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February 02, 2024 | Focus on microplastics: New equipment strengthens cross-faculty research at HTWD

Prof Kathrin Harre, Head of the Microplastics Research Group, in conversation with Sebastian Gemkow, Saxon State Minister for Science, Culture and Tourism
Prof Kathrin Harre, Head of the Microplastics Research Group, in conversation with Sebastian Gemkow, Saxon State Minister for Science, Culture and Tourism

The German Research Foundation (DFG) is funding the Dresden University of Applied Sciences (HTWD) with one million euros. The university is using the money to equip a joint laboratory in which researchers from various faculties are investigating the impact of microplastics on the environment. The new, state-of-the-art equipment promises better analysis and sample results, which should lead to progress in the fields of soil science, hydrology and vegetation technology.

Microplastics are an almost invisible hazard and too little is known about their impact on the environment. The HTWD would like to change this and is attempting to better understand the behavior of particles just a few millimeters in size as part of various research projects. It is now receiving support from the DFG, which is funding the joint laboratory for "Environmental behavior of polymers in soil-water-vegetation compartments" with one million euros. The money was used to purchase new laboratory equipment that will enable better sample and analysis results. The aim is to obtain more and more precise data on water, soil and air pollution - and faster than before. 

In the newly equipped joint laboratory, researchers from various faculties are pursuing the goal of advancing microplastics research in the fields of soil science, hydrology and vegetation technology. The Faculties of Agriculture, Environment and Chemistry and the Faculty of Civil Engineering are in charge of the project. For them, the new laboratory equipment creates an excellent research infrastructure from which future scientists will also benefit. For example, the SEMUWA junior research group is investigating the various methods of bank filtration that can be used to produce microplastic-free drinking water. Here, too, a cross-faculty approach is being pursued, bringing together the expertise of researchers from electrical engineering and mechanical engineering.

"The targeted investment in state-of-the-art equipment is not only an enrichment for our cross-faculty collaboration, but also a springboard for innovative technologies and findings as a basis for further effective contributions by HTW Dresden to sustainable development," says Professor Kathrin Harre, Head of the Microplastics Research Group at HTWD. HTWD Rector Professor Katrin Salchert emphasizes: "For our university and especially for the researchers, the acquisition of DFG funding is a very great success and a confirmation of the work done so far by all those involved. This shows that our aim of promoting application-oriented research in the interests of environmental protection and resource conservation also stands a good chance with such demanding funding projects."

More information

HTW News

January 19, 2024 | Dresden coordinates basic research for low-C02 heating in industry

Molten steel in a foundry
Steel casting is one of the energy-intensive industrial processes for which CITADEL is looking for potential savings.

14 research institutions and companies from seven European countries want to decarbonize energy-intensive industries in the CITADEL project. The key: heating systems that run on green electricity rather than fossil fuels. Five demonstration plants for practical findings have been put into operation for this purpose. The Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf is coordinating the project. 

Industry is one of the largest global emitters of C02. Particularly in the production of steel and glass at high temperatures, large quantities of this climate-damaging gas are released into the atmosphere. The reason: the high-temperature furnaces used are powered by fossil fuels. Dr. Sven Eckert, Head of the Magnetohydrodynamics Department at the Institute of Fluid Dynamics at the HZDR, sees a need for action: "In order to achieve the climate targets and combat global warming, we need to initiate an enormous technical transformation process in this industrial sector."

The CITADEL project, which Eckert is coordinating, will be an important driving force. Together with 13 other research institutes and companies, the HZDR is looking for solutions to switch from fossil-fuelled to electrically powered heating processes. The use of microwave, plasma, induction or resistance heating is conceivable. "At the end of this process, we must have an industry that is essentially based on greenhouse gas-neutral energy sources," says Eckert, setting out the goal.

The focus of the research is on five industrial processes: The production of refractory materials, glass, steel and copper as well as the recycling of concrete. European companies have been won as cooperation partners for each of these five applications. Demonstration plants are being built at their sites to illustrate the performance of electric heating technologies in a real industrial environment. At the same time, the researchers are investigating how the electrified processes can be integrated into future energy supply systems. After all, the green transformation will only have the desired effect if sufficient green electricity is available - at all times and at reasonable cost.

January 17, 2024 | New research device in Dresden enables unprecedented precision in cancer therapy

The new research device, which combines a proton therapy facility (left) and MRI (centre), is located in the research basement of the Dresden proton facility.
The new research device, which combines a proton therapy facility (left) and MRI (centre), is located in the research basement of the Dresden proton facility.

Dresden has recently acquired a large-scale medical device that combines a proton system with a whole-body MRI scanner. This makes it unique in the world - and catapults Dresden to the forefront of cancer therapy research! The real-time MRI images and data enable unprecedentedly precise proton irradiation. 

The use of protons is currently one of the most promising therapies in the fight against cancer. Positively charged particles (protons) are generated and fired at the target tissue at 180,000 kilometers per second. Not only can the direction of the proton beam be determined, but also how far it should penetrate the body. When it reaches its target, an explosive discharge occurs - the tumor is destroyed and only minor damage is caused to adjacent tissue.

A large-scale medical device has now been put into scientific operation in Dresden, which should provide new impetus. It enables even more precise irradiation, increasing the chances of successful treatment on the one hand and protecting the health of patients on the other. This is a globally unique combination of MRI device and proton therapy system. 

The novelty: the tumor can be tracked in real time during proton irradiation. Unlike conventional imaging methods such as X-rays, MRI real-time images show the soft tissue in detail and with millimeter precision. This allows the proton beam to be positioned and the tumor to be targeted precisely. The researchers' aim is to use the prototype to develop a new form of cancer treatment: The proton beam should only be active when the tumor is exactly in its focus. If it moves millimeters away, the radiation stops.

The research device is set up in the experimental room of the proton therapy facility of the "OncoRay - National Center for Radiation Research in Oncology" research network on the premises of Dresden University Hospital. The facilities there offer excellent conditions for advancing the unique research work in an interdisciplinary team.

"OncoRay sees itself as a cross-institutional research platform for medical radiation research in Dresden with a particular focus on translational research," explains Prof. Esther Trost, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Director of the Clinic and Polyclinic for Radiotherapy and Radiation Oncology. "The prototype that has now been inaugurated fits perfectly into this special research environment."

At the inauguration of the facility, Saxony's Minister President Michael Kretschmer spoke of a "milestone for Saxony as a science location": "It is an example of the potential and knowledge that is available here." Prof. Michael Albrecht, Medical Director of the University Hospital Dresden, spoke of an "innovative leap" made possible by the large-scale facility and emphasized Dresden's pioneering role in oncology.

However, it will be some time before the new form of therapy can be used in practice: The first patients could be treated with it in five to six years.

More information

HZDR News

January 4, 2024 | New wastewater treatment process from Dresden renders micropollutants harmless

Cavitation bubbles in the HyKaPro system
Cavitation bubbles in the HyKaPro system

Now it's time to get to grips with the pollutants in our waters - with hydrodynamic cavitation (HyKaPro). This is a new process from the think tank of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR). Bursting vapor bubbles create extreme conditions that even the chemically extremely stable micropollutants cannot withstand. A milestone in the fight against water pollution caused by contaminated wastewater! The next step for the Dresden research team is to bring the technology to market maturity.

Pharmaceutical residues, antibiotics from animal husbandry or chemicals that have hormone-like effects even in the smallest quantities: so-called micropollutants in our waters are a real problem for the environment. However, conventional wastewater treatment plants are reaching their limits in combating them. One possible solution is the oxidation process: By adding oxygen, the pollutants are chemically broken down and lose their harmful effects on the environment.

Researchers at the HZDR have now developed this process further - and given it its own name: Hydrodynamic Cavitation. Their goal: to intensify and accelerate oxidation reactions with the help of cavitation effects - a turbo for traditional oxidation processes, so to speak. Bursting vapor bubbles create extreme conditions in close proximity to the pollutants carried in the water - temperatures of 4,700 degrees Celsius and pressures of 9,900 atmospheres. The result is a chain reaction: so-called hydroxyl radicals are formed, bind to the pollutants and render them harmless.

The technology has already proven to be extremely effective under laboratory conditions. Now the research team wants to take the next step and bring the process to market maturity together with operators of industrial wastewater treatment plants. It is confident that it will not only prove the efficiency of hydrodynamic cavitation, but also take a significant step towards environmentally friendly water purification: in municipal and industrial wastewater treatment as well as in agriculture and drinking water treatment.

December 21, 2023 | For climate protection and science: „Soil of the Year“ 2024 lies in Dresden forest.

The soil of the year 2024 is a pseudogley from the Tharandt Forest near Dresden.
The soil of the year 2024 is a pseudogley from the Tharandt Forest near Dresden.

After arable soil or mudflats in previous years, the choice for "Soil of the Year" in 2024 fell on the forest - and on Dresden: the soil from Tharandt Forest was chosen to represent the great diversity of the 11.4 million hectares of forest in Germany. This is because it provides important data for climate research and sustainable forest management. It serves as an "open-air laboratory" for the forestry sciences at TU Dresden and provides deep insights: Through freely accessible pits, it offers insights into the usually hidden underground part of the forest ecosystem.

The forest floor - which exists in countless different forms - is a real all-rounder: its importance for humans, animals, plants and the climate is enormous. More organisms live in a handful of soil than there are people on earth, it is a greater carbon store than vegetation, absorbs heavy rainfall and thus contributes to flood protection. And it is the largest freshwater reservoir in Germany.

The soil in the Tharandt Forest serves as an „open-air laboratory“ for the forest sciences at the Faculty of Environmental Sciences at TU Dresden. It is also part of a soil nature trail that the soil scientists at TU Dresden have created on behalf of the Saxon State Office for the Environment, Agriculture and Geology (LfULG). Here, visitors can take a look beneath the surface of the forest ecosystem in six soil profile pits. Several display boards provide information about the soil, the plants rooted in it, the geology of the Tharandt Forest, the regional climate and climate development. Several degree programmes at TU Dresden, TU Bergakademie Freiberg and other universities use the soil nature trail. Extensive analysis material is available for this purpose.

„High-resolution information on the nature of the ground cover is indispensable for sustainable forest management, especially in changing climatic conditions,“ explains Prof Karl-Heinz Feger from the Institute of Soil Science and Site Ecology at TU Dresden. „But soil data is also essential for complex calculation models, for example for deriving climate change scenarios and planning corresponding adaptation measures. The basis for this is still a precise soil description and targeted sampling in the field.“   

Federal Minister of Agriculture Cem Özdemir is the patron of the „Soil of the Year“. On this year's World Soil Day, 5 December 2023, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) solemnly declared forest soil to be Soil of the Year 2024.

More information

TUD News

December 11, 2023 | Strong together: Eleven Saxon cooperation partners for „Future Mobility“

Saxony's Minister of State Martin Dulig after handing over funding decisions to eleven network partners
Minister of State Martin Dulig after handing over the funding decisions to the eleven network partners

Being faster on the market and working more energy-efficiently – that is the goal: in future, Dresden will join forces to work on technologies for „Future Mobility“. Semiconductor manufacturer Infineon, three medium-sized companies and seven research institutions from Saxony have joined forces for the research and development project „Green Mobility 'made in Saxony' - Innovative solutions for future-oriented automotive and industrial applications“. The project is now starting its work.

The results for green mobility "made in Saxony" are to be incorporated into automotive and industrial applications - for example through significantly more efficient and functional microcontrollers for cars. Due to the increasing digitalisation of car mechanics, these are becoming more and more in demand. The new technologies from Saxony should not only help to save energy in the future, but also resources thanks to increased functionality and a longer service life. They will therefore make an important contribution to climate protection.  

The project is also researching new technology concepts to enable the development and manufacture of these semiconductor products with the highest quality and reliability. This makes the production process more controllable - and therefore more sustainable. Ultimately, the aim is to find solutions for manufacturing the electronic components that are so sought-after by the automotive industry in high quantities, with excellent quality and under attractive working conditions in Saxony, which will enhance the value of the business location.

„Cooperation between important stakeholders from research and industry in Saxony to create innovative semiconductor solutions is of great importance for the business location," says Martin Dulig, Saxon State Minister for Economic Affairs, Labour and Transport. „The work of the partners in the joint research project is an important building block for the next innovations 'made in Saxony'. The project results will form the basis for future-oriented products that improve people's quality of life and contribute to achieving climate targets." 

The project is funded by the EU and the Free State of Saxony. Following the symbolic handover of the funding decisions totalling around 17.7 million euros for three years, the project can now really get underway. Although the funding decisions had already been available since the end of October, the official go-ahead has now been given with the ceremonial handover. 

In addition to Infineon, the project partners include the Dresden companies Fabmatics GmbH and SYSTEMA Systementwicklung Dipl.-Inf. Manfred Austen GmbH, LEC GmbH from Eibenstock as well as Chemnitz University of Technology, Dresden University of Technology, Dresden University of Applied Sciences, Zwickau University of Applied Sciences, Helmholtz Centre Dresden-Rossendorf, the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems Dresden and the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS Dresden.

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Saxon State Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Transport

December 5, 2023 | Sustainable building: Dresden and Saxony lead the way

Delighted with the launch of the LAB (from left to right): Dr Birgit Beckmann (TU Dresden), Thomas Schmidt (Saxon State Minister for Regional Development), Prof Manfred Curbach (TU Dresden), Prof Edeltraut Günther (UNU-FLORES), MP Torsten Herbst, District Administrator Udo Witschas, Franziska Stölzel (UNU-FLORES) and Jan Wörner (President of acatech)
Delighted with the launch of the LAB (from left to right): Dr Birgit Beckmann (TU Dresden), Thomas Schmidt (Saxon State Minister for Regional Development), Prof Manfred Curbach (TU Dresden), Prof Edeltraut Günther (UNU-FLORES), MP Torsten Herbst, District Administrator Udo Witschas, Franziska Stölzel (UNU-FLORES) and Jan Wörner (President of acatech)

Construction and climate protection: do they go together? The figures are sobering: the construction industry accounts for more than a quarter of global CO2 emissions. It also accounts for a whopping 40 percent of global energy consumption. In Germany, construction waste accounts for almost 60 percent of the annual waste volume. High time for innovative concepts for sustainable construction! The “Living Art of Building” (LAB) research center, initiated by the TU Dresden, will soon be developing such concepts. The LAB is to be based in Bautzen and set up at various locations across Germany.

The multi-year development of the LAB is set to begin in 2024. Through intensive basic research into climate-neutral and resource-efficient construction, solutions and ideas for the development of new materials, technologies and processes are to be found on a large scale. “Research at the LAB can create technology leadership from Germany for new construction,” says initiator Prof. Manfred Curbach from TU Dresden. “If you want to have a positive impact on climate change, you have to start with construction.”

In the future, a total of around 1,250 employees from science and technology will conduct research and development in laboratory facilities that are unique in the world. Close cooperation with industry will create up to 40,000 jobs in and around the LAB in the long term. All interested parties throughout Germany who can contribute the necessary expertise and resources can participate. The aim is also to cooperate with strong partners from science and industry across Germany, Europe and worldwide.

Since 2021, the LAB concept has been developed by a multidisciplinary team of experts. In addition to Prof. Curbach, the team includes Jan Wörner, President of acatech, Dr. Birgit Beckmann from TU Dresden and Prof. Edeltraud Günther and Franziska Stölzel from the United Nations University. 

The Budget Committee of the German Bundestag recently decided to provide a total of 3.6 million euros for the establishment of the LAB in the 2024 federal budget. For the following four years, up to 65 million euros have also been anchored as so-called commitment appropriations. In addition, the districts of Bautzen and Görlitz have pledged to make up to 450 million euros of their structural change funds available with the help of the cities and municipalities.

More information

TUD News

November 21, 2023 | When do algae grow best - and how loud do ship engines roar? The Dresden "Minilab" finds out!

The Fraunhofer SOT's mobile underwater laboratory "Minilab" enables the testing of new sensors as well as new materials and antifouling coatings under maritime conditions.
The Fraunhofer SOT's mobile underwater laboratory "Minilab" enables the testing of new sensors as well as new materials and antifouling coatings under maritime conditions.

A major appearance for innovative power from Dresden at the Baltic Sea this week: the Fraunhofer research group Smart Ocean Technologies (SOT) presented the “Minilab” service and test platform at the “Rostock Ocean Convention”. The mobile underwater laboratory was successfully tested under the leadership of the Dresden-based Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS. It can be used in a variety of ways at depths of up to 100 meters in lakes, rivers and oceans - from testing new coatings for ship hulls or monitoring ship noise to monitoring algae cultures for the green smoothies of tomorrow. And it helps to bring innovative future technologies to market more quickly.

How long does it take for algae, sea snails and small crustaceans to colonize the fresh underwater paint on a yacht? How do underwater ecosystems react to new offshore constructions? Important questions like these can now be answered quickly and easily with the help of the “Minilab”.

The underwater laboratory consists of an open tubular steel construction with basic sensor equipment that can be flexibly equipped with samples and other sensors and measuring devices. Thanks to an edge length of only around 70 centimeters, it can be easily transported by car. It is equipped with four cameras and a temperature and pressure sensor as well as various sensors. It can use these, for example, to determine whether a body of water is acidic or alkaline, how high the oxygen content or UV radiation is. The energy required for this still comes from land via a power line and the recorded data is also sent by cable to an electronic measuring case above the water. “However, we are already planning a self-sufficient follow-up solution,” reveals SOT research group leader Dr. Kathrin Baumgarten. The laboratory will be powered by batteries in a buoy. The recorded sensor data is then forwarded directly to a mobile router in the buoy.

Due to the many possible applications, the “Minilab” is not only interesting for sensor manufacturers and developers of new underwater materials, but also for aquatic farmers, for example. In view of climate change, population growth and changing eating habits, attempts are now also being made to produce sugar kelp and edible large algae in the Baltic Sea. These algae cultures are used to the cooler temperatures of the world's oceans. The “Minilab” could monitor the water temperature and other vital parameters to ensure that such green settlements succeed. “We bring the samples and equipment to be analyzed into the water for our partners,” says Baumgarten. “This helps them to bring innovations to the market more quickly.”

