Research

In total, 16 research clusters will be established on RWTH Aachen Campus. The six initial clusters include

  • Bio-Medical Engineering Cluster
  • Sustainable Energy Cluster
  • Photonics Cluster
  • Production Engineering Cluster
  • Heavy Duty Drives Cluster
  • Smart Logistics Cluster

They form the contextual framework for the long-term collaboration between industry and science. A construction site has been allocated to each cluster. Several buildings with the necessary research infrastructure and office space will be realized on each construction site successively.

In terms of organization, each cluster is subdivided into individual centers. The centers are located in the various cluster buildings. They form operative units. These centers will focus on specific, relevant research issues and develop visionary solution approaches. A center will therefore be the first point of contact for the involvement of potential project members from science and industry. These actors will work together and align the centers in terms of their topic areas.

State of the art cluster buildings and research under one roof will guarantee a perfect environment for innovation: That is also how research and knowledge hot spots with highly qualified experts and productive test laboratories will be created.

 The campus project at RWTH Aachen University expands the traditional sphere of pure academic research to include applied research. The university will therefore be able to face the challenges of mega trends in a much larger scale.

schmitz-rode

Prof. Thomas Schmitz-Rode, Cluster Director

The Bio-Medical Engineering Cluster specializes in the research and development of integrative methods and products for diagnostics and therapy. Experts from the areas of science and industry are developing innovations for

  • Clinical and experimental imaging,
  • Image-guided therapy,
  • Organ support,
  • Personal healthcare,
  • Tissue engineering,
  • Personalized medical technology and
  • Pharmaceutical product development.

Cardiovascular, pulmonary and tumor-related diseases are on the rise in an ageing population. The demand rises for

  • Implants,
  • Intelligent organ support systems and
  • Pharmaceutical therapy with minimal side effects.

Purely technical solutions have their limits in terms of functionality and lifecycle. The combination of traditional engineering sciences with biological, production and IT know-how is resulting in bio-hybrid medical systems, e.g. cell-coated implants or organ-supporting systems for heart and lungs.

Institutes from the faculties of mechanical engineering, electro technology, mathematics, physical science and medicine at RWTH Aachen University deliver specific methods and technologies.

The Bio-Medical Engineering Cluster is characterized by the spatial interlinking and close interaction between:

  • Uniklinik Aachen (University hospital Aachen) ,
  • Faculty of Medicine of RWTH Aachen University,
  • Helmholtz-Institute for Biomedical Engineering
  • Zentrum für Biomedizintechnik (Center for Bio-Medical Engineering),
  • Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials,
  • Werkzeugmaschinenlabor (Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering)

and in future in these buildings as well

  • Center for Biohybrid Medical Systems,
  • Building for Teaching and Advanced Training.

The following centers form the key research areas in the Bio-Medical Engineering Cluster:

  • Translation Center for Precision Medicine,
  • Bio-hybrid Implants and Organ Support Systems
  • Center Medical Training & Testing.

Prof. Rik De Doncker, Cluster Director

The objective of the Sustainable Energy Cluster is increased energy efficiency and a switchover to sustainable energy generation. One of the key methods applied is the interconnection of the various energy networks (electricity, gas and heat) with decentralized infeeds. This method is known as “smart grid” (for electricity).

Resource-friendly energy generation is explored in terms of need, economy and social aspects. In terms of technology, research is directed at the various basic disciplines, e.g. in terms of

  • new materials for thermal insulation in intelligent facades or
  • new semiconductor structures for energy conversion technology (power electronics, phase change materials).

The following centers form the key research areas in the Sustainable Energy Cluster:

Prof. Reinhart Poprawe, Cluster Director

The Photonics Cluster specializes in the research and development of processes for the generation, formation and use of light. Specifically, light is researched as a tool for industrial production. In comparison with other tools, a laser beam can be dosed and controlled with extreme precision.

