Research | Development of scientific excellence
As the largest scientific and technical research unit in Austria, Vienna University of Technology stands out with a striking diversity of research projects. The entire spectrum is housed under one roof, ranging from abstract-theoretical foundational research to application orientated research and development of clear technical solutions and products.
Five key research areas
Vienna University of Technology defined five key research areas in the 2010+ development plan:
- "Computational Science and Engineering“
- "Quantum Physics and Quantum Technologies“
- "Materials and Matter“
- "Information and Communication Technology“ and
- "Energy and Environment“.
The university has put the focus on these key research areas due to the relevant incentives in-house, concentration of infrastructure and strategic cooperation.
Research incentives, which can be implemented in-house, include the subsidy tool "Innovative Projects", which makes 1.6 million euro available for 11 projects and an additional 10 staff positions. Two of Vienna University of Technology's new doctorate courses, the top level/start-up financing (a support programme for Vienna University of Technology core research projects) as well as the LI:ON programme (Laboratory Infrastructure: Old-New) are providing a significant boost to further improve research performance.
Infrastructure for modern research
Technologically oriented research does not work without high-end infrastructure. Vienna University of Technology has a range of infrastructure centres at its disposal, which are closely bound with scientific research as the in-house cooperation partner. These include the DMQT (Designed Matter and Quantum Technologies), MCC (the Materials Characterization Center, consisting of a surface centre, the newly founded x-ray centre and the unit for Transmission Electron Microscopy USTEM) and RES (Robust Embedded Systems – research into the integration of microelectronics and communications technology with everyday objects or even cars and aeroplanes). The ZMNS (Centre for Micro- and Nanostructures with its laboratory clean room) and the TRIGA Mark II reactor of the Institute of Atomic and Subatomic Physics and are important infrastructure tools for research at Vienna University of Technology.
Research networks and Special research fields
Vienna University of Technology is a member of six National Research Networks (NFN) of the FWF - Fond zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (Austrian Science Fund): "Analytic Combinatorics and Probabilistic Number Theory“, "Industrial Geometry“, "Massive High Performance Nanomaterials“, "Nanoscience on Surfaces“, "Signal and Information Processing in Science and Engineering“ and Rigorous Systems Engineering. Furthermore, Vienna University of Technology is involved in five special research fields (SFB) of the FWF: "ADLIS – Advanced Light Sources“, "FoQuS – Foundations and Applications of Quantum Science“, "FOXSI – Functional Oxide Surfaces and Interfaces“, "IR-ON – Nanostructures for Infrared Phototechnology“ and "ViCoM – Vienna Computational Materials Laboratory“
Christian Doppler Laboratories
A sign of the high scientific quality found in-house is the large number of Christian Doppler (CD) laboratories established at Vienna University of Technology: Eight CD laboratories were active in 2010 and three of them were refurbished in the same year: Model-based Calibration Methods (Stefan Jakubek), Software Engineering Integration for flexible Automation Systems (Stefan Biffl) and Reliability Problems in Microelectronics (Hajdin Ceric).
Laura Bassi Centres
Vienna University of Technology is also benefiting from the Laura Bassi Centres of Expertise, a research support programme of the FFG (The Austrian Research Promotion Agency): The Laura-Bassi Centre "Center for Visual Analytics Science and Technology“ (CVAST) is located at Vienna University of Technology and the university has also partnered with the Laura-Bassi Centre "BioResorbable Implants for Children“ (BRIC).
The FFG COMET programme
Vienna University of Technology is heavily involved in the COMET programme of the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG): The university is involved in four K2 centres, eleven K1 centres and ten K projects.
Research and scientific output
Vienna University of Technology receives funding for research projects (F&E projects as well as projects for the development of the arts) from various sources: including the research subsidy of the European Union, research promoting structures within Austria (inc. FWF and FFG) and project resources from companies. The total volume of revenue from supported projects came to EUR 63.4 million in 2010, representing an increase of 8% compared with the previous year.
It was also possible to increase the output of the research in terms of scientific publications. In 2010 the university produced a total of 5,231 publications. If all the poster contributions are deducted from the total number of scientific/artistic publications a 6% increase in publications can be observed over 2009. In total 3,620 talks and presentations were held, 79% of which took place at international events. 1,052 of these publications appeared in the specialist journals SCI, SSCI or A&HCI and 510 appeared in other scientific journals. The rest of the publications feature in collected editions, specialist books and other scientific publications.
|Scientific staff total||668||2622||3290|
|thereof scientific and artistic staff||655||2495||3150|
|thereof associate professor||1||5||6|
|thereof assistant professors||1||5||6|
|thereof staff financed by third parties (R&D projects)||227||1006||1233|
|Non-scientific staff total||565||609||1174|
|thereof non-scientific staff financed by third parties (R&D projects)||58||149||207|
Research highlights 2010
In addition to independent research in the faculties, great emphasis is also placed on interdisciplinary research. This involves collaboration across the various faculties, as well as external cooperation. The following pages will give you a brief glimpse of the wide variety of research fields covered by Vienna University of Technology.