November 9, 2023 | Fraunhofer IKTS from Dresden presents innovative technology for shorter root canal treatments

Thanks to the innovative technology from Dresden, unpleasant root canal treatments could take much less time in future.
Thanks to the innovative technology from Dresden, unpleasant root canal treatments could take much less time in future.

Root canal treatments are one of the most unpleasant things we can expect at the dentist: Painful and almost always lengthy. Researchers at the Fraunhofer IKTS in Dresden have now discovered how the file, which penetrates deep into the root canal, does not stick so quickly, thus speeding up the treatment. A huge relief for dentists and a blessing for patients! Next week, IKTS will be presenting the innovative technology, which is based on the special material piezoceramic, at COMPAMED in Düsseldorf.

When deep-seated caries and inflammation have attacked the tooth roots, root canal treatment is usually unavoidable. The doctor then opens the tooth to remove inflamed tissue. The problem is that the rotating file used for this has to be constantly cleaned in between. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden have now developed a tiny piezoceramic stack actuator as part of the joint research project “IPUCLEAN”, which means that the file no longer sticks so often and the treatment ends more quickly. 

In so-called stack actuators, several layers are placed on top of each other and interconnected. This enabled the scientists to design the device so small that it can still be moved easily in the confined space of the oral cavity. 

Piezoceramics are ceramic materials that exhibit a so-called charge separation as soon as they are deformed by an external force and this is precisely what the Dresden team is taking advantage of: The rotation of the file is superimposed by an oscillating movement, so the file rotates and oscillates at the same time. 

“By superimposing the rotation with an axial oscillation, the file becomes clogged less quickly,” says Dr. Holger Neubert, Head of the Intelligent Materials and Systems department at IKTS. “The dentist can concentrate much better on the already difficult work in the root canal. The risk of file breakage is also reduced.”

The company Gebr. Brasseler GmbH & Co. KG was the coordinator of the project, which was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Doctors from the Faculty of Dentistry at the University of Rostock have already tested the technology on plastic teeth and have given positive feedback!

The technology can also be used for other medical applications, for example in diagnostics or cancer treatment. “Piezoceramic components enable a wide variety of different applications and are attractive for medical technology due to their compactness and performance,” says Dr. Neubert. “We are able to develop individual solutions for customers that are tailored to their specific needs.” 

From November 13 to 16, Fraunhofer IKTS, which is a leader in working with piezoceramic materials, will be presenting its innovative technology for shorter root canal treatments – and the further potential of piezoceramic technology – at the COMPAMED medical technology trade fair in Düsseldorf.

More information

IKTS News

November 9, 2023 | Impulses for green energy: 3D printer unique in Europe in Dresden

The new Fraunhofer IWS 3D printer produces particularly large components with complex geometry from metallic powders such as aluminum, titanium or copper layer by layer: for example, combustion chambers for hydrogen energy systems.
The new Fraunhofer IWS 3D printer produces particularly large components with complex geometry from metallic powders such as aluminum, titanium or copper layer by layer: for example, combustion chambers for hydrogen energy systems.

Combustion chambers for hydrogen energy systems or blade wheel enclosures for turbines: These and other complex components made of metal are the specialty of the new 3D printer at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology (IWS) in Dresden. Thanks to a special layering process, it produces large components with complicated geometry in a short time. This makes it unique in Europe - and opens up great opportunities, especially for medium-sized companies.

Additive manufacturing is becoming increasingly important. This is a particularly innovative and resource-saving manufacturing process: Unlike conventional methods, in which material is removed - comparable to the sculptor's block - here material is added step by step. Exemplary for this process is 3D printing.

Now the Fraunhofer IWS in Dresden has installed an industrial 3D printer that is unique in Europe. The manufacturing system is based on selective laser beam melting in a powder bed. In this process, a laser beam melts fine metal particles. From this melt, the system creates the desired component layer by layer according to a computer model. Components made of titanium, copper and other metals or their alloys can be produced in this way.

The special feature of the new IWS 3D printer is that it can also produce large and complex components - volumes of up to 62 by 62 by 110 centimeters are possible. This opens up great opportunities for SMEs: "With this kind of system technology, SMEs in eastern Germany can develop special unique selling points with the help of the Fraunhofer IWS," emphasizes institute director Prof. Christoph Leyens. The state-of-the-art plant also plays a key role in the "SpreeTec next" project. It is to contribute to the development of new manufacturing processes and value chains.

"SpreeTec neXt," initiated by the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus Senftenberg (BTU) and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, sees itself as a bridge between industry and research to help small and medium-sized companies in the plastics and metal processing industries make the transition to green energy technology. By 2029, the project partners want to establish an innovation center in Lusatia for this purpose and provide advice on the use of advanced technologies related to additive manufacturing. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding these specific subtasks of "SpreeTec neXt" with five million euros each.

More information

Fraunhofer IWS News

October 27, 2023 | New surgical robot "HUGO RAS" consolidates Dresden's status as an important smart health location.

The HUGO RAS surgical robot in action - Prof. Christian Thomas testing the new device for the first time.
The HUGO RAS surgical robot in action - Prof. Christian Thomas testing the new device for the first time.

German premiere in Dresden: At the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus (UKD), the robot HUGO RAS has performed a urological operation for the first time. It is a new member of the UKD's robotics park, which also includes three Da Vinci models. This creates the best conditions for setting up a versatile range of therapies. The new "Robotic diversity" also makes the UKD an even more attractive place for research and teaching.

An incision no larger than a keyhole: Minimally invasive surgery is characterized by its gentle handling of the body. In recent years, the technique has undergone rapid development. The main drivers are new technologies, especially high-end surgical robots.

One of the most advanced in the evolution of these devices is the HUGO RAS, where RAS stands for "robotic assisted surgery". It has been part of the UKD's impressive robotics park since recently and was put to the test right away: it was the first HUGO in Germany to perform a urological operation. The patient was a 78-year-old man whose prostate had been reduced in size.

The UKD already had three Da Vinci surgical robots before the arrival of the high-end robot. Both the HUGO and the Da Vinci consolidate Dresden's position as a major location for care, research and teaching. For patients, the various robotic systems open up new opportunities. Depending on the findings, the surgical teams can choose between the two systems.

The HUGO has four highly individually adjustable arms and an open console. This allows the surgeon to work close to the patient and in the middle of his team. The device also ensures a better view of the overall scene in the OR. By comparison, the four arms of the Da Vinci surgical robot are operated via a separately standing console away from the operating table. Both systems enable minimally invasive and thus gentle interventions.

"The new robotic system takes Dresden University Medical Center to a new surgical level," says Saxony's Minister of Science Sebastian Gemkow. Prof. Michael Albrecht, Medical Director at the University Hospital, is also excited about being able to offer the "two most highly developed robotic systems" under one roof: "This is an enormous advantage when it comes to attracting employees to us." Prof. Christian Thomas, Director of the Clinic and Polyclinic for Urology, gives the specific reasons for this. In the future, for example, he says, they want to offer training in the use of the Hugo and conduct research with AI. "Robotic diversity at the university hospital should ensure that modern minimally invasive surgery is not automatically associated with a manufacturer in the future," says Prof. Thomas.

UKD staff in abdominal, lung and vascular surgery will also benefit from the support of both robotic systems in the future. In addition to clinical use, the device will also be used scientifically. Patients can be included in studies and treated accordingly.

More information

Carus News

October 23, 2023 | Dual-ion technology with Dresden participation as a game changer?

The TransDIB project will use a pilot line for the production of sustainable dual-ion batteries (DIB) to temporarily store green electricity.
The TransDIB project will use a pilot line for the production of sustainable dual-ion batteries (DIB) to temporarily store green electricity.

Balcony power units are booming – not least because bureaucratic hurdles are currently being removed for private energy generation in miniature power generation. However, the question of how to store surplus electricity has not yet been answered satisfactorily. This is where dual-ion batteries (DIBs) as rechargeable stationary energy storage devices come into play. With the participation of Dresden's Fraunhofer IKTS and TU Dresden, the novel technology is now being made fit for industrial application. 

With these small power units, tenants and property owners can easily produce solar power – much more cheaply than with rooftop photovoltaic systems. But how can unused electricity in the home be stored in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way?

The answer could be a real game changer:  Emerging dual-ion technology. Unlike previous lithium-ion storage systems, this technology uses graphite and materials available in Germanyrather than environmentally harmful and expensive metals such as nickel or cobalt. Their charging and discharging process is also faster. Dual-ion batteries thus promise lower costs, more safety, greater independence - and above all: more sustainability! However, research to date has focused on the production of laboratory cells. Industrially relevant cell formats have remained largely unexamined. 

The "TransDIB" project (Development and Transfer of Cost-efficient, Sustainable and Safe Dual-Ion Batteries for Stationary Energy Storage Solutions) now aims to improve the industrial transfer of this battery cell technology. To this end, the project partners intend to produce prototypes on a pilot plant for lithium-ion batteries. The planning of industrial cell production for DIBs is to be based on this, so that graphite electrodes can later be produced on a large scale. 

To this end, partners from industry (VARTA Microbattery GmbH, SGL Carbon GmbH, E-LYTE Innovations GmbH, Sixonia Tech GmbH) and research (Dresden University of Technology, Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS, Westphalian Wilhelms University Münster) are working hand in hand on the project. “TransDIB” runs from February 2023 to January 2026 and is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research with 2.3 million euros.

More information

IKTS News

October 19, 2023 | Biotype analysis device from Dresden revolutionizes cancer therapy and forensics

Presentation of the Modaplex analyzer

Precision medicine is currently creating a new industry of the future - and Saxon companies, hospitals and research institutions are leading the way. One of them is the biotech company Biotype from Dresden. The improved version of its Modaplex analysis device is now paving new paths - both in cancer therapy and in tracking down criminals.

Dresden is increasingly becoming the most important hotspot and driving force in precision medicine. It is already one of the top three locations in Germany in terms of artificial intelligence and data expertise - two key technologies for the development of state-of-the-art diagnostic procedures. 

A key player in this field is Dresden-based biotech company Biotype, which is setting new standards in the analysis of blood samples with Modaplex. It has now launched an improved version of the procedure: the table-sized device enables individualized treatment methods for cancer patients. Blood samples are fed into the device. Small biomarkers then evaluate the results and design personalized therapies. 

In less than four hours, the automated workflow of the Modaplex platform delivers fast and accurate results. In this time, the decision-relevant RNA and DNA biomarkers are measured simultaneously from one sample. On this basis, the best possible therapy can be initiated. Biotype thus makes a significant contribution to relieving the burden on the healthcare system.

However, the device is not only suitable for the treatment of cancer patients, but is also used in forensics: Thanks to the technology, tissue, blood or urine can now be used to determine precisely whether or not a crime suspect was present at the scene of the crime. On the one hand, this opens up new opportunities for prisoners who may have been convicted in error to be pardoned. On the other hand, cases that have already been closed and not uncovered can be taken "out of the fridge" and reopened with the help of the Modaplex.

More information

Biotype News

October 5, 2023 | Membranes for climate-neutral waste incineration from Dresden

A test plant with membrane technology for the separation of CO2 is to be operated, among other things, from a partial waste gas stream from this waste incineration plant in Lauta.
A test plant with membrane technology for the separation of CO2 is to be operated, among other things, from a partial waste gas stream from this waste incineration plant in Lauta.

Worldwide, 280 million tons of waste are incinerated every year. In many countries, energy is generated from the resulting heat. The problem is that the resulting flue gas contains climate-damaging carbon dioxide (CO2). The joint project “KlimProMem”, coordinated by Fraunhofer IKTS in Dresden, therefore aims to separate the CO2 from the flue gas in order to use it for production in the basic materials industry. An innovative membrane technology is used for this purpose.

The “KlimProMem” project focuses on the further development of climate-neutral processes in the basic materials industry, i.e. those areas of industry that extract basic materials and prepare them for further processing. For these, the project participants are testing membranes, plant and process concepts to enable the climate-neutral production of important basic materials.

In this case, special carbon membranes are being developed for separating CO2 from flue gas at Fraunhofer IKTS in Dresden and scaled up for large plants. The special feature: To make the process as energy-efficient as possible, geothermal energy is being combined for the first time with energy-efficient membrane distillation – a thermally driven separation process. The principle is to be tested at two waste incineration plants.

Compared to the polymer membranes usually used in this process, carbon membranes offer more favorable chemical and mechanical stability. They can be used in the project to test the further processing of the separated CO2 into soda, soda ash or other products by means of electrochemical membrane processes. Soda and soda are basic chemicals that are used in many areas of industry and everyday life (e.g. glass production, cleaning agents, water treatment).

In addition to the Dresden Fraunhofer IKTS as coordinator, “KlimProMem” involves E.S.C.H. Engineering Service Center und Handel GmbH, Vulcan Energie Ressourcen GmbH and the CIECH Group. With IQONY GmbH and PreZero Energy, the field trials are being carried out at waste treatment plants in Lauta (Saxony) and Zorbau (Saxony-Anhalt). The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is supporting the project with around 1.5 million euros over three years.

More information

www.frauenhofer.de

September 28, 2023 | Dresden-based start-up “HolyPoly” expands and plans recycling pilot plant

The "Closed-Loop Factory" under construction on Freiberger Strasse in Dresden.
The "Closed-Loop Factory" under construction on Freiberger Strasse in Dresden.

The Dresden-based start-up “HolyPoly” for innovative plastics recycling has been growing for three years. Now the company is planning a so-called “closed-loop factory” and wants to finance it with a crowdinvesting campaign. Through the recycling pilot plant, the Dresden-based company wants to further expand its competitive advantage. 

HolyPoly develops ideas, concepts and processes to fully exploit the potential of recycled plastics: recycling thus creates high-quality products with high utility value and good market opportunities. The start-up's team brings a broad range of expertise to the table in all relevant disciplines, from product development and material selection to sustainable design and manufacturing, logistics and marketing. 

This has made the young company so successful that it is now expanding: A planned production and research center will provide enough space and comprehensive equipment for the upcoming projects. In the closed-loop factory, new plastic recycling cycles are to be developed on an industrial scale. Closed-loop manufacturing is understood as a closed manufacturing and measurement process for an entire value chain in which new data sources collaborate and are connected. 

HolyPoly is also breaking new ground in financing the 750,000-euro investment by relying on crowdinvesting. Whereas the company had still been financing its first two rounds by acquiring larger investment sums, investors can now also participate with smaller amounts starting at 100 euros. A corresponding campaign will start in the first week of November. 

“When we started three years ago, we would not have expected that we would already realize such extensive projects for renowned brands such as Mattel or Bosch,” says HolyPoly Managing Director Fridolin Pflüger. “But the spectrum of our service offering is obviously unique and the demand for individual recycling solutions very high.” 

The first machines are scheduled to start up in the closed-loop factory this year. The modern hall will then be able to accommodate prototype production, test procedures, material analyses, recycling processes and sample production using the latest technology. The site will be opened as early as October 2, and Saxony's Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer has also announced his attendance. 

“It is absurd how many high-quality materials from unused end-of-life products will be destroyed in our waste systems even in 2023 and how old-fashioned recycling still is,” says Fridolin Pflüger. “This has to change, and we are starting to do it at this site.”

More information

www.holypoly.co

September 22, 2023 | Is magnesium the key? IFW Dresden receives 1.5 million euros for further development of thermoelectrics?

Dr. Ran He from Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden
Dr. Ran He from Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden

When waste heat from large industrial plants is turned into electricity, the thermoelectric effect is behind it: two unequal temperature levels generate a voltage that enables current to flow and vice versa. This effect has been known for 200 years. And yet the development of the technology has stagnated for half a century. Among other things, because it requires the extremely rare element tellurium. With funding from the European Research Council (ERC), Dr Ran He from the Leibniz Institute is now doing everything he can to overcome this standstill - for example, by replacing tellurium with magnesium.

There is great potential in thermoelectric technology (TE). If you look at the use of industrial waste heat, for example, this becomes particularly clear: according to the UBA, Germany's central environmental authority, only seven per cent of district heating has been generated from it so far. Yet the theoretical potential of industrial waste heat is about 226 terawatt hours - which is significantly greater than the entire current district heating sales.

The problem: Until now, most heat-to-electricity converters have required the extremely rare element tellurium. It occurs in less than 0.001 parts per million in the earth's crust - which is why the development of the technology has stagnated for half a century.

Dr. Ran He from the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden is researching the solution. As part of the TENTATION project (Tellurium-free Thermoelectric Technology for Near-room-temperature Applications), the physicist is working on the development of a new generation of thermoelectric modules - which are based on the abundant element magnesium instead of tellurium and are intended to surpass the performance of previous technology. This is because, until now, the efficiencies of thermoelectrics have been low compared to other methods of energy generation. "I am aiming to double the conversion efficiency to about 12 per cent," says Ran He, who has been at IFW since 2017. He has just received the "ERC Starting Grant" for his work from the ERC, a research grant worth 1.5 million euros.

Ran He has his sights set high - but if he actually succeeds in achieving his project goal, he will pave the way for sustainable energy generation and temperature regulation with a wide range of applications based on a long-known principle.

More information

IFW News

September 19, 2023 | Gigantic direct current measurement facility: Dresden sets new impetus for energy transition

The plant, which is a good eight meters high, generates voltages of up to 1.2 million volts.
The plant, which is a good eight meters high, generates voltages of up to 1.2 million volts.

TU Dresden has commissioned a test facility for measuring direct current, the size of which there are only a few of its kind in Germany. Researchers want to use it to answer important questions about the power grids of the future. After all, by 2030, at least 80 percent of our electricity is to come from renewable energies - according to the German government's plan. This also involves converting the power grid from alternating to direct current. This poses special challenges for which solutions are now being developed in Dresden.

"Electricity highways": this is the name given to the cable routes that will supply Germany with green electricity in the future. Most of the electricity generated from the sun and wind will be generated in the windy north and east and in large offshore parks off the coasts. However, it is mainly used in the industrially strong southwest and south of Germany. Thick cables are needed to transport it several hundred kilometers across the country - and they are designed for direct current. This is because it is significantly more efficient than alternating current, can be transmitted without major losses, and is virtually predestined for large amounts of electricity and long distances.