Experts describe the laser beam as the only tool that works at a speed similar to that of a computer. The functions of a laser printer is based on the same principle and demonstrates the future potential of highly energized laser beams in industrial production. From Bits to Photons to Atoms boldly describes the paradigm of this future production directly from digital data. Some of the applications envisaged in the future include

  • the laser-based manufacture of function and resource-optimized metal-based parts manufactured by 3D printers or
  • large-area micro-structuring of function surfaces with high performance short-pulse lasers (photovoltaics, OLED, friction and wear-optimized surfaces).

Digital photonic production allows the direct manufacture of virtually any parts or products. Technologies that were invented over a decade ago for rapid prototyping are developing into rapid manufacturing processes for the direct production of functional parts. Rapid manufacturing processes are currently tested in initial pilot systems in automotive construction and for industrial serial production in aeronautics. The tool light is playing a central role here because of its unique properties.

The following centers form the key research areas in the Photonics Cluster:

Prof. Günther Schuh, Cluster Director

This cluster is set to become one of the largest research laboratories for production technology and Industry 4.0 in Europe. The research focus here will be digitally integrated production. Industry and science will explore the possibilities of Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT) for the production development process and cyber-physically integrated production. Central topics are:

  • Near realtime simulation of complex production chains by way of digital shadowing,
  • “Learning” factories with big data usage,
  • Use concepts for cloud technologies for engineering-based governing of production controls.

More than 100 enrolled industry representatives in the various product areas

  • Production machinery,
  • Road and rail vehicles,
  • Electric drive systems,
  • Aircrafts and
  • Complex tools

work with institutes and academic chairs, including

  • Werkzeugmaschinenlabor (Laboratory for Machine Tools and Production Engineering),
  • Institut für Kunststoffverarbeitung (Institute of Plastics Processing),
  • Chair of Production Engineering of E-Mobility Components and
  • Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology

The electro-mobility initiative StreetScooter was created in this cluster. StreetScooter GmbH was sold to Deutsche Post. The new electro-mobility concept e.Go is currently under development at RWTH Aachen.

The following centers form the key research areas in the Production Engineering Cluster:

Here you can read the brochure on the Production Engineering Cluster.

Prof. Georg Jacobs, Cluster Director

The Heavy Duty Drives Cluster conducts research and development projects in drive technology systems. The objective here is the consideration of complete systems and the deployment behavior of the individual components within the complete system.

The central research topic is drivetrains for wind energy systems and construction machinery. The development work focuses on improved reliability and energy efficiency of the individual components and the system as a whole. In the area of wind energy systems, one major focus lies on the development and validation of simulation models for electrical and mechanical components, as well as their aggregation into one model of the overall system.

The following centers form the key research areas in the Heavy Duty Drives Cluster:

Prof. Volker Stich, Cluster Director

More than 350 individuals from science and industry are currently engaged in research projects in the Smart Logistics Cluster. The research focus here is to find solutions for the flow of information and goods in the cyber-physical world of the future. The research is based on the presumption that the digital world will be networked at near realtime via the internet.

The integration of system environments is mobilizing industry worldwide. Industry 4.0 (4th Industrial Revolution) and Industrial Internet are key buzzwords in this context. The interplay of

  • sensors in virtually all production machines, tools and devices, as well as on all charge carriers and work pieces,
  • an unlimited number of IP addresses,
  • a fast internet,
  • realtime-capable mobile and landline communication,
  • cloud computing and
  • IT service platforms

creates a radically improved infrastructure. That infrastructure needs fine tuning and experimentation. Only then can it be deployed in the industry – and particularly in mid-sized companies – for increased productivity. The current heterogeneity of IT systems and lack of data consistency hinder any possible productivity improvements. That is why the Smart Logistics Cluster looks into how

  • system environments can be made to grow together,
  • databases can be homogenized and
  • processes can be automated

further.

The ultimate goal here is to realize the vision of One single source of truth: a unique, reliable and universally applicable data source. It will facilitate the long-term integration of various IT system environments like

  • ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning),
  • MUS (Material Usage Systems),
  • PLM (Product Lifecycle Management).

Various centers focus on conceptional and experimental collaborations with supply and user companies to find the potential and challenges facing producers, logistics companies and ICT suppliers (Information & Communication Technology).

The following centers form the research focus in the Smart Logistics Cluster: