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  • richardmitnick 4:16 pm on June 23, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Broadband light harvesting and energy storage, broadband optical camouflaging (“invisibility cloaking”), Casting aside reciprocity, EPFL, Medicine and the environment and telecommunications, More electromagnetic energy can be stored in wave-guiding systems than previously thought, On-chip spectroscopy, , Q factor at Western Electric, The trick was to create asymmetric resonant or wave-guiding systems using magnetic fields   

    From EPFL: “A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL” 

    EPFL bloc

    École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL

    1
    Generic image illustrating wave-interference and resonant energy transfer from
    one source to another distant source or object, pertaining to the fundamental concept of
    resonances. No image credit.

    23.06.17
    Laure-Anne Pessina

    EPFL researchers have found a way around what was considered a fundamental limitation of physics for over 100 years. They were able to conceive resonant systems that can store electromagnetic waves over a long period of time while maintaining a broad bandwidth. Their study, which has just been published in Science, opens up a number of doors, particularly in telecommunications.

    At EPFL, researchers challenge a fundamental law and discover that more electromagnetic energy can be stored in wave-guiding systems than previously thought. The discovery has implications in telecommunications. Working around the fundamental law, they conceived resonant and wave-guiding systems capable of storing energy over a prolonged period while keeping a broad bandwidth. Their trick was to create asymmetric resonant or wave-guiding systems using magnetic fields.

    The study, which has just been published in Science, was led by Kosmas Tsakmakidis, first at the University of Ottawa and then at EPFL’s Bionanophotonic Systems Laboratory run by Hatice Altug, where the researcher is now doing post-doctoral research.

    This breakthrough could have a major impact on many fields in engineering and physics. The number of potential applications is close to infinite, with telecommunications, optical detection systems and broadband energy harvesting representing just a few examples.

    Casting aside reciprocity

    Resonant and wave-guiding systems are present in the vast majority of optical and electronic systems. Their role is to temporarily store energy in the form of electromagnetic waves and then release them. For more than 100 hundred years, these systems were held back by a limitation that was considered to be fundamental: the length of time a wave could be stored was inversely proportional to its bandwidth. This relationship was interpreted to mean that it was impossible to store large amounts of data in resonant or wave-guiding systems over a long period of time because increasing the bandwidth meant decreasing the storage time and quality of storage.

    This law was first formulated by K. S. Johnson in 1914, at Western Electric Company (the forerunner of Bell Telephone Laboratories). He introduced the concept of the Q factor, according to which a resonator can either store energy for a long time or have a broad bandwidth, but not both at the same time. Increasing the storage time meant decreasing the bandwidth, and vice versa. A small bandwidth means a limited range of frequencies (or ‘colors’) and therefore a limited amount of data.

    Until now, this concept had never been challenged. Physicists and engineers had always built resonant systems – like those to produce lasers, make electronic circuits and conduct medical diagnoses – with this constraint in mind.

    But that limitation is now a thing of the past. The researchers came up with a hybrid resonant / wave-guiding system made of a magneto-optic material that, when a magnetic field is applied, is able to stop the wave and store it for a prolonged period, thereby accumulating large amounts of energy. Then when the magnetic field is switched off, the trapped pulse is released.

    With such asymmetric and non-reciprocal systems, it was possible to store a wave for a very long period of time while also maintaining a large bandwidth. The conventional time-bandwidth limit was even beaten by a factor of 1,000. The scientists further showed that, theoretically, there is no upper ceiling to this limit at all in these asymmetric (non-reciprocal) systems.

    “It was a moment of revelation when we discovered that these new structures did not feature any time-bandwidth restriction at all. These systems are unlike what we have all been accustomed to for decades, and possibly hundreds of years», says Tsakmakidis, the study’s lead author. “Their superior wave-storage capacity performance could really be an enabler for a range of exciting applications in diverse contemporary and more traditional fields of research.” Hatice Altug adds.

    Medicine, the environment and telecommunications

    One possible application is in the design of extremely quick and efficient all-optical buffers in telecommunication networks. The role of the buffers is to temporarily store data arriving in the form of light through optical fibers. By slowing the mass of data, it is easier to process. Up to now, the storage quality had been limited.+

    With this new technique, it should be possible to improve the process and store large bandwidths of data for prolonged times. Other potential applications include on-chip spectroscopy, broadband light harvesting and energy storage, and broadband optical camouflaging (“invisibility cloaking”). “The reported breakthrough is completely fundamental – we’re giving researchers a new tool. And the number of applications is limited only by one’s imagination,” sums up Tsakmakidis.

    —–

    Source: Breaking Lorentz reciprocity to overcome the time-bandwidth limit in physics and engineering

    Cover image capture: Generic image illustrating wave-interference and resonant energy transfer from
    one source to another distant source or object, pertaining to the fundamental concept of
    resonances.

