TUM – Latest news https://www.tum.de Latest news of TUM en TUM Thu, 14 Nov 2019 16:51:41 +0100 Thu, 14 Nov 2019 16:51:41 +0100 New synthesis approach for soluble silicon clusters https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35779/ Today, the best silicon solar cells in the world have an efficiency of 24 percent. The theoretical limit is around 29 percent. "This is because silicon normally crystallizes in a diamond structure which provides only an indirect band gap," explains Thomas Fässler, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry with Focus on New Materials at the Technical University of Munich.

Researchers thus dream of materials in which silicon atoms are arranged in a manner that creates a direct band gap that they can exploit for solar energy production. The scientists view these small silicon clusters as model compounds for this purpose because the atoms can be arranged differently than in crystalline silicon.

"These kinds of compounds are also interesting for a variety of other chemical experiments," says Professor Fässler. “Using only a few synthesis steps we can now join four and nine silicon atoms into tetrahedrons or near-spherical structures. However, in the past, the synthesis and isolation of the atomic clusters was very laborious. Now, we have taken a significant step forward."

Research news battenberg@zv.tum.de news-35779 Thu, 14 Nov 2019 08:57:52 +0100
Volcanoes under pressure https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35776/ Mount Merapi on Java is among the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. Geoscientists have usually used seismic measurements which illustrate underground movements when warning the population of a coming eruption in time.

An international team including scientists from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has now found another indication for an upcoming eruption in the lava from the peak of Mount Merapi: The uppermost layer of stone, the "plug dome", becomes impermeable for underground gases before the volcano erupts.

"Our investigations show that the physical properties of the plug dome change over time," says Prof. H. Albert Gilg from the TUM Professorship for Engineering Geology . "Following an eruption the lava is still easily permeable, but this permeability then sinks over time. Gases are trapped, pressure rises and finally the plug dome bursts in a violent explosion."

Mount Merapi as a model volcano

Using six lava samples, one from an eruption of Mount Merapi in 2006, the others from the 1902 eruption – the researchers were able to ascertain alterations in the stone. Investigation of pore volumes, densities, mineral composition and structure revealed that permeability dropped by four orders of magnitude as stone alteration increased. The cause is newly formed minerals, in particular potassium and sodium aluminum sulfates which seal the fine cracks and pores in the lava.

The cycle of destruction

Computer simulations confirmed that the reduced permeability of the plug dome was actually responsible for the next eruption. The models show that a stratovolcano like Mount Merapi undergoes three phases: First, after an eruption when the lava is still permeable, outgassing is possible; in the second phase the plug dome becomes impermeable for gases, while at the same time the internal pressure continuously increases; in the third phase the pressure bursts the plug dome.

Photographs of Mount Merapi from the period before and during the eruption of May 11, 2018 support the three-phase model: The volcano first emitted smoke, then seemed to be quiet for a long time until the gas found an escape and shot a fountain of ashes kilometers up into the sky.

"The research results can now be used to more reliably predict eruptions," says Gilg. "A measurable reduction in outgassing is thus an indication of an imminent eruption."

Mount Merapi is not the only volcano where outgassing measurements can help in the timely prediction of a pending eruption. Stratovolcanoes are a frequent source of destruction throughout the Pacific. The most famous examples are Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, Mount St. Helens in the western USA and Mount Fuji in Japan.

Research news stefanie.reiffert@tum.de news-35776 Wed, 13 Nov 2019 09:58:00 +0100
Insect decline more extensive than suspected https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35769/ Various studies have already demonstrated that there are far fewer creatures chirping, buzzing, creeping and fluttering in German meadows today than 25 years ago. "Previous studies, however, either focused exclusively on biomass, i.e. the total weight of all insects, or on individual species or species groups. The fact that a large part of all insect groups is actually affected has not been clear so far," says Dr. Sebastian Seibold, a scientist with the Terrestrial Ecology Research Group at TUM.

In a large-scale biodiversity study, an international research team headed by scientists at TUM surveyed a large number of insect groups in Brandenburg, Thuringia and Baden-Württemberg between 2008 and 2017. Now the team has published its analysis in the scientific journal “nature”.

Research news battenberg@zv.tum.de news-35768 Wed, 30 Oct 2019 19:00:00 +0100
Engineering meets philosophy https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35767/ How do we want to define the framework for human-machine relationships? What would a fair economic order look like? Where are the limits of medicine? Whether their area of specialization is engineering, the natural sciences or medicine, experts can act responsibly only if they have explored the ethical issues of their chosen field and have the right tools to discuss them.

To complement the efforts to establish its own activities in the social sciences, TUM has now secured a partnership with the Munich School of Philosophy (HFPH), one of the most respected institutions in its field, to help students broaden their educational horizons. The partners also plan to allow HFPH students to enrol for courses across the broad range of subject areas offered at TUM. In addition, they intend to intensify their cooperation in research.

