90 million USD for a top-notch Nanotech Lab
ETH Zurich and the IBM Zurich Research Laboratory (ZRL) have today announced the establishment of a strategic partnership in nanotechnology. The two partner institutions will operate a new, common nanotech laboratory, which will be built on the ZRL campus.
The two partners have a long-standing tradition of scientific cooperation, and now make an important step to deepen this collaboration further by forming a strategic partnership in the field of nanotechnology. The collaborative project was revealed at a joint media conference in Zurich by Ralph Eichler, President of ETH Zurich, and John E. Kelly III, Senior Vice-President and Director of IBM Research. As part of this collaboration, a new building with cutting-edge research facilities will be constructed on the campus of the IBM Zurich Research Laboratory in Rüschlikon (CH), with the laying of the foundation stone scheduled in spring 2009, and the start of research activities in 2011.
A value-add for Swiss industry
"This nanotech lab will have a strong value-add, not only for the participating institutions, but for Swiss industry as a whole", said Professor Ralph Eichler, "as we are open to collaborations with Swiss companies and research institutes". With EMPA – the Swiss interdisciplinary research institution for material sciences and technology development - one additional partner for collaboration is already involved. The collaboration brings with it considerable potential for the creation of new production techniques from which Switzerland, with its sizeable community of SMEs, will profit.
The nanotech lab will make world-beating research possible, but the partnership itself is also innovative. "By creating this common research center, IBM is expanding a collaborative and cooperative research program aimed at accelerating our understanding and implementation of nanotechnology and its broad range of applications", said Dr. Kelly. "We see this type of collaboration as an emerging model for future industry-academic partnerships".
New building – shared infrastructure
The two institutions will
focus on research in various fields of nanotechnology, ranging from exploratory
and basic research to applied and near-term
projects. Several areas for joint research projects have been identified, such
as carbon-based materials, nano-photonics, spintronics, nanowires, and tribology.
The novel concept of a shared research facility with more than 900 m2
of cleanroom area will be built in the nanotech lab with three sections: one
each for exclusive use by IBM and ETH Zurich,
as well as an area that both partners will share. The costs of the new building
amount to 90 million USD, of which 30 million USD alone will be dedicated to
cutting-edge infrastructure. The partners will share expenditure for
infrastructure; the building investment itself will be undertaken by IBM. ETH Zurich will rent the space
and share the operations costs with IBM. The strategic partnership is intended
to be in place for at least 10 years. Apart from joint research activities each
partner institution is free to pursue its own projects.
For ETH Zurich the new Nanotech Lab on the IBM campus at Rüschlikon is a perfect complement to the existing research infrastructure at ETH Zurich Hönggerberg and city-located sites. An important aspect of the new center is the unique opportunity for ETH Zurich students to pursue their research in close collaboration with an industrial partner, which is an important asset in ETH Zurich’s engineering education.
Key technology of the 21st century
Today numerous products based
on nanotechnology are on the market already, and many more are being developed.
Nanotechnology defines a technology that utilizes functions at an
extraordinarily small-size scale. It focuses on structures and processes in
dimensions below 100 nanometers - approximately 400 times thinner than a human
hair. At the scale of nanometers, many fundamental processes of biology, chemistry
and physics occur and can be controlled in unprecedented ways, offering astonishing
new perspectives in many disciplines.
Nanotechnology is an enabling technology which is expected to spark advances in various fields. These include advanced functional materials, nanoelectronics, information and communication technology, sensing, tools, healthcare and life sciences, and energy technology. In particular, nanotech applications in the energy sector, such as more efficient use of solar energy, or new ways of water treatment, might even help to tackle some of the biggest challenges of our time.
With its research at ETH Zurich and the IBM Zurich Research Lab, Zurich is one of the hotspots of quantum mechanics and nano research. And this is so for an excellent reason: ground breaking concepts in quantum mechanics have been formulated by ETH physicist and Nobel Laureate, Wolfgang Pauli. Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986 for the development of the scanning tunneling microscope at the IBM Zurich Research Lab. This instrument allowed the first look into the world of atoms, thus throwing the door to nanotechnology research wide open. A lot of potential nevertheless still remains to be unlocked. With the new lab, ETH Zurich and ZRL are determined to bring nanotechnology to the next level.
IBM Zurich Research Laboratory (ZRL)
The IBM Zurich Research Laboratory is the European branch of IBM Research. This worldwide network of some 3500 employees in eight laboratories around the globe is the largest industrial IT research organization in the world. The ZRL, which was established in 1956, currently employs some 330 people, representing more than 30 nationalities. ZRL's spectrum of research activities includes nanoscience, future chip technology, supercomputing, advanced storage and server technologies, security and privacy, risk and compliance, as well as business optimization and transformation. World-class research and outstanding scientific achievements—most notably two Nobel Prizes—are associated with the Zurich Lab.
- 25.06.08: Nanotechnologie hat auch Risiken