    Study conducted by:

    Kosmas Tsakmakidis, lead author, former researcher at the University of Ottawa and currently an EPFL Fellow in EPFL’s Bionanophotonic Systems Laboratory
    Linfang Shen and collaborators, Institute of Space Science and Technology, Nanchang University, Nanchang, China and State Key Laboratory of Modern Optical Instrumentation, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China
    Prof. Robert Boyd and collaborators, University of Ottawa
    Prof. Hatice Altug, director of EPFL’s Bionanophotonic Systems Laboratory
    Prof. Alexandre Vakakis, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    EPFL campus

    EPFL is Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university with students, professors and staff from over 120 nations. A dynamic environment, open to Switzerland and the world, EPFL is centered on its three missions: teaching, research and technology transfer. EPFL works together with an extensive network of partners including other universities and institutes of technology, developing and emerging countries, secondary schools and colleges, industry and economy, political circles and the general public, to bring about real impact for society.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:07 am on June 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Center for MicroNanotechnology (CMi) at EPFL, EPFL, EPFL’s Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements (LPQM), Institute of Microstructure Technology (IMT), KIT’s Institute of Photonics and Quantum Electronics (IPQ), LiGenTec SA, Optical frequency combs, , , , Wavelength division multiplexing (WDM)   

    From EPFL: “Ultra-fast optical data transfer using solitons on a photonic chip” 

    EPFL bloc

    École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL

    08.06.17
    Nik Papageorgiou

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    Optical micro resonators made from silicon nitride on a chip using for soliton based communications. © V. Brasch (LPQM, EPFL)
    Researchers from EPFL and Karlsruhe Institute of Technology use a soliton frequency combs from optical microresonators to transmit data at speeds of more than 50 terabits per second.

    Optical solitons are special wave packages that propagate without changing their shape. They are ubiquitous in nature, and occur in Plasma Physics, water waves to biological systems. While solitons also exist in optical fiber, discovered at Bell labs in the 1980’ies, there technological use so far has been limited. While researchers studied their use for optical communication, eventually the approach was abandoned. Now, a collaboration of a research group at KIT’s Institute of Photonics and Quantum Electronics (IPQ) and Institute of Microstructure Technology (IMT) with EPFL’s Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements (LPQM) have shown that solitons may experience a comeback: Instead of using a train of soliton pulses in an optical fiber, they generated continuously circulating optical solitons in compact silicon nitride optical microresonators. These continuously circulating solitons lead to broadband optical frequency combs. Two such superimposed frequency combs enabled massive parallel data transmission on 179 wavelength channels at a data rate of more than 50 terabits per second – a record for frequency combs. The work is published in Nature [link is below].

    Optical frequency combs, for which John Hall and Theodor W. Hänsch were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2005, consist of a multitude of neighboring spectral lines, which are aligned on a regular equidistant grid. Traditionally, frequency combs serve as high-precision optical references for measurement of frequencies. The invention of so-called Kerr frequency combs, which are characterized by large optical bandwidths and by line spacings that are optimal for communications, make frequency combs equally well suited for data transmission. Each individual spectral line can be used for transmitting a data signal.

    In their experiment, the researchers from KIT and EPFL used optical silicon nitride micro-resonators on a photonic chip that can easily be integrated into compact communication systems. For the communications demonstration, two interleaved frequency combs were used to transmit data on 179 individual optical carriers, which completely cover the optical telecommunication C and L bands and allow a transmission of data rate of 55 terabits per second over a distance of 75 kilometers. “This is equivalent to more than five billion phone calls or more than two million HD TV channels. It is the highest data rate ever reached using a frequency comb source in chip format,” explains Christian Koos, professor at KIT’s IPQ and IMT and recipient of a Starting Independent Researcher Grant of the European Research Council (ERC) for his research on optical frequency combs.

    The components have the potential to reduce the energy consumption of the light source in communication systems drastically. The basis of the researchers’ work are solitons generated in low-loss optical silicon nitride micro-resonators. In these, an optical soliton state was generated for the first time by Kippenberg’s lab at EPFL in 2014. ”The soliton forms through nonlinear processes occurring due to the high intensity of the light field in the micro-resonator” explains Kippenberg. The microresonator is only pumped through a continuous-wave laser from which, by means of the soliton, hundreds of new equidistant laser lines are generated. The silicon nitride integrated photonic chips are grown and fabricated in the Center for MicroNanotechnology (CMi) at EPFL. Meanwhile, a startup from LPQM, LiGenTec SA, is also offering access to these photonic integrated circuits to interested academic and industrial research laboratories.

    The work shows that microresonator soliton frequency comb sources can considerably increase the performance of wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) techniques in optical communications. WDM allows to transmit ultra-high data rates by using a multitude of independent data channels on a single optical waveguide. To this end, the information is encoded on laser light of different wavelengths. For coherent communications, microresonator soliton frequency comb sources can be used not only at the transmitter, but also at the receiver side of WDM systems. The comb sources dramatically increase scalability of the respective systems and enable highly parallel coherent data transmission with light. According to Christian Koos, this is an important step towards highly efficient chip-scale transceivers for future petabit networks.

    This work was supported by the European Research Council (Starting Grant ‘EnTeraPIC’), the European Union (project BigPipes), the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation, the Karlsruhe School of Optics & Photonics (KSOP), and the Helmholtz International Research School for Teratronics (HIRST), the Erasmus Mundus Doctorate Program Europhotonics, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), the European Space Agency, the US Air Force (Office of Scientific Research), the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF), and the Defense Advanced Research Program Agency (DARPA) via the program Quantum Assisted Sensing and Readout(QuASAR).