Campus news klaus.becker@tum.de news-35767 Mon, 28 Oct 2019 17:00:00 +0100
Veronika Somoza succeeds Thomas F. Hofmann https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35758/ Campus news news-35758 Fri, 25 Oct 2019 10:23:00 +0200 The quantum internet is within reach https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35764/ As of yet, there are no universal quantum computers in the world. But for the first time, an international team led by TUM physicists Rudolf Gross, Frank Deppe and Kirill Fedorov has successfully implemented secure quantum communication in a local network – via a 35-centimeter superconducting cable.

 "We have thus laid the foundation for implementing quantum communication systems in the very important microwave range," says Rudolf Gross, professor of technical physics at the Technical University of Munich and director of the Walther Meißner Institute (WMI), where the experiments took place. "This is a milestone. This puts the quantum internet, based on superconducting circuits and microwave communications, within arm’s reach."

Research news battenberg@zv.tum.de news-35764 Thu, 24 Oct 2019 08:54:59 +0200
Best image film of the Munich Metropolitan Region https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35762/ A jury selected the ten best films in each of two categories from over 100 submissions. The final decision was made in the public voting, in which TUM's image film was selected as winner in the category "Company / Institution". 

The film was produced as part of TUM's 150th anniversary celebrations in 2018 and shows some of the university's greatest achievements in research, teaching and entrepreneurship. 

Campus news a.schmidt@tum.de news-35761 Wed, 14 Aug 2019 17:15:18 +0200
Girls who change the world https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35759/ The exhibition is based on the book of the same name, for which the photographer Paola Gianturco and her granddaughter Alex Sangster interviewed over 90 girls between the ages of 10 and 18 and documented her work photographically. Under often difficult conditions, these girls and young women work for equality, education, environmental protection, peace and human rights. They take to the streets together, write petitions, produce radio broadcasts and try to achieve their goals through social networks and local actions.

Three protagonists of the book will be present at the opening on October 23 at 6 p.m.: Sandy Alqas Botros from Hamburg, Memory Banda from Malawi and Vanessa Bosse from Bavaria. TUM organizes the exhibition together with the Bavarian State Chancellery, the Stiftung Wertebündnis Bayern and Elisabeth Sandmann Verlag, who published the book.

Campus news a.schmidt@tum.de news-35759 Tue, 22 Oct 2019 18:48:50 +0200
From fundamental research to new medications https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35757/ The m4 Award supports research teams planning to found companies that will use their findings to develop innovative products, technologies and services for the medicine of the future. The Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy has supported the competition, launched by BioM, the network organization of the biotechnology sector in Munich and Bavaria, since 2011. Each of the winning teams will receive funding of up to 500,000 euros and will benefit from expert support when founding their companies. This year more than 30 research teams from throughout Bavaria entered the contest for the m4 Award. Four of the five winners are from TUM and will be supported by TUM Start-up Advising team. The winning teams are all led or supported by experienced scientists.

Entrepreneurship paul.piwnicki@tum.de news-35757 Fri, 18 Oct 2019 12:40:00 +0200
How roots grow hair https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35739/ If a forest fire destroys larger plants, seeds of so called fire-followers see their chance: these have a receptor protein that can “smell” certain molecules generated in smoke of burnt plant material. The receptor protein called KAI2 sets off a signal cascade causing the seeds to germinate.

A team of researchers led by Caroline Gutjahr, professor for plant genetics at the TUM School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan, has now discovered that it also plays an important role in regulating the growth of roots.

Research news battenberg@zv.tum.de news-35739 Thu, 17 Oct 2019 08:47:05 +0200
Inactive receptor renders immunotherapies ineffective https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35737/ An overactive immune system can be nearly as dangerous as an inactive one, triggering inflammation that attacks the body’s own tissues. To counter this, the immune system has what are known as checkpoint molecules, which, when switched on, act like a brake on the immune system. However, cancer cells can exploit this mechanism: by switching on their checkpoint molecules, they are able to elude attacks by the immune system. The weakened immune response that results is then no longer robust enough to fight off the cancer cells.

A new approach to cancer therapy therefore involves the use of drugs known as checkpoint inhibitors. These substances release the “brake” applied by cancer cells, thus restoring the immune system’s ability to combat cancer. Checkpoint inhibitors are already being used successfully in skin cancer and many other malignancies.

Research news news-35737 Mon, 14 Oct 2019 09:56:56 +0200
TUM welcomes more than 13,000 students https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35734/ Next week about 7,100 new students will begin their first semester in a bachelor's program or other fundamental course of study. Master's programs will welcome around 4,800 new students – a new all-time high. Almost half of the new master's enrollees are from outside Germany.