Enormous concrete slabs floating on cushions of air
With all components in direct contact with the surface, there are deformation constraints that occur through the joining of the component with the foundations or through friction between the component and the foundation. With long, thin concrete slabs this leads to high stress and separation cracks can form. In particular, the diminishing hydration warmth from the concrete setting, the contraction of the concrete (volume reduction), as well as temperature fluctuations have a substantial effect on new and hardened concrete. Often, the manufacture-linked temperature requirements are higher than those in use. Using the air friction bearing, Prof. Anton Schweighofer from the Institute of Structural Engineering has developed a procedure, which allows the creation of concrete slabs of over 2,500 m2 without jointing or crack formation.
The ever-changing Earth
The Earth's atmosphere is not only essential to support human life on Earth; it also affects our planet's shape, its rotation and its gravitational field. The research project "Global Geodetic Observing System (GGOS) Atmosphere" at the Institute of Geodesy and Geophysics is a comprehensive and cross-disciplinary study of these complex interrelationships, financed by the Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF) [The Austrian Science Fund].
The cultural heritage of Azerbaijan
The three-dimensional model of the Maiden Tower in Baku by a research team from TU Vienna using terrestrial 3D laser scanners has been completed. Now a cooperation agreement is to be signed with research colleagues at Azerbaijan University for Architecture and Construction, to form a basis for future cooperation in research.
Science helps fungi reproduce
At Vienna University of Technology it was possible to bring spores of the fungus Trichoderma reesei, until recently known only as asexual, to reproduce sexually. The biotechnician Verena Seidl-Seiboth, from the Institute of Chemical Engineering, Environmental Engineering and Technical Biological Sciences, was recognised for her work in this field on 28 September 2010 by the Austrian Association of Molecular Life Sciences and Biotechnology.
Getting fit playing computer games
In Hollywood blockbusters human movements are recorded with special cameras and then transposed onto a computer-generated figure (Motion Capture). These slightly alternative methods are also helpful for pain therapy. IT specialists have developed a motion capture system, which can now be used for exercise therapy similar to computer games in hospitals and rehabilitation centres. As these games are not just for entertainment, they are known as "serious games" — games with a serious background and clear objectives.
Flywheels store eco-energy
Hi-tech flywheels from the Institute of Mechanics and Mechatronics are able to store energy for hours. "An initial prototype weighs 160 kg and can reach a speed of over 500 revolutions per second" explains Alexander Schulz, who leads the research project in this area together with Prof. Johann Wassermann. One wheel can store energy equivalent to several kilowatt hours — enough to supply a whole household for hours if the sunshine is not strong enough for the photovoltaic cells.
Don't worry about declining birth rates
Birth rates are falling and the proportion of elderly people in the population is rising. This development is often associated with negative consequences for economic growth, but there are no reliable empirical values to back this up, nor can economic models provide clear statements to this effect. Economic analyses under the leadership of Prof. Alexia Fürnkranz-Prskawetz show that a drop in population could actually have a positive effect on prosperity. Assumption: the education level of the workforce increases — and in each age group.
Researchers from TU Vienna invent a laser microphone
A microphone that works with light: a revolutionary invention at the Institute for Photonics opens the door to a completely new way of sound recording. Balthasar Fischer has invented a microphone that works with laser light and contrary to all other recording devices it works completely without any vibrating membrane. Balthasar Fischer was awarded the Dr. Ernst Fehrer Prize for this work.
Precision measurements for the power plant of the future
A clean, environmentally friendly, practically inexhaustible source of energy: using nuclear fusion to produce electrical energy has been one of the greatest dreams when in comes to science, for decades. It has still however not been possible to build a fusion reactor able to withstand the enormous flows of energy from the extremely hot fusion plasma. To research this technical problem the Institute of Applied Physics has developed a very special measurement method: It is one of the most precise balances in the world.
Prof. Siegfried Selberherr from the Institute of Microelectronics has been awarded the Advanced Grant of the ERC (European Research Council). Using the award money of EUR 1.7 million, Selberherr intends to progress his visionary research in the area of microelectronics and make new effects, especially spin, usable.
Prof. Christian Hellmich from the Institute for Mechanics of Materials and Structures was awarded the ERC Starting Grant at a value of EUR 1.5 million for his research in the field of "Poro-Micromechanics of Bone Materials, with Links to Biology and Medicine". The results will not only mean the ability to develop brand new diagnosis and therapy methods in the medium term, but will also provide important motivation for the field of bionics, where biological solutions are applied through technology.
Prof. Thorsten Schumm from the Institute of Atomic and Subatomic Physics has been recognised with the high value Starting Grant for his research concerning the construction of a nuclear atomic clock. The around EUR 1.3 million grant will secure the financing of his research work for the next five years. His work is centred on using quantum effects for extremely precise measurements.
New Christian Doppler (CD) laboratories
The CD laboratory team for model-based calibration methods will focus its attention on the development of new and integrated methods for the model-based calibration of automotive power systems under the leadership of Prof. Stefan Jakubek.
Investigating "Reliability problems in microelectronics“ is the task of researchers in the CD laboratory, supervised by electrical engineer Hajdin Ceric.
In the CD laboratory for "Software Engineering Integration for Flexible Automation Systems" IT specialists and electrical engineers carry out cross-discipline work under the leadership of Prof. Stefan Biffl on the optimisation of development conditions for modern automation systems.