    Reference

    Pablo Marin-Palomo, Juned N. Kemal, Maxim Karpov, Arne Kordts, Joerg Pfeifle, Martin H. P. Pfeiffer, Philipp Trocha, Stefan Wolf, Victor Brasch, Miles H. Anderson, Ralf Rosenberger, Kovendhan Vijayan, Wolfgang Freude, Tobias J. Kippenberg, Christian Koos. Microresonator solitons for massively parallel coherent optical communications.Nature 08 June 2017.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    EPFL campus

    EPFL is Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university with students, professors and staff from over 120 nations. A dynamic environment, open to Switzerland and the world, EPFL is centered on its three missions: teaching, research and technology transfer. EPFL works together with an extensive network of partners including other universities and institutes of technology, developing and emerging countries, secondary schools and colleges, industry and economy, political circles and the general public, to bring about real impact for society.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:31 am on May 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , EPFL   

    From EPFL: “Software developed at EPFL used to control a flotilla of satellites” 

    EPFL bloc

    École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL

    1
    © 2017 EPFL

    19.05.17 – This past week, 28 CubeSats were released from the International Space Station (ISS). Eight of them are running EPFL software that was originally developed for SwissCube.

    Code name: QB50. This refers to the European research program begun in early 2016 with the aim of launching 50 miniature satellites – CubeSats – into orbit around the Earth. Their mission: to observe and measure the thermosphere, which is the layer of the atmosphere from 100 to 600 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. Research institutes and universities from 23 countries are involved in the project, and their attention was focused on the skies this past week: on Monday, the ISS began launching the CubeSats that they developed.

    2
    (Ejection d’un CubeSat. © NASA)

    Seven years ago, EPFL sent the SwissCube into space. That was the first Swiss satellite, and it was designed and built by students. EPFL may not have a satellite on board this time around, but it is involved in the control systems of eight of the 28 satellites that entered orbit this past week. “We developed satellite control software for SwissCube – called simply Satellite Control System (SCS) – that is extremely lean and sturdy,” says Muriel Richard, from EPFL’s Space Engineering Center (eSpace). “Using a secure and automated process, SCS encodes the instructions that need to be sent to the satellite, transmits them when the satellite is flying over a base station and receives information back from the satellite.”

    Eight organizations from seven different countries – Turkey, Taiwan, South Korea, Israel, Spain, Ukraine and China – chose EPFL’s open-source software, which they adapted to their own needs. “This is extremely positive and a real boost for our work,” says Richard, who noted that SCS is also able to control larger satellites.

    EPFL’s software has been chosen for other ongoing projects as well. It will run CleanSpace One, a satellite that is being designed to de-orbit SwissCube so that it does not end up as more space debris. It will also control the first two prototypes of a planned constellation of 60 nanosatellites; the prototype launch, scheduled for next year, is being run by EPFL startup ELSE. These projects are helping to put EPFL at the center of a growing ecosystem of specialized space-related expertise.

    See the full article here .

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    EPFL campus

    EPFL is Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university with students, professors and staff from over 120 nations. A dynamic environment, open to Switzerland and the world, EPFL is centered on its three missions: teaching, research and technology transfer. EPFL works together with an extensive network of partners including other universities and institutes of technology, developing and emerging countries, secondary schools and colleges, industry and economy, political circles and the general public, to bring about real impact for society.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:38 am on May 19, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Baryonic Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey [BOSS], , , EPFL,   

    From EPFL: “Astronomers make the largest map of the Universe yet” 

    EPFL bloc

    École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL

    19.05.17
    Nik Papageorgiou

    1
    One of the SDSS telescopes at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico (USA) ©SDSS

    Astronomers of the extended Baryonic Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey [BOSS], led by EPFL Professor Jean-Paul Kneib, used the Sloan telescope to create the first map of the Universe based entirely on quasars.

    BOSS Supercluster Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS)

    Quasars are incredibly bright and distant points of light powered by supermassive black holes. As matter and energy fall into the black hole, they heat up to incredible temperatures and begin to glow with excessive brightness. By observing this cosmic glow, the scientists of the multi-institutional Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), which includes EPFL, have constructed the largest map of the distant Universe to-date. The work will be published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

    Quasars are supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies and they radiate huge amounts of electromagnetic energy. “Because quasars are so bright, we can see them all the way across the Universe,” says study co-leader Ashley Ross (Ohio State University). “That makes them the ideal objects to use to make the biggest map yet.”

    “These quasars are so far away that their light left them when the Universe was between 3 and 7 billion years old, long before the Earth even existed,” adds Gongbo Zhao from the National Astronomical Observatory of China, the study’s other co-leader.

    To construct the map, the scientists used the SDSS telescopes at New Mexico to measure accurate 3D positions for an unprecedented sample of over 147,000 quasars. This work took place during the first two years of the Extended Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (eBOSS), one of the component research projects of SDSS led by Jean-Paul Kneib, Professor of Astrophysics at EPFL. The SDSS telescope observations gave the astronomers the quasars’ distances, which they then used to pinpoint the quasars’ positions in a 3D map.

