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News

2017/08/21

AIST and Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (Germany) expand their cooperation in research and development
- AIST will promote joint R&Ds and human resources exchange with Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft upon the renewal of their memorandum of understanding for comprehensive research cooperation -

Key Points

  • The institutions aim to promote cutting-edge research in the fields of energy and environment, electronics and manufacturing, and life science and biotechnology.
  • AIST expects that the cooperation will help it strengthen its marketing function to create links between AIST’s technology seeds and the needs of industry.

Overview

The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST; President: Ryoji Chubachi) has renewed the existing memorandum of understanding for comprehensive research cooperation (MOU) with Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (FhG; President: Reimund Neugebauer) under the Federal Ministry of Education and Research of Germany.

In the field of energy, AIST has been conducting evaluations of energy devices such as solar cells in cooperation with FhG. AIST and FhG intend to further enhance the cooperation in this field.

In the field of electronics and manufacturing, AIST received a research fund for the crystal growth of strongly correlated electron semiconductor by laser-diode heated floating zone method and an international joint research project is going to be implemented using the fund.

The number of visits to FhG, in the past five years, made by AIST researchers from the Departments of Energy and Environment, Life Science and Biotechnology, Materials and Chemistry, Information Technology and Human Factors, and Electronics and Manufacturing is by far the highest compared to those to other international MOU partner institutions. Under the MOU, AIST and FhG have cooperated actively.

Through the promotion of personnel exchange between AIST and FhG, AIST will work toward further strengthening its international R&D capability and industrial competitiveness in order to become an international research hub.

Photo: AIST President Chubachi (left) and FhG President Neugebauer (right) at the meeting.
AIST President Chubachi (left) and FhG President Neugebauer (right) at the meeting.

Background

AIST and FhG signed the initial MOU in July 2012, under which the two institutions have promoted collaboration in various AIST Departments including the Departments of Energy and Environment, Life Science and Biotechnology, Materials and Chemistry, Information Technology and Human Factors, and Electronics and Manufacturing.

In 2014, AIST and FhG founded a joint research laboratory (a project center designed for the development of electroactive polymer actuator devices) at AIST Kansai, and the parties pursued the practical application of electroactive polymer devices for medical and welfare apparatus.

Both AIST and FhG are ranked high in Thompson Reuters’ World’s Most Innovative Research Institutions, which shows that the two institutions take global leadership in innovation. In addition, they share many similarities such as in the areas of expertise and the relationship with industry.

This MOU renewal will allow the two institutions to exchange information and human resources among various positions of personnel such as young researchers, research managers, administrative staff, and executives. Furthermore, it will also facilitate joint research projects between them as well as continuous promotion of interaction between the institutions and the industries of Japan and Germany.

Based on consideration of such backgrounds, AIST and FhG have agreed to renew the MOU.

Past record of cooperation

  1. AIST’s Health Research Institute and the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (Fraunhofer IPA) deepened their research cooperation on practical application of electroactive polymer devices, and they installed a joint research laboratory at AIST Kansai where they carried out a joint R&D from 2014 to 2017. Through this joint research, the parties investigated substrate design using 3D printing technology and improved pipette functions by R&D on hybrid actuators (HBAs). Furthermore, the parties succeeded in making the prototype of micropipette using HBA that can be used for marketing targeted at companies by integrating circuits and the power supply.
  2. AIST’s Research Center for Photovoltaic Technologies (currently known as “Research Center for Photovoltaics”) signed a three-way MOU with the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (Fraunhofer ISE) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of the United States of America. Together they have collaborated in the fundamental research and promoted exchange of young researchers in the field of photovoltaics. In March 2016, the three institutions organized the Terawatt Workshop, and its outcome was published in INSIGHTS in Science. The article was titled “Terawatt-scale photovoltaics: Trajectories and challenges” (Science, 356(6334), 141-143 (2017)).
  3. AIST is also promoting collaboration in other research fields such as material science, diagnosis and examination technologies, and energy device technologies.

Future cooperation

  1. AIST’s Electronics and Photonics Research Institute and the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (Fraunhofer ILT) are planning to respectively obtain funding and to initiate a joint research project on the crystal growth of strongly correlated electron semiconductor by laser-diode heated floating zone method. (New project)
  2. AIST’s Department of Energy and Environment, which manages the Research Center for Photovoltaics and the Renewable Energy Research Center, is looking to organize the second Terawatt Workshop in collaboration with Fraunhofer ISE and NREL, discussing the role of photovoltaics in sustainable energy supply and climate change mitigation. Also, AIST intends to plan a researcher exchange program designed for long term secondment through the use of the fellowship of AIST’s Department of Energy and Environment, and other available programs. (Ongoing project)
  3. AIST’s Department of Information Technology and Human Factors is contemplating researcher exchange and joint research with FhG in various areas including healthcare, mobility, and manufacturing, focusing on developing efficient, high-quality products and services utilizing artificial intelligence. (New project)
Photo:  Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (Fraunhofer ILT)
Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology (Fraunhofer ILT)

Note

◆Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft (FhG) was established in 1949 as an institution of applied research. Under the authorization of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research of Germany, FhG employs 24,500 staff (of which the majority is scientists and engineers) and has €2.1 billion annual budget. FhG maintains 69 research institutes in Germany and international research centers and representative offices worldwide. Germany has a few notable public research institutions including the Max Planck Society, which carries out fundamental research, the Helmholtz Association and the Leibniz Association, both of which have large-scale research facilities and engage in bridging the gap between fundamental and applied research. Among those public institutions, FhG focuses the most on commercialization-oriented applied research. Due to this characteristic, FhG’s research activities mostly consist of commissioned researches entrusted by companies and technology transfers to companies. FhG covers a wide range of research areas and it actively promotes technologies for microelectronics, materials and components, manufacturing, information and communication, optics and surfaces, life science, defense and security, nanotechnology, automobile production, energy, assistance systems and health environment, polymer surfaces and so on.

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