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03.03.2015, Research news
Unified theory for skyrmion-materials

The taming of magnetic vortices

Magnetic spin-waves in a solid - Illustration: Christoph Hohmann / NIM

Magnetic vortex structures, so-called skyrmions, could in future store and process information very efficiently. They could also be the basis for high-frequency components. For the first time, a team of physicists succeeded in characterizing the electromagnetic properties of insulating, semiconducting and conducting skyrmion-materials and developed a unified theoretical description of their behavior. This lays the foundation for future electronic components with purpose-designed properties.

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02.03.2015, Research news
Important mechanism in plant immunity decoded

Plants detect bacterial endotoxin in similar process to mammals

The scientists investigated the immune mechanisms of plants against lipopolysaccharide with the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana. (Photo: Stefanie Ranf / TUM)

Similar to humans and animals, plants possess an innate immune system that protects them from invading pathogens. Molecular structures that do not occur in people, animals or plants enable recognition of these pathogens and trigger the immune response. Lipopolysaccharide (endotoxin) is one such substance, occurring in the outer membrane of certain bacteria. A team of scientists from Technische Universität München (TUM), the Leibniz Institute of Plant Biochemistry (IPB) in Halle and the Leibniz-Center for Medicine and Biosciences in Borstel has now described the first endotoxin immunosensor in plants.

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27.02.2015, Research news
Study at DESY’s X-ray source points the way to higher energy yields

Magnetic nanoparticles enhance performance of solar cells

Crystalline structures within polymer solar cells cause characteristic diffraction patterns in experiments with synchrotron radiation. (Picture: TU München)

Magnetic nanoparticles can increase the performance of solar cells made from polymers – provided the mix is right. This is the result of an X-ray study at DESY’s synchrotron radiation source PETRA III. Adding about one per cent of such nanoparticles by weight makes the solar cells more efficient, according to the findings of a team of scientists headed by Prof. Peter Müller-Buschbaum from the Technical University of Munich. They are presenting their study in one of the upcoming issues of the journal Advanced Energy Materials.

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26.02.2015, Research news
Caging of molecules allows investigation of equilibrium thermodynamics

Moving molecules write letters

The nanopore restricts the the freedom of movement of the adsorbed single molecule – Image: C.-A. Palma / TUM

High performance materials for gas storage, thermal insulators or nanomachines need a thorough understanding of the behavior of the material down to the molecular level. Thermodynamics, which have been developed two hundred years ago to increase the efficiency of steam engines, typically observes and averages over a large number of molecules. Now a team of scientists has developed a methodology, to investigate the equilibrium thermodynamics of single molecules.

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26.02.2015, Research news
Immunotherapy with natural signaling substance relieves skin condition

Marshaling the body’s own weapons against psoriasis

The picture shows cells in human psoriatic skin lesions of psoriasis patients before IL-4 therapy. The signaling molecule IL-23 was stained with a red dye, the cell nuclei with a green one. (Picture: E. Guenova, Y. Skabytska, W. Hoetzenecker, G. Weindl, K. Sauer, M. Tham, K.-W. Kim, J.-H. Park, J. H. Seo, D. Ignatova, A. Cozzio, M. P. Levesque, T. Volz, M. Köberle, S. Kaesler, P. Thomas, R. Mailhammer, K. Ghoreschi, K. Schäkel, B. Amarov, M. Eichner, M. Schaller, R. A. Clark, M. Röcken, und T. Biedermann, IL-4 abrogates TH17 cell-mediated inflammation by selective silencing of IL-23 in antigen-presenting cells, PNAS, Feb 2015, 112(7), 2163–2168, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1416922112.)

A three-character code brings relief to patients with psoriasis and sheds light on complex immunoregulation processes: IL-4, an abbreviation for the endogenous signaling molecule Interleukin 4. The substance’s ability to inhibit inflammation is well known, but its mechanism of action was not fully understood. Scientists from the Technische Universität München (TUM) and the University of Tübingen have now shown in an animal model and in a study on patients exactly how IL-4 helps against psoriasis at the molecular level and the important role it plays in our immune system.

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23.02.2015, Research news
Tunnel fires: Preventing explosive spalling of concrete

How fibers help prevent fire damage

Ronald Richter sitting in front of a  concrete slab.

When fire breaks out in a tunnel the ensuing heat has little possibility of escaping. Temperatures rise rapidly to over 1000 degrees Celsius. The heat that develops causes the concrete to spall explosively, weakening the structural integrity of the tunnel. This can be prevented by adding polypropylene fibers to the concrete. But what exactly happens inside the concrete? Engineers at the Technische Universität München (TUM) have found a way to measure this. 

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17.02.2015, Research news
A simple catalyst helps to construct complex biological scaffolds

From the scent of geranium to cough medicine

The octahedron-like cage catalyzes the cyclization reaction - Image: Johannes Richers / TUM

Terpenes and their derivatives exert important biological and pharmaceutical functions. Starting out from a few basic building blocks nature elegantly builds up complex structures. Chemically particularly challenging are bridged ring systems such as eucalyptol. Chemists at the Technische Universität München (TUM) have now developed a catalyst that initiates the formation of such compounds. A special feature of the catalyst: it self-assembles from smaller units.

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12.02.2015, Research news
Digitalization facilitates greater employee participation – but can also mean more control

Germans want companies to become more democratic

Employees of a company discussing at a table

Electing their own bosses and having a say in the corporate strategy – the majority of Germans would like to see companies managed more democratically. However, corporate day-to-day life often looks quite different: employees lament the narrowing scope for development. Technische Universität München (TUM) and ISF München presented these study findings at an international conference in Munich. Federal Labor Minister Andrea Nahles called for the potential of digitalization to be used for greater freedom.

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09.02.2015, Research news
New result for the polarizability of pions supports standard model

Precision measurement for the strong interaction

The detector module developed at TUM – Photo: TUM

Nuclear particles called pions contribute significantly to the strong interaction. This force is responsible for binding nuclei together and accounts for most of the mass of the visible matter surrounding us. Now, for the first time, physicists have succeeded in precisely determining the deformability of pions. The result, to which researchers from the Technische Universität München (TUM) contributed considerably, is in close agreement with the theoretical predictions. It also revises earlier measurements that were incompatible with the standard model of physics.

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09.02.2015, Research news
New study confirms the presence of dark matter in the inner part of the Milky Way

Dark matter at the heart of our Galaxy

View towards the center of our Galaxy with the rotation curve tracers – Background photo: Serge Brunier / NASA

The Universe is pervaded by a mysterious form of matter, dubbed dark matter, about five times more abundant than the ordinary matter – made of atoms – we are familiar with. Its existence in galaxies was robustly established in the 1970s. Scientists now obtained for the first time a direct observational proof of the presence of dark matter in the innermost part our Galaxy, the Milky Way.

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