The TU Dresden has its eye on the growing importance of direct current for the future of our power supply: Its high-voltage hall has recently been home to a gigantic measuring system that looks a bit like science fiction with its rings and spheres. It is a good eight meters high, generates voltages of up to 1.2 million volts and cost just under one million euros. The money comes from the large-scale equipment initiative of the German states, which is dedicated to financing large-scale equipment with outstanding, innovative technology.

With the help of the facility, Dresden University plans to significantly advance research in the field of direct current technology. "We are grateful that we now have this modern device at our disposal," says Stephan Schlegel, acting head of the Chair of High Voltage and High Current Technology. A former DC system from 1994 had become obsolete and was no longer suitable for current research questions. Now Dresden is one of the few research locations in the country where this possibility exists.

Various research tasks await Stephan Schlegel's team. One involves the cables that will be used for DC voltage in the future: "We are trying to understand physically what happens in the insulating layer of such a cable, for example," explains Schlegel. This layer is much thicker than, for example, in common underground cables for medium voltage. How big does the insulating body have to be? What happens during a lightning discharge? Problems like these can now be investigated with the new test facility. But Schlegel adds that it's not just about the cables, but about all the questions that arise around the technologies for direct voltage and direct current. Schlegel is convinced that precisely this knowledge will become increasingly important in the future: "Today, we have the technical possibilities to work much more with direct current than in the past."

Thanks to the new test facility, Dresden is now an important contact when it comes to tomorrow's energy supply.

More information

About TU Dresden

14 September 2023 | Research cluster with TU Dresden: think tank for sustainable recycling management

The steering committee met for its constituent meeting in Dresden. From left to right: Prof. Uwe Götze (TU Chemnitz), Prof. Alexander Kratzsch, Prof. Ursula M. Staudinger, Prof. Klaus-Dieter Barbknecht, (TU Bergakademie Freiberg) and CircEcon Managing Director Prof. Niels Modler, TU Dresden.
The steering committee met for its constituent meeting in Dresden. From left to right: Prof. Uwe Götze (TU Chemnitz), Prof. Alexander Kratzsch, Prof. Ursula M. Staudinger, Prof. Klaus-Dieter Barbknecht, (TU Bergakademie Freiberg) and CircEcon Managing Director Prof. Niels Modler, TU Dresden.

In the past, major burdens on the environment emanated from here. Today, the site is a meeting place for sustainable ideas for the future: The research cluster “CircEcon – Green Circular Economy” is being created in the “Schwarze Pumpe” industrial park, which is located in equal parts in Saxony and Brandenburg. Here, four universities are jointly developing new ideas for a greenhouse gas-neutral circular economy. The TU Dresden is also involved. The idea is to bundle expertise along the production chain - starting from materials to production and process technologies to recycling. The project is funded with 108 million euros by the federal government and the state of Saxony. 

The Schwarze Pumpe industrial park in Lusatia is emblematic of the comprehensive transformation from formerly coal-based to renewable energy: what was once the world's largest gas and lignite distribution centre is to be transformed into a green industrial location in the coming years. An important component of this transformation is the circular economy, which plays a central role in the transformation of industry and society.

Now four universities and colleges want to pitch their tents here to establish a research campus for greenhouse gas-neutral recycling management that is unique in Europe. In addition to the TU Dresden, these are the Bergakademie Freiberg, the TU Chemnitz and the Zittau/Görlitz University of Applied Sciences. They have 108 million euros from the federal and state governments at their disposal for this purpose. The interdisciplinary working group wants to focus on the entire value chain from raw material extraction and processing to materials, processes and structures to reuse. The tools of choice: artificial intelligence, digitalisation, energy management and eco-hydrogen. 

“Bundling the expertise of the universities and colleges leads to an outstanding pooling of know-how and technology,” says Prof. Ursula M. Staudinger, Rector of TU Dresden. “This allows groundbreaking solutions to be developed for the challenges of the circular economy and at the same time strengthens the region's competitiveness.” Prof. Alexander Kratzsch, Rector of the Zittau/Görlitz University of Applied Sciences, emphasises the project's “international expertise” that leads to “sustainable solutions”. “CircEcon transforms university know-how into industrial innovations and thus directly promotes economic growth,” explains Kratzsch. 

The first important step was taken with the constituent meeting of the CircEcon steering committee. With the help of pilot lines, test facilities and demonstration systems, new ideas for a highly efficient circular economy are now to be developed, tested and brought to market maturity together with companies.

More information

TU Dresden News

August 30, 2023 | Lighting specialists from Dresden solve efficiency problem with OLED displays

scientist with OLED

Whether smartphone, tablet or television: OLED technology for displays is on the advance. However, it has a problem with the colour blue: the emitters used so far to produce the blue colour are not very efficient. The Dresden-based start-up beeOLED GmbH has now presented a deep blue emitter at the International Meeting on Information Display (IMID) in South Korea, one of the most important industry events, which could significantly reduce the energy consumption of displays.

The deep blue emitters currently used in OLED displays are either long-lasting (fluorescent emitters) or efficient (phosphorescent emitters). But there is no technology on the market that combines these two properties. It is true that the intra-metallic emission technology developed by the Dresden-based start-up beeOLED has proven high stability and high efficiency in other display technologies in the past. However, it could not yet be used in OLED displays - until now!

Because now, for the first time, the light specialists from Dresden have succeeded in making such molecules compatible with the vacuum manufacturing process used today in the large-scale production of OLED displays. The new deep blue emitters are significantly more efficient and will reduce the power consumption of smartphones, for example. BeeOLED's latest development could open up a billion-dollar market for itself.

More information

Press release from beeoled GmbH

August 25, 2023 | Dresden company helps the energy transition in the power grid achieve a breakthrough

f.l.t.r. Christian Hofmann (Head of Metrology / IoT Energy Industry, Robotron), Volker Kroner (Material and Supplier Management, E.ON), Jürgen Kramny (Head of Metering Systems, Netze BW), Olaf Abbing (Managing Director, Landis+Gyr) Janosch Wagner (CTO, PPC)
f.l.t.r. Christian Hofmann (Head of Metrology / IoT Energy Industry, Robotron), Volker Kroner (Material and Supplier Management, E.ON), Jürgen Kramny (Head of Metering Systems, Netze BW), Olaf Abbing (Managing Director, Landis+Gyr) Janosch Wagner (CTO, PPC)

For the energy transition to move forward, smart metering systems for electricity are crucial. Such digital meters, called smart meters, can already be found in some private households. The economy, on the other hand, still has some catching up to do. But this may soon be satisfied - thanks to an innovation from Saxony: the Dresden-based Robotron Datenbank-Software GmbH, in cooperation with other partners, has successfully tested digital meters for industry, commerce and large generation plants.

Approximately three quarters of the energy consumed in Germany is recorded by smart metering systems via recording load profile measurement (RLM). However, the number of RLM metering points is still very low at around one percent of the total 53 million metering points in Germany. By the end of 2028, RLM metering points should account for at least 20 percent of all metering points according to the law. Five companies from the industry have joined forces to drive forward the development: E.ON, Netze BW GmbH, Robotron Datenbank-Software GmbH, Power Plus Communications AG and Landis+Gyr GmbH.

Their innovation: By linking an RLM meter with a smart meter gateway (SMGW), they have realised the intelligent, recording load profile measurement system "iRLMSys". In the process, an RLM meter from Landis+Gyr was connected to Robotron's backend system via the CLS interface of PPC's smart meter gateway. The trialled solution is tailored to the specific requirements of industrial customers, which differ significantly from those for normal household customers. The latest trial has shown that the metering system is marketable, offers a high level of security and is available in a timely manner.

A name with tradition

When they hear the name Robotron, many people think of the combine from GDR times - and clunky computers from Dresden. And rightly so, because there is actually a lot of history in the Dresden company: Robotron was wound up by the Treuhand in 1990. But Dr. Rolf Heinemann, a leading employee of the former combine, founded Robotron Datenbank-Software GmbH in August 1990 with eight partners and 26 employees. The company's field of activity then as now: the realisation of projects for the effective administration and evaluation of large amounts of data on the basis of database software. Robotron's customers include energy providers. The company makes about two thirds of its turnover with their data management. More than half of all remotely read meters in Germany are now run by a Robotron system, and the company has achieved market leadership. The company, which employs 466 people, is now run by Heinemann's son Ulf Heinemann. Turnover last year was just under 63 million euros - and is expected to rise when the smart metering systems now being tested prove themselves in practice.

August 18, 2023 | TU Dresden develops promising HIV blocker

How the HI virus (highlighted in yellow) infects the human cell.
How the HI virus (highlighted in yellow) infects the human cell.

An important success in AIDS research: scientists from Dresden and the USA have discovered how the HI virus replicates in the body. Three proteins are responsible for this. Now they have synthesized molecules as antagonists to block the invasion. This opens up opportunities for new drugs and therapies - also for other viral diseases and certain types of cancer.

Worldwide, nearly 40 million people are living with HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus. Another 1.5 million are added each year. The virus invades cells, multiplies in them and finally destroys them. As a result, the immune system is significantly weakened.

The big question that interests researchers worldwide is: How does the virus manage to penetrate the cell nucleus? Scientists at TU Dresden and Touro University in Nevada now have an answer to this question: They have identified three proteins that interact via a signaling pathway and thus open the door to the virus.

This newly discovered pathway begins with HIV entering the cell wrapped in a membrane package. It pushes the protective envelope around the
the cell nucleus inward and forms a kind of invagination. The package containing the virus then moves to the tip of this invagination, where the virus slips into the nucleus. 

In order for the virus to make this journey, it relies on the work of proteins: The first of them is located at the envelope of the membrane package, number two at the nuclear membrane, where invasion takes place, and number three finally links the first two proteins together. 

The approach of the Dresden researchers: Invasion of the virus is only possible if all three proteins successfully interact with each other. If the chain is blocked, the virus remains locked out. Together with their American colleagues, they have therefore developed special molecules. What they observed in the laboratory raises great expectations: In the presence of the molecules, the virus was unable to replicate further.

Even though the research is still at an early stage: Based on the new findings, new drugs could be developed for the fight against AIDS. Other diseases in which the transport of particles into the cell nucleus plays a role could also be the target of these therapies. These include other viral diseases and certain types of cancer. 

Research is therefore far from over, as Dr. Denis Corbeil, research group leader at the Biotechnology Center (BIOTEC) of TU Dresden, points out: "Since this new approach can also be applied to other diseases such as cancer, it is very interesting to further decipher all the molecular players involved." So his team continues to work on deciphering molecular processes to pave the way for new therapies in virology and oncology. The start has been made!

More information

TUD News

August 11, 2023 | B2Square and Biofabrik from Dresden want to revolutionize road construction.

Frank Albrecht showing the real-time temperature of bitumen progressively decreasing while maintaining its compactability.
Frank Albrecht showing the real-time temperature of bitumen progressively decreasing while maintaining its compactability.

From one of the biggest emitters in the industry to a CO2 sink - what Frank Albrecht, CEO of B2Square, has in mind for the road construction sector is ambitious. The key? So-called BioBitumen, which serves as a binder for asphalt. It is made from natural raw materials and could soon replace petroleum-based bitumen. Together with the Dresden-based Biofabrik, of which Albrecht is the technical director, the company is now embarking on a global rollout. This makes B2Square the first member of the ImpactFamily, a platform from Biofabrik that aims to help greentech startups achieve a global breakthrough.

Conventional bitumen has replaced harmful tar as a binder and is found in virtually all asphalt roads, bridges and parking lots. The problem is that it is based on crude oil and refinery residues. Around 350 kilograms of carbon dioxide are emitted per ton of bitumen. B2Square has found a solution to this. Its bitumen substitute is not only sustainably produced, but also climate-positive because it permanently binds carbon dioxide. This turns one of the biggest emitters in the industry into a CO2 sink. With its innovation, B2Square now wants to ensure green roads worldwide - and is doing so together with Biofabrik from Dresden. The latter recently announced a strategic change of course: Since its founding more than ten years ago, it has dedicated itself to the development of sustainable technologies (WASTX Plastic, WASTX Oil). Now it has launched a new platform, the Impactfamily. It aims to enable hardware startups in the greentech sector to market their ideas globally. Its first member: B2Square. Frank Albrecht, who is also CTO of Biofabrik, says of the partnership: "As a platform for revolutionary greentech technologies and products, Biofabrik is a very interesting multiplier for our business case. But the collaboration also holds out the prospect of a host of exciting synergies beyond that." What makes B2Square's BioBitumen so attractive and unique is that it can be supplied, manufactured and processed in a cold state. That's because all it takes to make the adhesive for roads is synthetic hydrocarbon resin and a viscous cashew nut extract. Both can be mixed with asphalt on site at low temperatures. Petroleum-based bitumen, on the other hand, must be heated to be used for road construction. This is not only energy intensive, but also poses a risk to workers. Hot bitumen is a recurring cause of accidents on construction sites. As a cold instant product, B2Square's BioBitumen thus brings several advantages over the conventional petroleum-based product. Pilot projects around the globe offer a first taste of the disruptive potential of the adhesive for roads. They show how versatile and accessible the product is. Now it's a matter of taking the next step and using the Biofabrik network to win over major road construction projects. A first milestone was recently made public: Strabag, one of the largest road construction companies in Europe, is cooperating with B2Square.

More informations

News of the Biofabrik

About Biofabrik

About B2Square

July 28, 2023 | Dresden researchers advance superfast neural computer

Electromagnetic fields generate oscillations in a magnetic vortex. The non-linear interaction is similar to the interplay between neurons and synapses in the brain and can be used for pattern recognition.
Electromagnetic fields generate oscillations in a magnetic vortex. The non-linear interaction is similar to the interplay between neurons and synapses in the brain and can be used for pattern recognition.

They are small, powerful and indispensable for many everyday tasks: computer processors. In certain areas of application, however, they have so far struggled to recognise patterns in large data streams and to grasp their complexity. And they consume a lot of energy. So-called neuromorphic computers are superior to them. Researchers at the Helmholtz Centre Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have now taken this technology a big step forward.

Today's computers break down tasks in their processors and memories into long sequences of zeros and ones. They then compare them with elementary logical operations, adding and subtracting them. This binary logic and digital computing technology can solve most maths problems faster than any human. But: in many areas of automation, industry is currently struggling with fast data transmission. Examples are autonomous driving, the Internet of Things or edge computing, i.e. data processing at the edge of a network. Here, sensors deliver small data packets at high speed. Recognising patterns in them is very energy-intensive for contemporary computer architectures. The solution for the researchers at the HZDR: spin waves, also called magnons.

The idea of using magnons to create a new data processing technology is somewhat older. But the HZDR team's work has solved a problem that was hindering practical implementation. All previous concepts rely on the fact that spin waves have to propagate from A to B in order to be manageable. But so far there are no really suitable materials for this. The Dresdeners now took a different approach: they shifted the entire process into a magnetic disc only a few micrometres thick and set it oscillating. Now the whole body vibrates, simultaneously at different frequencies. You can imagine it like a drum: If you sprinkle sand on a drum and beat it rhythmically, patterns emerge. These are modes of vibration. And they exist in the entire space. So they don't move from A to B. They are standing waves that exist resonantly on the entire body. The knocking of the drum is the data input, which can come from a sensor, for example. It causes an interplay of different vibrations and resulting non-linear processes. Because the processes are similar to those in the human brain, the new technology is also called "neuromorphic computing".

From the researchers' point of view, the new, extremely energy-efficient technology is not intended to replace existing computers, but to complement them. One possible field of application is traffic optimisation. For neuromorphic computers could search the mountain of data provided by services such as Google in combination with smartphones and cars for patterns and predict a traffic jam before the first car has even stopped. This is a highly complex matter that conventional computer architectures like PCs struggle with enormously. They need many computing steps. For neuromorphic computing, on the other hand, it is the ideal field of application. Intelligent maintenance could also benefit from neuromorphic computers. In wind turbines, for example, they could look for vibration patterns in the drive shafts that indicate bearing damage. This would make maintenance possible before the bearing even fails. That saves money, energy and resources.

More informations

Press release of the HZDR
Article in the news portal Oiger

July 20, 2023 | New center for semiconductor metrology in Dresden: For more precision, quality and efficiency.

eBeam metrology equipment from Applied Materials in the Fraunhofer IPMS clean room.
eBeam metrology equipment from Applied Materials in the Fraunhofer IPMS clean room.

They are built into laptops and smartphones, cars and washing machines, and are a key driver of digitalization: we are talking about semiconductors. In order to further advance semiconductor research and to target the next milestones in development, Dresden's Fraunhofer IPMS and Applied Materials are now joining forces. In the heart of Silicon Saxony, at the Center Nanoelectronic Technologies (CNT) of the Fraunhofer IPMS, one of the largest technology centers for semiconductor metrology and process analysis in Europe is to be established.

Measurement technology, also known as metrology, is of fundamental importance in the manufacture of microchips. This is because precise measurements enable the quality of individual steps and processes in manufacturing to be accurately monitored, controlled and thus continuously refined. Applied Materials manufactures state-of-the-art measuring equipment for the semiconductor industry, while Fraunhofer IPMS is Germany's leading research center for semiconductors on 300mm. In the new technology center, they now combine their competencies and work together to comprehensively accelerate developments in the field of semiconductor metrology and optimize process steps. New methods, algorithms and software will be developed and tested in the technology hub.

"This unique center of excellence will be able to test and qualify processes on a wide range of substrate materials and wafer thicknesses that are critical for applications in the diverse European semiconductor landscape," explains James Robson, corporate vice president for Applied Materials Europe. Dr. Benjamin Uhlig-Lilienthal, head of the Next Generation Computing business unit at Fraunhofer IPMS adds that his institution and other partners will benefit from "access to Applied's industry-leading eBeam metrology systems." These include major chip manufacturers such as Globalfoundries, with whom Fraunhofer IPMS works closely, as well as smaller and external companies that conduct joint research with the institute. As a meeting place for industry and science, the technology center in Dresden thus brings with it the potential to be an important driver for the semiconductor industry in Europe and to play a significant role in shaping digitization.

