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Max Planck scientists very pleased about ERC grants

  • 30 January 2012

The Max-Planck-Gesellschaft has once again been successful in winning support from the European Research Council (ERC)

With seven Advanced Grants, the MPG is Germany’s top recipient of EU funding. In response to its fourth call for applications, the ERC conferred a total of 294 of these lucrative research awards, of which 52 went to German universities and research institutions.

On the edge of friction

  • 19 December 2011

Precise insight into how two microscopic surfaces slide over one another could help in the manufacture of low-friction surfaces

The problem exists on both a large and a small scale, and it even bothered the ancient Egyptians. However, although physicists have long had a good understanding of friction in things like stone blocks being pulled by workers into the shape of a pyramid, they have only now been able to explain friction in microscopic dimensions in any degree of detail. Researchers from the University of Stuttgart and the Stuttgart-based Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems arranged an elaborate experiment in which they pulled a layer of regularly ordered plastic spheres over an artificial crystal made of light. This enabled them to observe in detail how the layer of spheres slid over the light crystal. Contrary to what one might imagine, the spheres do not all move in unison. In fact, it's only ever some of them that move, while the others stay where they are. This observation confirms theoretical predictions and also explains why friction between microscopic surfaces depends on their atomic structure.

The world’s smallest steam engine

  • 11 December 2011

A heat engine measuring only a few micrometres works as well as its larger counterpart, although it splutters

What would be a case for the repair shop for a car engine is completely normal for a micro engine. If it sputters, this is caused by the thermal motions of the smallest particles, which interfere with its running. Researchers at the University of Stuttgart and the Stuttgart-based Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems have now observed this with a heat engine on the micrometre scale. They have also determined that the machine does actually perform work, all things considered. Although this cannot be used as yet, the experiment carried out by the researchers in Stuttgart shows that an engine does basically work, even if it is on the microscale. This means that there is nothing, in principle, to prevent the construction of highly efficient, small heat engines.

Nanospeicher bringen Computer groß raus

  • 01 July 2011

Computer dienen heute als Musikbox, Filmarchiv und Fotoalbum. Sie müssen daher immer größere Datenmengen schnell zugänglich machen. Wissenschaftler des Max-Planck-Instituts für intelligente Systeme in Stuttgart und des Hallenser Max-Planck-Instituts für Mikrostrukturphysik bereiten den Weg für magnetische Speichermaterialien, die das ermöglichen, und nutzen dabei geschickt die ganz eigenen Gesetze der Nanowelt aus. Text Christian Meier

Software for the discovery of new crystal structures

  • 11 May 2011

The software enables electron microscopes to extract more information about the composition of crystals.

A new software called QED (Quantitative Electron Diffraction), which has been licensed by Max Planck Innovation, has now been released by HREM Research Inc., a Japan based company, which is developing products and services in the field of High-Resolution Electron Microscopy. QED allows transmission electron microscopes to acquire novel kinds of data, opening up new possibilities in electron crystallography.

A quick switch for magnetic needles

  • 12 April 2011

Magnetic vortex cores, which can be used as particularly stable storage points for data bits, can now be switched much faster

Microscopically tiny ferromagnetic platelets exhibit a phenomenon which could be exploited in the future for particularly stable magnetic data storage: so-called magnetic vortex cores. These are needle-shaped magnetic structures measuring 20 nanometres (millionths of a millimetre) in diameter. Five years ago, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (formerly the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research) in Stuttgart found a way to reverse the magnetic field needles despite their stability using only a tiny amount of energy so that their tips pointed in the opposite direction. Such a switching process is necessary to enable the vortex cores to be used in data processing. The Stuttgart scientists have now discovered a new mechanism which makes this switching process at least 20 times faster and confines it to a far smaller region than before. Magnetic vortex cores could thus provide a means of data storage which is stable, fast and greatly miniaturized.

Intelligent systems for tomorrow’s world

  • 16 March 2011

Max Planck Research Award 2011 for Prof. Dr. Bernhard Schölkopf

Sebastian Thrun from Stanford University and Bernhard Schölkopf from the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research in Stuttgart have been awarded the 2011 Max Planck Research Award, which is endowed with 750,000 euros for each award winner. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Max Planck Society honour two outstanding scientists who have brought significant progress to a research field that is at the interface of different disciplines.

Bernhard Schölkopf

Robots learn human perception

  • 17 February 2011

Michael J. Black teaches computers to analyse data on their environment as quickly and reliably as the human brain.

New research emphasis "Intelligent Systems"

  • 15 February 2011

Max Planck Society establishes highly innovative research facility for "Intelligent Systems" in Baden-Württemberg

The Max Planck Society is restructuring the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research, thereby creating a research facility that will focus on the area of intelligent systems. This includes computer sciences and biology, as well as innovative aspects of materials research, already part of the work at the Institute. In addition to the Stuttgart location, another division of the Institute will be established in Tübingen. Each site will have four research departments. To reflect its new orientation, the Institute will also be given a new name. Subject to approval from the Max Planck Society's Senate, it will be called the "Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems". Max Planck Society President, Peter Gruss introduced the new scientific concept of the Institute together with Minister-President Stefan Mappus (CDU) at a regional press conference in Stuttgart.

Bernhard Schölkopf Michael Black

Magnetic Needles turn Somersaults

  • 28 November 2006

Max Planck researchers discover new possibilities for magnetic storage

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Metals Research in Stuttgart have discovered a new mechanism with which it is possible to use weak magnetic fields to reverse tiny magnetic structures, called vortex cores, quickly and with no losses. Up until now, very strong magnetic fields have been necessary to accomplish this, requiring highly complex technology. The new method might open up new possibilities for magnetic data storage (Nature, November 23rd, 2006).