News in brief
News in brief
Caution, heavy rain
Heavy rain swamps roads, floods underground garages and can trigger mudslides. It often causes considerable damage and endangers people. Researchers from Jülich and Hanover have developed methods which can assess in detail the threat that heavy rain poses to municipalities. They created a digital information system including corresponding maps for the federal state of Hesse. Municipalities, ministries and also private individuals can use it to take efficient precautions.
– Institute of Bio- and Geosciences –
Quantum strategy systematically
The Helmholtz Association published a quantum strategy in March 2020. The Jülich Chairman Prof. Wolfgang Marquardt coordinates the Helmholtz Research Field Key Technologies.
Mr Marquardt, what is the strategy about?
Helmholtz addresses many aspects of quantum technologies. With this strategy, we are bundling our competencies and setting ourselves clear objectives that we want to achieve within seven years. Reviewers highly praised the concept, especially for its systemic approach.
What are these objectives?
We not only want to clarify fundamental questions, but also, together with our partners, develop concrete technologies such as a quantum computer and components for quantum communication. Science and industry must work together in new formats to achieve this. It is precisely these objectives that are also contained in the Federal Government’s “future package” – an important signal.
What can Jülich contribute to this?
Jülich is broadly positioned, especially in quantum computing. We are working on various types of qubits, the memory elements of a quantum computer, but we are also developing entire systems – such as a quantum computer together with German and European partners.
Christian Hohlfeld asked the questions.
A detailed interview can be accessed online:
battery storage units
… in German private households were storing surplus electricity from photovoltaic systems at the end of 2019. This means an increase of 48 per cent compared to 2018. The total capacity of the storage units has increased by 53 per cent to 1,420 megawatt hours, as shown in an analysis by researchers from Jülich and Aachen. This corresponds to the average annual electricity consumption of 350 four-person households. There was also a significant increase in the capacity of stationary large battery storage systems, which are primarily used to stabilise the power grids.
– Institute of Energy and Climate Research –
Ozone loss over the Arctic
This winter, ozone losses in the stratosphere over the Arctic have been greater than in previous years. As calculations by Jülich climate researchers have shown, this was mainly due to the particularly low temperatures in the stratosphere. In addition, the Arctic polar vortex was stable for an exceptionally long phase this year, so that ozone depletion took place over a longer period of time.
– Institute of Energy and Climate Research –
Prize winner: Prof. Knut Urban
Prof. Knut Urban, Senior Professor of the Jülich Aachen Research Alliance (JARA), received the Kavli Prize for Nanoscience, along with Prof. Harald Rose, Prof. Maximilian Haider and Prof. Ondrej Krivanek, for further developing electron microscopy. The researchers’ work formed the basis for a new generation of high-precision devices that make it possible to image and study materials at atomic resolution. The Kavli Prize is endowed with $ 1 million.
– Ernst Ruska-Center for Microscopy and Spectroscopy with Electrons –
Artificial synapses made to measure
Scientists around the world are working on energy-efficient computers that are based on the way the human brain functions. They rely on components that are capable of learning – similar to the synapses of human nervous systems. Researchers from the Jülich Aachen Research Alliance (JARA) and the Heraeus technology group have now discovered how the switching properties of these so-called memristive elements can be specifically influenced: what is decisive are material differences so small that they have so far been overlooked by experts.
– Peter Grünberg Institute –
With memristive elements, the strength of electrical transmission can be changed analogously by applying voltage. In so-called electrochemical metallisation cells (ECM), a metallic filament forms between the two outer metallic layers. This effectively shortens the distance between the two layers, which increases conductivity. Voltage pulses with reversed polarity can be used to shrink the filament again until the cell reaches its initial state.
Synapses – the connections between the nerve cells – have the peculiarity of transmitting signals of varying strength when they are excited by an electrical signal in quick succession. Among other things, the repeated activity increases the concentration of calcium ions so that more messenger substances are released. Other effects, depending on the activity, cause long-term structural transformations that affect the strength of the transmission for a few hours and possibly even for life.
Better view of nerve fibers
A new method makes the courses of nerve fibres in the brain visible with micrometre precision and in detail, even where the fibres cross. This helps to better understand the structure and functioning of the brain. The method involves the use of a light microscope to shine through brain slices and analyse the scattering of light. Complex simulations on supercomputers helped the researchers from Jülich, Groningen and Florence in developing the method.
– Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine –
Errors improve storage
In the future, data could be stored in the form of tiny magnetic vortices – so-called skyrmions. Correspondingly powerful and energy-saving chips still only exist as a concept. Computer simulations from Jülich physicists have now shown an unusual, but useful effect: material defects improve the performance of a specific type of these data storage devices. Defects are normally undesirable in nanoelectronic components.
– Peter Grünberg Institute/Institute for Advanced Simulation –
Photos: Forschungszentrum Jülich, Forschungszentrum Jülich/R. Limbach, Forschungszentrum Jülich/M. Menzel, Piyawat Nandeenopparit