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ETH Zurich Articles

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Quantum Tech
19th June 2018
Quantum transfer at the push of a button

In the new quantum information technologies, fragile quantum states have to be transferred between distant quantum bits. Researchers at ETH have now realised such a quantum transmission between two solid-state qubits at the push of a button. Data transmission is the backbone of the modern information society, on both the large and small scale. On the internet, data are exchanged between computers all over the world, most often using fibre op...

17th May 2018
Measuring device behaves like an electronic rescue dog

Trained rescue dogs are still the best disaster workers – their sensitive noses help them to track down people buried by earthquakes or avalanches. Like all living creatures, however, dogs need to take breaks every now and again. They are also often not immediately available in disaster areas, and dog teams have to travel from further afield. A new measuring device from researchers at ETH Zurich led by Sotiris Pratsinis, Professor of P...

20th April 2018
The thermodynamics of computing

Energy-saving computer systems could make computing more efficient, but the efficiency of these systems can’t be increased indefinitely, as ETH physicists show. As steam engines became increasingly widespread in the 19th century, the question soon arose as to how to optimise them. Thermodynamics, the physical theory that resulted from the study of these machines, proved to be an extremely fruitful approach; it is still a central concep...

12th March 2018
Understanding and controlling the future of power grid

The electric energy system is becoming increasingly diverse and distributed. This trend is bound to have an impact on how the system operators will control and optimise the future grid, blogs Gabriela Hug. Optimising the electrical power grid has always been a difficult task because its state is constantly changing. Now electric power systems all over the world are transitioning from highly centralised infrastructures with bulk generation pl...

9th March 2018
Schwann cells in the peripheral nervous system ensure thick insulation

  ETH researchers have revealed that Schwann cells in the peripheral nervous system largely produce their own fatty acids in order to create electrical insulation for nerve fibres. This process relies on an enzyme whose absence leads to defective insulation and impaired motor function.

5th March 2018
A zero-power receiver for touch communication

Battery lifetime is an important issue in wearable devices. Ideally, they should always be ready to receive control signals without consuming a lot of power. Researchers at ETH Zurich have now developed a zero-power receiver for touch communication that harvests its energy directly from the signal. Having electronic gadgets always ready to function at our command comes at a cost.

Quantum Tech
5th March 2018
Quantum physical model reveals the secret of plants

Plants can convert sunlight into chemical energy with a high degree of efficiency. How this is achieved is still not entirely clear. ETH physicists have now constructed a quantum physical model that aims to answer this question. Chlorophyll is the crucial molecule. Thanks to this green pigment, plants are able to convert sunlight directly into chemical energy. The fact that the ATP molecule is created within the plant cells using light can n...

28th February 2018
Time heals all wounds, but we can improve wound healing!

Time heals all wounds – or so the saying goes. But our ability to heal damaged organs or tissues, such as the skin, is by no means perfect and results in formation of a scar. Scars are more fragile and less elastic than undamaged skin, and they lack hair follicles, sebaceous glands and sweat glands as these do not regenerate. In particular, large wounds like those caused by burns can lead to serious functional and cosmetic impairments. By ...

Artificial Intelligence
28th February 2018
Teaching quantum physics to a computer

An international collaboration led by ETH physicists has used machine learning to teach a computer how to predict the outcomes of quantum experiments. The results could prove to be essential for testing future quantum computers. Physics students spend many years learning to master the often counterintuitive laws and effects of quantum mechanics.

12th February 2018
Breaking new ground in medical training

With plenty of anticipation, ETH Zurich welcomed the first 100 students to its new Bachelor’s degree in human medicine last autumn. The experiences of the first semester have resulted in a lot of enthusiasm – from the lecturers as well as the students. It’s a memorable image: medical students practising stitching wounds on bananas. And it's a perfect example of the new direction that ETH is taking with its medicine pro...

Test & Measurement
1st February 2018
Measurement can prove effectiveness of medications

Science now has a new “omics” – an interactomics, which deals with the interactions between proteins and small molecules. Having previously focused on genomics or proteomics, system biologists can now add protein-metabolite interactomics to the mix. Genomics is concerned with the systematic analysis of all of an organism’s genes, while proteomics deals with the entire set of proteins within a biological unit.

30th January 2018
Technique evaluates the effect of drugs on the brain

An international team led by ETH researchers has developed a technique that uses electrical brain signals to more precisely evaluate the effect of drugs on the brain. It could be of particular use in the early development phase of anti-epilepsy medication. There are still comparatively few treatments available for brain diseases. Among other reasons, this is due to the difficulty of developing new drugs, as it is not easy to establish the ef...

Artificial Intelligence
24th January 2018
Self-driving vehicle course is quackers

  ETH Zurich students are learning about self-driving vehicles using a model with a fleet of mini-taxis. As part of the Duckietown course, they are working together with students in Montreal and Chicago on problems that concern developers of self-driving cars around the world.

22nd January 2018
Making the cable industry sexier

ETH engineers Vincent Martinez and Luca Hirt are on a mission: to make cables more durable and reliable. This could potentially lead to unbreakable headphone cables, shaking up an industry known for its slow pace of innovation. It’s not easy to get people excited about cables, but Vincent Martinez has managed to do so. At the Start Summit in St. Gallen – one of Switzerland’s biggest and most important gatherings for start-u...

Quantum Tech
16th January 2018
Quantum physics turned into possible reality

ETH physicists have developed a silicon wafer that behaves like a topological insulator when stimulated using ultrasound. They have thereby succeeded in turning an abstract theoretical concept into a macroscopic product. The usual procedure goes like this: you have a complex physical system and attempt to explain its behaviour through as simple a model as possible.

15th January 2018
Grasshoppers inspire health-monitoring electrode

Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a new type of health-monitoring electrode that exhibits optimum adhesion to skin and can record high quality signals. Two young spin-off founders want to turn it into a marketable product as early as this year. Anyone who has ever had an electrocardiogram – for example, to check their heart fitness – will be familiar with the electrodes that the doctor attaches to the chest.

Quantum Tech
11th January 2018
Quantum dot provides fast light emission and optimised brightness

An international team of researchers from ETH Zurich, IBM Research Zurich, Empa and four American research institutions have found the explanation for why a class of nanocrystals that has been intensively studied in recent years shines in such incredibly bright colours. The nanocrystals contain caesium lead halide compounds that are arranged in a perovskite lattice structure.

20th December 2017
Technology is ready for distributed energy systems

Will we be able to do away with the classic centralised energy supply in the future? From a technological perspective: yes. Distributed multi-energy systems are feasible. But from an economic and societal perspective, many questions remain unanswered, blogs Roman Seidl. Thermal solar energy systems heat the floor and water for the shower, an elevator runs on solar and wind energy, and whatever electricity is not consumed today is stored in b...

8th December 2017
Data science harnessing the spirit of Japanese poetry

ETH Lausanne and ETH Zurich’s Swiss Data Science Center is off to a successful start. In September, scientists at the Center launched their open source platform Renga. First research projects have been chosen. Named after the Japanese poetry form Renga, collaboration will also be the focus of the new Swiss Data Science Center platform. (Image: Colourbox / ETH Zurich).

5th December 2017
Biocompatible ink for 3D printing makes use of living bacteria

A group of ETH researchers led by Professor André Studart, Head of the Laboratory for Complex Materials, has now introduced a 3D printing platform that works using living matter. The researchers developed a bacteria-containing ink that makes it possible to print mini biochemical factories with certain properties, depending on which species of bacteria the scientists put in the ink.

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