More information

Fraunhofer IPMS Press Release
About Fraunhofer IPMS
About Applied Materials

July 18, 2023 | Hydrogel wound dressings from Dresden promise cure for chronic open wounds

Principle of action of ResCure hydrogel wound gels
Principle of action of ResCure hydrogel wound gels

After ten years of research: clinical trials for the novel high-tech wound dressing ResCure, developed by scientists at the Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research Dresden e.V. (IPF), will soon begin. The new dressing could solve a major problem: Unlike previous wound dressings, the hydrogel-coated wound dressing tackles the cause of open wounds instead of just reacting to the symptoms.

Normally, the human body has the ability to heal wounds on the skin or mucous membranes itself within a short time. Unfortunately, however, this does not always work, for example if the affected person suffers from a circulatory disorder, a weakened immune system or diabetes. If wounds do not heal after one to three months despite treatment, they are called chronic. In Germany alone, around 900,000 people are currently affected. Giving them hope for a cure was the goal of the IPF researchers.

The hydrogel wound dressings they developed have a very special property that sets them apart from other wound dressings. Until now, excessive or chronic inflammatory processes that prevent wound healing could only be treated with systemic drugs. On the one hand, these often bring side effects and on the other hand, they are only effective to a limited extent.

The novel technology, on the other hand, combats inflammatory processes directly at their cause and can thus dissolve them. For this purpose, the researchers have developed polymer networks from derivatives of the glycosaminoglycan heparin and branched polyethylene glycol, which function like a "molecular sponge" and can absorb pro-inflammatory signal molecules from the wound and inactivate them. At the same time, they leave signalling molecules that promote wound healing largely in the wound.

The new therapy concept has already been successfully tested in animal models and on human wound secretions. And "extremely successfully", as Prof. Dr. Carsten Werner from the IPF emphasised in an interview with the Sächsische Zeitung. According to the study, wound healing is fifty percent faster than with standard therapies.

The clinical trial with around 100 patients is expected to run until the beginning of 2024. If everything goes according to plan, a company producing the ResCure hydrogel wound dressings could be founded as early as the beginning of 2025.

July 14, 2023 | Predictable batteries: Dresden engineers extend life cycles of rechargeable batteries

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Nominee Portrait Innovation Award 2023: NOVUM Engineering

The car is slow to start, the laptop won't boot up. Who hasn't experienced it: Batteries with a weak age can make life difficult for us. But there is often more to batteries than meets the eye. The Dresden-based company NOVUM engineering has developed a novel process that uses AI to check batteries in order to use them more efficiently and for longer. This saves a lot of time, money and emissions. For its development, the company won the State’s prize for Innovation this year.

Batteries are a black box for many. Because until now, their state of charge has only been estimated. No one knows exactly how long they will last or when they will break. As a result, batteries are often used inefficiently. According to the German Federal Environment Agency, batteries require up to 500 times more energy to manufacture than they later make available. If they are used incorrectly or are subject to severe temperature fluctuations, performance is further compromised. Under the right conditions, however, they can be used for much longer and recycled for a second or even third life cycle. This is highly relevant not only for private consumers, but also for industries. Efficient batteries are a key issue in e-mobility, for example. The aim here is to use the expensive batteries, which require a lot of energy to produce, for as long as possible.

But how long do rechargeable batteries actually last? How large is their capacity really? And how much energy is still contained at the end of a life cycle? Engineers at NOVUM engineering can now determine these questions precisely and in seconds with their innovative process. They have developed a process that is unique in the world to date for making reliable statements about the condition, capacity and service life of batteries. And they can do this for all types of batteries and battery storage systems of any size, from smaller lithium batteries to LFP batteries installed in cars, mobile homes or motorboats, and even large-scale storage systems in industrial companies.

Smart monitoring uses patented technology and AI-based processes to completely scan and monitor batteries. The AI needs just 90 seconds to test the condition of batteries used in industry, for example. The data collected in the process is uploaded to the NOVUM cloud and analyzed using neural networks. In this way, the state of charge can be determined precisely for the first time. Monitoring takes place on site or remotely via data transfers, as required. For example, a fleet management company can have its vehicle batteries conveniently checked via a mobile service tool.

With the precise assessment of the batteries, so-called predictive maintenance, operations can adjust their usage behavior and derive the ideal use of the battery. This saves a lot of energy, emissions and costs. Large-scale storage systems can be operated more economically and fast-charging processes for small electrical appliances can be optimized. Used batteries are given a second or even third life cycle thanks to diagnostics. This can save up to 90 percent of recycling costs.

Battery storage and its optimization are essential for the energy transition - and NOVUM engineering has found a way to make batteries more predictable and durable. The company has already received several awards for its innovative process, including High-Tech Startup Europe 2017 and, most recently, first place at the Saxony Innovation Award 2023.

More information

NOVUM Engineering
Saxon Innovation Award

July 11, 2023 | Spectral analysis: When the washing machine saves the cashmere jumper

The MEMS grating spectrometer is as small as a sugar cube
The MEMS grating spectrometer is as small as a sugar cube

What's in the wool programme again? And is 40 degrees enough to get the stain out of the blouse? These are questions that we will perhaps be able to leave to our washing machine in a few years' time - thanks to the "scanning mirror microspectrometer" (SMMS) that has just been developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems in Dresden. But of course, much more is possible with them than error-free laundry.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems IPMS aims to develop pioneering technological solutions and bring them into application. Also in the field of optical sensor technology. Here, the institute presented a demonstrator for the first time this year that uses spectral analysis to detect which materials textiles are made of.

Light is sent onto a sample, reflected back from it and split into its spectral components. The chemical composition of the sample, from the garment to the food, changes the emitted rays so that information can be read out about it - for example, whether a jumper is really made of cashmere or an apple is already ripe enough to eat.

In Dresden, several players are working on such technology, such as "Hiperscan" and "Senorics". In the "Sensorics" system, the splitting is done by means of an arrangement of 16 sensor elements, each with a set spectral sensitivity. This achieves a moderate resolution that is sufficient for simple determinations such as the differentiation of textiles. "Hiperscan" and the "Scanning Mirror Microspectrometer" (SMMS) of the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems, on the other hand, rely on splitting the light at a diffraction grating, which allows for better resolution and more precise measurements.

The technology opens up all kinds of possibilities. Taking the value chain of textiles as an example, from material testing when buying new clothes to care, where the need for cleaning could be determined by analysing the dirt particles and the appropriate washing programme could be selected. This could enable older people in particular to manage their daily lives independently for longer. In textile recycling, the system could sort textiles by colour and material. Other areas of application would be, for example, the freshness testing of food, the sorting of plastic objects during recycling or the determination of the type and concentration of raw materials in pharmacy.

With SMMS, the recognition rates are further improved by combining them with artificial intelligence. In addition, the combination with AI software enables the development of "intelligent" overall systems. There are still development steps to be taken, such as reducing production costs, but smartphones with built-in microspectrometers could be possible in the future.

More Information

Fraunhofer IPMS

July 5, 2023 | Revolutionary speaker technology from Dresden makes smart headphones possible

The research team: Dr. Bert Kaiser and Dr. Sergiu Langa from Fraunhofer IPMS and Holger Conrad from Bosch Sensortec GmbH (from left to right)
The research team: Dr. Bert Kaiser and Dr. Sergiu Langa from Fraunhofer IPMS and Holger Conrad from Bosch Sensortec GmbH (from left to right)

What we still need our smartphones for today, intelligent in-ear headphones with a direct Internet interface could do in the future. Until now, however, the technology for suitable loudspeakers has been lacking – because they not only have to be small, compact and energy-saving, but also able to reach the 120 decibel volume required by the market. Researchers from Dresden have now received the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize 2023 for the development of just such micro loudspeakers.

Making calls, playing music, having the latest e-mails read to you or making bank transfers: Our headphones could soon do all these things for us. Simply by voice command. Because the new speaker technology is so space- and energy-saving that it can fit an entire smartphone in the headphones. That's still a long way off – and when it will be depends on the technological development of various components.

However, the Dresden team led by Dr. Bert Kaiser and Dr. Sergiu Langa from Fraunhofer IPMS and Holger Conrad from Bosch Sensortec GmbH has now succeeded in taking a decisive step toward the future: The loudspeakers they have developed meet all the conditions to form the previously missing core for intelligent in-ear headphones: They can be manufactured inexpensively using microelectronics technologies and manage the 120 decibels without high energy requirements.

The development was successful due to two novel scientific approaches: On the one hand, a completely new design of the loudspeaker, which is not based on a vertically deflectable diaphragm as usual, but in which the sound-displacing elements are located vertically in a silicon chip. And on the other hand, on a new drive technology for these elements, the Nano e-drive actuators, which make the sound generation possible in the first place.

In awarding the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize to Kaiser, Langa and Conrad, the jury recognized, among other things, “the scientifically and technologically comprehensive approach to the development of a novel sound transducer concept.”

In order to market the loudspeakers, Arioso Systems GmbH was founded in 2019 as a spin-off of the Fraunhofer IPMS and the research work at the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg. Last summer, Arioso Systems GmbH was acquired by Bosch Sensortec GmbH. The common goal of all players: to develop cutting-edge products for the global mass market based on loudspeaker technology.

More information
IPMS News

June 23, 2023 | More than 600 guests at the 17th Silicon Saxony Day in Dresden

More than 600 trade visitors came to the Silicon Saxony Day in Dresden.
More than 600 trade visitors came to the Silicon Saxony Day in Dresden.

Dresden is the heart of the German semiconductor industry. This was once again impressively demonstrated at the 17th Silicon Saxony Day: More than 600 industry representatives, sector experts and researchers from 20 countries met at Dresden Airport on June 21 to discuss the future of the location. The focus was on financial resources from the EU Chips Act and the IPCEI (Important Project of Common European Interest) program. In addition, figures on the continuous growth of the industry in and around Dresden were presented. 

In 2022, around 76,100 people were employed in Saxony's microelectronics and ICT sector. The figures do not yet include the announced increase in personnel from companies that are currently expanding their capacities and commitment in Saxony. Compared to 2021, the industry grew by 4.2 percent. According to Frank Bösenberg, managing director of the Silicon Saxony industry association, it is assumed that "in 2030, around 100,000 employees in Silicon Saxony will be working on the latest developments in many demanding professions that will make our everyday lives easier and more sustainable." The picture is similar in Saxony's software industry, which grew by 7.6 percent year-on-year and currently employs more than 35,000 people. 

With its investments, the European Commission is strengthening the microelectronics and semiconductor sector and creating investment and planning security for the industry. Semiconductors are a key technology in climate protection: In photovoltaic cells, they generate electricity from light; in converters, they convert energy in such a way that it can be transmitted to the power grid with minimal loss. Semiconductors make drives more efficient, monitor the various systems involved in the energy chain in sensors, and network sustainable energy generation and consumers with each other via the Internet of Things so that supply and demand are optimally matched. However, their production also consumes considerable resources. That is why the players along the entire semiconductor value chain are intensifying their efforts to make microchip production itself more sustainable.

More information
Silicon Saxony News

20 June 2023 | Smart measurement methods from Dresden against heat islands in the city

Heat sensor
Heat sensor
Informations to heat sensors
Informations to heat sensors

It is getting hotter and hotter: Since the 1950s, the number of days a year when the average temperature in Germany is at least 30 degrees has tripled. Large cities in particular heat up strongly in summer. So-called heat islands are a serious health hazard and cause a lot of damage due to burst asphalt surfaces. This is where the KLIPS project comes in, in which two research institutes and several companies from Dresden are involved. The aim is to localise heat islands so that the findings can be taken into account when planning neighbourhoods.

KLIPS stands for "AI-based information platform for the localisation and simulation of heat islands for innovative urban and traffic planning". As part of the research project, sensors record temperature and humidity. An AI determines from the measured values how the temperature is distributed in the city. Applications for improved management of overheating are then created on this basis. Instead of relying on expensive meteorological standard sensors, a project team developed new types of urban climate sensors. The Dresden companies ERGO Umwelttechnik GmbH, PIKOBYTES GmbH, Contronix GmbH, the Institut für Luft- und Kältetechnik (ILK) and Leibniz-Institut für ökologische Raumentwicklung e. V. Dresden are involved. Steffen Rietzschel, Head of the Office of Economic Development: "We are thus developing use cases that create added value for citizens and at the same time open up business models for the participating companies." The research project is funded with 2.3 million euros by the Federal Ministry for Digital Affairs and Transport and is accompanied in the state capital by the EU project MatchUP.

After a successful test phase, around 300 sensors are currently being installed in the city. From summer onwards, they will measure climatic behaviour at representative locations such as the Großer Garten. At selected sensor locations, citizens can inform themselves about measurements and the project on information boards. The special feature of the project is the "swarm sensor technology", i.e. the use of a local sensor network that provides the measurement data via a data interface. The sensor data, which are based on the standards of the German Weather Service, enable improved microclimatic recording of overheating in the city. They are also used for training and operating specific AI models that analyse and forecast the temperature distribution in the city.

The researchers expect the models to deliver results by the end of summer or early autumn. After that, the assessment and evaluation will begin. If the data quality is sufficient, those involved in the project want to produce maps of Dresden's overheating as early as this year. By next summer at the latest, the first information should be available for urban planning and the public.

Further applications are already being considered: for example, the data will provide real-time heat reports in the future and improve the daily information on hot and cool spaces in the city, so that more attention is paid to heat development. The insights gained should also support future city planning and thus prevent overheating. Finally, the heat sensors can help monitor the long-term effects of construction measures.

15 June 2023 | Team of Dresden researchers discovers possible therapeutic approach for ALS

Using pulsed magnetic fields to combat neurodegenerative diseases
Using pulsed magnetic fields to combat neurodegenerative diseases

Every year, about 2,500 people in Germany fall ill with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) - a neurodegenerative disease of the Motoneurons. So far, there is no treatment for ALS; the disease usually leads to death within two to five years. An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the Helmholtz Centre Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the Technical University of Dresden has now found a possible therapeutic approach to cure ALS.

Motoneurons are certain nerve cells located in the brain and spinal cord that are responsible for controlling the muscles. ALS destroys these Motoneurons so that the muscles no longer receive instructions, can no longer work and fade away. Patients are often dependent on a wheelchair. In the later course of the disease, they also have difficulty speaking and swallowing. In the final stage, paralysis of the respiratory muscles also occurs, leading to death. The research team around physicist Dr. Thomas Herrmannsdörfer and cell biologist Dr. Arun Pal from the HZDR and medical scientist Prof. Richard Funk from TU Dresden succeeded in reprogramming skin cells from both healthy people and ALS patients into Motoneurons in the laboratory. The Motoneurons prepared in this way were then exposed to magnetic fields of different strengths for different periods of time. The series of experiments showed that the motor neurons of the ALS patients responded to the magnetic fields: The transport of mitochondria - the "power plants" of the cell - and other cell components was reactivated by stimulation with magnetic fields. In addition, the cells' ability to grow and network again was restored. 

From the researchers' point of view, the results are a first milestone. The scientists are now planning long-term and in vivo studies, i.e. in the living organism, to further expand the therapeutic potential of magnetic field treatments. They also want to investigate how the cell changes of other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, Huntington's disease and Alzheimer's react to stimulation with magnetic fields. In the long term, clinical pilot studies with special devices for magnetic stimulation are planned.

More information
HZDR News

31 May 2023 | Dresden researchers co-invent pill that detects vulnerabilities in machines and people

Measures impedances in hard-to-reach areas: super-miniaturized IoT sensor
Measures impedances in hard-to-reach areas: super-miniaturized IoT sensor

Machine broken? Man sick? Pill popped, error found! Impedance spectroscopy is not quite as simple as its cumbersome name suggests. But in principle, the picture with the pill comes very close to what researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute IZM have invented in cooperation with Micro Systems Technologies (MST) and Dresden-based Sensry GmbH: a waterproof Internet-of-Things sensor, as small as a candy, that reliably measures the properties of liquids even in hard-to-reach places, making the maintenance of industrial machines much easier and even helping to identify diseases.

The larger an industrial machine, the longer it takes to detect an unwanted deviation in oil pressure or even a leak from the outside in the event of a malfunction. The result: production downtime and high costs. The detection of the causes of illness in humans is similar: if the stomach hurts, a complex gastroscopy or colonoscopy is usually required.

This is where electrochemical impedance spectroscopy can help. It detects changes in materials or liquids, which can be an indication of the corrosion of a component or even a certain disease. Until now, such impedance analyzers have not been small and mobile enough to be used in this way. Fraunhofer IZM, with the support of MST and the Dresden-based company Sensry, has now developed a compact and modular IoT sensor for these applications that can measure impedances and transmit them wirelessly, waterproof and biomedically compatible.

At just 11 by 16 square millimeters, the sensor combines the two necessary electrodes with numerous components for analyzing environmental properties, making it the world's smallest impedance spectroscopy sensor! In addition to temperature, pressure, humidity and sound in the environment, the tiny multi-talent can also record its own acceleration behavior, rotation, light, colors or ambient noise. The data is transmitted wirelessly to a specially developed software with a web interface for PC and smartphone. If a point is reached where the pressure or fluid spectrum deviates from the norm, this is an indication of a problem cause.

The possibilities of electrochemical impedance spectroscopy for medical technology are far from exhausted and research into this is in full swing, including in Dresden!

More information: Fraunhofer Tech News

May 23, 2023 | Rock Cellar Laboratory in Dresden: High-tech research at a depth of 40 meters

Prof. Daniel Bemmerer (HZDR, left) and Prof. Kai Zuber (TU Dresden) share the management of the laboratory and are looking forward to the possibilities offered by the detector.
Prof. Daniel Bemmerer (HZDR, left) and Prof. Kai Zuber (TU Dresden) share the management of the laboratory and are looking forward to the possibilities offered by the detector.

After years of development work, researchers from the Institute of Nuclear and Particle Physics (TU Dresden) and the Institute of Radiation Physics (HZDR) have made it: one of the most sensitive experimental setups in the world goes into operation, and research at a depth of 40 meters can begin. In the laboratory, which is hewn into a tunnel, exotic reactions of particles are provoked and observed. No less than the most powerful processes in the universe are at stake: the Big Bang, neutron stars and dark matter.

