Information technology

  • 36 big data research projects

    Big Data

    The SNSF is launching the National Research Programme “Big Data”, which aims to develop novel methods of information analysis, to create specific applications and to suggest solutions to the ethical and legal challenges posed by big data. Several billion gigabytes of data are created each day. This mass of information offers new opportunities, but also raises many questions for society. Launched by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), the National Research Programme “Big Data” (NRP 75) aims to develop Switzerland’s competences in the field of big data and will focus equally on scientific and technical aspects and governance issues. Research work on the 36 projects comprised within NRP 75 will continue until 2021.

  • 3D Printing and International Security

    Cover PRIF Report No. 144  HSFK/PRIF

    PRIF Report No. 144 analyzes risks and challenges of the emerging technology of additive manufacturing.

    3D printing – or additive manufacturing – is a challenging dual-use technology: One and the same device can be used for printing toys and guns. Marco Fey assesses the risks of this emerging technology in the new PRIF Report No. 144 “3D Printing and International Security: Risks and Challenges of an Emerging Technology”.

  • 8th NRW Nano Conference Dortmund, Open Call for Presentations and Posters

    NRW nanoconference 2018

    The NRW Nano Conference is Germany’s largest conference with international appeal in the field of nanotechnologies. It takes place every two years at changing locations. More than 700 experts from science, industry and politics meet for two days to promote research and application of the key technology at the network meeting.

  • A Burst of ”Synchronous” Light

    Superlattices under the microscope (white light illumination). Empa

    Excited photo-emitters can cooperate and radiate simultaneously, a phenomenon called superfluorescence. Researchers from Empa and ETH Zurich, together with colleagues from IBM Research Zurich, have recently been able to create this effect with long-range ordered nanocrystal superlattices. This discovery could enable future developments in LED lighting, quantum sensing, quantum communication and future quantum computing. The study has just been published in the renowned journal "Nature".

  • A Material with Promising Properties

    Picture of a hybrid particle taken by a transmission electron microscope. Pictured are the inorganic (dark) and organic (light) lamellas that the particle is made of, as well as the tubular shapes (the low-contrast area in the middle). Through vaporisation with Europium, the hybrid stage can be transformed into pure EuO. Copyright: University of Konstanz

    Konstanz scientist synthesises an important ferromagnetic semiconductor. The Collaborative Research Centre CRC 1214 at the University of Konstanz has developed a method for synthesising Europium (II) oxide nanoparticles - a ferromagnetic semiconductor that is relevant for data storage and data transport. Ferromagnetic semiconductors have attracted increasing attention over the last decade. Their properties make them promising functional materials that can be used in the field of spin-based electronics (spintronics). Spintronics is of crucial importance for the storage and transport of information.

  • A Sensor System Learns to "Hear": Reliable Detection of Failures in Machines and Systems

    The sensor system inspects the rotating cutting unit of a combine harvester for defective vibrations or noises. Fraunhofer IZFP / Uwe Bellhäuser

    Researchers of the Fraunhofer Institute for Nondestructive Testing IZFP in Saarbrücken have developed a sensor system that can detect failures or imperfections in systems and machines quickly and reliably by means of an acoustic noise assessment similar to human hearing. The "hearing" sensor system AcoustiX has already been successfully deployed by John Deere, the American global market leader in the fields of agricultural engineering, to inspect the cutting units of combine harvesters. In the event that large-scale machines or plants are already in operation, defects or defectively assembled components may result in malfunction of machines and thus in production shutdown and economic loss.

  • Ahead of the Curve

    CurveUps are flat materials that transform themselves through material forces into the desired 3D object. IST Austria

    CurveUps: IST Austria computer scientists design flat sheets that transform themselves into smooth-surfaced, free-form objects. Their new method will be presented at this year’s prestigious “SIGGRAPH” conference.

