Audio Podcasts

In numerous features radio stations have reported on Empa's research projects, technology developments and innovations that are about to hit the market. Here is a selection of audio podcasts for downloading.

Charcoal cooling blanket
Empa scientist are putting the cooling effect of evaporation to work. Daniel Onwude and his team from Empa's Laboratory for Biomimetic Membranes and Textiles in St. Gallen came up with a DIY solution for farmers who don't have a fridge to preserve fruit and vegetables: A charcoal cooling blanket. 
BBC World Service , 5 July 2022
Download mp3-file

What does absolute silence sound like?
Podcaster Oliver Süess talks to Empa researcher Kurt Heutschi about the scientific definition and exploration of silence. Heutschi also explains how Empa's anechoic chamber works and what absolute silence feels like.
Podcast "5 minutes of silence" by Oliver Süess for listening on Spotify, Apple Podcast and, 18:47 min.
Download (mp3-file), 26.8 MB

Sinfonia ai fungi
The more mycologists study fungi, the more they’re beginning to realize what an intriguing kingdom of life it is. Life-saving drugs like penicillin are derived from fungi, as is the yeast used in bread and beer. Lesser known is that one researcher from Switzerland is making fungal-treated violins, and their sound is said to match that of a multimillion dollar Stradivarius. Empa researcher Francis Schwarze explains why fine antique violins are so hard to recreate and why fungi might help.
The Guardian, 14 September 2018, 27:13 min.
Download (mp3-file), 25.6 MB

Researchers find banned greenhouse chemicals in air samples
BBC Environment Correspondent Matt McGrath investigates the world of carbon accounting and uncovers serious flaws in the way that some countries report their emissions. The spectacular location of the Jungfraujoch station is a great place to monitor carbon dioxide and other gases. Empa researchers even found some very unusual greenhouse chemicals in their samples: potent warming gases that are supposed to be banned.
BBC Radio 4, 8 August 2017, 8:39 min.
Download (mp3-file), 7.92 MB

Chemical elements: Fluorine
Itself a ferocious yellow gas, fluorine is also the key building block for a string of other gases that pose a threat to mankind – from ozone-depleting CFCs to potent greenhouse gases. Empa environmental scientist Stefan Reimann tracks fluorine gas emissions in the atmosphere all over the world.
BBC, Elements, 4 March 2015, 42 min. 31 sec.
Download (mp3-Datei, 20 MB)

Cutting down the costs of solar cell
Switzerland is coordinating an EU research project to develop the ultimate low-priced solar cell. 14 institutes and companies from Switzerland, Germany, Britain, Spain and Finland are taking part in the project which is led by Empa. According to project coordinator Frank Nüesch the most promising solar cells are produced by roll-to-roll manufacturing.
WRS World Radio Switzerland, 9 January 2013, 2 min. 14 sec.
Download (mp3-Datei, 2.1 MB)

Biofuels – sustainable or not?
Agriculturally produced sources of fuel produce very few emissions but the impact on land use for growing them outweighs the benefits. That’s what a new study conducted by Empa shows. The study triggers debates on the necessity of biofuels and their impact on food prices.
Uprising, Feature stories, 26 September 2012, 23 min. 26 sec.
Download (mp3-Datei, 10.8 MB)

Good news for luthiers
Empa scientist Francis Schwarze has discovered a way of treating wood used to make relatively cheap violins to give it special acoustic properties.
Radio New Zealand, Morning Report, 17 September 2012, 4 min. 12 sec.
Download (mp3-Datei, 1.5 MB)

The biotech violin
Empa scientist Francis Schwarze treats wood for violin manufacture with certain fungi to achieve similar sound qualities like those of Stradivari violins. In a blind test, even experts couldn’t make out the difference.
BBC, Newshour, 10 September 2012, 5 min. 10 sec.
Download (mp3-Datei, 4.8 MB)