A very special place in the underground laboratory is occupied by Germany's most sensitive measuring instrument, which attracts researchers from all over the world to Dresden. It can analyze samples of substances and materials with a radioactivity in the range of 100 microbequerels, which corresponds to just one hundredth of the radioactivity present in the human body.

This requires a low-radiation environment, such as that provided by the Felsenkeller brewery's former ice storage facility. Around 40 meters of rock wall shield the apparatus from cosmic radiation. In addition, a four-ton protective layer of special concrete, lead and copper ensures that the natural radioactivity of the rock does not influence the measurement results.

And why all this effort? A central component of the research in the rock cellar laboratory is rare nuclear transformations in elements such as those that occurred at the very beginning of our universe. In the laboratory, scientists from all over the world are investigating central questions of astrophysics, such as what darkl matter is made of. Only five percent of the universe is known to us, the so-called "normal matter". Galaxies, stars, planets, the things of our everyday life and also we humans belong to it. Dark matter, on the other hand, is largely a mystery. Current estimates assume that it makes up 70 to 80 percent of the universe! Nevertheless, almost nothing is known about its properties, only its gravity reveals them. The Dresden Felsenkeller Laboratory has all the prerequisites to become one of the world's central research facilities for determining this mysterious substance.

Read more

About the Institute for Nuclear and Particle Physics (TUD)

About the Institute for Radiation Physics (HZDR)

12 May 2023 | Sweet bone healing turbo from Dresden

The team: Prof. Maria Teresa Pisabarro, Dr Gloria Ruiz Gómez, Dr Juliane Salbach-Hirsch and Prof. Lorenz Hofbauer.
The team: Prof. Maria Teresa Pisabarro, Dr Gloria Ruiz Gómez, Dr Juliane Salbach-Hirsch and Prof. Lorenz Hofbauer.

As we age, our bodies become less able to renew our bones and keep them strong. However, as we humans grow older, research has long been searching for new therapies to improve bone regeneration. An interdisciplinary team from Dresden has now achieved a breakthrough: scientists from the Biotechnology Center (BIOTEC), the Medical Faculty and the Max Bergmann Center for Biomaterials (MBC) at TU Dresden have developed novel bioinspired molecules that improve bone regeneration in mice – and perhaps soon in humans.

Using computer models and simulations, the team from Dresden developed novel bioinspired molecules that can be incorporated into biomaterials and thus delivered locally to bone defects. The novel molecules are based on glycosaminoglycans, long-chain sugars such as hyaluronic acid or heparin – a sweet solution as a bone healing turbo!

The key to success here was the interdisciplinary approach and close collaboration between the various research institutions. “Thanks to the work of our group and others, we know a specific molecular pathway that regulates bone formation and repair,” explains Prof. Lorenz Hofbauer from the Medical Faculty of TU Dresden. “We were able to narrow it down to two brake signals that work together to block bone regeneration.” The major challenge for developing drugs to improve bone healing, he said, is now to simultaneously and efficiently turn off these two blocking proteins.

“For years, we have used the power of computer simulation to study how proteins that regulate bone formation interact with their receptors,” says Prof. Maria Teresa Pisabarro of the Biotechnology Center (BIOTEC). The team at Prof. Hofbauer's “Bone Lab” eventually used biomaterials loaded with these molecules on bone defects in mice to test their effectiveness. In the process, the materials loaded with the new molecules proved to be significantly more effective than standard biomaterials, increasing bone healing by up to 50 percent, indicating tremendous regenerative potential!

“For each molecule, we were then able to measure how strongly it binds to the proteins as well as how it interferes with the binding of the proteins to their natural receptors,” says PD Dr. Vera Hintze of the Max Bergmann Center for Biomaterials. “In this way, we were able to empirically show how effectively they thereby switch off the inhibitory proteins.” Hofbauer's group tested the biological relevance of these interaction studies in a cell culture model and later in mice.

The results are of great value with considerable clinical relevance , to serve as a blueprint for the development of novel and better molecules in the future. Not only will this minimize animal testing. The newly developed molecules could also be used, for example, to knock out proteins that block bone regeneration - and lead to the development of new, more effective therapies for fractures and other bone diseases.

Learn more:
TU Dresden News

May 3 2023 | “Europe’s digital lighthouse”: Groundbreaking ceremony for Infineon’s billion-euro project in Dresden

Minister President Michael Kretschmer, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Infineon CEO Jochen Hanebeck, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Dresden's Lord Mayor Dirk Hilbert at the symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for the Infineon Smart Power Fab in Dresden.
Minister President Michael Kretschmer, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Infineon CEO Jochen Hanebeck, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Dresden's Lord Mayor Dirk Hilbert at the symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for the Infineon Smart Power Fab in Dresden.

The symbolic groundbreaking ceremony for the new Infineon chip plant in the Saxon capital was attended by a host of political VIPs – from EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Saxony’s Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer, Economics Minister Martin Dulig and Dresden’s Lord Mayor Dirk Hilbert. Great hopes rest on the project; after all, nothing less than Europe’s technological sovereignty is at stake. 

“Dresden is a digital beacon for Europe,” congratulated Ursula von der Leyen, who had come all the way from Brussels to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the Infineon Smart Power Fab. She said it was great news that Infineon was investing massively in semiconductor production “in times of geopolitical risks.” Because any disruption to trade would “hit our internal market hard,” the EU Commission president warned, referring, for example, to the current tensions between China and Taiwan. “That's why we need more mass production in semiconductors again,” von der Leyen said. “And that’s why Dresden is so important!”

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz emphasized that Germany not only welcomes and supports the EU Chips Act, but is also “filling it with life.” The EU member states would invest up to 43 billion euros in the coming years to double the global share of chip production “made in Europe” to 20 percent. Against this background, the Chancellor hinted that Infineon’s investment “will not be the last major investment we see in Silicon Saxony.”

Infineon CEO Jochen Hanebeck also looked to the future: “Together, we are driving decarbonization and digitalization.” Starting in 2026, power semiconductors based on 300-millimeter manufacturing technology, which are needed for electricity meters and smart meter systems, wind turbines or charging columns, are to be produced in Dresden. The Munich-based group is investing five billion euros in the new factory, the largest single investment in the company’s history. And it will pay off, Hanebeck is sure: “Global semiconductor demand will grow strongly and continuously in view of the high demand for renewable energies, data centers and electromobility.” The plant is expected to create around 1,000 new jobs in Dresden and the surrounding area.

The great importance for the region was also demonstrated by the fact that Minister President Kretschmer and Economics Minister Dulig flew in specially by helicopter to be on site in time from the joint cabinet meeting with Bavaria from Munich – an extremely rare measure, according to the state chancellery.

More information: Infineon news

May 2nd, 2023 | New era for medical electronics begins in Dresden

SEMECO aims to bring medical technology innovations to patients faster.
SEMECO aims to bring medical technology innovations to patients faster.

A globally unique research cluster will start work in Dresden next month. SEMECO's ambitious goal is to bring innovative medical technology into use much faster than before for the benefit of patients. To this end, institutes, the chip industry and medical technology manufacturers in and around Dresden are pooling their expertise to develop intelligent chips specifically for medical applications. The aim is to reduce long approval loops and significantly increase the pace of innovation in the medical field. 

The project is based at the Else Kröner Fresenius Center for Digital Health (EKFS), with TU Dresden responsible for coordination. Financial support of 45 million euros is available from the federal government through Clusters4Future , supplemented by another 17 million euros from the Free State of Saxony. Depending on the size of the project, further funding from industry is to be added.

The cluster addresses one of the biggest problems in medical technology: obsolete electronics. Chips usually have to be assembled from other industrial sectors to create special medical applications - which costs time and money. Compared to the latest cell phones, for example, the backlog is usually ten to 20 years. "In principle, what we find in medicine is always ancient technology," says project leader Gerhard Fettweis, institute director and professor of communications engineering at TU Dresden. 

New chip technologies made in Dresden and developed specifically for medicine are expected to turn things around. "Instead of kits the size of a shoebox, everything is to be shrunk down to a chip," reports EKFS Director Prof. Jochen Hampe, co-leader of the major project. This paves the way for completely new, miniaturized implants, sensors for analysis as well as evaluation, control and communication with other devices - "all combined in one piece of silicon," Hampe enthuses. In order to also drastically reduce the number of chips used, the Dresden engineers, doctors and chip companies are focusing on medical modules. The automotive industry serves as a model here: "This is our niche, our innovation gap," says Prof. Jochen Hampe. 

For Dresden, as the coordinating center of the cluster, a unique opportunity is opening up to lead medical technology into the future. In addition to the TU and the EKFS, the 5G-Lab Germany and the Barkhausen Institute are other Dresden players participating in the project. In the first three years alone, those responsible expect up to half a dozen start-ups to emerge from the project. Up to 150 employees are expected to work at SEMECO itself.

Learn more: saechsische.de (in german, paywall)

April 24, 2023 | Dresden Salamander Study: Zombie cells not as evil as thought!

The salamander species studied by the Yun group: the greenish newt Notophthalmus viridescens.
The salamander species studied by the Yun group: the greenish newt Notophthalmus viridescens.

So-called senescent cells - also known as "zombie cells" - have long been associated with aging and disease. The reason: unlike healthy cells, they stop dividing. A new study by the Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden (CRTD) at TU Dresden now paints a different picture: using experiments on salamanders, the Dresden researchers demonstrated that the supposed zombie cells can also play a positive role in regeneration.

Salamanders have unique regenerative abilities and can regrow organs in their bodies, including lost limbs. "They are one of the few species that seem to resist the natural aging process," says research leader Dr. Maximina H. Yun. "They don't show typical signs of aging and don't develop age-related diseases such as cancer." The research team wanted to know whether this was linked to the presence of senescent cells - with surprising results!

To this end, the Dresden scientists found a way to modulate the number of senescent cells in the wound. Astonishing: If more zombie cells were present in the wound, the animals developed a larger regeneration bud, a so-called blastema. This refers to a collection of cells that forms all the necessary tissue for the new limb. The larger the blastema, the more cells are available for the regrowth of the limb - and the faster the regeneration process. The physicians explain this phenomenon with special signal substances of the zombie cells. These apparently stimulate neighboring muscle tissue to regress - also known as de-differentiation in technical jargon. In the next step, they can both proliferate themselves and differentiate into new muscle cells, thus promoting the regeneration process.

Senes cells are an important key to better understanding the principles of the regeneration process. Drugs could be developed to delay, halt or at least make the aging process more comfortable. Even new strategies against cancer are conceivable. An answer to whether and how the self-healing abilities of the salamander can be transferred to humans has yet to be found. It remains exciting!

About the Yun-Group at CRTD: Yun-Group

April 21, 2023 | Fabric batteries to give e-cars more range

Pilotbandbeschichtungsanlage, auf der der neue Prozess zur Abscheidung der Siliziumschichten entwickelt wird.
Pilotbandbeschichtungsanlage, auf der der neue Prozess zur Abscheidung der Siliziumschichten entwickelt wird.

Batteries for electric cars need to become more resource-efficient! To this end, researchers at the TU Dresden and the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology (FEP) are developing novel energy storage systems that are partly made of textile materials. In the "revoLect" project, they are pooling their expertise with other partners from industry and business to develop a suitable process by summer 2025. The fabric design makes it possible to increase the energy density of lithium-ion batteries - which in turn increases the range of electric cars. In addition, less copper and aluminum are needed for production compared to conventional processes.

The starting point for all this is two different types of fabric, which are being developed in parallel: Porcher Industries Germany GmbH, based in southern Germany, specializes in manufacturing fabrics from glass fibers. The Institute for Textile Machinery and Textile High Performance Materials Technology at the Technical University of Dresden (ITM) is researching ultralight carbon fabric, which is being tested as a carrier material for the electrodes. Which of the two types of material will ultimately prevail has not yet been decided.

Another development focus is the use of pure silicon as anode material. Anodes in lithium-ion batteries consist of a current conductor and an active material applied to it, predominantly graphite, in which energy is stored in the form of chemical bonds. This is where the specialists at Fraunhofer FEP come in: they specialize in particularly fast processes for coating the fabric electrodes with silicon in a roll-to-roll system.

Lithium-ion batteries are among the key technologies for e-mobility and are thus indispensable for the energy transition. Already, around 16 percent of newly registered passenger cars in Germany have an electric drive - and demand is rising rapidly! In addition, the demand for batteries for smartphones, laptops, electric bicycles and stationary energy storage is also increasing. Together with their project partners, the Dresden researchers are working at full speed on a sustainable solution that will contribute to the success of the energy transition.

Learn more:
Fraunhofer news

About The Institute for Textile Machinery and Textile High Performance Materials Technology at the Technical University of Dresden (ITM)

About Fraunhofer FEP

April 19, 2023 | Dresden researchers develop new therapy against leukemia virus

Das Leukämie-Virus HTLV-1 ist wenig bekannt aber sehr gefährlich. Die Forschung zu einer Genschere könnte bei der Therapie helfen.
The HTLV-1 leukemia virus is little known but very dangerous. Research into a gene scissor could help with therapy.

It is closely related to HIV, less well known, but similarly dangerous: the HTLV-1 virus. With the help of the TU Dresden, a group of researchers has succeeded in cutting out the so-called HTLV-1 virus from the DNA of infected cells. To do this, they used a gene scissor developed for this purpose. Unlike the well-known CRIsPR-Cas9 gene scissors, these are based on an enzyme called recombinase. Specifically, it is the designer recombinase RecHTLV, which was produced under laboratory conditions. It docks at the interface between the virus and the human DNA, separates them from each other and in this way reverses the infection. In cells in which the virus had not yet fully integrated, the gene scissors were also able to massively complicate the infection.

The HTLV-1-Virus causes aggressive forms of leukemia, an incurable spinal cord disease that leads to paralysis, and other inflammatory diseases. Between 10 and 20 million people worldwide are infected with the HTLV-1 virus, which is passed on mainly through sexual contact or via breast milk. Of those infected, ten percent develop the disease. The successful use of gene scissors technology in the laboratory is a first but important step on the way to containing the virus.

The findings must now be further intensively researched outside the laboratory: "We have already achieved continuous improvements with designer recombinases with regard to the HI virus - now it is important to further adapt RecHTLV for the HTLV-1 virus, which also belongs to the retroviruses and therefore ticks in a very similar way," explains Prof. Frank Buchholz from TU Dresden. In addition to the Dresden university, biotech company Provirex Genome Editing Therapies and Nuremberg-based university Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg also contributed to the success of the project.

Learn more:
TU Dresden news
MDR

About TU Dresden: TU Dresden

March 31, 2023 | New radar system from Dresden's Fraunhofer IZM enables fast help in nursing care

Deckenlampe aus Polyurethan mit vier Radarmodulen
Ceiling lamp made of polyurethane with four radar modules.

If an elderly person falls in their own home, fast help is needed. A new radar system from the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration (IZM) in Dresden provides just that. The new technology also assists in the search for lost objects and helps improve individual care in the long term. The system was developed with partners from Berlin and Oldenburg as part of the OMNICONNECT project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

In an innovative way, the technology provides people in need of care with both more safety and more self-determination in everyday life: Four radar modules record the entire room and use artificial intelligence to detect dangerous situations. They interact with transponders known as tags, which are attached to movable objects or clothing. Each of these tags has its own target frequency, thanks to which it can be identified by the system. Depending on how long a tag's response to the system takes, this suggests the location of the object or person.

The radar modules are integrated into a ceiling lamp, which is why the system is hardly noticed in everyday life. Privacy is also maintained: instead of images, movement patterns are recorded, which are evaluated on site with the help of an adaptable integrated circuit (FPGA) and forwarded to the OFFIS computer science institute at the University of Oldenburg. The core of the research there is to create behavioral models and predictions based on the determined position data. For example, the system can remind people of a key that they keep forgetting. An overview of the tracked items is provided by an app with a floor plan of the house. The system is operated intuitively by voice control, for example by saying “Where is my key?”

In the long term, it should also be possible to use the recorded movement patterns to draw conclusions about the well-being of the individual. Thanks to the new technology from Dresden, care facilities will have an incredibly important treasure trove of data at their disposal, which they can use to tailor their care even more individually in the future.

Learn more: tech-news Fraunhofer

About the Fraunhofer IZM: www.izm.fraunhofer.de

March 27, 2023 | Electrochromic films: Dresden-based Fraunhofer FEP develops innovative heat protection for windows

Windows that turn dark at the push of a button: in Dresden, what sounds like science-fiction will soon become a reality. Coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP in Dresden, six partners from all over Germany are developing so-called electrochromic films. The innovative glass coating unites a series of advantages: It can be retrofitted in existing buildings and darkens windows without the need for an additional sunshade system. Electrochromic films not only lower indoor temperatures in the summer, but conserve significant amounts of energy at the same time. And yet, the project goes beyond technological innovation: it will be organised in cooperation with a local secondary school in Dresden.

Our summers are getting hotter and hotter. All too often, air conditioning is the only way to cool down indoor spaces. But what if the windows themselves could block out the warmth before it even gets inside? In the FLEX-G research project, funded by the Federal Ministry for Economics and Climate Action, Dresden-based scientists have found an answer to this question: electrochromic films. These smart coatings are applied directly to the window glass and turn dark at the push of a button, while maintaining transparency and the view outside. The objective of the successor project, FLEX-G 4.0, is to make these films fit for cost-effective mass use. In cooperation with its partners, Fraunhofer FEP is researching the entire production process – from the films’ industrial manufacture all the way to application on the construction site. 

The new technology will be tested where it is needed the most: besides a Fraunhofer research laboratory that will be newly built, the windows of 46. Oberschule Dresden, a local secondary school, will be retrofitted with the innovative films as well. Over a period of twelve months, this trial will provide the project scientists with valuable insights into the films’ energy conservation potential. At the same time, laboratory measurements will be conducted for comparison. For the school’s students, the trial will provide an exciting opportunity as well: Under the Fraunhofer researchers’ guidance, they will support both the measurements themselves and their evaluation. At the same time, by providing teaching materials and job orientation, Fraunhofer FEP and ISC will promote the students’ environmental awareness and interest in the sciences.

