Four Projects Receive RWTH Innovation Award
The award is presented anually to recognize highly promising innovations and inventions by RWTH researchers.
RWTH seeks to foster of innovation and entrepreneurship among its students and academic staff and to support the process of turning new ideas into impactful solutions. Since 2014, it has presented its annual Innovation Award, which honors university projects that contribute to enhancing the innovative capacity of the Aachen region.
A software development kit for neuromorphic AI chips in edge applications won the first place award in the 2022 round. Second place went to an electromagnetically heatable nano-modified stent for the treatment of hollow organ tumors. The SaaS platform JuLES and a digital battery twin for more efficient and safe use shared third place.
The award is supported by RWTH Innovation GmbH The ideas submitted are evaluated according to technology orientation, innovation potential, customer benefits, planned further development, commercial potential and overall impression.
Software Development Kit for Neuromorphic AI Chips in Edge Applications
By integrating computing and storage units, neuromorphic computing systems mimic the human brain. This results in vast performance improvements in artificial intelligence, or AI for short. However, the technology is hardly accessible to AI device manufacturers due to the more complicated system design both at the hardware software levels. Hardware and software development kits have now been developed at the Chair of Software for Systems on Silicon headed by Professor Rainer Leupers. The hardware development kit integrates neuromorphic chips, provided by third parties, into an existing computing system, allows validation of neuromorphic hardware, and can serve as a development platform for market-ready AI devices. The software development kit enables easy programming and simulation of AI applications on neuromorphic systems. Software developers can thus bring low-risk AI applications to disruptive neuromorphic hardware and reduce the energy consumption of AI.
Customers of both innovations are industrial users, mobile device manufacturers, and smart city IoT device providers.
Dr.-Ing. Moritz Joseph
Chair for Software for Systems on Silicon
Electromagnetically Heatable Nano-Modified Stent for the Treatment of Hollow Organ Tumors
Nearly one in four people who died of cancer had a hollow organ tumor, for example in the bile duct, trachea, or esophagus. Braided tubes, usually made of metal, are surgically inserted in order to temporarily open the hollow organs. However, these stents only keep the hollow organs open for a short time, as the tumor typically keeps growing and penetrates the hollow organ through the stent mesh. Ioana Slabu from the Institute of Applied Medical Engineering and Benedict Bauer from the Institut für Textiltechnik have developed a heatable nano-modified polymer stent. This destroys the tumor tissue through temporally and locally controlled heat input. Heat is generated through electromagnetic fields generated with the help of magnetic nanoparticles embedded in the fibers of the stent.
A manufacturing process has already been established and the effectiveness of magnetic hyperthermia proven. This innovation promises enormous potential, as the principle is transferable to tumors in the prostate, stomach, intestine, or urinary bladder, or could also be used in cardiovascular diseases.
Priv.-Doz. Dr. Ioana Slabu
Chair of Applied Medical Technology
The JuLES software-as-a-service platform is considered a key technology for the climate-neutral transformation of industrial processes. It can be used to calculate energy flows in the shortest possible time and with enormous predictive accuracy thanks to specifically tailored models. JuLES was developed under the leadership of Mathis Bode at the Institute for Combustion Technology headed by Professor Heinz Pitsch and the Jülich Supercomputing Centre at Forschungszentrum Jülich headed by Professor Thomas Lippert.
JuLES combines two systems: Physics-Informed Enhanced Super-Resolution Generative Adversarial Networks (PIESRGAN) for Large-Eddy Simulation (LES) and JupyterLab for Interactive Supercomputing. PIESRGAN is data-driven and benefits from the ever-increasing availability of high-resolution simulations and increasing general data sets. It uses an artificial intelligence-based technique to "reconstruct" the smallest scales in energy flows. This combination of established fluid mechanics techniques and current AI technology allows for extremely high prediction accuracies. The interactive supercomputing cloud framework JupyterLab in Jülich makes it possible to massively reduce the complexity of current supercomputers including PIESRGAN for users, to lower access barriers, and to use harness the potential of modern systems.
Exascale supercomputers, which are more than an order of magnitude faster than previous systems, can be used to investigate unanswered questions with the help of huge simulations. JuLES is expected to play an important role in this context in the future. The first European exascale supercomputer will go into operation at the Jülich Supercomputing Centre in early 2024.
Jülich Supercomputing Centre, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH
Digital Battery Twin for Safe and More Efficient Use
Lithium-ion batteries are becoming the key technology for energy storage, especially in the field of electromobility, due to their low cost and high energy density. However, their performance deteriorates over time. Condition monitoring and prediction of battery aging not only benefits safety, maintenance, and machine optimization, but is also the starting point for technical and economic analysis of possible second-life applications. The team from the Chair for Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Storage Systems, led by Professor Dirk Uwe Sauer, has developed a cloud battery management system that covers seven key functions for controlling the entire life cycle of batteries. The innovation enables online monitoring of aging, prediction of degradation progression, and optimization of operating strategy to enhance the aging process, which is critical for safe and reliable battery system operation.
The innovation contributes to accelerating the energy transition and the electrification of transportation. It also opens up commercial opportunities for a wide range of industries, including digital certificates for batteries, battery warranties and insurance, and predictive and timely alerts of safety-critical conditions.
Dr.-Ing. Weihan Li
Chair for Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Storage Systems