    But the scientists didn’t stop there; they wanted to use to understand the expansion history of the Universe. For this they went a step further and used a clever technique that involves “baryon acoustic oscillations” (BAOs). These are the present-day imprint of sound waves that travelled through the early Universe, when it was much hotter and denser than it is now. But when the Universe was 380,000 years old, conditions changed suddenly and the sound waves became “frozen” in place, imprinted in the 3D structure of the Universe we see today.

    The process that produced these frozen BAOs is simple, which means that scientists can have a very good idea of what BAOs must have looked like in the early Universe. So when we look at the 3D structure of the Universe today, it contains these ancient BAOs, but massively stretched out by the expansion of the universe.

    The astronomers used the observed size of a BAO as “standard ruler” to measure distances in their 3D map, the way we can estimate the length of a football field by measuring the apparent angle of a meter rule on one side. “You have meters for small units of length, kilometres or miles for distances between cities, and we have the BAO scale for distances between galaxies and quasars in cosmology,” says Pauline Zarrouk, a PhD student at Irfu/CEA (University Paris-Saclay) who measured the projected BAO scale.

    Working backwards in time, the SDSS astronomers covered a range of time periods never observed before. The study measured the conditions when the Universe was just 3 to 7 billion years old, more than 2 billion years before the Earth formed.

    See the full article here .

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    EPFL is Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university with students, professors and staff from over 120 nations. A dynamic environment, open to Switzerland and the world, EPFL is centered on its three missions: teaching, research and technology transfer. EPFL works together with an extensive network of partners including other universities and institutes of technology, developing and emerging countries, secondary schools and colleges, industry and economy, political circles and the general public, to bring about real impact for society.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:05 am on April 27, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: A new EPFL incubator for education technology, , , EPFL, , Swiss EdTech Collider   

    From EPFL: “A new EPFL incubator for education technology” 

    EPFL bloc

    École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL

    27.04.17
    Sarah Bourquenoud

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    © Alain Herzog / EPFL 2017

    EPFL’s new Swiss EdTech Collider will be home to around 30 startups involved in developing new education technologies. This coworking space, which is being inaugurated today, will give these companies the chance to enhance their visibility among both clients and investors and to generate synergies. The startups will also have the opportunity to become involved in the cutting-edge research conducted by EPFL professors who specialize in education technology.

    For several years now, EPFL has played a leading role in developing digital education, particularly through its massive open online courses (MOOCs), which more than 1.5 million users have signed up for since they were launched in 2012. Digital education platforms are an ever-growing market, and investments in this area will exceed USD 250 billion in 2020 (according to the EdTechXGlobal and IBIS Capital report, 2016). In Europe alone, EUR 227 million was invested in this sector in 2016, primarily in France and Germany.

    With its new Swiss EdTech Collider, EPFL has taken a decisive step towards developing an international hub for digital education based in Switzerland.

    Entrepreneurs active in educational technologies and EPFL professors conducting cutting-edge research will be able to come together in this nearly 300m2 coworking space. Thanks to its location in the EPFL Innovation Park, this unique ecosystem will also benefit from being close to the EPFL campus and to the current Center for Digital Education and several research laboratories.

    The challenges of an increasingly digital society

    The main aim of the Swiss EdTech Collider is to contribute to the development of the education technology sector in Switzerland. Using new methods and solutions, the incubator will strive to meet the challenges of an increasingly digital society, from nursery schooling to continuing education for adults and corporate training. The latest studies in machine learning and data science will also be used to enhance research in the area of education.

    The Swiss EdTech Collider is managed by a not-for-profit association and has four EPFL professors on staff: Pierre Dillenbourg, Denis Gillet, Francesco Mondada and Marcel Salathé. The association will work in partnership with the Digital Switzerland initiative. The incubator received funding from EPFL, the Jacobs Foundation, the Henri Moser Foundation and the EPFL Innovation Park Foundation.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    EPFL campus

    EPFL is Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university with students, professors and staff from over 120 nations. A dynamic environment, open to Switzerland and the world, EPFL is centered on its three missions: teaching, research and technology transfer. EPFL works together with an extensive network of partners including other universities and institutes of technology, developing and emerging countries, secondary schools and colleges, industry and economy, political circles and the general public, to bring about real impact for society.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:29 am on April 25, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Crystalline solar cells, EPFL   

    From EPFL: “A simplified fabrication process for high efficiency solar cells” 

    EPFL bloc

    École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL

    25.04.17
    Author:Mediacom / CSEM

    1
    © 2017 CSEM / David Marchon

    A team of EPFL and CSEM researchers in Neuchâtel has featured in Nature Energy with an astonishing new method for the creation of crystalline solar cells. These cells have electrical contacts at the back, which removes all shadowing at the front. Thanks to this new inexpensive approach, the fabrication process is greatly simplified, with efficiencies in the laboratory already surpassing 23%.

    In the quest for more efficient crystalline silicon solar cells with low manufacturing costs, one of the most promising approaches is to bring all electrical contacts to the back of the device. This removes all shadowing at the front, increasing the current and the efficiency. This approach generally requires several delicate processing steps. Well-defined narrow negative and positive contact lines need to be created, which will then collect the electrons (negative charges) and holes (positive charges). This usually requires several steps of photolithography masking, to create the alternate positive (+) and negative (-) areas.

