Two new joint large-scale research projects in materials science and spintronics at the universities of Mainz and Kaiserslautern with application potential
JOINT PRESS RELEASE OF JOHANNES GUTENBERG UNIVERSITY MAINZ AND THE UNIVERSITY OF KAISERSLAUTERN
Two large-scale research projects in materials science and spintronics have been initiated at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the University of Kaiserslautern. Both projects have a financial volume of more than EUR 3.8 million and are receiving support through the "Wachstum durch Innovation" (Growth through Innovation) program to the tune of some EUR 2.37 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the state agencies for science and commerce. Their objective is to promote the rapid transition from university research to industrial application. It often takes years for theoretical ideas and products developed at universities to find their way into commercial production.
The two new projects, STeP and TT-DINEMA, are designed to help speed up the process of conversion to marketable procedures and products. "The two projects will not only enable us to ensure that our universities remain at the cutting edge in the fields of materials science and spintronics in future, but will also make a very important contribution to helping companies in Rhineland-Palatinate gain quick and easy access to innovation-relevant expertise in these high-tech areas," claimed Minister of Science Doris Ahnen.
"The STeP project represents an important element in the development of a process of efficient preliminary research within the innovation network Magnetic Microsystems InnoMag e.V.," Minister of Economic Affairs Eveline Lemke went on to emphasize. The aim of the Mainz-based network is to develop innovative magnetic microsystems for new applications with significant commercial potential in areas such the automotive industry, automation, bioanalytics, and security technology. In the automation sector, for example, such products are invaluable because of their high resolution, reliability, and robustness when used in equipment such as assembly and machine tools and industrial robots.
The purpose of the Spintronic Technology Platform in Rhineland-Palatinate (STeP) is to promote the sustained build-up of technical competencies and to support regional companies working in the spintronics sector. The platform has been specifically designed to bolster research into and the development of magnetic coating systems, which are particularly suitable for use in products such as sensors and memory storage units. At the core of the research being undertaken by STeP are so-called Heusler materials. The objective is to develop "building block systems" using innovative coating systems, which can then be flexibly adapted to meet the wide range of different functional and technological challenges. In a new approach, the results of academic research are being immediately transferred onto an industrial production line that meets DIN standards. This is an important requirement if experimental data is to be subsequently directly transformed into conventional production processes in the semi-conductor industry. The researchers have been able to win over as a partner the company Sensitec GmbH (Mainz), which has recently gained attention as a supplier of state-of-the-art sensors for the Mars Rover Curiosity.
The aim of the TT-DINEMA ("Technologietransfer-Dienstleistungszentrum für Neue Materialien" or Technology Transfer Service Center for New Materials) project is to establish an internationally competitive and independent service center that can provide original new material concepts. It represents the starting point for innovative development projects in various fields of applications, ranging from solar technology through medical technology to thermoelectrics, and is likely to be of particular benefit to small and medium-sized companies. Again, Heusler compounds are at the focus of attention concerning the applied materials. These relatively simple chemical compounds represent an ideal combination in that they have a large diversity of different physical characteristics but can be relatively easily manufactured. This makes them suitable for use in various products, such as solar cells, semi-conductors, and thermoelectric systems for power generation from waste heat. In addition to their broad application potential, these materials are also interesting from the commercial point of view because of their low cost, sustainability, environmental friendliness, and ease of processing.
The current primary intention of the TT-DINEMA project is to acquire two highly complex, state-of-the-art pieces of equipment: an industrial coating machine called sputtering deposition plant and a system for the production of starting materials. The complicated infrastructure and process technology needed for the provision of services in the research and development sector will be provided by the universities of Mainz and Kaiserslautern.
The Graduate School of Excellence "Materials Science IN MainZ" (MAINZ) and the state research center OPTIMAS are also involved in both projects