News in brief
News in brief
Early warning system for blackouts
The failure of even single lines in large power grids can lead to fatal chain reactions in just a few seconds – as in Europe in 2006, when large parts of the power supply were unintentionally knocked out when one line was switched off. In an international team, Jülich researchers have now developed a computer model to find such critical lines. It can detect weak points both in the planning of the power supply and during operation. Large-scale blackouts can affect millions of people – and would have catastrophic consequences in our highly technological and networked society.
– INSTITUTE OF ENERGY AND CLIMATE RESEARCH –
Genes at work in the brain
Jülich researchers have developed a digital tool which allows for a better understanding of the influence of genes on the functioning of the brain. JuGEx combines genetic information with the anatomical data of preselected brain regions. The researchers have already been able to characterise two genes that are particularly active in a brain region that is altered in patients suffering from depression. JuGEx is part of the European Human Brain Project – started in 2013, this is one of the largest neuroscience projects worldwide. In June 2018, the European Commission provided the funds for another two years.
– INSTITUTE OF NEURSCIENCE AND MEDICINE –
Scientists from Norway and Jülich have decoded the genome sequence of a parasitic plant: cuscuta compestris – or alfalfa dodder – is responsible for sometimes devastating crop losses of, for example, potatoes or rapeseed. The parasite wraps itself around the stem of its host plant and extracts water and nutrients from it. The results could help make crops more resistant to cuscuta.
– INSTITUTE OF BIO- AND GEOSCIENCES –
High-tech gummy bears
Jülich and Munich researchers have succeeded in printing an arrangement of microelectrodes, a so-called array, onto gelatine – in this case on a gummy bear with mechanical properties similar to those of the brain. They used a high-tech version of an inkjet printer filled with carbonated liquid. Until now, it had only been possible to attach electrodes to soft surfaces with great effort. In the future, microsensors of this kind could be used to measure electrical signals directly at the brain or heart.
– INSTITUTE OF COMPLEX SYSTEMS –
times faster …
… is what reactions become on average through a small building block in the body’s own enzyme DERA. The enzyme is used to produce sought-after raw materials for drugs, for example for cholesterol-lowering drugs. Researchers from Jülich and Düsseldorf discovered the previously unknown and particularly influential part of DERA. It moves so fast that only a combination of experiments with nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and molecular dynamics simulations made it visible. The findings point out new ways in which DERA could be used even more efficiently as a biocatalyst.
– INSTITUTE OF COMPLEX SYSTEMS/INSTITUTE OF BIO- AND GEOSCIENCES/CENTRAL INSTITUTE OF ENGINEERING, ELECTRONICS AND ANALYTICS –
Upright molecule masterpiece
It usually lies flat. With the aid of a scanning probe microscope, Jülich researchers have now succeeded in making an extremely thin PTCDA molecule stand up – on silver atoms serving as a “pedestal”. Building such nanostructures from complex molecules is still a challenge for scientists because molecules are difficult to control. The work is an important step towards the production of any molecular architecture and could enable a multitude of new applications in the future – even quantum computers.
– Peter Grünberg InstitutE –
JUSPARC IS BEING EXPANDED
Forschungszentrum Jülich will receive € 3.2 million from the ATHENA project for the expansion of its short pulse photon centre JuSPARC. In the future, experiments on the acceleration of short electron pulses will also be conducted in order to generate even higher photon energies. These are important for information technology, for example.
Together with an international team of researchers, Jülich scientists have developed a method that for the first time maps the magnetic structure of individual atomic layers inside a material. For their measurements, they used the ultra-high-resolution electron microscope PICO, which even shows positional shifts of individual atoms.
ENERGY TRANSITION TESTED
The Jülich campus is becoming a real laboratory for the energy transition: the “Living Lab Energy Campus” project focuses on intelligent supply systems for heat and electricity as well as chemical energy storage and mobility. Interactions between technology, IT systems and consumers are investigated in live operation.
Images: NASA images/Shutterstock.com, Forschungszentrum Jülich/HBP, Kirsten Krause, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Nouran Adly/TUM, Forschungszentrum Jülich/S. Kreklau, Forschungszentrum Jülich/T. Esat