    The teams at the EPFL Photovoltaics laboratory and at the CSEM PV-center succeeded in establishing an innovative process in which the positive and negative contacts align automatically. This is made possible by depositing the first “negative” contact by a plasma process through a mask. Subsequently, a second layer (positive) is deposited over the full surface. The growth of this layer is such that the negative contact, even when placed under the positive contact, remains negative.

    Using this simple process, 25 cm2 solar cells have already reached 23.2% efficiency, with a potential to reach close to 26% efficiency. The researchers are working with the Meyer Burger Company, leading equipment makers for solar cell production lines, to work out industrial solutions for this kind of solar cells, and at the same time valorizing the so-called silicon heterojunctions technology, which served as the basis for this work.

    The research was funded by the Meyer Burger Company, the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI) and the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE). The work will continue within the European project H2020 Nextbase.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    EPFL campus

    EPFL is Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university with students, professors and staff from over 120 nations. A dynamic environment, open to Switzerland and the world, EPFL is centered on its three missions: teaching, research and technology transfer. EPFL works together with an extensive network of partners including other universities and institutes of technology, developing and emerging countries, secondary schools and colleges, industry and economy, political circles and the general public, to bring about real impact for society.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:49 pm on February 6, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , EPFL, Switzerland Launches a National Center for Data Science   

    From EPFL: “Switzerland Launches a National Center for Data Science” 

    EPFL bloc

    École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL

    06.02.17
    Floriane Jacquemet

    1
    Olivier Verscheure, executive director of SDSC. © Merlin photography ltd.

    Switzerland is creating a National Center for Data Science to foster innovation in data science, multidisciplinary research and open science. Today, the inauguration of the Swiss Data Science Center (SDSC) is taking place in Bern.

    Switzerland is launching a National Center for Data Science in order to innovate in the realm of data and computer science, and to provide an infrastructure for fostering multidisciplinary research and open science, with applications ranging from personalized health to environmental issues. It is a joint venture between EPFL and ETH Zürich with offices in both Lausanne and Zürich. The initiative will ensure that Switzerland possesses expertise and excellence in data science while striving to be globally competitive.

    A complex journey made simple

    Data science sits at the intersection of several academic disciplines including data management and engineering, statistics, machine learning, algorithms, optimization and visualization. It offers a new tool to social sciences, economics, medicine, environmental sciences, and others, by helping to understand and influence complex, real-world systems, and by providing insight into some of the most challenging problems of our time.

    For this reason, data science has become extremely important at the global level, with the majority of top-tier international research and teaching institutions investing significantly in dedicated centers and programs.

    The SDSC inauguration is taking place in Bern with opening remarks by ETH Zürich and EPFL presidents Lino Guzzella and Martin Vetterli, and keynote speaker Professor Jure Leskovec from Stanford University and Pinterest Chief Scientist.

    One of the main challenges in this field is to help data providers, computer scientists and domain experts speak the same language. “We depend on data scientists’ unique expertise to help us pull relevant insights from masses of data. The new data science center brings these experts together, offering an interdisciplinary platform that will also promote education and knowledge transfer,” says ETH Zürich President Lino Guzzella.

    Scientists at the SDSC will aim to provide sensible answers to everyday problems, with a particular focus on fields such as personalized health, environmental issues or today’s manufacturing challenges. The objective is to work on real-life applications, thus federating the various actors taking part in a data science project, and therefore bringing tangible results.

    The center will host a multi-disciplinary team of 30 to 40 data and computer scientists, and experts in select domains, with offices in Lausanne and Zürich.

    The Insights Factory, a one‐stop‐shop for field experts

    SDSC researchers will develop a cutting-edge, cloud-hosted analytics platform, the “Insights Factory”.

    It will be a true one-stop-shop for hosting, exploring and analyzing curated, calibrated and anonymized data. Its user-friendly tooling and services will also help with the adoption of Open Science, fostering research productivity and excellence.

    “This new platform is a fundamental step in the development of Open Science. Scientific knowledge sharing on a broad scale requires solid, trustworthy and regulated infrastructures. With this Center, Switzerland is providing itself with the resources that matches its ambitions,” comments Martin Vetterli, EPFL President.

    The online services of the SDSC will be backed by existing infrastructures of the ETH Domain (e.g. by leveraging resources at the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre CSCS in Lugano), SWITCH (the technology and service platform for Swiss Universities), as well as those of cloud providers. The SDSC will operate as a cloud-computing provider.

    ______________________________________________________________
    A national initiative for Data Science

    18 months ago, the ETH Board launched the Initiative for Data Science in Switzerland to accelerate the adoption of data science through both an expansion of education and research, as well as the provision of infrastructure for data science users across disciplines.

    Data science is indeed a strategic field of research of the ETH Domain for the period 2017–2020, and the Initiative will ensure that the EPFs and Switzerland possess the necessary expertise and remain globally competitive.

