/English page
/Faculteits Berichten
/Oude cursors
/pdf formaat
/ Cursor nummer 0 nummer 6

Jaargang 44, 18 oktober 2001

English page

Untitled Document

Cobra allies its way to the top
The Cobra research school at TU/e was named the best Dutch research school in the NWO evaluation of 1998. But this is not nearly enough, say director prof.dr. Joachim Wolter and prof.ir. Djan Khoe. Cobra (Communication Technology, Basic Research and Applications) wants to become the top northern European institute in the field.

This ambition has already led to alliances with universities in Belgium, Germany and recently in Denmark. Together they are calling themselves EITT ­ European Institute of Telecommunication Technology. The four institutes have about 120 PhD students and 60 staff on their payrolls.
Cobra's research focuses on enabling technologies for developing fully optical communication networks. "In time, the only electrical connection left will be the plug in the power point", says Khoe. "And it isn't an electronic highway, it's already turning into an optical highway. Photons have more powerful physical properties than electrons."
The group hopes to increase the transport capacity of the internet by a factor of one thousand. This search for extra capacity sometimes forces researchers to look for new and unconventional solutions. Wolter says this is where fundamental research is necessary.
"Also, it's impossible to limit ourselves to the Netherlands", he adds. "Telecom is such a big global field that we can all do better if we work with other top institutes in developing new opportunities for material concepts, optical chips and fast high capacity systems."
Cobra's growing international status was illustrated earlier this month with the organisation of the 27th European Conference on Optical Communication. The conference attracted two thousand participants from all over the world. Researchers from the USA and Japan were granted special dispensation to fly to the Netherlands after their employers had first grounded them due to the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C.

No complaints
Because of its new official status as a top Dutch research school, Cobra received a grant of 42 million guilders for 1999 to 2005 from the ministry of Education. "We came second out of 110 institutes. We were one of six groups named as top institutes, so more than one hundred other institutes were disappointed. Naturally, we can't complain about the way we've been treated. But many others feel they haven't received the recognition they deserve", says Wolter.
Cobra is also backed by a number of commercial businesses. There are strong alliances in place with Lucent, KPN, Philips, JDS Uniphase and AGERE Systems, among others. "These are not paper alliances. Lucent has stationed people at TU/e to work for Cobra because the infrastructure they need is here", Khoe emphasises.
Together with these and other companies, Cobra is one of the players in 'Kenniswijk', a digital city project in Eindhoven and Helmond which aims to connect whole districts to digital services through wide band infrastructure. This will allow companies to experiment with various ideas for products and services.
Even though there is some subsidy in place to realise the necessary infra-structure the costs are not yet covered. Wolter says he expects companies will become more willing to participate and to invest as Cobra and EITT establish themselves more clearly as the scientific 'parents' of field communication technologies.
Cobra's photonics programme is split into three research groups for photonic materials, photonic systems and photonic components, led respectively by prof.dr. Wolter, prof.ir. Khoe and prof.dr.ir. Smit. They all have ties to Philips and make a very international group. Wolter came to the Netherlands in the sixties from Marburg, Germany. Khoe says his ancestors were pirates in the South China Sea, but he himself migrated to the Netherlands from Indonesia when he was young. Cobra employs staff from many countries, including Italy, Spain, Russia, China, Japan and India./.

Untitled Document

Platform seeks publicity for nanotechnology
Nanotechnology is the technology of the future, say those in the know. But this field is still relatively unknown to the general public. Several existing institutes and departments at TU/e have decided to combine their strengths in a 'center for NamoMaterials' to try to get nanotechnology the high profile it deserves.