The TUM Board of Management will welcome the new students at a celebration in the courtyard of the main building in Munich starting at 5 pm on Monday, October 14.

Campus news news-35734 Fri, 11 Oct 2019 10:33:56 +0200
Sensitive robots are safer https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35732/ The artificial skin developed by Prof. Gordon Cheng and his team consists of hexagonal cells about the size of a two-euro coin (i.e. about one inch in diameter). Each is equipped with a microprocessor and sensors to detect contact, acceleration, proximity and temperature. Such artificial skin enables robots to perceive their surroundings in much greater detail and with more sensitivity. This not only helps them to move safely. It also makes them safer when operating near people and gives them the ability to anticipate and actively avoid accidents.

The skin cells themselves were developed around 10 years ago by Gordon Cheng, Professor of Cognitive Systems at TUM. But this invention only revealed its full potential when integrated into a sophisticated system as described in the latest issue of the journal “Proceedings of the IEEE”

Research news paul.hellmich@tum.de news-35730 Thu, 10 Oct 2019 10:00:00 +0200
TUM researching future-oriented digital manufacturing technology https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35731/ Using advanced, innovative materials and intelligent combinations, new process technologies based on digital 3D designs can be deployed to develop a wide variety of components with complex geometries in a load and function-oriented manner, building them up additively, layer for layer.

Thanks to its small energy and resource footprints, additive manufacturing can contribute significantly to achieving declared climate goals. Furthermore, additive manufacturing’s highly digitizable processes promise to bring production capacity back to Germany, and with that, highly qualified jobs.

Campus news battenberg@zv.tum.de news-35729 Tue, 08 Oct 2019 12:18:23 +0200
TUM Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence officially opened https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35727/ TUM has been studying the complex interactions of science, technology and society since 2012 through the work of the Munich Center for Technology in Society (MCTS), which was established under the 2012 Excellence Initiative. As part of the MCTS, the TUM Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence (IEAI) will focus on ethical implications of artificial intelligence. The US company Facebook is supporting this TUM initiative by a 6.5 million euro donation not subject to any conditions or expectations.

At today's opening symposium for the Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence (IEAI) at TUM, Dorothee Bär, the Federal Government Commissioner for Digital Affairs, said: “To some extent, machine learning algorithms are already playing a role in choosing the news articles we read. But the possible applications extend far beyond that, for example into such areas as medical diagnostics. These far-reaching technological changes raise many ethical issues. It is a good thing that TUM is getting involved in addressing these issues.”

Research news paul.hellmich@tum.de news-35726 Mon, 07 Oct 2019 13:00:00 +0200
From health care to space robotics https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35722/ Robots are an indispensable part of space exploration. While machines like the Mars rover „Curiosity“ resemble very basic model cars, there are plans to use humanoid robots during space missions. Remotely controlled by humans from inside spaceships or space stations these robonauts could be assigned dangerous tasks. Software designed by startup MyelinS could be a part of these future missions.

“Our software provides three basic features,“ says Zied Tayeb, a doctoral candidate at TUM's Institute for Cognitive Systems and, together with Samaher Garbaya, one of the minds behind MyelinS. “The first feature is navigation: We use machine learning algorithms to enable a robot to create an internal map of its surroundings and avoid obstacles.” This is important even in remotely-controlled robots, since it enables the pilot to concentrate on the actual task and let the robot deal with the navigation – a concept called shared control. “The second feature is tactile feedback,” continues Tayeb. “Our software can learn to translate input from the robots tactile sensors into output generated by vibration motors. Imagine, for example, a robot handling rock samples: The scientist in control would be able to feel the structure of these samples.”

Entrepreneurship paul.hellmich@tum.de news-35722 Fri, 04 Oct 2019 10:49:00 +0200
Weak spot in pathogenic bacteria https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35720/ Almost 700,000 people in Europe suffer from infections every year through antibiotic-resistant pathogens; approximately 33,000 of them die. Despite this enormous and globally increasing danger, very few new antibiotics have been developed and approved in the past few decades.

There is no improvement in sight. That is why it is urgently necessary to find new points of attack in pathogenic bacteria and to develop new antibiotics which exploit these weak spots.

Research news battenberg@zv.tum.de news-35719 Wed, 02 Oct 2019 11:42:36 +0200
UnternehmerTUM welcomes Minister for Education and Research https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35724/ The federal minister met several of the most successful start-ups incubated at TUM that have developed technologies in artificial intelligence or robotics. KONUX, for example, offers smart sensors combined with AI-based analysis software. The system can monitor infrastructure such as a railway network in real time and predict where maintenance will be needed.

The team at rfrnz has developed software that uses machine learning methods to analyze contracts. It can greatly facilitate the work of lawyers when analyzing the thousands of documents involved in a corporate merger, for example.  

