EmpaNews 2015

What are the hot topics in research and technology? What is Empa’s role in all of this? How are inventions from the lab turned into innovations that succeed in the market? EmpaNews, our magazine for research and innovation, provides answers to these questions with interviews, portraits and exciting reports from our labs.

# 50 / Oct 2015 / Focus: Nanoparticles – invisible threat?


The production of tiny particles and their industrial use is deemed a key technology of the 21st century. Nanoparticles revolutionize many applications – from industrial products such as sunscreens or waterproofing agents for wood all the way to therapeutics. In order to pinpoint and minimize hazards, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) launched the National Research Program “Opportunities and Risks of Nanomaterials” (NRP 64). The five-year interdisciplinary program is due to finish at the end of 2015. Empa is in charge of 5 of the 23 scientific Projects. We present them here.

# 49 / July 2015 / Focus: Atmospheric research


An unique experiment is currently underway in Seelisberg: a construction physicist from Lucerne had Empa researchers install six cubic meters of special concrete in the garage of his vacation home. The concrete stores heat during the summer and releases it in the winter as and when needed. The system enables the house to be heated for weeks – sustainably and ecologically.

# 48 / April 2015 / Focus: Medical engineering  April 2015 / # 48 / Focus: Medical Engineering


Some say that back pain is the price we pay for walking upright. Others claim that the problem only really started when humankind sat down to reflect and contemplate. Thanks to a collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh and Balgrist University Hospital, Empa is beginning to decode the mechanics of the lower vertebrae. Researchers soon will be able to reveal how wear and tear comes about on vertebral bodies and spinal disks. This will make choosing the appropriate therapy much easier.

# 47 / Jan 2015 / Focus: Graphene  the miracle material


Using adhesive tape and graphite as it is found in pencil lead, two physicists proved that graphene, the “miracle material of the future”, actually exists – and won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work only a few years later. Scientists are also researching the properties of graphene at Empa. For instance, they are investigating how molecules can be used to produce well-defined graphene nanostructures that could one day serve as electronic components.