    The initiative creates Master courses in data science at EPFL and ETH Zürich as of September 2017, as well as the Swiss Data Science Center (SDSC).
    ______________________________________________________________

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

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    EPFL campus

    EPFL is Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university with students, professors and staff from over 120 nations. A dynamic environment, open to Switzerland and the world, EPFL is centered on its three missions: teaching, research and technology transfer. EPFL works together with an extensive network of partners including other universities and institutes of technology, developing and emerging countries, secondary schools and colleges, industry and economy, political circles and the general public, to bring about real impact for society.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:42 pm on January 20, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: EPFL, The Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition (ACE)   

    From EPFL: “Around Antarctica: ACE expedition completed its first leg” 

    EPFL bloc

    École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL

    20.01.17
    Sarah Perrin

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    Yesterday, the Akademik Treshnikov entered Hobart’s harbour in Australia, thus marking the end of leg 1. © D.Rod/EPFL

    The Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition (ACE) arrived yesterday in Australia after 30 days at sea. The scientific expedition, launch by the Swiss Polar Institute, completed the first leg of its voyage around the southernmost continent. Here is a recap of the first leg of the trip and a look at what awaits researchers on the second leg, which gets under way this coming Sunday.

    The Akademik Treshnikov and its 120 passengers landed in Hobart on Thursday, 19 January after 30 days at sea. Dropping anchor in this Tasmanian city on the southern tip of Australia, the Russian ship completed the first of three legs of the Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition (ACE). The ship heads back to sea on Sunday for the second leg of its voyage following a planned reshuffling among the researchers.

    Countless measurements were made during the first leg, including some in the ocean. For example, David Barnes, from Northumbria University in the UK, and his teammates took samples of coral, starfish, mollusks and other creatures from deep in the ocean – benthic organisms – in order to evaluate their capacity to capture and store CO2.

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    Sampling into the ocean brings back some strange organisms. ©F.Brucker, Parafilms/EPFL.

    Coming into contact with the local fauna

    Other researchers gathered samples from subantarctic islands, with teams going ashore Marion, Crozet and Kerguelen Islands. Steven Chown, from Monash University in Australia, and his team sought traces of non-native species of plants and insects, while Nerida Wilson, from the Western Australian Museum, and her colleague collected small insects and crustaceans to identify variations caused by climate change through a comparison of their genetic material. These islands are home to elephant seals, penguins, albatrosses and other animals, which were also observed by the scientists. Peter Ryan, from the University of Cape Town in South Africa, led a team whose research includes measuring the impact of microplastic pollution on fauna.

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    An elephant seal and penguins on Marion Island.©F.Brucker, Parafilms/EPFL.

    5
    Steven Chown’s team on its way to a sampling site on an island of Crozet archipelago. ©F.Brucker, Parafilms/EPFL.

    The ship also sailed close to Heard Island. Despite their scientific motives, the researchers on the Akademik Treshnikov were not authorized to set foot on this crucial nature reserve, which belongs to Australia. They were, however, able to admire it from afar and were also lucky enough to see it emerge from the thick clouds that cover it 90% of the time. The researchers were also treated to the spectacular Southern Lights for several evenings in a row.

    6
    Passengers gathering on the helideck for a rare sight: …

    7
    … Heard Island, slowly appearing through the clouds.©F.Brucker, Parafilms/EPFL.

    “The first leg of the expedition met all our expectations!” said Danièle Rod, the ACE program manager. “Some of the research teams, including the one working on plastics in the ocean and atmosphere, have already logged surprising measurements and data, which they’ll keep doing and verifying over the next two legs of the trip.”

    Headed for Chile

    After docking for three days and some festivities in Hobart, the ship will return to sea on Sunday. The second leg will take the researchers to Punta Arena, Chile. While most of the projects will proceed uninterrupted, with measurements and sampling taken regularly throughout the expedition, three projects will take place mainly during the second leg.

    Elizabeth Thomas, from British Antarctic Survey in the UK, will take advantage of stops on several subantarctic islands – Macquarie, Balleny, Scott, Peter I and Diego Ramirez – to take ice cores up to a depth of 20 meters. Traces of gas and other substances in these samples will provide a window into the long-ago climate and provide insight into how it has changed and how it may change further in the future.

    The ship’s only port of call on Antarctica proper – a visit to the Mertz Glacier – will also take place during this leg of the trip. That’s where Guillaume Massé, from Université Laval in Canada, and his team will get to work. Massé’s interest lies in seeing how an 80km-long iceberg, which calved off into the Southern Sea several years ago, has affected the local fauna and ecosystem. The researchers will send little remoted-operated vehicles (ROVs) under the ice to gather images and samples.

    Alessandro Toffoli, from the University of Melbourne in Australia, is actually hoping for rough seas. His project is focused on measuring waves – and the regions the ship will cross offer some of the largest on the planet – and studying how they interact with wind and ice. His goal is to better understand their impact on the environment of the continent’s islands and coasts.

    8
    The Akademic Treshnikov, foff the coast of Marion Island. ©F.Brucker, Parafilms/EPFL.

    ACE at a glance

    The Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition is the first project organized by the Swiss Polar Institute, which is based at EPFL. The expedition left Cape Town, South Africa, on 20 December for a planned three-month trip around Antarctica. The ship, which is an icebreaker dedicated to scientific research, will carry 55 researchers at a time during each of the three legs of the journey. They will run a total of 22 projects that revolve around measuring the impact of climate change on the earth’s poles, which are both a fragile and crucial part of our planet.

