This theme concerns the design of inexpensive, easily integrated sensors for all conceivable environmental parameters. Furthermore, these sensors must be able to draw on their surroundings for their energy needs. Adaptive and efficient sensor systems based on biological principles (biomimetics), represent a challenging area of research. Energy efficiency, accuracy, reliability, and ease of integration are major themes in relation to electronic components involved in detection, signal processing, and transmission. Developments in the field of nanotechnology are facilitating the creation of new concepts for sensors/actuators. This results in new components and switches (which may or may not be integrated) in inexpensive technologies. Many projects within the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology and the Digital Society Institute (DSI) are linked to this theme.
New, optimized (network) architectures, protocols and algorithms for distributed (embedded) systems are required. They will use sensors and components (from the "sensors and components" theme) integrated into a (body area) network, a concept known as ambient intelligence. This is all about efficient transmission, and research into the scalability, dependability and security of the local networks to be used in our living environment (health, leisure, work). This requires the effective mathematical modelling of processes that are often stochastic in nature. In particular, this presents research opportunities in the field of integration and collaboration from the local network perspective, up to components and applications for the Internet, for example. Digital Society Institute leads the way in this research area, while collaborating with MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology and TechMed Centre.
We live in a network environment. The architecture of this (Inter)net must be modified to achieve structural improvements in dependability and security. This will facilitate communication between our smart living environment and the outside world, enabling us to make efficient use of a wide variety of services. New validation and optimization methods must be developed (industrial engineering) if we are to be able to deal with the complexity of the information systems used for company processes. Business processes themselves can change as a result of ICT. The adaptation of information technology to natural human activities is a research area that is rapidly gaining in importance. In the area of applications, fundamental questions remain concerning coordination, human interaction, scalability, and QoS. These questions can only be answered by effective model creation and control. The Digital Society Institute plays a pivotal role in this.
Mathematical modelling and theoretical analysis, in combination with numerical methods, make it possible to investigate and simulate generic problems in the natural and life sciences, and in the financial world. This covers the entire chain of large-scale geophysical problems, right down to microscale or nanoscale processes, with applications in engineering, e.g. optical devices for ICT, flows (and multiphase flows), mechanical systems, biochemical sensors, biology and medicine. Almost all of these problems are characterized by enormous differences in the relevant scales of length or time. Efficient techniques for modelling and simulating multi-scale problems are therefore essential to further progress in these fields. Simulation, modelling, and analysis are key techniques in MESA+ and in the Digital Society Institute. Developments in mathematical systems theory, control engineering, and numerical simulation techniques have made it possible to design adaptive, energy efficient, regulated, mechatronic systems and microsystems, and to manufacture them efficiently. Decision Theory, Statistics and Systems Theory play a pivotal role within this theme in the areas of application of logistics (healthcare, transport) and financial mathematics (risk management, insurance policies).