Two years after obtaining the status of Excellence, Technische Universität Dresden (TUD) strikes a positive balance: "The Center for Advancing Electronics Dresden (cfaed) strengthens the innovative location Dresden," TUD rector Prof. Hans Müller-Steinhagen said today about the Cluster of Excellence to journalists in Dresden. In addition to the second Cluster of Excellence for Regenerative Therapies Dresden, the Graduate Academy and TUD's Institutional Strategy, cfaed is part of the Excellence strategy that put TUD at the top of a nationwide competition of universities.
"cfaed as a large research platform provides important input to the development of the regional industry and supports employment in the region of Dresden," the TUD rector emphasized. The so-called 'Silicon Saxony' is an international hub of microelectronics with about 2,100 companies and 51,000 employees. "cfaed's research is now internationally leading and is already recognized as one of the top places to undertake research in the area of micro- and nanoelectronics by international scientists," Prof. Hans Müller-Steinhagen said. "In cfaed, top researchers work on the pressing topics of micro- and nanoelectronics. They profit not only from the Cluster's dynamics and its expertise, but also from the spirit and the possibilities of the whole TU Dresden and the science location in Saxony. This particular research environment is continuously improved by several measures of our Institutional Strategy, because this focuses on attracting the best heads to Dresden and offering them outstanding conditions for their studies and research work. Due to this, it is paramount to find the right personalities to push ideas and projects."
Since November 2012, about 300 scientists from more than 20 nations in the Center for Advancing Electronics Dresden have developed innovative technologies for the microchip of the future. During the five-year period, the Cluster receives approximately € 34 million of funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG), complemented with € 8 million by the Free State of Saxony. cfaed coordinator is Prof. Gerhard Fettweis, holder of the Vodafone Chair Mobile Communications Systems at TUD. Beside the host university TUD, ten partner institutes are united within cfaed, among them Technische Universität Chemnitz, two Max Planck Institutes, two Fraunhofer Institutes, two Leibniz Institutes and the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf. The new, jointly developed technologies are inspired by innovative materials such as silicon nanowires, carbon nanotubes or polymers or based on completely new conceptions such as a chemical chip or circuit fabrication methods by self-assembling structures, for example DNA-Origami. The orchestration of these new devices into heterogeneous information processing systems with focus on their resilience and energy-efficiency is also part of cfaed's research program. Furthermore, biological communication systems are analyzed in order to use inspiration from nature for technical challenges. "The worldwide unique approach unifies the result-oriented natural sciences and innovation-driven engineering sciences to an interdisciplinary research platform in Saxony," Prof. Alexander Eychmüller, member of the cfaed Executive Board, explained.
Currently, a team of cfaed scientists is involved in developing the 'Fifth Generation' of mobile communications. By extremely low latency, massive security and resilience of data transmission, completely new applications might become possible. Examples are cooperative traffic coordination systems, robotic-aided tele-surgery or innovative e-learning methods.
To realize this vision, some cfaed scientists have started the project 'FAST - Fast Actuators Sensors and Transceivers'. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with a grant of € 45 million. A further sum of € 30 million will be contributed by industrial stakeholders. The project 'fast' aims at improving the real-time capacity of sensors and actuators systems for better interactions between human beings and technical equipment. In future, the number of sensors and actuators per system will increase rapidly - e.g., in a car, there will be more than 200. This is also a big challenge for systems which connect a high number of sensors and actuators area-wide by mobile communications. The project 'fast' intends to realize an important technology leap: The speed of wireless communication systems shall be close to the physical limit - the speed of light with almost 300,000 kilometers per second. The aim is to reduce the systemic delays to 1 to 10 milliseconds for enabling breakthroughs for a broad portfolio of applications. "With these real-time capabilities, we want to increase the quality of life," 'fast'-speaker Prof. Frank Ellinger, also member of the cfaed research path 'Carbon', said. "Real-time capability means that engineering in future will work without any remarkable delay. Applications will be found in the area of communication, security, mobility, energy, and health care." Thus, the research of the Cluster of Excellence will have indeed a large impact on numerous parts of society.