    The researchers hail from several disciplines, such as oceanography, climatology, biology and chemistry. Their topics include phytoplankton and their role in the carbon chain, the acoustic mapping of the whale population, chemical exchanges between the ocean and the atmosphere, changes in salt levels in seawater and microplastics in the Southern Ocean.

    Keep up with the ACE expedition on:

    the expedition’s website: http://spi-ace-expedition.ch/

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ACEexpedition/

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/ACE_Expedition

    Instagram: ace_expedition

    See the full article here .

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    EPFL campus

    EPFL is Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university with students, professors and staff from over 120 nations. A dynamic environment, open to Switzerland and the world, EPFL is centered on its three missions: teaching, research and technology transfer. EPFL works together with an extensive network of partners including other universities and institutes of technology, developing and emerging countries, secondary schools and colleges, industry and economy, political circles and the general public, to bring about real impact for society.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:58 am on December 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition (ACE), EPFL, Three months in the Antarctic to unlock the secrets of our climate   

    From EPFL: “Three months in the Antarctic to unlock the secrets of our climate” 

    EPFL bloc

    École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL

    20.12.16
    Sarah Perrin

    1
    The Russian scientific vessel Akademik Treshnikov. ©AARI

    The Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition (ACE), the first project run by the Swiss Polar Institute (SPI), will set sail this evening from South Africa. The Akademik Treshnikov is a Russian research vessel that has been chartered for this expedition. It will carry nearly 60 researchers around the southernmost continent on a data-gathering voyage in a bold initiative to improve our understanding of the impact of climate change in the Southern Ocean. A new chair – the Ingvar Kamprad Chair of Extreme Environments – will also be made official today.

    The time has come. The Akademik Treshnikov will leave the port of Cape Town, South Africa today on the three-month Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition (ACE). The imposing Russian research ship will carry over 120 people: some 60 researchers from 30 different countries and about the same number of crew members. In addition to circumnavigating Antarctica, they will visit around twelve subantarctic islands.

    This is the first project put together by the Swiss Polar Institute (SPI). It was Frederik Paulsen, a businessman and major philanthropist, who came up with the idea. He is also providing the ACE expedition with logistical backing, drawing on his extensive experience in Arctic exploration. Additional support is being provided by Presence Switzerland, a unit of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

    The idea behind the ACE expedition is to measure and quantify the impact of environmental changes and pollution in the Southern Ocean. This region plays a key role in climate regulation: currents of icy water deep in the ocean travel from the poles toward the equator, while warm water and air move across the ocean’s surface towards the cold regions. The earth’s climate can thus be compared to a huge heat engine. This process of heat transfer between polar and tropical regions is also an important component of the carbon cycle and a key factor in the oceans’ ability to store CO2.

    “The poles are essential for climate balance, but they are also the regions where changes are most apparent: that’s where the largest temperature differences have been recorded,” said Philippe Gillet, vice president of EPFL, director ad interim of the SPI and a specialist in Earth and planetary science.

    From plankton to microplastics

    Twenty-two research projects will be run during this trip by teams from Switzerland, the UK, France and Australia, to name a few. The projects were selected by a panel of international experts following a call for proposals organized jointly by the polar institutes of eight countries: South Africa, France, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Norway, Russia and Switzerland.

    The projects cover a wide range of fields, including glaciology, climatology, biology and oceanography. The topics of study include wave formation, geographical variations in plankton populations, chemical exchanges between air and water, biodiversity on the islands, the ocean’s CO2 storage capacity, microplastic pollution and its impact on fauna, and an acoustic analysis of whale populations. This expedition will also build bridges between the various scientific fields. Not only will the researchers collaborate in their on-ship research, but they will build relationships that will set the stage for future collaborations at the international level.

    The first Maritime University successfully completed

    The ACE expedition was preceded by the ACE Maritime University. Fifty students studying marine and earth sciences at universities around the world took part. They boarded the Akademik Treshnikov on 19 November in Bremerhaven, in northern Germany, and reached Cape Town on 15 December. The young researchers took intensive theory-oriented classes and then engaged in hands-on practicals that taught them different sampling and analytical techniques and how to handle basic instruments. The students also used this opportunity to learn about their peers’ work in other fields.

    A chair for the study of extreme environments

    The SPI also has a new chair, which will be formalized today in Cape Town. The Ingvar Kamprad Chair of Extreme Environments will be supported by Ferring Pharmaceuticals and based at EPFL’s Valais-Wallis outpost in Sion. The new team will work in EPFL’s alpine and extreme environment research center. It will apply cutting-edge scientific and technological solutions to environmental challenges like climate change and global resource management. This approach will enhance Switzerland’s existing scientific, economic and diplomatic contribution to this effort.

    The research ship will hoist anchor at 4pm today, and is scheduled to return to Cape Town on 19 March 2017. An initial review of the expedition will be presented the following September at an international symposium to be held in Valais.

    Regular updates on the ACE expedition will be available here:
    http://spi-ace-expedition.ch/

    This website also provides a wide range of background information on the expedition, the projects, the researchers, the ship, etc.