With their extensive experience in the field and important technological solutions for the application process, the two participating Fraunhofer institutes provide the scientific base for the films’ industrial application. From the coating process and the question of how to power the films to wireless control once they have been applied: the questions the project partners are trying to answer are based on the work of the Dresden-based research institute. The important technologies of the future – they are emerging right here in Dresden.

March 20, 2023 | Dresden Fraunhofer spin-off DIVE aims to revolutionize machine vision for the semiconductor industry

Dr. Philipp Wollmann, Dr. Wulf Grählert, Oliver Throl and Livia Szathmáry (from left) are the founders of DIVE.
Dr. Philipp Wollmann, Dr. Wulf Grählert, Oliver Throl and Livia Szathmáry (from left) are the founders of DIVE.

Scientists at the Fraunhofer IWS in Dresden have been working on 'Hyperspectral Vision Technology' for ten years. This could raise quality control in chip production to a whole new level. Now, part of the team spun off as DIVE imaging systems GmbH - and wants to bring the innovative technology to market. To this end, DIVE is receiving funding of 1.2 million euros from the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK). According to founder Dr. Philipp Wollmann, the company deliberately chose Dresden as its location because important players in microelectronics are concentrated here. "In order to further develop our technology in the best possible customer-oriented way, we have the shortest distances in this city and can also identify further partners with the successive expansion of the already existing network," says Wollmann.

Quality assurance is a fundamental step in chip production. However, desired requirements are often not met, as demonstrated by spot checks and time-consuming visual inspections by employees. The problem here is often impurities and residues on silicon wafers and foils that cannot be detected with known inspection technologies. In addition, safety-relevant applications, such as in the automotive and aerospace sectors, only tolerate defect rates of one in a million (based on the output of chips). If these are exceeded, it costs a lot of money. Correspondingly, high follow-up costs can be prevented if defects are detected and corrected at an early stage.

DIVE aims to revolutionize quality control with a solution that combines hyperspectral sensor technology, artificial intelligence (AI) and special lighting techniques into a powerful, highly flexible inspection system. In the first step, the DIVE system uses visible light and invisible infrared radiation to illuminate those wafers that will later be used to manufacture microchips for laptops, cell phones or cars. A hyperspectral camera captures the reflected light and registers 1,000 'colors' or wavelengths (the human eye registers only the three primary colors red, green and blue). The high-dimensional raw data is then passed to an AI that examines the '1000-color image' for defects and impurities to precisely assess the quality of individual chips or the entire wafer.

The semiconductor industry should be just the beginning for DIVE. In the long term, the founding quartet around Dr. Philipp Wollmann wants to establish its innovative DIVE technology for the inspection and analysis of surfaces and layers broadly in different industries.

Learn more: www.iws.fraunhofer.de

About DIVE: dive.com.de

March 14, 2023 | SAP opens innovation campus in Dresden city centre

The new office building complements existing space at Postplatz and provides jobs for an additional 400 employees.
The new office building complements existing space at Postplatz and provides jobs for an additional 400 employees.

The software company SAP is continuing its growth course in Dresden as a business and science location: In the heart of the city, the IT giant is opening a new workspace for another 400 employees, signalling that Dresden is gaining in importance as a location for SAP's global business. With the campus, the company says it wants to network its development capacities in the Saxon state capital more closely. The focus here is on the SAP Business Technology Platform as an innovation driver for forward-looking business transformation processes. "We are very pleased that we can continue to grow in Dresden as a location for science and innovation and strengthen our cooperation with local and regional partners," SAP's head of technology Jürgen Müller told the Dresdner Neueste Nachrichten (DNN). The expansion of the Dresden SAP site is also expected to create new jobs. "The history of SAP is, after all, a real success story," Saxony's Minister President Michael Kretschmer told the DNN. "We've been accompanying it for decades now, and that's a success of a clever science policy that always focuses on excellence and on new topics." If SAP presents itself at the Dresden location with the same consistency as in the past, the state premier's assessment as a "huge opportunity" could soon come true, also in terms of new jobs.

March 9, 2023 | Energy-efficient supercomputer inspired by the human brain: EU millions for Dresden-based deep-tech startup SpiNNcloud

The minds behind the SpiNNaker 2.
The minds behind the SpiNNaker 2.

SpiNNcloud Systems, a spin-off of TU Dresden, receives 2.5 million euros for its groundbreaking project "SpiNNode: SpiNNaker2 on the edge". Its primary goal: to save energy! 

The Spinnaker 2 is the world's largest and most energy-efficient supercomputer for real-time artificial intelligence (AI). The technology is inspired by the human brain, which requires just 30 watts to perform highly complex tasks. By comparison, the energy requirements of the "Sunway" supercomputer, for example, are more than 8,200 times higher: it consumes a whopping 12 megawatts during corresponding computing operations. 

"The extent of future power consumption in the use of AI is not yet foreseeable," says Christian Eichhorn, co-CEO of SpiNNcloud. "We are working on the most energy-efficient computing hardware for large-scale applications, as this will be key to significantly reducing the carbon footprint of AI." 

The project's sponsor is the European Innovation Council (EIC), which supports startup research initiatives through its Transition Grant program. From a pool of 286 applicants, SpiNNcloud is one of 27 companies to be awarded the grant. This is the first time a deep-tech company from Saxony has prevailed in the bidding process. "With this funding, we can push ahead with our expansion and will deliver the first systems from Saxony to our customers worldwide in 2024," says SpiNNcloud CTO Matthias Lohrmann, setting the direction. 

The supercomputer was developed as part of the European Flagship Human Brain Project, in which a team led by TU Professor Christian Mayer collaborated with the University of Manchester. SpiNNcloud is another prime example of the successful transfer of knowledge into entrepreneurial practice at the high-tech location Dresden.

February 24, 2023 | Fraunhofer FEP from Dresden accelerates transfer of innovative OLED technology to industry

The new test board for up to 64 OLED microdisplays
The new test board for up to 64 OLED microdisplays

In mid-March, the Dresden-based Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP will present a technological innovation at the embedded world in Nuremberg that is quite something for experts: At the international trade fair for embedded systems, the Dresden scientists will showcase a test board equipped with 64 microdisplay chips, which is intended to significantly accelerate the transfer of innovative OLED technologies to industry. “Compared to individual evaluation kits, this offering is intended to support new development ideas and their rapid implementation at start-ups, SMEs or large companies,” says Martin Rolle, an engineer in IC and system design at Fraunhofer FEP.     

The Dresden-based technologists and IC designers have optimized the designs and manufacturing processes for their ultra-low-power OLED microdisplays (used especially in wearables such as sports glasses or motorcycle helmets) to match the conditions in industrial manufacturing environments – a milestone for transferring the technology to industrial customers!

Fraunhofer FEP regularly offers industrial partners so-called evaluation kits for testing and development purposes: Packages of matching hardware and software to develop computer systems for individual needs. On the new test boards, up to 64 microdisplays can be tested directly via the corresponding drive electronics. “We have been able to significantly expand and optimize our pilot manufacturing processes in the clean room and with our external partners in recent years”, explains FEP engineer Martin Rolle. “Standardized test environments help us to quickly develop and establish customized microdisplays for our customers, such as specific color or brightness requirements.” Standardized manufacturing process technology development plays an important role here – and is taking a leap into the future with the new 64-component microdisplay test unit from Dresden.  

OLEDs (organic light-emitting diodes) have a lower electrical current and luminance than inorganic light-emitting diodes (LEDs). They are cheaper to manufacture than conventional LEDs, but their service life and luminous efficacy are still lower. OLED technology is used for screens in smartphones, tablet computers, televisions and monitors or for large-area room lighting. High-volume applications of microdisplays have so far been limited primarily to electronic viewfinders in digital cameras and projectors. Since the first consumer-ready virtual and assisted reality glasses as well as professional applications of augmented reality glasses, the microdisplay market has increasingly shifted there – with great potential.

February 17, 2023 | X-Fab in Dresden wants to produce ten percent more microchips

X-Fab's microchip factory is getting additional production facilities this year
X-Fab's microchip factory is getting additional production facilities this year

X-Fab already operates Dresden's third-largest microchip factory. Now, thanks to record orders and new long-term contracts, it is being expanded: Production capacity at the Group's Saxon site is to be increased by a hefty 10 percent – up to 106,000 silicon wafers per year. For this purpose, the approximately 500 employees will get new colleagues: “We are still looking for qualified specialists,” says Group spokeswoman Uta Steinbrecher. (Interested parties can find current job postings at X-Fab here.) X-Fab engineers are also working on further automating production. 

X-Fab, which employs 4,200 people around the globe, primarily produces microchips for cars, but also for industry and medical technology. Due to the high global demand for semiconductors, X-Fab is currently expanding capacity at all its sites. Group CEO Rudi de Winter anticipates strong growth: In the largest business segment, automotive, de Winter expects sales to increase by around 35 percent this year. In 2024, sales are expected to break the one billion dollar mark. Last year, X-Fab’s consolidated sales already grew by twelve percent to 740 million dollars. 

X-Fab is benefiting from the boom in e-cars and green electricity. More and more semiconductors are being used in new cars to help manage electric drives and parking. But sales have also grown in medical technology, where the chips are used in contactless temperature sensors, ultrasound equipment and DNA sequencing systems. 

Every third microchip from Europe is now manufactured in Dresden, which has therefore been given the nickname “Silicon Saxony”.

February 10, 2023 | Sunfire from Dresden sets milestone in hydrogen technology

High-temperature electrolyzer from Sunfire Dresden
High-temperature electrolyzer from Sunfire Dresden

Great success for hydrogen technologies made in Dresden: After three years of project work, the Saxon company Sunfire has put its new generation of co-electrolysis into operation - and thus set a real milestone: At factory acceptance, the high-temperature electrolyzer achieved an output of 220 kilowatts - an enormous increase compared to its predecessor in the first project phase: in this, the output had been just 10 kilowatts! And that's not all: At 85 percent, the efficiency also significantly exceeds the current market standard of 60 percent. Efficiency provides information about the amount of energy lost during the process. With these key figures, a technology is on the threshold of market maturity that can be an important piece of the puzzle for the emission-free industry of the future. Its unique feature is the process, in which synthesis gas is produced in just one step at temperatures of up to 850 degrees Celsius from water vapor and CO2, which in turn can be further processed into renewable fuels and chemical products. Green electricity is used for this purpose. Sunfire plans to deliver the system shortly to the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, where it will be integrated into a power-to-liquid plant in the Energy Lab 2.0. The common goal of the project partners: to produce 200 liters of synthetic fuel per day. High-temperature co-electrolysis is an important part of the Kopernikus P2X research project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The project is dedicated to the most promising approaches in the field of so-called power-to-X technologies: solutions that convert renewable electricity into other forms of energy.

February 1, 2023 | Better solar modules thanks to self-cleaning glass from Dresden

The team at the Dresden-based Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology (FEP) has developed a novel, self-cleaning protective glass. It is intended to increase the yield of solar systems in the long term. The special glass is manufactured in a roll-to-roll process in which crystalline titanium dioxide is applied to ultra-thin, flexible glass. The titanium dioxide causes raindrops and dew to bead off the surface of the solar panels overnight, preventing traffic dust, sand or other dirt from settling. This condition is called hydrophobic, or water repellent. During the day, when exposed to UV radiation, the state of the material changes to superhydrophilic, which results in a fine distribution of the droplets over the entire surface – now the sunlight can enter unhindered, and the electricity yield increases. 

The Dresden scientists' smart combination of novel material and innovative manufacturing process offers several advantages: The coated thin glasses are flexible and can also be retrofitted to solar systems, windows or other glass house facades - even curved surfaces pose no obstacle. Self-cleaning saves costs as well as time and enables fast, simple and highly scalable production. Finally, the technology holds potential for other fields of application such as medical technology or flexible displays, because of the antibacterial effect of titanium dioxide. 

The FEP research team had to struggle during development with the combination of titanium dioxide and thin glass: the latter is a new substrate that breaks easily and is sensitive to temperature differences and pressure. Titanium dioxide, on the other hand, can only switch between hydrophobicity and hydrophilicity when it is crystalline – which in turn requires high temperatures in production. With the first successful coatings on ultra-thin glass, the Dresden researchers have now laid the foundations for bringing the process to market maturity in the near future. 

The anti-soiling thin glass was researched and tested as part of the European “New Skin” project. The aim is to bring new nanotechnological surfaces to market maturity.

January 31, 2023 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf: Nucleus of an emerging Radiopharmaceutical Valley

Minister of State Petra Köpping (center) and Minister of State Martin Dulig (right) learn about the development of nuclear medicine at the HZDR.
Minister of State Petra Köpping (center) and Minister of State Martin Dulig (right) learn about the development of nuclear medicine at the HZDR.

The vision for Saxony: an internationally networked "Radiopharmaceutical Valley" from which cancer is successfully fought - among other things, by local companies and research institutions serving the growing global demand for radiopharmaceuticals. The nucleus and innovation driver here is the Helmholtz Center Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR)

During a visit to the center, Saxony's Minister of Health Petra Köpping and Minister of Economic Affairs Martin Dulig were informed about the status and perspectives. "Saxon companies, research institutions and clinics are excellently linked in an interdisciplinary way," said Dulig. "The HZDR acts like a nucleus around which expertise in low-level radioactive drugs forms and multiplies." Minister of State Köpping emphasized, "The healthcare industry in Saxony is a significant economic factor. It is highly innovative and of outstanding importance for the well-being of patients in our aging society."

Prof. Klaus Kopka, Director at the Institute for Radiopharmaceutical Cancer Research, sees the close networking of the ZRT with national and international partners from university medicine, non-university institutions as well as industry as an ideal prerequisite for Dresden to soon assume a pioneering role in the field of nuclear medicine: "From my point of view, Saxony as a science location has a unique opportunity to expand today's excellently positioned structures into an internationally active Radiopharmaceutical Valley in the Free State."

With its Institute for Radiopharmaceutical Cancer Research and the Center for Radiopharmaceutical Tumor Research, the HZDR has a unique infrastructure. All steps are united here under one roof: from the production of radionuclides to the design and development of new radiopharmaceuticals to production and transfer to application. Together with various partners from research and industry, the Dresden facility is working to develop highly effective radiopharmaceuticals for new diagnostic and therapeutic fields of application. 

Radiopharmaceuticals are low-level radioactive preparations for imaging procedures in medicine and for the fight against cancer. They are used when chemotherapy, radiation or surgery do not help. They attach themselves specifically to growths and thus allow targeted, individually adaptable irradiation from the inside - healthy tissue is not destroyed. More and more researchers and physicians are therefore using radioactive drugs for more precise radiation therapies against cancer and other diseases.

January 20, 2023 | Plasma reactors from Dresden to reduce production costs for e-fuels to 1 euro per liter

With their plasma catalysis process, the team around the two co-CEO's Michael Haid (left) and Sebastian Becker wants to create a cost-effective and green alternative to fossil fuels.
With their plasma catalysis process, the team around the two co-CEO's Michael Haid (left) and Sebastian Becker wants to create a cost-effective and green alternative to fossil fuels.

The Dresden-based start-up refuel.green wants to help the future technology e-fuels achieve a breakthrough - and is now receiving start-up financing of 1.2 million euros for this purpose. The High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) as lead investor, the Technologiegründerfonds Sachsen (TGF) as well as two business angels are participating in this. e-fuels are synthetic fuels produced with green electricity, which could be one of the keys to climate-neutral mobility and industry. refuel.green promises to reduce the production costs from currently 2.50 euros per liter to 1 euro. To achieve this, they have developed a highly innovative plasma catalysis process that is efficient, cheaply scalable and sustainable. "The innovative solution approach, which can bring the production of e-fuels to a competitive price level, and the complementary founding team of innovation drivers, developers and plant engineers convinced us," explains HTGF investment manager Nils Lang. 

In the plasma catalysis process, carbon and hydrogen are added to a reactor and a plasma is ignited inside. An added catalyst causes them to react to form hydrocarbons, which can then be refined into diesel, gasoline or kerosene. The process is not only climate-neutral, it even removes CO2 from the atmosphere, which is needed as an important raw material. This benefits refineries and chemical plants in particular, which are still dependent on fossil oil. What's more, e-fuels are compatible with conventional combustion engines - so infrastructures and vehicles can continue to be used. The technology is currently on the threshold of industrial application. A prototype is planned for 2023, and series production is expected to start at the end of 2025.

January 13, 2023 | Multi-organ chips for cancer therapies from Dresden are to replace animal experiments

3D tumor models can be cultivated on multi-organ chips in a realistic microenvironment, making testing more accurate and at the same time easier.
3D tumor models can be cultivated on multi-organ chips in a realistic microenvironment, making testing more accurate and at the same time easier.

They are smaller than a smartphone and yet could soon save many animal lives: so-called multiorgan chips, which the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Radiation Technology (IWS), also located in Dresden, have now decisively developed further.

In multi-organ chips, artificially created cell cultures simulate organ functions, valves and channels simulate the vascular system, and a small pump simulates the heartbeat. In this way, the effects and side effects of drugs can be tested under laboratory conditions - making animal experiments unnecessary. 

HZDR and the Fraunhofer IWS are currently working on the simulation of a three-dimensional tumor model. It will be used to test the effect of radiopharmaceuticals that detect cancer cells and enable targeted radiation from the inside - a treatment method that is both effective and gentle. So far, the drugs are still being tested on animals before they come into contact with humans. The use of multi-organ chips could drastically reduce the number of animal tests. 

And not only that: "We could put patient-specific cells on a chip and thus simulate how a cancer disease develops," says IWS group leader Florian Schmieder, who also sees decisive advantages for the patients themselves as a result of the new development.  In this way, customized individual therapies are possible. In addition, cancer forms tumor-specific antigens that cannot be reproduced in animal models. The medium-term goal of the two institutes is to bring the method to practical maturity. Initial positive tests show that the research team is on the right track. 

The cooperation between the two institutes is exemplary for the added value of the DRESDEN-concept science alliance. The association of 36 partners aims to strengthen Dresden as a research location and to create and exploit synergies in research and teaching as well as infrastructure and administration.

January 06, 2023 | Infineon: Sensor technology to protect rainforests

Rainforest Connection has already deployed ten of the new “Guardian” devices in Brazil in the summer of 2022.
Rainforest Connection has already deployed ten of the new “Guardian” devices in Brazil in the summer of 2022.

