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01-07-2019 | © istockphotos.com

Understanding the mechanics of metals across scales

How can we develop new materials that meet the extreme challenges of aerospace applications? Seizing the great potential of magnesium as a lightweight metal or making steels more resistant to failure and corrosion are two engineering challenges whose roots lie deep down at the atomic scale. Using models that bridge across scales from the atomic to the observable level, an ERC funded scientist investigates why materials behave and fail the way they do.

03-08-2018 | © picture

Statistical inference for random functions and measures

How does one infer the dynamics of a DNA minicircle in solution? How does one align the neuronal firing patterns of several neurons across individuals? These questions are intrinsically statistical, but nevertheless escape the traditional tools of statistics. The ComplexData project investigated such questions from a mathematical and an applied context.

10-07-2018 | Image: © ETH Zurich – IRIS – MSRL Portrait: © ETH Zurich – IRIS – MSRL

Microrobots for improved eye surgery

Originally published in May 2015

Updated in July 2018

With an aging population, Europe sees a rapid increase in the number of people affected by visual disorders requiring surgical intervention. Building on the recent advances in robotic assistance in surgery as well as in precisely targeted drug delivery therapies, Prof. Bradley Nelson has designed innovative microrobotics tools to overcome the particular difficulty of manual-performed eye surgery.

06-09-2016 | Image© iStockphoto

New light on emulsions

Many industries – and each of our cells – depend on emulsions. An EU-funded researcher has developed a method for studying molecules at the interface between oil nanodroplets and the water-based liquid contained in these substances. Her work advances understanding of liquid interfaces and emulsion stability, and is of great interest to industry.

21-09-2015 | image: © istockphoto

3D city modelling for smarter parking

Tired of endlessly looking for a parking spot? Dreaming of having a bird's-eye view to locate free spaces in a congested city? ERC grantee Prof Luc Van Gool is a research leader in the area of computer vison. With his project "VarCity", he works to innovate existing 3D city modelling by using object class recognition methods and crowd generated data. To apply his idea, Prof. Van Gool received an additional ERC Proof of Concept grant and created a spin-off that commercialises a video-based smart parking system. In the city of Locarno, Switzerland, "Parquery" stands the test.

19-05-2015 | Portrait: © ETH Zurich – IRIS – MSRL | Image: © ETH Zurich – IRIS – MSRL

Microrobotics meets nanomedicine for improved eye surgery

With an aging population, Europe sees a rapid increase in the number of people affected by visual disorders requiring surgical intervention. Funded by the ERC, a team of scientists based in Zürich are currently designing innovative microrobotics tools to overcome the particular difficulty of manual-performed eye surgery.  

10-02-2014 | Research image courtesy of Yannik Fontana | Sketch of a forest of standing nanowires, ideal for the efficient capture of the solar radiation

Throwing light on to nanowires

At the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, Professor Anna Fontcuberta i Morral’s ERC-funded UPCON project (Ultra-pure nanowire heterostructures and energy conversion) is investigating new concepts and technologies that point the way to the next generation of photovoltaic systems. Prof Fontcuberta i Morral is a speaker at this year's American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference in Chicago, where she will give a talk entitled 'Nanowires have the power to revolutionize solar energy'.

12-12-2013 | Portrait © Liisa Hirvisalo – Aalto University | Illustration © Jukka Pätynen – Aalto University

Sound advice: modelling music halls

Have you ever seen an engineer conducting an imaginary orchestra? We think of scientists working in a lab, but Professor Tapio Lokki, of the Aalto University School of Science in Finland, has spent the last few years visiting concert halls and making meticulous measurements of their characteristics. ‘Karaoke’ is Japanese for ‘empty orchestra’ – and in some ways that is what he has created to help his studies. The research could lead to improved building designs and a form of audio ‘Augmented Reality’ (AR).

05-09-2013 | © picture

A brighter future? Anti-ageing treatment for solar panels

Solar power is potentially an almost limitless resource. The sun provides enough energy in one minute to supply the world’s energy needs for one year. But turning this resource into affordable electricity is difficult – silicon-based solar cells still suffer from a decline in their effectiveness over time. Through her ERC-funded SOLARX project, Professor Hele Savin, of Aalto University in Finland, is investigating a possible route to solving this problem.

28-09-2012 | © Mathcard project

Taking mathematics to heart

Mathematics might seem like an abstract discipline, remote from real-world applications but their equations can significantly help understand and simulate the functioning of nature. Professor Alfio Quarteroni of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL, Switzerland) is leading the Mathcard project in developing mathematical models of the blood flow in our cardiovascular system. On the occasion of World Heart Day, he explains how his project could help surgeons and save lives.