A good spell for research at the Department of Physics: the result of a massive 20-year-long experiment, and 2 publications in the prestigious journal Nature Communications.
Unfortunately for us, neither is of the kind that can be explained on the back of an envelope.
The first is a large collaboration including Unifr Emeritus Professor Antoine Weiss. They have managed to measure the electric properties of the neutron to a vastly improved accuracy. What they were looking for is that an anomaly in the distribution of charge in the neutron could explain why there is matter rather than antimatter in the Universe. They did not detect any unusual electric properties. Even a negative result is considered a big step forward, eliminating one of the possible explanation for the matter-vs-antimatter mystery.
And that was the easiest to explain of the three publications!
The second comes from a collaboration including Professor Ana Akrap. They detected for the first time a new property of semi-conductors, that could be of use for instance in solar panels.
The third, a study led by Professor Philipp Werner, current holder of an ERC grant, is the most abstract. It presents a method, grounded deep in quantum physics, to cool quantum materials, for instance to bring them closer to the point where they turn into supraconductors.
Article in Alma&Georges on the neutron result