NavVis uses sensors from robotics technology to create centimetre-precise images of interiors. With the company's navigation software, users can find their way around complex buildings such as airports or explore and plan rooms from a distance, such as production facilities.

Entrepreneurship klaus.becker@tum.de news-35724 Thu, 03 Oct 2019 15:04:00 +0200
New approach to pain treatment in diseases of the pancreas https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35718/ In many cases only potent analgesics such as opiates are able to relieve the suffering of those affected. But these medications have serious side effects, including dependency, fatigue and constipation. For this reason, scientists have long been searching for better pain therapies for pancreatic patients.

Dr. Ihsan Ekin Demir and his team in the Department of Surgery at TUM’s university hospital Rechts der Isar wanted to find out why pain treatment is so difficult and often ineffective in diseases of the pancreas.

Research news vera.siegler@tum.de news-35717 Wed, 02 Oct 2019 10:00:00 +0200
“We are creating a global marketplace of knowledge” https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35711/ What will TUM of the future look like in your opinion?

Prof. Thomas F. Hofmann: I believe TUM will be a creative, stimulating place where people from the worlds of science, business, politics  and society will be able to come together to dialog, to be inspired, to challenge each other, to seek further education and to collaborate. All with the common goal of overcoming the social challenges of the future through innovation and improving people’s lives and the way they live together on a long-term, sustainable basis. In saying this, I am naturally thinking of the young people from all over the world who come here to study. And of scientists from different disciplines and the many alumnae and alumni who keep returning to their TUM, contributing their experience as global citizens. Only if we succeed in jointly creating a global marketplace of knowledge, will we be able to find responsible solutions to the problems of our time, such as the consequences of climate change.

Campus news news-35711 Tue, 01 Oct 2019 12:03:00 +0200
Leadership handover at TUM https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35713/ The end of an era: In his 24 years as TUM President, Prof. Wolfgang A. Herrmann implemented far-reaching reforms that turned TUM into an entrepreneurial university while leading it to the international forefront in terms of research, teaching, and technology transfer. In recognition of its strategy and achievements, TUM has been designated as a University of Excellence on three occasions. Now Germany's longest-serving university president has handed over his office to Prof. Thomas F. Hofmann, who has served for many years as the Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation at TUM.

In his official speech, Minister President Dr. Markus Söder said: "The success of TUM is inseparable from the work of Professor Herrmann as president. For more than two decades he has demonstrated wisdom, passion and a spirit of innovation while leading TUM and advancing its development. This unique lifetime achievement warrants the utmost respect and recognition." The Minister President stressed the importance of science and research for Bavaria: "The state of Bavaria is firing up the research turbines. Under a new multi-billion euro program, we are investing in the sciences, recruiting top professors from all over the world and expanding leading-edge research. We're ready to make an impact at the international level."

Campus news klaus.becker@tum.de news-35712 Mon, 30 Sep 2019 13:30:00 +0200
More accurate than expected https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35709/ Apart from photons, the particles of light, neutrinos are the most common particles in the universe. The discovery of neutrino-oscillation two decades ago proved that – contrary to previous expectations – they have a mass, faint but other than zero.

The lightweight particles thus play a central role in the formation of large-scale structures in the cosmos. Also in the world of elementary particles, the smallest building blocks of the universe, their extremely small mass is of importance: it suggests new physics beyond common models.

Over the next few years, the international KATRIN experiment at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), will determine the mass of these fascinating neutrinos with unprecedented sensitivity. One of the research groups is headed by MaxPlanck@TUM-Tenure Track Professor Susanne Mertens.

In spring 2019, the 150-strong KATRIN team started their first neutrino measurements. The scientists circulated highly pure tritium gas for several weeks and recorded the first energy spectra of electrons from the tritium decay. The international team then set to work to derive the first neutrino mass from the data recorded.

Research news battenberg@zv.tum.de news-35709 Fri, 27 Sep 2019 09:19:01 +0200
The secret of motivation https://www.tum.de/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/35707/ The odor of vinegar or fruit lets fruit flies walk faster. To reach the food, they run until exhaustion. But despite their efforts, they do not get any closer to their goal: In the set-up at the laboratory of the TUM School of Life Sciences Weihenstephan the upper bodies of the tiny flies are fixed in place and the flies are running without getting anywhere.

With the movement of their legs they are turning a ball which is floating on an air cushion. The turning speed shows neurobiologist professor Ilona C. Grunwald Kadow how much effort the fruit fly is putting into finding food.

“Our experiments show that hungry individuals keep increasing their performance – they run up to nine meters per minute. Fruit flies which are full give up much faster”, the researcher reports. “This proves that even simple organisms show stamina and perseverance – up to now, these qualities were thought to be reserved for humans and other higher organisms.”

Research news battenberg@zv.tum.de news-35707 Thu, 26 Sep 2019 09:16:06 +0200