Yearbook 2008

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Magnetic resonance spectroscopy as a local probe: Investigations of structure and magnetism in intermetallic compounds

Max Planck Institute for Chemical Physics of Solids Haarmann, Frank; Baenitz, Michael; Brüning, Eva; Geibel, Christoph; Goebel, Thorsten; Jegli¿, Peter; Koch, Katrin; Pecher, Oliver; Rosner, Helge; Steglich, Frank; Grin, Yuri
The interaction of structure and magnetism of intermetallic compounds depends on the local as well as on the periodic assembly of the atoms. In order to understand the contribution of the local properties investigations by means of appropriate methods are necessary. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy seams to by highly suited for this task. more
Elliptical galaxies are surrounded by extended, diffuse stellar halos. In dense galaxy clusters, these halos interact and may be dissolved to form part of the so-called intracluster light. Through Planetary Nebula stars, it has been possible to investigate the kinematics and dynamics in some of these halos, giving new constraints on the formation and on-going evolution of these galaxies. more
The hitherto most distant gamma-ray burst (GRB) was recently discovered using the novel 7-channel imager GROND (Gamma-Ray Burst Optical Near-IR Detector), implying the existence of massive stars at an age of the universe of only 800 million years. In addition, GROND delivers unique data concerning the short-time variability of the GRB afterglow which allowed to solve the mystery of the nature of the so-called X-ray flares. more
The Standard Model of elementary particles describes all observed properties of elementary particles with impressive accuracy, with one exception: neutrino masses. Neutrino masses are the first clear evidence from particle physics that the Standard Model has to be extended. Neutrino oscillations are quantum processes which have led to the discovery of neutrino masses. In the future they can again provide surprising discoveries: Like a magnifying glass they can make further new Physics visible and thereby contribute to the search for the new Standard Model. more
Completely new technologies are needed to go beyond the energies of present day particle accelerators. Two new concepts are currently being worked out at the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich. The first of these concepts makes use of plasma wakefields. Plasmas can support extremely high electric fields, and would therefore allow for much more compact accelerators. The second possibility investigated is to accelerate muons, a heavier version of the electron. The muon combines the advantages of both electrons (point-like nature) and protons (heavy). more
The generation of shorter and shorter laser pulses is a great technological challenge. When trying to accomplish this task we have an important ally: the pulse itself. In so called Femtosecond Filaments self-compression of ultrashort light pulses is possible. more
In cosmic accelerators particles are accelerated to much higher energies than achievable with man-made accelerators. By observing these objects in very-high-energy gamma rays, the H.E.S.S. telescopes in Namibia make significant contributions towards their identification and to the understanding of their acceleration mechanisms. more

Putting atoms on the scales – precision mass measurements of radionuclides in a Penning trap

Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics Blaum, Klaus; George, Sebastian; Schweikhard, Lutz (Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität Greifswald)
Similar to a fingerprint atoms can be identified by their mass. It reflects even their “emotional state”, i.e. if and how much they are excited. This is due to the fact that the mass comprises – according to Albert Einstein’s famous equation E = mc2 – all building blocks and their interactions. Precise Penning trap mass measurements of short-lived nuclides, as performed with ISOLTRAP at CERN, therefore provide among others stringent tests of competing nuclear models as well as of the Standard Model of particle physics. Furthermore they extend our knowledge on stellar nucleosynthesis. more

