Yearbook 2009

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The department "Physics of correlated Matters" of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids in Dresden is installing a new spectrometer at the synchrotron research facility Spring8 in Japan to carry out photoemission measurements using hard x-rays. The high kinetic energies of the emitted photoelectrons provide a much increased probing depth, facilitating considerably the use of photoelectron spectroscopy for chemical analysis of a wide range of materials. more
The formation and evolution of supermassive black holes is an important area of research at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE). A lot of progress was made in the last couple of years using instruments with increasing spatial resolution. The integral-field spectrograph SINFONI built at MPE and now at the Very Large Telescope in Chile is presently the best instrument available to find hidden, inactive black holes in the centres of galaxies. It allows to observe hitherto unstudied galaxy types, yielding important conclusions on the co-evolution of supermassive black holes and their host galaxies. more
The mean ionic charge of solar energetic particles provides critical information for the determination of the source and the acceleration region of the ions. Gradual events show at energies < 0.5 MeV/amu a mean ionic charge of Qm ≈ 10 for iron ions, suggesting a solar wind origin and acceleration by coronal or interplanetary shock waves. Impulsive events show a large increase of Qm(Fe) at 0.1–0.5 MeV/amu from 11 to 20. This can only be explained by acceleration and ionisation in a plasma of sufficiently high density in the low corona, at altitudes of < 0.3 RS (RS: solar radius). more
Effective field theories represent one of the main tools to make predictions in elementary particle physics. They are particularly important for the Large Hadron Collider to achieve accurate descriptions of the effects of the strong interactions and are therefore an important ingredient in the search for new physics. In this review article the basic principles of effective field theories are described, and the most important effective field theories used in research are presented. Members of the MPI for Physics have made many contributions in the development and the application of effective field theories. more
Searching for "New Physics" beyond the Standard Model is one of the main motivations for the new generation of particle accelerators, such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, or the future "B-factory" SuperKEKB in Japan. In particular, the matter-antimatter-asymmetry observed in the Universe ("CP-violation") is not correctly predicted by the Standard Model. For the experiments at SuperKEKB a novel, high-resolution particle track-detector is in development led by the Max Planck Institute for Physics. Such a detector is essential for the precise measurement of the CP-violation, and will start its measurements at SuperKEKB in 2014. more

Photonic Crystal Fibres

Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light Euser, Tijmen; Joly, Nicolas; Nazarkin, Alexander; Russell, Philip; Scharrer, Michael; Schmidt, Markus
Abstract Microstructured photonic crystal fibres (PCF) provide new ways to guide light, permitting for example tight confinement of laser light in a hollow core. We report recent developments in three research areas: laser guidance of particles in liquid-filled hollow core PCF, laser frequency conversion in hydrogen gas, and in-fibre arrays of metal and glass nanowires. more
Spin systems are mostly known for collective magnetic ordering behavior at low temperature. In this brief review two exotic possibilities for novel ground states driven by the interplay of magnetic frustration and quantum fluctuations are discussed together with prospects to experimentally observe these phases. more

A guiding light for electrons

Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics Kremer, Manuel; Fischer, Bettina; Moshammer, Robert; Feuerstein, Bernold; Ullrich, Joachim
Ultrashort laser pulses enable to steer the simplest chemical reaction, i. e. the breakup of an H2+ molecular ion, into a proton and a neutral H atom such that the electron is preferably emitted with one of the protons in a specific direction. In addition, the application of a reaction microscope allows for a complete determination of the reaction dynamics including the emitted electron. The method is based on a pure quantum effect and marks an important step towards controlled manipulation of chemical reactions. more

Neutrinos: fundamental insights from puzzling particles

Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics Hönes, Gertrud; Lindner, Manfred; Rodejohann, Werner; Schwetz-Mangold, Thomas
Experiments with solar, atmospheric, reactor and accelerator neutrinos showed that the properties of neutrinos differ from the standard model of particle physics. Neutrinos are able to convert periodically from one type into another. These oscillations demonstrate that neutrinos mix with each other like quarks and must possess mass. Both neutrino properties, mass and mixing, lead to important consequences for nuclear, particle and astrophysics as well as cosmology. Novel experiments aim to measure the neutrino properties more precisely. more

