastic fabric for solar cells & co
    In pliable thin-film solar cells, a transparent and flexible electrode collects the light and conducts the electric current. Empa researchers have developed a polymer-based fabric electrode which is now showing first promising results and presents an alternative to indium tin oxide coatings.
    Further Information: PDF of the Article
  • Tracking down enzymes
    Enzymes are environmental friendly and work under mild conditions. It's no wonder that industry is interested in thes "biocatalysts". Empa researchers are investigating laccase, an enzyme that is of particular interest for the textile and wood-processing industries. Here, interdisciplinary cooperation is essential.
    Further Information: PDF of the Article

Knowledge and technology transfer

  • Into chemical depths
    With chemical depth profiles, it’s possible to analyse thin layers, such as in solar cells, for their chemical composition from top to bottom. This lets scientists and engineers check whether the materials used are present in the desired order and purity. Empa researchers have developed an instrument which can create the chemical depth profile of very thin layers quickly and with high resolution.
    Further Information: PDF of the Article

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