Bioactive peptide natural compounds in chemical biology

Max Planck Institute of Molecular Physiology Arndt, Hans-Dieter; Baumann, Sascha; Lu, Jin-Yong; Riedrich, Matthias; Schoof, Sebastian
Peptide natural products are structurally related small molecules which occur in nature and display broad biological activity. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute in Dortmund focused on thiopeptides and on chondramide C, potent antibiotics and an F-actin addressing cytostatic. Progress in elucidating their molecular mode of action, in designing derived fluorescent probes and in access by chemical synthesis is reported. more
MIKC* MADS-box proteins constitute a regulatory network controlling important processes in pollen development of Arabidopsis thaliana. Comparative analysis of function, evolution, and systems biology of the MIKC* transcription factor family may allow a deeper understanding of land plant gametophytes. more
Global change threatens agricultural production and represents a challenge for plant breeding research. Consequently, research focuses on elucidating the genetic regulation of adaptation to drought stress in crop plants. Barley is a good model for analysing genetic adaptation mechanisms, as it is characterized by tolerance to abiotic stress and a high genetic diversity. Understanding the genetic regulation of flowering time, for example, will allow the targeted manipulation of development during the breeding process and hence adaptation to changing environments. more
Phosphate (P) limitation is an important and common stress for plants in many parts of the world. Plants have evolved a number of adaptive mechanisms to cope with and to survive in such conditions. Apart from the acquisition of alternative external P sources and more efficient use of internal P, the maintenance of phosphate homeostasis plays an important role in this scenario. Homeostasis thereby involves sensible reallocation of the spare resource taken up by the roots to growing and reproductive organs. The regulatory mechanism required for this purpose has now been elucidated and yields surprising insights. more
In order to qualify tungsten as surface material for a future fusion reactor, the plasma facing carbon tiles of ASDEX Upgrade were coated with tungsten. The first experimental campaign – without wall conditioning by deposition of boron – demonstrated a favourable behaviour of tungsten with regard to hydrogen retention. After boronization, the reduced impurity content caused low intrinsic radiation. Injection of nitrogen re-established a radiative level required to protect the divertor from thermal overload, resulting also in an (unexpected) improvement of the energy confinement. more
The development of stationary plasma operation scenarios is of utmost importance in next step devices in view of a future fusion power station. A necessary prerequisite is a stationary magnetic field configuration, a continuously operating heating system and a stationary energy and particle control. Among the different heating methods heating with strong microwaves is attractive with respect to physics capabilities and technological properties. The most powerful microwave plant with steady state capability is presently under construction for the Wendelstein 7-X stellarator at the Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik (IPP) Greifswald. more
Conducting organic materials aim to compete with traditional silicon-based technology for optoelectronic applications, for instance light-emitting diodes, solar cells and transistors. To further develop these materials for commercial applications, a profound understanding of the relation between chemical structure and optical / electronic properties is required. Recent advances in optical spectroscopy with pulsed lasers allow studying the photophysical processes down to a timescale of femtoseconds. more

Organic Semiconductors for Electronic Devices

Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research Baumgarten, Martin; Li, Chen; Feng, Xinliang; Müllen, Klaus
Organic semiconductors allow the preparation of low-cost, flexible and large-area processable devices such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs), field-effect transistors (FETs), photovoltaic cells (PVs), and sensor materials. Thereby a lot of basic science is involved, since besides of technical optimizations there is also a strong need for new synthetic building blocks. Thus actual research focuses on the development of tailored functional organic materials and their processing as films of suitable morphology for the individual applications. more
The FK506-binding protein 51 (FKBP51) regulates the signal transduction of steroid hormone receptors and is genetically associated with a variety of affective disorders. Two key steps for a better understanding of this protein in mammalian behaviour are the characterization of transgenic mice and the development of specific inhibitors. The latter further have the potential to study the role of FKBP51 in clinical studies. more
This paper presents a project which tests the hypothesis of the universality of facial expressions of emotions crossculturally and crosslinguistically. First results are presented which contradict the hypothesis. more
The speech melody of an utterance indicates, among others, if an utterance was intended as a question or a statement and which information the speaker conveys as new or contrastive to the precontext. Research at the MPI for Psycholinguistics shows that listeners are able to use this information efficiently to predict the further course of the utterance or to infer the contrast that was available for the speaker but not explicitly expressed. This ability might be responsible for the efficiency of speech communication. more
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