Development of chemical probes in proteases research

Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology Kaiser, Markus; Clerc, Jérôme; Hauske, Patrick; Mönig, Timon; Krahn, Daniel
Proteases are involved in countless biological processes. The application of selective small molecules for studying the biological function and regulation of proteases represents a promising alternative to established methods such as knock-out approaches. Here the development of such chemical tools from natural products and by rational design is reported with emphasis on progress in the application of the natural product syringolin as a proteasome inhibitor and the development of small molecule probes for HtrA proteases. more
Each cell of higher organisms contains a nucleus where the genetic material is tightly packed. In order to utilize genes, parts of the genetic material need to be unpacked, and protein complexes are involved in the process. Other protein complexes, conversely, function to prevent access to genes disabling gene expression. more
Modern molecular biology employs high-throughput methods, for example to determine genome sequences. Their analysis and interpretation increasingly requires integration of heterogeneous data. Standards for access to biological data and web service technologies can facilitate automated finding and invocation of bioinformatics resources. more
Plasma membranes are dynamic compartments with key functions in solute transport, cell shape and in communication between cells and the environment. In all organisms plasma membranes are compartmented into sterol-rich microdomains, which are defined by their resistance to treatment with non-ionic detergents and have specific roles in signal transduction and regulatory processes. This microdomains are called "lipid rafts”. Now the composition of true sterol-dependent 'raft proteins' and sterol-independent 'non-raft' proteins was for the first time experimentally clearly defined. more
New materials capable of withstanding very high loads are being developed by the ExtreMat (New Materials for Extreme Environments) research programme, an integrated project of the European Union. A European research and industrial consortium headed by Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics at Garching is working on the development of innovative high-grade materials. These are to open up new areas of application in nuclear fusion, nuclear fission, electronics and space technology. more

Transport Simulations for Wendelstein 7-X

Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (Greifswald) Maaßberg, Henning; Feng, Yühe; Geiger, Joachim; Turkin, Yuriy
Wendelstein 7-X, currently under construction at the Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik in Greifswald, is a highly optimised stellarator. Within the rather flexible magnetic configuration space of Wendelstein 7-X, the different optimisation criteria are confirmed by predictive transport simulations, which can also contribute to the design and control of plasma discharges in the later experiments. more
Strategies to control phenomena at the interface between artificial materials and biological systems are relevant for many fields ranging from biosensing to tissue engineering. The inertness and static character of artificial surfaces contrasts with the dynamic, reversible and evolutionary character of biological processes. This gap can be filled with novel strategies that allow precise and active change of the surface properties by application of ready-available and biological friendly external fields. more
The formation of dew, i.e., condensation of water on cold substrates involves the formation of complex patterns, breath figures. Growth and merging of droplets and the overall volume of condensed liquid depend sensitively on the local environment of the droplets and the mechanical properties of the substrate. The softer the substrate, the more drops condense onto it, and the more strongly the drops interact with the substrate. more
Early-life stress causes attachment of elementary chemical markings – so-called methyl groups – to our genetic material, resulting in persistent alteration of the activity of genes. This discovery was possible by help of mice which were separated from their mothers shortly after birth and, as a consequence of this, showed elevated stress hormones and reduced stress tolerance all their life. In case of corresponding disposition both are precursors to major depression. more
This study investigated how children acquire intonation as a focus-marker in Dutch. The use of intonation in different information structural contexts was analysed for children from four age groups (1- to 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4- to 5-year-olds, and 7- to 8-year-olds) in both spontaneous and elicited production. Results show that children go through distinct development stages before becoming adult-like in the use of intonation in focus marking at the age of 7 or 8. more
If the content of our minds depends in part on the structure of our bodies, then people with different body types should think differently. To test this proposal, scientists at the MPI for Psycholinguistics used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to determine the neural correlates of language comprehension and motor imagery cued by verbs that name actions people tend to perform with their dominant hand (write, throw). Action verb understanding and action imagery were differently lateralized in right- and left-handers’ brains, consistent with the way they perform the actions with their particular bodies. more
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