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Two volunteers are the first above-knee amputees in the world to feel their prosthetic foot and knee in real time. Their bionic prosthesis, developed by a European team of researchers, has sensors that connect to residual nerves in the thigh. The resulting neurofeedback reduces physical and mental strain for prosthesis users as well as their phantom limb pain. They can also walk faster and with more confidence. Researchers, partly supported by ERC funds, recently reported on their achievement in Nature Medicine.
ERC grantee Juergen Brugger and his team have developed biodegradable microresonators that can be heated locally with a wireless system. Doctors could soon be using them in implants to control the release of painkillers within tissue. By Laure-Anne Pessina - Originally published on the EPFL website
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.
Honey bees are an important species for ecology and economy, but their population has shrank worryingly. Prof. Philipp Engel focuses on gut microbiota, a critical factor for bee health, to understand how it evolved and diversified over time. His study addresses timely questions about evolution, ecology, microbiology and could eventually contribute to new strategies for managing bee colonies’ health.
Until recently, lungs were believed to be sterile, but today we know that they are inhabited by microbes migrating from the mouth. Dr Randi Bertelsen has been awarded an ERC grant to investigate the role played by the oral microbiome in lung disease.
With a diameter of around 143,000 kilometres and a mass 300 times that of the Earth, Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system. Scientists have debated for decades how such giants formed. Now, astrophysicists of Universities of Bern and Zürich and of ETH Zürich, amongst which are ERC grantees Yann Alibert and Maria Schönbächler, proposed a solution to this puzzle. The research results, published recently in the magazine Nature Astronomy, provide crucial hints to long-standing questions about the formation of other planets in the solar system and beyond.
Water is a peculiar liquid. In fact, it's thanks to some of its peculiarities that our "blue" planet looks the way it does, and that life has evolved most of the characteristics we recognise today. ERC grantee Prof. Anders Nilsson has made his career out of studying water, in particular trying to understand the secret double life water leads at extremely cold temperatures.
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.
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.
“The internet of things” is said to be the next big frontier for technology firms. A variety of small devices are always on and always connected. These devices permeate our lives at an ever increasing rate, bringing with them a demand for new and innovative mobile energy sources. One of the most promising candidates is thermoelectric power; a technology that would allow us to harvest one of the most ubiquitous energy sources available to us, our body heat.