Research Highlights 2016

European Union funds research projects

n her ERC-funded project, Prof. Xiaoxiang Zhu will use combined data from satellites and crowdsourcing platforms to learn more about the growth of cities. (image: U. Benz / TUM)

Scientists at TUM receive ten ERC Grants

[13.12.2016] Each year, the European Research Council (ERC) bestows funding grants for a selection of research projects across the continent. For the 2016 call, ten projects from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) were selected so far. The highly endowed ERC grants count among Europe’s most prestigious research funding awards. This year’s grantees include researchers from a range of TUM departments: Chemistry, Civil, Geo and Environmental Engineering, Informatics, Medicine, Physics, as well as Electrical and Computer Engineering. [more...]

Farbige Metallpanelen für Proteinforschungszentrum

Modell des prämierten Entwurfs - Foto: Ina Rena Rosenthal

Gestaltungswettbewerb für neuen Forschungsbau am Campus Garching entschieden

[14.12.2016] Auf dem Campus Garching sollen im neuen TUM Center for Functional Protein Assemblies (CPA) fakultätsübergreifend die Funktionsweisen und Wirkprinzipien von Proteinen erforscht werden – Schlüssel zum Verständnis der Vorgänge in Zellen, Geweben und Organen. Die Bauarbeiten werden im Frühjahr 2017 beginnen. In einem Wettbewerb wurde nun über die Gestaltung der Fassade des Gebäudes entschieden. Alle Entwürfe sind vom 15. bis 22. Dezember in der Magistrale der Fakultäten für Mathematik und für Informatik ausgestellt. [mehr...]

Battery research reaching out to higher voltages

A glass ceramic membrane, coated with aluminum and plastic, allows only lithium ions to pass through. It is impermeable to all other components of the electrolyte fluid - Photo: Monika Weiner / TUM

Evonik Research Prize for lithium-ion battery test cell with separated electrodes

[13.12.2016] For years, small rechargeable lithium-ion batteries have reliably supplied billions of portable devices with energy. But manufacturers of high-energy applications such as electric cars and power storage systems seek for new electrode materials and electrolytes. Michael Metzger, researcher at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), has now developed a new battery test cell allowing to investigate anionic and cationic reactions separately. Recently the researcher was honored with the Evonik Research Prize for his work. [more...]

Shaping up to make the cut

The large subunit of U2AF binds to the mRNA precursor. Image: Christoph Hohmann / NIM

RNA-based gene regulation with dynamic proteins

[03.11.2016] Before RNA transcripts of genes can program the synthesis of proteins, the non-coding regions are removed by the spliceosome, a complex molecular machine. The correct regulation of the splicing plays a central role for many cellular processes. By means of nuclear magnetic resonance measurements and single-molecule fluorescence microscopy, a team of scientists has now discovered an unexpected mechanism in the assembly of the spliceosome. [more...]

MaxPlanck@TUM on course

Karl Duderstadt and Susanne Mertens are two of the seven scientists that were appointed as leaders of Max Planck Research Groups and tenure track professors at TUM.
© KIT/MPIB

MPG and TUM jointly invest in top young scientists

[12.06.2016] Premiere for the “Max Planck@TUM” alliance: The Max Planck Society (MPG) and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have appointed seven outstanding scientists as leaders of Max Planck Research Groups and tenure track professors at TUM. This model has set into motion a development in Germany that finds enormous resonance in the international sphere owing to its specific focus on top talent at the interface between university and non-university scientific career paths. [more...]

Inorganic double helix

Needles of the flexible semiconducting material SnIP; on the left side residual black phosphorus and tiniodide (red) – Photo: Andreas Battenberg / TUM

A flexible semiconductor for electronics, solar technology and photo catalysis

[12.06.2016] It is the double helix, with its stable and flexible structure of genetic information, that made life on Earth possible in the first place. Now a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has discovered a double helix structure in an inorganic material. The material comprising tin, iodine and phosphorus is a semiconductor with extraordinary optical and electronic properties, as well as extreme mechanical flexibility. [mehr...]

How researchers capture nanoparticles

For the first time, a research project provides reliable findings on the presence of silver nanoparticles in water bodies. (Photo: Andy Ilmberger/Fotolia)

New procedure for detecting silver nanoparticles in water bodies

[26.08.2016] For a number of years now, an increasing number of synthetic nanoparticles have been manufactured and incorporated into various products, such as cosmetics. For the first time, a research project at the Technical University of Munich and the Bavarian Ministry of the Environment provides reliable findings on their presence in water bodies. [more...]

A look at the molecular quality assurance within cells

A look at the molecular quality assurance within cells. (Illustration: Joshua Stokes, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital)

Researchers uncover how chaperones identify defective proteins

[25.08.2016] Proteins fulfill vital functions in our body. They transport substances, combat pathogens, and function as catalysts. In order for these processes to function reliably, proteins must adopt a defined three-dimensional structure. Molecular "folding assistants", called chaperones, aid and scrutinize these structuring processes. With participation from the Technical University of Munich (TUM), a team of researchers has now revealed how chaperones identify particularly harmful errors in this structuring process. The findings were published in the scientific journal "Molecular Cell". [more...]

