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Challenge #152

From the big bang to the virus.

Using particle accelerators, telescopes, and X-ray lasers we explore space and its matter. And with the help of our findings, we are able to develop novel materials that can be designed down to the nano scale.

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The cosmos still holds many fundamental mysteries: Why, for example, was much more matter than antimatter formed during the Big Bang? What is the effect of the ominous dark energy that is making the universe expand faster and faster? And how will our universe end?

We want to answer questions like these with the help of our cutting-edge research: Seven Helmholtz Centers combine their expertise in the Research Field Matter.

Together, the scientists use large-scale equipment that is unique worldwide such as extremely powerful particle accelerators, or telescopes that can detect neutrinos–the so-called ghost particles–in space. At the same time, they also look inside samples with the help of laser systems that allow a precise view of ultra-fast processes, such as chemical reactions.

Our research thus helps to better understand the fascinating properties of matter: We examine its microscopic structure, such as the complex interaction of molecules and atoms in materials as diverse as plastics, crystals, and enzymes. We also observe how the basic building blocks react to external influences, be it how heat and pressure affect metals, or how cytotoxins affect biomolecules.

We use these findings to develop completely new materials that we can tailor to our needs with atomic precision, including high-performance solar cells, for example, or customized medicines.

This is how we are untangling the mysteries of the cosmos, and learning how matter is made.

Image: Daniel Dominguez/CERN

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Unsere Forschung hilft so dabei, die faszinierenden Eigenschaften von Materie besser zu verstehen: Wir untersuchen ihre mikroskopische Struktur, etwa das komplexe Zusammenspiel von Molekülen und Atomen in so unterschiedlichen Materialien wie Kunststoffen, Kristallen und Enzymen. Und beobachten auch, wie die Grundbausteine auf äußere Einflüsse reagieren, seien es Hitze und Druck, die auf Metalle wirken, oder Zellgifte, die auf Biomoleküle treffen.

Diese Erkenntnisse nutzen wir, um vollkommen neue Materialien zu entwickeln, die wir atomgenau auf unsere Bedürfnisse hin ausrichten können: Leistungsstarke Solarzellen zum Beispiel oder auch individuell angepasste Medikamente.

So ergründen wir den Kosmos. Und lernen von ihm, wie sich Materie gestalten lässt.

Bild: Daniel Dominguez/CERN

Matter matters

Matter matters

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