Environmental- / Biophysics

The Environmental Biophysics group at the University Salzburg is strongly interdisciplinary oriented. Initially the group started with radon research in 1972 with appointing the professorship of physics at the newly founded faculty of Natural Sciences. The physics group carried out research on radon measurement techniques, radiation biology and the development of a deposition model of radon decay products in the human lung, which opened a valuable connection to aerosol physics.
After the catastrophic reactor accident in Chernobyl, the research field was situationally expanded towards environmental radioactivity and radioecology, as know-how and instrumentation were already available in the laboratory.
Currently, the interdisciplinary team can be divided into two research groups:

  • Environmental radioactivity, radon research and aerosol physics and Biophotonics

The group is working on the behaviour of radionuclides in the biosphere and long-term transfer and enrichment processes. A major contribution to these activities is a close cooperation with the provincial government of Salzburg to run the Radiological Measurement Laboratory of Salzburg (RMLS). The RMLS fulfils a wide spectrum of duties such as radioactivity measurements of environmental samples, training of experts, maintenance of operational readiness for a radiological emergency and implementation of national and international research projects on safety aspects and environmental radioactivity.
We are also interested on the behaviour of radon and radon decay products in the lung tissue and on the skin. The group has expertise on the measurement, modelling and dosimetry of aerosols.

The common denominator of the different research topics studied by the aerosol biophysics group in recent years is the development of computational models for the deposition of inhaled aerosols in the human lung. These aerosols cover a wide range of solid particles and droplets, including radioactive aerosols, such as radon progeny, traffic-related and industrial aerosols, such as car emissions, therapeutic aerosols, such as asthma sprays, and environmental and mainstream tobacco aerosols, such as combustible and electronic cigarettes. The primary objective of all these simulations is the determination of the resulting deposition patterns to be related to site-specific health effects in the lungs, primarily bronchial carcinomas.  

Almost a century ago the study of non-ionizing electromagnetic emissions from biological samples was acknowledged for the first time.  Yet it took another half a century to systematically study this phenomenon with appropriate detection devices such as the photo-multiplier-tube (PMT) technology. As a result of an international meeting on bio- communication in 2007, a small sub-group within the RMLS initiated a range-extension to encompass the non-ionizing part of the electromagnetic spectrum.  In 2010, these efforts gained further momentum with the presentation of the technological approach.  Three years later it was successfully implemented within the framework of EU-FP7 to target biophotonic emissions as a result of airborne nano-particle interaction. This range-extension into the spectral range below UV enables us not only to investigate ultra-weak emission from living samples but at the same time provide us with powerful tools to study biophysical properties in living matter and how these affect biochemistry in the living system.     

  • The Laboratory of Photodynamic Inactivation of Microorganisms (PDI-PLUS)

The global rise of microorganisms resistant to treatment with conventional antibiotics poses a threat to humans. If not tackled immediately antibiotic resistance will have killed 300 million people by 2050. Therefore, the rapid development of new antimicrobial approaches is urged by health agencies such as the WHO. Photodynamic Inactivation (PDI) combines two per se harmless components: in a first treatment step, a light sensitive substance (the photosensitizer) is applied to the infected area and rapidly accumulates in microorganisms. After very short incubation the photosensitizer is activated with visible light. This induces the formation of reactive oxygen molecules that kill the microorganisms irrespective of their susceptibility to conventional antibiotics. Due to the very unspecific method of action, the development of resistance of microorganisms against PDI is very unlikely.
Since 2010, the Laboratory of Photodynamic Inactivation (PDI-PLUS) focuses on research on this antimicrobial approach with the claim to mature the procedure for application in human medicine, food safety and plant protection. Our lab has gained world-wide acknowledgement for its expertise in using natural substances (some of which are approved as food additives) as photosensitizers.  

For further information, please visit www.uni-salzburg.at/pd  

  • News
    Tom Rosenstiel, one of the most respected thinkers on the future of the media, will speak on 23 May at 19:00 in HS 380 of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences / Kultur- und Gesellschaftswissenschaftlichen Fakultät (Rudolfskai 42) about the future of democracy in the age of Fake News, the rise of Russian trolls in the Internet and how journalism will look in the future.
    From Eating to Swaddling: Nature determines the rhythm of many youngsters. So that family-friendliness reaches everyone, here is some information on how and where at the University of Salzburg everyday life with small children is easier.
    At the beginning of the 20th Österreichischen Juristentags, a podium discussion will take place on 23 May, 2018, at 18:00 at the University of Salzburg in the series "Rechtspanorama" on "Do Facebook & Co Endanger Democracy?". The organizers are the daily newspaper, Die Presse, and the University of Salzburg.
    From now until 3 July is the registration period for the ditact_women's IT Summer School of the University of Salzburg, which will take place from 20 August to 1 September, 2018, at the Unipark Nonntal and at the Fachhochschule Salzburg.
    Renaud Dehousse is President of the European University Institute, a position held since 1 September, 2016. Before coming to the EUI, he was Professor and Jean Monnet Chair in EU Law and European Policy Studies at Sciences Po Paris from 2005 to 2016, where he founded and directed the Centre d'études européennes.
    The lecture series, Educational Migration Research in a Comparative Perspective, launches on 17 April, 2018, 17:15 - 18:45, HS Thomas Bernhard (Unipark).
    Event series on the 80th anniversary of the burning of books in Salzburg.
  • Veranstaltungen
  • 23.05.18 Polemik zwischen Kunst und Religion bei Luis Buñuel
    24.05.18 Detection of periodicity in functional time series
  • PRESS
  • Uni-Shop
  • University of Salzburg's facebook site University of Salzburg's twitter site University of Salzburg's instagram site University of Salzburg's flickr site University of Salzburg's vimeo site