The first stage of the cascade

Prof. Franz Hagn. (Picture: Uli Benz / TUM)

Switching mechanism of important signal protein signposts path to new medications

[19.08.2016] G proteins are molecular switches on the insides of cell membranes. They convey important signals to the inner workings of the cells. The associated receptors are targeted by all kinds of medications. Scientists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) are now shedding light on precisely how the individual amino acids of the G protein move during the switching process. The discovered mechanism signposts new approaches to the design of new active agents. [more...]

Prestigious award for new catalytic production strategies for olefins and alcohols

Prof. Dr. J. A. Lercher

Prof. Johannes Lercher receives Eni-award

[08.07.2016] The New Frontiers in Hydrocarbons – Downstream-Eni award 2016 has been awarded to Professor Johannes Lercher, Chair of Technical Chemistry II, at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). The prize honors his research establishing new catalytic strategies for the production of alkenes and alcohols from hydrocarbons. With 200,000 euros in prize money the Eni Award is one of the most important industrial science awards worldwide. [more...]

Chemist joins executive committee of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

Prof. Dr. R. A. Fischer

A new molecular toolkit for the de-novo design of bioactive agents

08.07.2016] Prof. Roland A. Fischer, holder of the chair of Inorganic and Organometallic Chemistry at TUM, is the new Vice President of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). The general meeting of the DFG appointed Fischer to the executive committee of the largest research funding institution and central self-governing science organization in Germany for a period of four years. The body is responsible for setting the strategic and conceptual direction of the DFG. [more...]

A new molecular toolkit for the de-novo design of bioactive agents

Taxadien synthase with the substrat geranylgeranyldiphosphat in the active center of the enzyme. The green dots mark the catalytically relevant Mg2+-ions, which are involved in the inititial hydrolysis of the phosphate residue. - Image: Max Hirte / TUM

Synthetic Biotechnology enables sustainable production of bioactive natural substances

[06.06.2016] Nature provides humans with a wide variety of valuable bioactive agents ranging from vitamins over vital fatty acids to cancer inhibiting substances. Many of these substances are difficult to obtain directly from the environment or can not be produced effectively by chemical total synthesis. Scientists of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) are taking a new approach: Using synthetic biotechnology methodologies they produce omega-3 fatty acids in a sustainable manner. Moreover, they have developed a biochemical strategy to synthesize natural and completely artificial medical agents by a templated enzyme design process. [more...]

New research facility inaugurated in Garching

TUM Catalysis Research Center seen from the east - Photo: Andreas Heddergott / TUM

TUM opens central institute for catalysis research

[09.05.2016] With the inauguration of the TUM Catalysis Research Center (CRC), the Technical University of Munich (TUM) sets an international highlight in the field of catalysis research. Scientists from five departments, as well as industrial cooperation partners, will collaborate on research under one roof to meet the challenges of energy and resource saving production of chemical raw materials, fine chemicals and pharmaceutical products. Due to the supra-regional significance of the center, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) contributed to the total construction cost of 84.5 million euro for the newly erected facility. [more...]

Clues on the path to a new battery technology

Corresponding author Johannes Wandt with one of the electron paramagnetic resonance probes he developed - Photo: Andreas Battenberg / TUM

Charging produces highly reactive singlet oxygen in lithium air batteries

[04.05.2016] Rechargeable lithium air batteries are a next-generation technology: Theoretically they might be much lighter and offer better performance than current lithium ion batteries. However, currently they run out of steam after only a few charging cycles. Researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the Forschungszentrum Jülich have now investigated the processes and discovered a possible culprit: highly reactive singlet oxygen, which is released when the batteries are charged. [more...]

TUM School of Bioengineering takes shape

TUM-President Prof. Wolfgang A. Herrmann (l) and Ludwig Scheidegger, Chairman of the board of trustees of the Werner Siemens-Stiftung at the signing ceremony. (Photo: Uli Benz / TUM)

Werner Siemens Foundation fosters synthetic biotechnology

[03.05.2016] With its donation of 11.5 million euro, the Werner Siemens Foundation has facilitated the launch of the teaching and research domain Synthetic Biotechnology at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). This gives the new TUM School of Bioengineering (MSB) a strong accent as an Integrative Research Center. The foundation contract was signed today in Munich. [more...]

Small is different

Andrew Crampton and Marian Rötzer at their vacuum chamber for production of ultra-small catalyst particles - Photo: Andreas Heddergott / TUM

Sub-nanometer catalysts show substantially different behavior than projected

[28.01.2016] In the production of margarine millions of tons of unsaturated fatty acids are converted from vegetable oils using hydrogen. While searching for improved catalysts for these so-called hydrogenation reactions, a German-American research team made a discovery that puts a 50-year old rule in question: In catalytic particles comprising only a few atoms, shape and size influence reactivity much more strongly then previously thought. [more...]