    3D printers have been around since the 1980s, but we are still far from maximizing their potential. One active area of research and development is “self-actuating” objects: flat materials that transform themselves through material forces into the desired 3D object. Previously, however, the range of objects was limited to those with sharp edges and little, if any, curvature, and the transformation methods were based primarily on folding or processes that could not be controlled very precisely (e.g. chemical reactions or inflation).

  • An Atomic Quantum Bit Made Switchable

    Depending on the orientation of an applied magnetic field, quantum tunneling of the magnetisation allows to either freeze or to flip magnetic moments. © University of Augsburg/IfP/EKM

    One bit per atom: Augsburg-based physicists and US colleagues are reaching the ultimate limit for nanoscale data storage

  • Antiferromagnets Prove their Potential for Spin-Based Information Technology

    Crystal structure of Mn2Au with antiferromagnetically ordered magnetic moments  Ill./©: Libor Šmejkal, JGU

    Physicists at Mainz University demonstrate technologically feasible read-out and writing of digital information in antiferromagnets / Basic principle for ultrafast and stable magnetic memory. Within the emerging field of spin-based electronics, or spintronics, information is typically defined by the orientation of the magnetization of ferromagnets. Researchers have recently been also interested in the utilization of antiferromagnets, which are materials without macroscopic magnetization but with a staggered orientation of their microscopic magnetic moments. Here the information is encoded in the direction of the modulation of the magnetic moments, the so-called Néel vector.

  • Artificial Intelligence: An Expert in Every Burner

    Inspection of a Siemens H Class turbine. Artificial intelligence has contributed significantly to reducing the turbine's emission of nitrogen oxides and other gasses.

    Thanks to neural network-based artificial intelligence (AI) developed by Siemens Corporate Technology (CT), the combustion processes in the company’s flagship gas turbine are being steadily optimized. The processes learn how to continuously adjust fuel valves, resulting in optimized combustion and reduced emissions and wear. Siemens’ Power Generation Services Division is now using the jointly developed technology for the first time in a customer application for the largest and most modern stationary Siemens gas turbine. Given the large number of such complex systems run by Siemens customers whose operations could be improved by AI, the potential for improved efficiency is enormous.

  • Big Data Conquers Legal Analysis

    C.: Swiss National Science Foundation SNSF

    Researchers supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation have set up a free and accessible integrated database of legal cases involving international economic law. Their work represents an important milestone for research and practice.

  • Biological Signalling Processes in Intelligent Materials

    Graphic: Wilfried Weber


    Scientists from the University of Freiburg have developed materials systems that are composed of biological components and polymer materials and are capable of perceiving and processing information. These biohybrid systems were engineered to perform certain functions, such as the counting signal pulses in order to release bioactive molecules or drugs at the correct time, or to detect enzymes and small molecules such as antibiotics in milk. The interdisciplinary team presented their results in some of the leading journals in the field, including Advanced Materials and Materials Today.

  • Bit Data Goes Anti-Skyrmions

    Anti-skyrmions on a racetrack. MPI of Microstructure Physics

    Today’s world, rapidly changing because of “big data”, is encapsulated in trillions of tiny magnetic objects – magnetic bits – each of which stores one bit of data in magnetic disk drives. A group of scientists from the Max Planck Institutes in Halle and Dresden have discovered a new kind of magnetic nano-object in a novel material that could serve as a magnetic bit with cloaking properties to make a magnetic disk drive with no moving parts – a Racetrack Memory – a reality in the near future.

  • Brightest Source of Entangled Photon

    Optical setup for experiments with entangled photons at IFW Dresden. Photo: Jürgen Loesel

    Scientists at Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden (IFW) and at Leibniz University Hannover (LUH) have developed a broadband optical antenna for highly efficient extraction of entangled photons. With a yield of 37% per pulse, it is the brightest source of entangled photons reported so far.