Preventing deforestation of tropical rainforests, preserving biodiversity - the non-governmental organization Rainforest Connection (RFCx) and Infineon AG from Saxony have joined forces to achieve these important goals. Together they have developed the "Guardian" system: Flying robots circle over the rainforest, record acoustic data and upload it to a cloud in real time. There, the data is analyzed with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). Threats can thus be located within a very short time and park rangers navigated to the scene. 

Now Rainforest Connection and the Dresden-based semiconductor manufacturer are expanding their collaboration: Infineon is equipping a series of "Guardian" devices with the XENSIV™ PAS CO2 sensor.The goal is to gain further insights into the health of forests and identify areas worthy of protection. "By using gas sensors, we can link acoustic information about biodiversity on the ground with information about the microclimate," explains Bourhan Yassin, CEO of Rainforest Connection. The additional data will also provide information on how animals react to sensitive changes in the microclimate. Ten of these novel devices are already in use in Brazil and are achieving initial successes. For example, it turns out that the CO2 sensor provides valuable data that helps monitor biodiversity. Adrian Mikolajczak, vice president at Infineon's Silicon Valley Innovation Center, is confident: "Innovative technology solutions, like our CO2 sensors, can make an important contribution to protecting the most threatened regions of our planet." 

In this way, researchers and environmentalists gain a deep insight into the complex happenings of the huge forest ecosystems. This is important because tropical rainforests play a crucial role in the global climate: if they are cut down, they fail as natural carbon reservoirs. Instead, additional CO2 is even released into the atmosphere. In addition, the rainforests have a unique biodiversity that needs to be protected: around two thirds of all animal and plant species living on land live in the tropical regions around the equator. 

Infineon Technologies AG is a leading global supplier of semiconductor solutions for power systems and the Internet of Things (IoT). Products and solutions of Infineon are driving decarbonization and digitalization. With its approximately 3,100 employees, Infineon is one of the most important employers in the region and shapes the image of Dresden as Europe's center for microelectronics.

January 03, 2023 | Subsidiary founded: Lipotype's fat analysis specialists intensify collaboration with U.S. customers

Lipids, known primarily as fats, play a fundamental role in our health. It is now well known that diseases of civilization such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease are closely linked to lipid metabolism. Yet many questions about the significance of these mysterious molecules remain unanswered. Lipidomics is concerned with the identification and analysis of all fats in a biological system. Lipotype is considered a pioneer in this field and helps scientists worldwide to achieve breakthroughs in their research. As the world's leading provider of lipidomics analyses, they provide important data that offer a deep insight into the lipid cosmos - their credo is: "Lipidomics for a better life". For this purpose, Lipotype uses a mass spectrometry-based method that can analyze thousands of lipids of a sample within a very short time. At the end of the analysis, a lipid profile is obtained that can significantly increase the informative value of a blood lipid measurement. As current research results show, diseases could thus be diagnosed years before their symptoms become apparent. 

However, it is not only preventive medicine that benefits from the Lipotypes services; thanks to the new insights, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and the food industry also gain important knowledge for their research. In order to intensify cooperation with overseas customers, Lipotype is now establishing a U.S. subsidiary in a suburb of the biotech metropolis Boston. Its future CEO will be Oliver Uecke, Ph.D., explains, "Through Lipotype Inc. we're giving U.S. customers access to our services and easier shipping of their samples." Dr. JohnBajor, researcher at Lipotype customer Unilever, also welcomes the establishment of the first overseas branch and is pleased with the new geographical proximity to his own laboratories. "Lipotype offers us a consistent and reliable service in the field of lipidomic sample analysis." In turn, Saxony's Science Minister Sebastian Gemkow (CDU) sees the opening of the U.S. subsidiary as an important signal and precedent for the biotech cluster Biosaxony: "Biotechnology is a pillar of the innovative strength and economic power of the Free State," he said.

December 27, 2022 | Dresden-based startup Carl und Carla expands further and puts 1,000 vehicles into operation

Fuhrpark-Leiter Richard Vetter (links) nimmt vor der VW-Manufaktur Dresden von Thomas Edig von Volkswagen Sachsen den 1000. Transporter entgegen.
Fleet manager Richard Vetter (left) accepts the 1000th van from Thomas Edig of Volkswagen Saxony in front of the VW Manufaktur Dresden.

The decorated Christmas tree, the many presents underneath and also relatives visiting - During the holidays, space in one's own four walls can sometimes become tight. The idea to save the day? A quick trip to the recycling center to get rid of items that are just in the way. With Carl and Carla from Dresden, this is possible in more and more German cities. Via their platform, people on short notice can book vans easily and conveniently, pick them up at a rental station and start cleaning up right away. The startup, known for its car sharing with used T4 Bullis, continues to grow steadily and is now a medium-sized company with over 100 employees. Just recently, co-founder and fleet boss Richard Vetter symbolically took delivery of the 1,000th vehicle at the Gläserne Manufaktur, VW's production facility. In addition, an anniversary is just around the corner: in 2023, the startup will celebrate its tenth anniversary.

However, taking a breather is out of the question for Carl and Carla's team of founders, who are friends. "We have already ordered vehicles worth seven million euros for 2023," explains Richard Vetter at the handover of the 1,000 vehicle and announces, "Our plans are to be represented in all 40 German metropolitan areas with more than 200,000 inhabitants by 2025." The Saxon company is now represented in 32 German cities and regions, and Aachen, Bielefeld, Lübeck and Kassel are on the agenda as new locations for 2023. It is possible that Carl and Carla Bullis could soon even be on the road in Austrian and Swiss cities. And that's not all: in addition to expanding its fleet and opening up new locations, the car-sharing service wants to push ahead strongly with the electrification of its vehicle fleet. Tests are currently underway for an "E-Carl". However, the electrically powered minibus is not yet available throughout Germany and the charging infrastructure is also still lacking. 

December 20, 2022 | New research center in Dresden aims to fight cancer

Michael Kretschmer betrachtet mithilfe einer VR-Brille eine vom Krebs befallene Leber.
Michael Kretschmer uses VR glasses to view a liver affected by cancer.

Half a million Germans are diagnosed with cancer every year. 35 percent die in the first five years after diagnosis. At the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, more than 3,000 employees are therefore researching how the disease develops, identifying risk factors and looking for strategies to prevent the disease. The DKFZ's motto is "Research for a life without cancer". Now a new cancer research center is being built in Dresden, right next to the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT). The immediate vicinity will allow research findings to be applied in the clinic as quickly as possible, solidifying Dresden's status as a hotspot for cancer research and therapy. Michael Baumann, Chairman of the Board of the DKFZ, is also convinced that he has made the right choice with the state capital as the new location: "With the TU Dresden, the excellent university medicine, the largest industrial cluster for microelectronics in Europe and a particularly founder-friendly climate, Dresden offers the best conditions." Saxony's Interior Minister Michael Kretschmer added: "The center strengthens Dresden as a top science location, where more than 100 new scientists will find work."

 

The Dresden location will be the first branch of the DFKZ and will direct its focus on the future topic of digital services. Because the fact is: cancer will increase dramatically worldwide in the coming years. In addition to more effective therapies, there is therefore a need for novel, smart digital technologies to improve cancer prevention, early detection, therapy management and follow-up care. To develop such promising techniques for cancer research, the new center combines various disciplines such as engineering and physics - smart sensors, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) are used. The research center will also continue to work on early detection based on digital data analysis. "70 percent of all deaths could be avoided if we could detect cancer much earlier," Michael Baumann points out the effect of early diagnoses. In order to also raise awareness of this important topic among the people of Dresden, the center will be expanded to include a prevention outpatient clinic. Here they can find out about cancer prevention options and determine their individual cancer risk. The new cancer research center will be built on the Oncology Campus of the High Molecular Medicine of the TU Dresden and is scheduled for completion by 2026. The new building is being financed with 20 million euros from the Free State of Saxony.

December 12, 2022 | PowerON from Dresden Enables Robots to Feel

They even let robotic hands grasp fragile quail eggs: Ernst-Friedrich Markus Henke (r.) and Sascha Teutoburg-Weiss from the Dresden-based company PowerON.
They even let robotic hands grasp fragile quail eggs: Ernst-Friedrich Markus Henke (r.) and Sascha Teutoburg-Weiss from the Dresden-based company PowerON.

Moving robotic arms are becoming more and more standard in business and industry. Currently, they still have to be programmed in a time-consuming manner so that they can transport certain goods from A to B without damage. This is not a problem for repetitive work processes. However, they reach their limits when it comes to demanding processes that require a delicate touch. PowerON wants to change this and is working on a promising solution: the Dresden-based startup wants to equip robot arms with sentient fingertips and thus turn the gross motorists into agile and flexible workers. A soft silicone pad sits on the fingers of the robot arm, on which there is a wafer-thin film with sensitive sensors printed on it. They let the fingertips feel as soon as they hit the targeted object. The robot then adjusts how strongly it can grip. 

For companies, this opens up new possibilities for incorporating robots into production. By handling fragile reagents, robots could be useful aids in the lab. They could unpack return shipments, assist with fruit and vegetable harvesting, or better grip products made of rubber. Safety for working with humans would also reach a new level thanks to the new sense of touch. Ernst-Friedrich Markus Henke, Managing Director of PowerON, explains: "If you get your fingers between the grippers of an industrial robot, the machine squeezes. Currently, it doesn't recognize that there's a human body part in between instead of a component." In the long run, PowerON's innovations could have far-reaching implications for how robots are perceived in the workplace. They could help build confidence in robots and ease fears. For example, they could soon be used to care for sick or elderly people. 

The achievements of the robotics company were recently honored with the Start-up Award 2022 from the city of Dresden. Since 2020, CEO Ernst-Friedrich Markus Henke has also been head of a junior research group at the TU Dresden. It is dedicated to researching materials and new manufacturing processes that make flexible robot systems possible.

December 9, 2022 | Record investments in "Silicon Saxony": German global players promote Dresden as a business location

Infineon is planning the largest single investment in the company's history – in Dresden. In November, Infineon Technologies AG published its results for the fourth quarter of 2022: Due to the bulging order books, primarily due to the business areas of e-mobility, autonomous driving, renewable energies, data centers and Internet of Things, the Neubiberg-based group expects sales growth of more than ten percent in the upcoming year – and is therefore expanding its production capacities in the area of 300-millimeter power semiconductors. This is a new design that enables significantly higher production capacity. The sum for the planned facility in Dresden is five billion euros, provided the governments of Germany and the European Union support the project. Around 1,000 new jobs are to be created in Dresden by fall 2026.

The announcement stands out because of the enormous investment sum. Nevertheless, it is by no means the only company that is currently focusing on Dresden as a location. As early as September 6, 2022, the Jenoptik technology group started construction work on its new high-tech factory at Airportpark Dresden. From 2025, micro-optics and sensors for use in semiconductor lithography will be produced there. Jenoptik is investing over 70 million euros; also a record for the company in its recent history. In July 2022, just one year after opening its Dresden fab, Bosch already announced significant capacity expansions and a development center for a total investment of over 300 million euros. "We are also preparing ourselves in the interest of our customers for an undiminished growth in chip demand. For us, there is big business in the smallest components," said Stefan Hartung, chairman of the Bosch board of management, according to Süddeutsche Zeitung. With the construction of the Dresden factory for around 1 billion euros, Bosch had also made the largest single investment in its company history.

December 2, 2022 | AI application hub paves the way for sustainable circular economy

Artificial intelligence can pave the way to a sustainable circular economy.
Artificial intelligence can pave the way to a sustainable circular economy.

The cheese wrapper, the breakfast yogurt or the shampoo bottle: we all dispose of plastic every day. This generates huge amounts of waste. Innovative solutions are needed to reduce this. Huge potential for this lies dormant in artificial intelligence (AI), with the help of which the sustainability of plastic packaging can be improved enormously. To exploit this potential, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has launched the AI Application Hub "Plastic Packaging - Sustainable Circular Economy with Artificial Intelligence". The extensively funded joint project is dedicated to the task of developing recyclable packaging for food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. This is a difficult undertaking, as the development and realization of both recyclable and recyclate-based (i.e., made largely from recycled materials) packaging involves regulations and high hygiene requirements. However, the key insight for achieving the project's goal can be gained with AI. It connects, processes and learns from data about the materials and their properties, as well as about the lifecycle stages of a then closed material loop. This results in an interplay between the learning of the AI (so-called learning algorithms) and the learning of the researchers. At the end of this process, it should be clear which materials, packaging, machines and designs are needed to achieve the project goal of recyclable packaging.

The Dresden location of the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV is significantly involved, contributing its expertise and experience from more than 50 years of food and packaging science to the innovation laboratory "KIOptiPack". There, practice-ready AI-supported tools are to be developed that enable successful product design as well as the quality-assured production of plastic packaging with a high recycled content. One of the leading minds behind the AI application hub is Prof. Dr. Marek Hauptmann, head of the Packaging and Processing Technologies department at the Fraunhofer IVV. He explains, "With the interdisciplinary team of researchers and other partners from industry and society, the AI Application Hub is pursuing a holistic approach to solutions that tests the diverse possibilities of AI and transfers them into practice. The goal is to close the loop for plastic packaging as much as possible, focusing on the entire value chain from design to re-entry into the loop." TU Dresden is also represented by researchers from two professorships. The Professorship of Machine Tool Development and Adaptive Control is researching how to continuously adapt machines and production processes to compensate for large fluctuations in the recyclability of recyclates. The Professorship of Technical Design, on the other hand, is intensively dedicated to the question of how design can contribute to greater sustainability. Chair holder Prof. Jens Krzywinski: "In our research, the focus is not only on the human-centered development of products, but we are also intensively dedicated to the question of how design can contribute to more sustainability. Especially with regard to the acceptance of sustainable circular economy, this is a topic that should not be underestimated."

November 18, 2022 | 10 Years of Excellence: TU Dresden on the Way to World Leadership

The 'Dresden Spirit' - Top international researchers and young scientists from TU Dresden work together to find solutions to global challenges.
The 'Dresden Spirit' - Top international researchers and young scientists from TU Dresden work together to find solutions to global challenges.

Ten years ago, the promotion of TU Dresden (TUD) as one of the eleven universities of excellence in Germany started - a milestone in the university's history. TUD has been one of the top-performing universities nationwide for a long time – , in some disciplines such as the life sciences and quantum materials  even globally. Top international researchers have been recruited for Digital Cultures and the Future of Mobility. The university is also one of Germany's largest centers for interdisciplinary digital sciences as well as artificial intelligence and was instrumental in establishing the National Data Infrastructure (NFDI). Rector Prof. Ursula Staudinger explains, "Excellence is not only a driving force for outstanding research at the frontiers of knowledge - it is an overall engine for innovation."

Prof. Staudinger cites the bundling of competencies from non-university institutions and the university as one of the strengths of Dresden as a location. Thus, the transfer of research results to industry was also significantly expanded during the excellence phase. With 85 priority-securing patent applications and 120 invention disclosures per year, it is now one of the most patent-active universities in Germany. The start-up service ‘dresden|exists’ generates more than 2,000 projects with companies each year and supports around 20 spin-offs. The TUD has given rise to such multi-million dollar companies as Novaled and the robotics start-up Wandelbots. Another important chapter in the success story of the University of Excellence is the ‘DRESDEN-concept Science and Innovation campus’. Twelve years after its founding, a unique science alliance and more than 30 research institutions, including 3 Max Planck, 9 Fraunhofer, 3 Helmholtz and 4 Leibniz institutes, as well as research-based cultural partners such as the Dresden State Art Collections has emerged from the TUD.

The goal now is to perpetuate the status as a university of excellence, according to Prof. Staudinger. "In doing so, we can build excellently on what has been achieved at TUD over the past ten years." To mark the anniversary, the film "Bright Minds. Excellent Research," was produced to provide insight into how passionate TUD researchers are working to find solutions on major global challenges.

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Anniversary film “Bright minds. Excellent research”

November 11, 2022 | Leading production into the future with AI: New demonstration and transfer center at TU Dresden shows how it's done

Where can AI applications make production and manufacturing even more efficient? The new AI Center at TU Dresden provides answers to this question.
Where can AI applications make production and manufacturing even more efficient? The new AI Center at TU Dresden provides answers to this question.

Artificial intelligence (AI) can open up considerable potential in the production and manufacturing industry. But how can small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular get started with suitable AI applications? Answers and support are now available from the "Demonstration and Transfer Network AI in Production" at the TU Dresden (ProKI Dresden). Experts from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering are focusing on forming technology and are introducing companies to the diverse, but hardly widespread application possibilities of AI. The potential in this sector is huge: it can be used to avoid production downtimes and improve quality control. Furthermore, resources can be saved and employees can be supported by collaborative robot systems. The comprehensive and free offer of the emerging center is aimed at manufacturers of forming machines, automation or software companies as well as all branches of industry with forming technology processes. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has been funding the ProKI-Net demonstration and transfer network since October 1, 2022, to which seven other universities belong in addition to the TU Dresden. The common goal of the network is to improve the value creation processes of SMEs in manufacturing more quickly, to increase the productivity and quality of components and to use AI potential to strengthen Germany as an economic region.

November 04, 2022 | DUALIS from Dresden enables energy-efficient production and supports mechanical and plant engineering in the crisis

The factory of tomorrow: Software solutions from DUALIS make companies in mechanical and plant engineering smarter and more effective.
The factory of tomorrow: Software solutions from DUALIS make companies in mechanical and plant engineering smarter and more effective.

Shortage of materials, shortage of skilled workers, decarbonization of supply chains - the mechanical and plant engineering industry is facing various challenges. Particularly acute are the rising energy costs, which are hitting especially small and medium-sized companies hard. Dresden-based software company DUALIS is helping the industry to save energy by making it easier to plan the regulation of consumption. This is made possible by the planning tool GANTTPLAN, which takes into account various cost points and develops a precise production plan based on them. DUALIS Managing Director Heike Wilson explains: "We want to enable production companies to establish their energy consumption as a fixed parameter in their production planning. With GANTTPLAN, planners can look through different scenarios and find the most energy-efficient options for their own production." For example, the planning tool can weigh whether production is better handled by hand and saves energy, or by machine and saves time. Fluctuating electricity tariffs are modeled, as are high load peaks at certain times of the day.