It’s the coffee that makes the difference
In a lifecycle analysis, Empa researcher Roland Hischier found out that it’s not the capsule that has the biggest environmental impact but the coffee inside.
WRS World Radio Switzerland, 11 May 2012, 3 min. 16 sec.
Download (mp3-Datei, 2.99 MB)

Sound-absorbing curtains
Empa scientists created new sound-absorbing curtains, which act against the middle-frequency, where a lot of speech occurs. The fine synthetic weave that's porous and foam-like traps the sound and keeps it from reverberating. They are five times more sound-absorbing than conventional sheers.
Southern California Public Radio, The Loh Down On Science, 14 November 2011, 1 min. 30 sec.
Download (mp3-Datei, 0.7 MB)

Light at the end of the tunnel for sensitive sniffers
Other than a clothes peg on the nose, so far there has been little one could do to eliminate bad odours, which arise from the digestion of bacteria on fabrics and surfaces. Now scientists at Empa may have made a breakthrough, with new nanoparticles that destroy bad smells.
WRS World Radio Switzerland, 24 November 2009, 2 min. 19 sec.
Download (mp3-Datei, 1,6 MB)

Stradivarius squares off against ... fungi
Mushrooms, it seems, don’t only affect your mind. They can also make your violin sound like a Stradivarius. That’s according to researcher Francis Schwarze of Empa in St Gallen. He’s identified fungi which affect the acoustic properties of wood. And a violin maker in Baden has built some instruments with that wood. Recently, there was a showdown in Osnabrück between Stradivarius and fungus.
WRS World Radio Switzerland, 1 September 2009, 2 min. 40 sec.
Download (mp3-Datei, 1,85 MB)

Scientist creates sweating robot
Saint Gallen, with its long tradition as a textiles and garment manufacturing centre, is a logical place for British expat Mark Richards to market his latest invention. The scientist, originally from the Midlands, creates a robot that «sweats» for the testing of clothes. Richards told Swisster how he set up a firm called Humanikin to commercialise the unique product after developing the technology at Empa.
Swisster, «Switzerland in English», 21 July 2009, 5 min. 52 sec.
Download (mp3-Datei, 5,4 MB)

Nanotech: grounds for fear?
Nanotechnology is one of the hottest fields in science today. The potential benefits it offers are extraordinary, but what about the potential dangers? Do we know how nanoparticles will affect us in the long term? Could nanoparticles be the new asbestos? Pete Forster put these questions to Harald Krug, head of Materials Biology Interactions at Empa.
WRS World Radio Switzerland, 27 March 2009, 5 min. 49 sec.
Download (mp3-Datei, 5,3 MB)

Old computers never die
Every year, countless numbers of computers are upgraded. But what happens to the old computers when they are no longer needed? They end up being thrown out - 15 million tons of electronic waste is generated annually this way. Switzerland’s contribution is around 10 – 20% of this figure. One way of disposing of some parts of the old computers is to ship them to Africa. Mathias Schluep from the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research explains the situation.
WRS World Radio Switzerland, 19 February 2009, 2 min. 55 sec.
Download (mp3-Datei, 1,4 MB)

Where the footballs go to train
What do football and the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research have in common? More than you might think. One part of Ivo Rechsteiner’s official work is to evaluate the quality of footballs – not by playing with them on a football field, but by testing them in the laboratory.
WRS World Radio Switzerland, 10 June 2008, 2 min. 51 sec.
Download (mp3-Datei, 4 MB)

Horse blanket for Swiss Olympic equestrian team
Horses do not by nature cope very well with hot temperatures. Is there a way around this problem? Markus Weder and his team at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research, with the support of the Swiss Olympic Association, are developing a new temperature-regulating horse blanket. This novel blanket may become the new secret weapon of the Swiss equestrian team!
WRS World Radio Switzerland, 29 May 2008, 2 min. 38 sec.
Download (mp3-Datei, 2,4 MB)

What does absolute silence sound like?

In the NEST Podcast, Peter Richner, Deputy CEO of Empa, talks to his guests about innovation in the construction industry, about opportunities and obstacles and about many other things that drive the construction sector. (The talks are held in German.)