    Press kit:
    Press release, project descriptions, FAQs, photos: http://bit.ly/ACEexpedition

    Contacts:

    • Philippe Gillet, director ad interim of the SPI

    philippe.gillet@epfl.ch
    +41 21 693 70 58

    • Sarah Perrin, press officer at EPFL’s Mediacom

    sarah.perrin@epfl.ch
    +41 21 693 21 07

    • Danièle Rod, Advisor to the EPFL Presidency in Cape Town, South Africa

    daniele.rod@epfl.ch
    +27 61 445 30 57

    • Helen Gallagher, Ferring Pharmaceuticals

    helen.gallagher@ferring.com
    +41 58 301 00 51

    The Swiss Polar Institute
    The Swiss Polar Institute (SPI) is an interdisciplinary center whose mission is to conduct research on the earth’s poles and other extreme environments. It was created in April 2016. The SPI is based at the Valais outpost of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL Valais-Wallis). It is a consortium of Swiss universities and was co-founded by EPFL, the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL), ETH Zurich, the University of Bern and Editions Paulsen.

    Ferring Pharmaceuticals
    Ferring Pharmaceuticals is a private, research-driven biopharmaceuticals company based in Switzerland. The company is devoted to identifying, developing and marketing innovative products in the fields of reproductive health, urology, gastroenterology, endocrinology and orthopaedics. Ferring has a strong international presence with operations in nearly 60 countries and treatments available in 110 countries. For more information: http://www.ferring.com.

    Presence Switzerland
    Presence Switzerland is the unit of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs responsible for promoting Switzerland’s image abroad and for implementing the Federal Council’s strategy on international communications. It will complement Switzerland’s technical role in the ACE project through scientific diplomacy, which will be particularly important in Antarctica. Its communication initiatives in the ACE project are grouped under the slogan “Science has no borders”. Presence Switzerland’s delegations in the expedition’s stopover countries will run public relations events and add their diplomatic support to the project.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

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    EPFL campus

    EPFL is Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university with students, professors and staff from over 120 nations. A dynamic environment, open to Switzerland and the world, EPFL is centered on its three missions: teaching, research and technology transfer. EPFL works together with an extensive network of partners including other universities and institutes of technology, developing and emerging countries, secondary schools and colleges, industry and economy, political circles and the general public, to bring about real impact for society.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:53 pm on November 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , EPFL, , Ultra-high quality optical cavities   

    From EPFL: “Capturing an elusive spectrum of light” 

    EPFL bloc

    École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL

    23.11.16
    Clément Christian Javerzac-Galy
    Nik Papageorgiou

    1
    A microresonator crystal used in this study © T.J. Kippenberg/EPFL

    Researchers led by EPFL have built ultra-high quality optical cavities for the elusive mid-infrared spectral region, paving the way for new chemical and biological sensors, as well as promising technologies.

    The mid-infrared spectral window, referred to as “molecular fingerprint region,” includes light wavelengths from 2.5 to 20 μm. It is a virtual goldmine for spectroscopy, chemical and biological sensing, materials science, and industry, as it is the range where many organic molecules can be detected. It also contains two ranges that allow transmission of signals through the atmosphere without distortion or loss. A way to harness the potential of the mid-infrared spectral window is to use optical cavities, which are micro-devices that confine light for extended amounts of time. However, such devices are currently unexplored due to technological challenges at this wavelength. Researchers led by EPFL have taken on this challenge and successfully shown that crystalline materials can be used to build ultra-high quality optical cavities for the mid-infrared spectral region, representing the highest value achieved for any type of mid-infrared resonator to date and setting a new record in the field. This unprecedented work is published in Nature Communications [see below].

    Caroline Lecaplain and Clément Javerzac-Galy from Tobias J. Kippenberg’s lab at EPFL led the research effort, together with colleagues from the Russian Quantum Center. To make these ultra-high quality microcavities, the scientists used alkaline earth metal fluoride crystals that they polished manually. They developed uncoated chalcogenide tapered fibers to efficiently couple mid-infrared light from a continuous wave Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL) into their crystalline microcavities. Finally, cavity ring-down spectroscopy techniques enabled the team to unambiguously demonstrate ultra-high quality resonators deep in the mid-infrared spectral range.

    Equally important, the scientists also show that the quality factor of the microcavity is limited by multi-phonon absorption. This is a phenomenon in which phonons – quasiparticles made of energy and vibrations in the cavity’s crystal – simultaneously interact and disrupt light confinement.

    This work marks a milestone in the field of mid-infrared materials as it opens for the first time access to ultra-high resonators. It is a significant step toward a compact frequency-stabilized laser in the mid-infrared, which could have a major impact on applications such as molecular spectroscopy, chemical sensing and bio-detection.

    The work included contributions from the Lomonosov Moscow State University. The project was funded by the European Commission, the Swiss National Science Foundation and DARPA.

    Reference

    Lecaplain C, Javerzac-Galy C, Gorodetsky ML, Kippenberg TJ. Mid-infrared ultra-high-Q resonators based on fluoride crystalline materials. Nature Communications 21 November 2016.​ DOI: 10.1038/NCOMMS13383

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    EPFL campus

    EPFL is Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university with students, professors and staff from over 120 nations. A dynamic environment, open to Switzerland and the world, EPFL is centered on its three missions: teaching, research and technology transfer. EPFL works together with an extensive network of partners including other universities and institutes of technology, developing and emerging countries, secondary schools and colleges, industry and economy, political circles and the general public, to bring about real impact for society.

     
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