Dr. Kirsten Hoffmann, product manager of DUALIS, about further development perspectives: "To extend GANTTPLAN, special reports or analysis tables are possible. Thus, on the one hand, the production plan can be analyzed according to energy criteria. On the other hand, a comparison of different simulated scenarios such as different energy contracts, purchase of a new energy-efficient machine and others is conceivable."  By supporting companies with various Industrie 4.0-compliant solutions, DUALIS is making a significant contribution to consolidating Dresden's position as a leading smart system location in Europe.

October 28, 2022 | Sunfire produces green hydrogen on a world-record scale

Sunfire and Salzgitter AG continue their joint journey to make the steel industry more sustainable and greener.
Sunfire and Salzgitter AG continue their joint journey to make the steel industry more sustainable and greener.

Since 2019, the Dresden-based company Sunfire has been operating a high-temperature electrolyzer on the premises of Salzgitter Flachstahl as part of GrInHy2.0 ("Green Industrial Hydrogen"). The plant is considered the largest and most efficient of its kind worldwide. Now the partners in the EU-funded hydrogen project are drawing a promising balance: almost 100 tons of the valuable gas have been produced in four years for climate-neutral steel production and fed directly into Salzgitter Flachstahl's hydrogen network. This was achieved on the basis of so-called SOEC technology (solid oxide electrolysis cell), in which steam from industrial waste heat is split into its components hydrogen and oxygen with the help of renewable electricity. The Sunfire electrolyzer can produce 200 Nm3 (standard cubic meters) of green hydrogen per hour - an order of magnitude that no other company has yet been able to demonstrate. Sunfire's CTO Christian von Olshausen explains, "GrInHy2.0 is an important lighthouse project for Sunfire, in which we were able to demonstrate our SOEC technology on an industrial scale. At the same time, we have gained valuable insights for further technical development. Projects like this lay the foundation for successful scaling of electrolysis technologies worldwide." The partnership between Sunfire and Salzgitter AG is therefore to be continued beyond GrInHy2.0.

October 21, 2022 | Up to 60 percent savings potential - Dresden-based Fraunhofer FEP develops globally unique window technology

Visual comparison between electrochromic windows in non-switched (bottom) and switched (top) state.
Visual comparison between electrochromic windows in non-switched (bottom) and switched (top) state.

Researchers at the Dresden Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology (FEP) have succeeded in producing the world's first thermochromic layer on thin glass in a roll-to-roll process. Dr. Cindy Steiner, group leader at Fraunhofer FEP, is pleased: "We have thus taken an important step in scaling the technology from laboratory to pilot scale!" The next step is to scale up the technology and bring it to market. By using thermochromic coatings, the FEP research team has succeeded in regulating solar radiation in thin glass windows according to weather conditions. Thermochromic means that the windows change from a transmissive to a reflective state at a temperature of around 20 degrees Celsius - in other words, the solar radiation is blocked. Mechanical blinds could thus soon be a thing of the past. Above all, however, the technology has great potential for energy savings: In extreme cases, a building's cooling and heating energy requirements can be reduced by up to 60 percent. Office complexes, public buildings and new buildings with large, south-facing windows and glass facades will benefit particularly from this innovation. Smart windows can thus make an important contribution to the energy turnaround.

October 14, 2022 | New diabetes center in Dresden explores innovative methods for treating type I diabetes

Prof. Barbara Ludwig and Prof. Stefan Bornstein show the prototypes of the bioreactor in which beta cells (e.g. from pigs) are packaged and thus protected from the defense mechanisms of the human body.
Prof. Barbara Ludwig and Prof. Stefan Bornstein show the prototypes of the bioreactor in which beta cells (e.g. from pigs) are packaged and thus protected from the defense mechanisms of the human body.

In Germany, more than 6 million people suffer from diabetes. Every year, 500,000 people are newly diagnosed with the disease. And in the last 25 years, the number has risen by more than a third. The statistics show: To put a stop to the widespread disease of diabetes, innovative and more efficient methods are needed to treat rampant metabolic diseases. In the future, researchers at the Center for Metabolic-Immunological Diseases and Therapeutic Technologies Saxony (MITS), which recently began operations, will devote themselves to this task.

Special attention is being paid there to scientific work on the so-called bioreactor, which is intended to make everyday life easier for patients with type I diabetes. Professor Stefan R. Bornstein, the MITS spokesman, explains: "You can think of it like a pacemaker: A small can of five to six centimeters in diameter that is transplanted onto the peritoneum, under the skin." Enclosed in the bioreactor are beta cells, for example from pigs, which are protected from defense mechanisms of the human body. The trick: The cells can produce insulin independently and deliver it to the body. Insulin injections and pumps thus become superfluous. In addition to research on the bioreactor, secondary diseases caused by diabetes and other metabolic disorders are also being studied. These can affect blood vessels, the heart, kidneys, liver or bones. The aim is to prevent them and enable the regeneration of cell functions. The federal government and the Free State of Saxony financed the new buildingwith more than 35 million euros. It provides space for around 100 employees.

October 07, 2022 | Robots welcome as big and small helpers, especially among young people

Younger people in particular see great potential in robots as useful everyday helpers.
Younger people in particular see great potential in robots as useful everyday helpers.

Whether as a supporter in cleaning work, in the garden or in care - robots are no longer only at home in industry, but are used in a wide variety of work and everyday areas. This is also reflected in the responses to the German Robotics Mirror 2022, which was launched by the German Robotics Association in cooperation with the Office for Economic Development of the City of Dresden and Dresden Marketing Gesellschaft. Younger people in particular can well imagine the use of robots in various fields of application, such as caring for relatives or in entertainment. But even regardless of age, the majority of respondents see robots as having the potential to improve our everyday working lives - more than two-thirds (67.5 percent) of them see robotics as an important future industry for Germany as a business location. 

However, the idea of "robots as colleagues" has not yet caught on. When asked what role robots should most likely take on in companies in the future, the vast majority of respondents (76.2 percent) still favor the robot as a machine. The Dresden-based robotics software company Wandelbots would like to change that. "Normally, the implementation of robotics processes is very complex," says Christian Piechnick, CEO and founder of Wandelbots. "Until a robot is ready for use, experienced developers have to program every single step. High costs and a lack of skilled personnel currently hinder the acceleration of automation. This is exactly where we come in." To this end, the company offers the no-code solution Wandelbots Teaching, which enables users to teach robots independently without having any programming knowledge. 

In addition to Wandelbots, many players in Dresden are jointly driving development forward, so that the idea of the "colleague robot" could soon become reality. Thomas Schulz, managing director of Robot Valley Saxony, sees the state capital as a hub for synergies that are unique in Germany: "Robot Valley Saxony is the robotics ecosystem in the heart of Europe, actively networking experts from industry, research and startups to promote innovation and growth in the robotics sector in Saxony and beyond."

September 30, 2022 | Together into the future – German Aerospace Congress 2022 in Dresden

photograph with date

Researching together and shaping the future sustainably: This was the motto of the German Aerospace Congress (DLRK), which was held in Dresden this year. From 27 to 29 September, around 500 experts from science and research, industry and politics came together. In many lectures and discussion rounds, the expertise of the location was especially highlighted. Eventually, Dresden offers ideal conditions: There are excellent research institutes and universities.

Aerospace will continue to be promoted in the future. In addition to well-known companies such as Elbe Flugzeugwerke GmbH (EFW), Diehl Aviation or Nehlsen-BWB Flugzeug-Galvanik, the city is particularly attractive for young start-ups. With Herone and Morpheus Space, two promising young companies have settled in Dresden. The space start-up Morpheus Space plans to build a factory in the city to produce thousands of propulsion systems annually.

Aerospace has a long tradition in Dresden: aircraft construction began in the city in 1955. A few years later, Germany's first jet-powered passenger aircraft – a symbol of GDR aircraft construction – was developed in a hangar not far from the German Hygiene Museum. Since that time, large hangars have dominated the cityscape. And even today, passenger aircraft from all over the world are maintained and converted at cargo planes.

September 16, 2022 | In search of plastic substitutes - EU project led by Saxony conducts research into recyclable product materials

The accelerator in the ion beam center
The accelerator in the ion beam center

Fruits and vegetables wrapped in foil: This is what you see in many supermarkets. In this way the food is supposed to be preserved for longer. However, this is not particularly sustainable. And this is just one example of many.

The industry could record up to 80 percent of a product's subsequent environmental impact, learn from it and act accordingly – already at the design stage. That's according to an assessment by the European Union's Circular Economy Action Plan. However, the linear manufacturing pattern so far has offered few incentives for this. This should change in the future: The ReMade@ARI research infrastructure project, coordinated by the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), is working to develop new materials that are recyclable and competitive as well. In the future, for example, bio-based materials made of wood could provide a sustainable alternative to plastic packaging. The participating institutions also want to exploit the potential in the fields of electronics and textiles. The project is being funded by the EU with a total of 13.8 million euros.

"Anyone from science but also from industry, who wants to develop a new, recyclable material, can approach us," said Dr. Stefan Facsko, scientific coordinator of the project and head of the Ion Beam Center at HZDR. From the research infrastructures, the one where the required research can best be implemented will ultimately be selected.

September 09, 2022 | Rare earths from old energy-saving lamps: Leschs Kosmos about recycling revolution of Helmhotz researchers

Dresden researchers have developed a viral recycling process to recover rare earths from fluorescent tubes.
Dresden researchers have developed a viral recycling process to recover rare earths from fluorescent tubes.

Technological progress is drastically increasing the demand for raw materials. Electronic devices devour high-tech materials such as rare earths. Since natural resources are limited, innovative solutions are needed. Worn-out electronic products, for example, contain such valuable elements. Researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have now developed a process to recover rare earths from fluorescent lamps. This is an example that recovery of the elements contained is possible and economically viable. The key to the targeted recovery of rare earths is provided by bacteriophages: viruses that primarily infect bacteria. By combining this with a special magnetic separation process, the researchers have succeeded in selectively filtering raw materials out of mixtures of substances and reusing them. For the recovery, they use magnetic separation based on biocollectors. "In the future, we will be able to bring the rare earths recovered by biocollectors back into the cycle, which will simultaneously reduce the enormous amount of hazardous waste," says Dr. Franziska Lederer, head of the BioKollekt junior research group, explaining the potential for a sustainable economic cycle. Sounds complicated? This innovative recycling also interested the ZDF science series Leschs Kosmos, which illustrates the process in the current episode "Der Schatz in der Mülltonne - Das Recycling-Versprechen".

September 01, 2022 | German Robotics Mirror 2022: Robots still controversial for securing skilled workforce

The future of work: The robot as a colleague
The future of work: The robot as a colleague

In Germany, robotics has risen to become one of the most important technologies of the future and an economic driver in recent years. This trend is also reflected in the latest results of the German Robotics Mirror 2022. In this survey, more than two-thirds of respondents (67.5 percent) rate robotics as an important future industry for Germany as a business location. The survey was initiated by the German Robotics Association in cooperation with the Office for Economic Development of the City of Dresden and Dresden Marketing Gesellschaft. What the mirror also shows is that further education is needed to overcome prejudices in the world of work and to close knowledge gaps.

This is particularly clear when it comes to the issue of a shortage of skilled workers: One in three employed people who have already worked with robots sees the technology as a possible solution to the problem. By contrast, the proportion of employees without experience is significantly lower at 16.2 percent. Dr. Robert Franke, Head of the Economic Development Department in the state capital Dresden, explains: "Today, you don't have to invest millions or have programming skills to automate your processes effectively. We still see a lot of potential here, especially among SMEs." Accordingly, a clear work assignment for policymakers emerges from the survey results. The goal must be to bring the topic of robotics closer to the population in order to dispel unfounded fears. Olaf Gehrels is a board member of the German Robotics Association (Deutscher Robotik Verband e.V.) and says: "We have to emotionally convince operators and operators, especially in SMEs, that robots are a help and not a competition on the shop floor."

One of the driving forces behind Germany's efforts to further expand its status as the leading robotics industry in Europe is the city of Dresden. As "Robot Valley Dresden," it is pursuing a strategy with three focal points: Educational work, technology promotion in research and practice, and networking in the form of congresses and exhibitions that provide the industry with opportunities to exchange knowledge.

August 26, 2022 | Go-ahead for Drakore: Mobile communications network of the future being built in Dresden

The DAKORE team with the "GreenICT" award.
The DAKORE team with the "GreenICT" award.

Mobile networks are real power guzzlers. Radio access networks alone consume around 750 GWh annually, which is equivalent to the energy consumption of 250,000 private households. By 2030, energy consumption could double. To prevent this from happening, new projects are constantly being launched at the Dresden technology site to pave the way for the mobile communications of the future. One of these is TU Dresden's DAKORE project, which is designing an energy-saving mobile communication base station using novel AI methods. With this approach, which could enable energy savings of up to 60 percent, the DAKORE team was also able to convince at the "GreenICT". They were among the three winning teams in the 2021 Innovation Competition of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

Project leader Prof. Frank Ellinger emphasizes that the concept will not only be used to modernize the existing mobile radio network in the future, but will also be used for further network expansion in future macro and micro base stations: "With the help of DAKORE, Germany can significantly strengthen its competencies in the new scientific field of AI-driven optimization of radio access networks and make a significant contribution to reducing energy consumption," says Eillinger.

August 18, 2022 | Robotics software optimizes warehouse automation: International investors support revolutionary technology from WAKU Robotics

The founding team of the startup WAKU Robotics from Dresden: Alexander Bresk (CIO), Sander Nijssen (CEO), Leo Käßner (CPO), Florian Purchess (CTO) and Victor Splittgerber.
The founding team of the startup WAKU Robotics from Dresden: Alexander Bresk (CIO), Sander Nijssen (CEO), Leo Käßner (CPO), Florian Purchess (CTO) and Victor Splittgerber.

The future of logistics will be defined by collaboration between humans and robots. With it´s product WAKU Sense, the Dresden-based startup WAKU Robotics is making an important contribution to innovative robotics solutions and is thus making its mark on Robot Valley Dresden. The software solution supports robot operators in controlling and coordinating mobile robots in various industries. Victor Splittgerber, founder and CEO of WAKU Robotics, explains: "With WAKU Sense, we empower human operators to ensure the smooth operation of robot fleets. The tool supports customers in this revolutionary transition to even more advanced warehouse automation." Current customers and international partners are also convinced of the potential of the innovative technology. A new investment investment of 1.5 million euros is expected to accelerate the development of WAKU Sense's software. Franz Humer is founder of Agilox, a leading manufacturer of autonomous mobile robots and part of the seed investment round. He says, "WAKU Sense is the first platform capable of orchestrating different AMR/AGV vendors. It puts everything on one dashboard and integrates sensors, forklifts and human operators. Sense is made for robot operators who need to work with more than one robot vendor.

12.08.2022 | “Knock, knock, it’s 6G.” Barkhausen Institute Dresden founds "Corenext" project for Europe's technical independence in the mobile communications of the future.

Corenext project manager Michael Roitzsch and co-managing director Tim Hentschel.
Corenext project manager Michael Roitzsch and co-managing director Tim Hentschel.

The currently most powerful mobile communications standard, 5G, has been fully operational in Germany for just two years - but the network of the future, 6G, is already just around the corner in Dresden. 6G will unleash previously untapped potential not only for cell phone users, but also for the IoT (Internet of Things) and thus for the economy. To ensure that European companies are less dependent on suppliers from Taiwan, South Korea or the USA in the future, the Barkhausen Institute at the Dresden site has launched the "Corenext" project.

Over the next three years, a consortium of 23 partners, including strong international brands such as Nokia, Ericsson, Infineon and NXP, will develop their own processors, antennas, reliable architectures and operating systems for the 6G mobile communications standard. The announcement was made by designated project leader Michael Roitzsch and institute co-managing director Tim Hentschel.

The project is funded with 13 million euros from the EU and has big goals: "The ultimate goal is to develop the prototype of a multiprocessor system that European companies can use to build their own circuits," Hentschel explains.

The Dresden engineers are planning another coup: by declaring the project open source, i.e. making the hardware and software components publicly accessible, sabotage of the later products by secret services, industrial spies or cybercriminals will be virtually impossible. Corenext - another key European project at the high-tech location Dresden.

August 03, 2022 | 45 million euros to combat innovation backlog in medical technology: Federal government funds SEMECO project at TU Dresden for simplified approval processes

SEMECO brings medical technology innovations to patients faster through safe and highly integrated cybermedical microsystems.
SEMECO brings medical technology innovations to patients faster through safe and highly integrated cybermedical microsystems.

Innovation cycles in medical technology are becoming longer. This is due to increasingly complex technologies and systems on the one hand and ever more demanding and lengthy approval processes on the other. This is why the Technical University of Dresden has launched the SEMECO (Secure Medical Microsystems and Communications) project. Traditional medical regulatory procedures are to be revolutionized in the medium term by artificial intelligence (AI) methods. The interaction of measurement technology, communications technology and information processing will enable smart medical instruments and implants to be developed and approved more quickly. A new platform approach will also enable safe and medical microsystems.

The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is now funding this innovation cluster at TU Dresden with 45 million euros over the next nine years. One of the strengths of the project lies in the regional bundling of scientific expertise of Saxon research partners. Together with the Else Kröner Fresenius Center for Digital Health, the 5G++Lab Germany, and the Barkhausen Institute, the SEMECO future cluster offers ideal conditions for innovative and sustainable collaboration at one of Europe's leading locations for microelectronics, communications engineering, and explainable AI in Dresden.

SEMECO is one of seven clusters in Germany selected from 117 applications in the second round of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research's Clusters4Future competition. "Our entire team is delighted. Together, we want to create a system that increases the innovation and future potential of the semiconductor and microsystems technology industry for medical technology. The necessary safety requirements have to be taken into account, however we must produce added value for patients much sooner," said Gerhard Fettweis, Professor of Mobile Communication Systems at TU Dresden and scientific coordinator of the SEMECO project.