Formic acid and other organic acids in the atmosphere contribute to the formation of aerosol particles as precursors of raindrops. They thus influence cloud formation and our climate. Researchers at Jülich have now deciphered the chemical process by which most of the formic acid present in the atmosphere is produced. This makes it possible to improve atmospheric and climate models.
– Institute of Energy and Climate Research –
Forschungszentrum Jülich mourns the death of Prof. Dr.-Ing. Harald Bolt. He passed in July 2021 after a serious illness at the age of 60. The materials researcher had been a member of the Board of Directors since 2008. “He played a major role in the strategic orientation of Forschungszentrum Jülich and had a lasting impact on scientific topics as well as the positioning of energy and climate research, not to mention biosciences and geosciences. With him, we are losing an excellent strategist and a strong personality who was calm and even-tempered, very humorous, and who always had a sympathetic ear for everyone,” says Prof. Wolfgang Marquardt, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Forschungszentrum Jülich, paying tribute to the deceased. Forschungszentrum Jülich has arranged an electronic book of condolence:
Proteins normally need water to perform their functions, such as transporting oxygen. Polymers – which are long-chain molecules – can replace water. An international research team has used the muscle protein myoglobin to explore how the proteins can move and be controlled in the unfamiliar environment. To do this, the team used the SPHERES neutron backscatter spectrometer, which Forschungszentrum Jülich operates at Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum in Munich. The protein-polymer combination could help in the medical field to regenerate cells of heart attack patients.
– Jülich Centre for Neutron Science –
Structural changes in the brain that cause Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases do not start in random places. They do not spread randomly either. Instead, they run along functional networks that are active in the healthy brain such as when the person reads or performs movements. An international team with Jülich participation found this out using a meta-analysis, in which the researchers statistically evaluated several studies on the same topic.
– Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine –
has been awarded to Prof. Ulf-G. Meißner as an Advanced Grant by the European Research Council (ERC). The physicist, who conducts research at Jülich and Bonn, works on the strong interaction; this is the force that, among other things, holds neutrons and protons together in atomic nuclei. With the ERC funding, he wants to explore, among other things, what happens when the light quarks – the components of neutrons and protons – are replaced by strange quarks in atomic nuclei.
– Institute for Advanced Simulation–
The muon puzzles physicists. The elementary particle – a short-lived cousin of the electron – generates a magnetic field around itself whose measured value is greater than theoretically expected. Experts see this as an indication of new, uncharted physics. However, the gap between the two values may be smaller than previously thought: uniquely precise calculations, carried out for the most part on Jülich supercomputers, led to a higher theoretical value. Independent measurements in the USA showed a minimally lower experimental value. More investigation is necessary to show whether the values need to be adjusted further and whether there is actually a new physics behind the deviation.
– Jülich Supercomputing Centre –
Heads or tails? If we toss two coins in the air, the outcome of one coin toss has nothing to do with the outcome of the other. The case is different with quantum particles: they can be entangled and can then only be described in conjunction. Jülich researchers, together with partners from TU Wien, have succeeded in producing beams of quantum-entangled atoms. Among other things, these could help to build more precise sensors in the future, for example for gravity measurements.
– Peter Grünberg Institute –
In an interview, quantum physicist Prof. Dr. Tommaso Calarco explains the possibilities opened up by the new method for producing quantum entangled atomic beams.
Professor Calarco, some timr ago, you published a new speed limit for the transport of quantum information with atoms. Shortly afterwards, your study on the entanglement of atoms appeared – a coincidence?
Yes, it is indeed pure coincidence that these two results have now emerged almost simultaneously. These experiments in Vienna were also preceded by years of preparation. The crucial point is that we succeeded in entangling not just individual atoms, but really a large number of atoms and emitting them in a targeted manner. Although the atoms move away from each other, their state continues to depend on each other due to quantum entanglement. Until now, this was only possible with photons.
What opportunities does the new method open up?
In principle, of course, this is first of all a result of basic research. On the one hand, one obviously wants to realise analogous systems as with light, with the aim of realising the phenomena with a different system, namely with atoms. On the other hand, there are already atomic lasers that generate coherent beams with atoms that all have the same speed and move coherently. There are applications for this in interferometry, for example, where tiny fields are measured. In principle, this makes extremely accurate sensors possible, for example for navigation systems, which could be further improved by entanglement. In addition, atoms have different properties than photons.
What is so special about atoms?
Photons, for example, have no mass. They don't care about gravity at all, so you can't use them directly to measure gravity. But with atoms this would be possible because they have a mass; and with coherent mass states in the form of entangled atoms, gravity could be measured even more precisely. There is a French quantum start-up, Muquans, which is already developing gravimeters based on atoms. So far, they don't use entanglement, but I'm pretty sure that with entangled atoms you would have additional advantages.
Prof. Frauke Melchior and Dr. Astrid Lambrecht have been appointed to the Board of Directors of Forschungszentrum Jülich in the first half of 2021. Physicist Astrid Lambrecht took office at the beginning of June. Previously, the 54-year-old headed the scientific physics division of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris. She also brings a great deal of experience from numerous international science organizations. Her research on quantum fluctuations and the forces they excite extends from the basics to application.
Prof. Frauke Melchior has been on the Board since April. As a professor at the Centre for Molecular Biology (ZBMH) at Heidelberg University, the 58-year-old biochemist researched the control of cellular processes by the protein SUMO. As a member of the Senate of the German Research Foundation (DFG) and as Dean at Heidelberg University, she was also active in science management.
“It is particularly important to me to expand existing interdisciplinary interfaces and to find new ones. However, we must not forget to strengthen the disciplines themselves so that they can continue to achieve great things.”
Dr. Astrid Lambrecht
“The promotion of young talent from doctoral researchers to temporary group leaders has been a topic that has stayed with me for years and that is very near and dear to me.”
Prof. Frauke Melchior
Photos: Forschungszentrum Jülich/Ralf-Uwe Limbach, Warwick Bromley, Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn, Uni Wuppertal/thavis gmbh, Hamara, Adisorn Saovadee, B. Franco et al, Ubiquitous atmospheric production of organic acids mediated by cloud droplets, Nature, May 2021, DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03462-x (CC BY 4.0)