  • Cebit 2017: A new simulation process makes complex hardware and software compatible

    Researchers in Kaiserslautern, Dr. Thomas Kuhn (left) and Matthias Jung, developed a simulation method to verify in what combination hardware and software systems function correctly together. Credit: Thomas Koziel

    Technology used in cars, aeroplanes and industrial robots is becoming increasingly complex. Can the software be extended? How does the system handle errors? More and more companies are tasked with such questions. A simulation method, developed by researchers in Kaiserslautern, will provide a solution. With this, they verify in what combination hardware and software systems function correctly together. In addition, the researchers can examine the reaction of systems critical for safety in the occurrence of errors. At the Cebit computer trade fair in Hannover, researchers will present their technology at the research stand of Federal State Rhineland-Palatinate (hall 6, stand C17).

  • CeBIT 2017: Analysis software for neural networks – Watching computers think

    Fraunhofer HHI’s analysis software uses algorithms to visualize complex learning processes (schematic diagram). © Fraunhofer HHI

    Neural networks are commonly used today to analyze complex data – for instance to find clues to illnesses in genetic information. Ultimately, though, no one knows how these networks actually work exactly. That is why Fraunhofer researchers developed software that enables them to look into these black boxes and analyze how they function. The researchers will present their software at CeBIT in Hannover from March 20 to 24, 2017 (Hall 6, Booth B 36).

  • Cebit 2017: Computational Biologists Predict Antibiotic Resistances Using Biotech

    Time-consuming: Bacteria have to be cultivated in nutrient media in order to detect resistances. Special tests and gene data are designed to provide faster and more reliable results.  Curetis

    Every year, some 25,000 people die in the European Union from antibiotic-resistant, hard to treat bacteria. Although there are diagnostic methods in place to recognize such resistances in advance, these are typically very time-consuming. Researchers from the Center for Bioinformatics at Saarland University, in cooperation with the molecular diagnostics company Curetis, are developing techniques to uncover these dangerous resistances a lot faster. Their secret weapons: a comprehensive gene database, and powerful algorithms. The researchers will be presenting their rapid test procedures, and their outlook for the future, at Stand E28 at the Cebit computer trade show in Hannover, Germany.

  • Cebit 2017: The intelligent school book supports pupils using innovative sensor technology

    From left to right: Shoya Ishimaru, Prof. Andreas Dengel, Prof. Jochen Kuhn.  TU KL/DFKI

    Joint press release by University of Kaiserslautern and German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI). Digital technologies found their way into daily life long ago - including school life. Researchers in Kaiserslautern are exploring how the technologies can be applied usefully in lessons. In the “HyperMind” project, an intelligent school book is being developed for tablet and PC. This uses technology, which will detect the reader’s line of vision, which it will then analyse. This will quickly determine whether the pupil has understood the learning content. The technology aids individual progress. At the Cebit computer trade fair in Hannover, researchers will present their project from 20th to 24th March at the research stand of Federal State Rhineland-Palatinate (hall 6, stand C17).

  • Chiral Quantum Optics: A New Research Field with Bright Perspectives

    Surprising effect: directional emission of light  TU Wien

    Surprising direction-dependent effects emerge when light is guided in microscopic structures. This discovery shows promise for both classical and quantum information processing.

    Recently, surprising physical effects were observed using special microscopic waveguides for light. Such “photonic structures” currently are revolutionizing the fields of optics and photonics, and have opened up the new research area of “Chiral Quantum Optics”. Physicists from Copenhagen, Innsbruck, and Vienna, who are leading figures in this field, have now written an overview on the topic which just appeared in the scientific journal “Nature”.

  • Color Effects from Transparent 3D-printed Nanostructures

    Light hits the 3D-printed nanostructures from below. After it is transmitted through, the viewer sees only green light—the remaining colors are redirected. Thomas Auzinger

    Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and certain color effects are impossible to achieve. The natural world, however, also exhibits structural coloration, where the microstructure of an object causes various colors to appear. Peacock feathers, for instance, are pigmented brown, but—because of long hollows within the feathers—reflect the gorgeous, iridescent blues and greens we see and admire.