The University of Twente and the University of Münster (WWU) in Germany strenghten their collaboration in the field of intelligent nano building blocks and ‘brain-inspired computing’. This is made possible through a new ‘Sonderforschungsbereich’ - collaborative research center – worth about 10 million euro, by the German Research Foundation (DFG). How can nano-size building blocks work together and show intelligent behaviour?
‘Intelligent Matter: from responsive to adaptive nanosystems’ is one of 20 Collaborative Research Centers starting 1 January 2021 and announced by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). ‘Intelligent matter’ was award to the University of Münster (WWU). University of Twente Professor Wilfred van der Wiel has a part-time appointment at Münster and is very delighted: “This project is an excellent match with the activities we have in Twente, in the Center for Brain-Inspired Nano Systems (BRAINS)”. Coordinator Prof Bart Jan Ravoo of the Center for Soft Nano Science in Münster adds: “Normally, the funding for a CRC entirely goes to a German institution, but the selection committee highly valued the collaboration with Twente. Working with BRAINS on this, truly was a ‘no brainer’.
NANO BLOCKS GET SMART BY Collaboration
The research, for example, tries to answer the question if we will be able to create nano building blocks that can acquire information and reuse it again, even while the circumstances change. Intelligent materials may lead to artificial skin, to soft robotics with adaptive tactility and to computers inspired by the way the brain works, using a minimum of energy. Recently, BRAINS showed an example of this in Nature Nanotechnology. An exciting question Wilfred van der Wiel likes to answer is: how does intelligent behaviour develop when multiple nanoblocks collaborate? And: is it possible to even control this?
The 20 new Sonderforschungsbereiche now get funding for four years, an amount of 254 million euro in total. After evalution, renewal is an option. The German Research Foundation finances scientific research and also awards a number of prestigious prizes.