The 'center for NanoMaterials' (cNM) is a broad platform for research and education in nanotechnology. This field concerns itself with small objects such as atoms and molecules. One nanometre is one millionth of a millimetre. The platform unites the Dutch Polymer Institute, COBRA and the National Research School Combination Catalysis. TU/e departments of Applied Physics, Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Technology are also part of the platform. Physicist prof.dr. Huub Salemink, one of the founders of cNM, describes the platform as 'a co-operation between all kinds of people at TU/e who are interested in nanotechnology'.
"Interest in and the need for nanotechnology will show a strong increase in the coming decade", says chemical engineer prof.dr. Ulrich Schubert. "Our society is continually striving to miniaturise products. Chips and there-fore computers are getting smaller and smaller. But there are limits. ICT companies like ASML are starting to feel that."

Nanotechnology is promising in this respect, states Schubert. "Nanotechnology brings small objects such as molecules and proteins together in a structure to make them functional. It's about managing elements at a nano level."
In time, nanotechnology will play a big part in daily life both scientists believe. "The first applications are in the area of miniaturised light conductors in computer and communication systems. All that mess with cables will become a thing of the past", says Salemink. He also expects the fields of chemical engineering and biomedicine to be greatly influenced by nanotechnology in the future.
By co-operating, scientists from many different fields may be able to speed up developments in nanotechnology. "Colleagues from different fields working together are more likely to think of new concepts in nanotechnology", says Salemink.
The cNM-platform is organising its first conference for PhD students on November 23.
More information at www.cnm.tue.nl./.


Bert Meijer: "I feel this urge to rebel"
Professor Bert Meijer is starting a new part-time career as a talkshow host for Studium Generale. His first show 'In de Blauwe Zaal' will be on Wednesday October 24 at 11.45 a.m., on the theme of 'I am nothing, if I am not critical'.

"I want to start a critical discussion of life at university in general and at TU/e in particular", says Meijer. "The title of the first show is a reference to Hamlet. I want my guests to get very specific on the subject of academic freedom."
Meijer is a professor at the departments of Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Technology and chairman of Studium Generale's executive board. "Studium Generale has really been excelling in its cultural programming, something I value and try to encourage. But I still feel this urge to rebel. I think some debate might liven things up", says Meijer.
Presenting a discussion program is a dream come true for the Professor. "I have a need to keep trying new things, even after ten years of research, teaching and popularisation of science."
Meijer has invited five guests to the first episode of 'In de Blauwe Zaal'. He will for example talk to Professor Martin Schuurmans, director of 'Philips Centrum voor Fabricage Technieken', about the possibilities of Philips and TU/e working together.
Professor Jan Westra from the Architecture department will discuss the role of 'the department'. One quarter of all students at TU/e studies architecture. So by rights this should be the most important department. But is this really the case?
A spoken column is a fixed part of 'In de Blauwe Zaal'. Professor Hans Amman of Technology Management will advocate a new role for universities of technology in national research and education./.

Untitled Document

Philips award to PhD student
Lucian Voinea, two-year PhD student at TU/e's Stan Ackermans Instituut, has won the Java Challenge Contest. The theme was 'Shape the Future of Home Entertainment'. Philips semiconductors organised the competition to try to find new ideas for software in new generations of digital TVs. Participants were asked to design a software application using Java as their programming language.

Fall regatta
Student rowing club Thêta is organising the 27th edition of their Fall Regatta on October 20 and 21. This race on the Eindhovensch Kanaal is the final part of the basic course for new members. There will also be a number of races for more advanced rowers. Almost one hundred teams from Tilburg, Maastricht, Amsterdam, Groningen and of course Eindhoven, will take part.

Quarters Market
Student association Demos is organising a 'Quarters Market' on Sunday October 21 from
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. the Bunker. Profits will be donated to the Dutch kidney foundation. The Quarters Market is a flea market where everything costs one or more quarters.

Student athletics club Squadra Veloce is organising a swim run on Monday October 22. The start will be at 8 p.m. at the Student Sports Centre swimming pool. Participants will first swim 500 metres and then run 5 kilometres on campus. Entry is open to anyone interested. Register at the www.squadra.f2s.com site. It's also okay to just turn up at the Student Sports Centre on Monday.

The English Page is written by Paula van de Riet. She can be reached at engcur@stud.tue.nl.

Website Cursor