The Finnish Research Impact Foundation to support academia-industry collaboration - three new projects starting at Aalto

The newly funded joint ventures research and develop technologies for faster testing methods in quantum technologies, super-repellent coating for medical applications, and high-performance mid-infrared fibre lasers.
An illustration with the text Impact from research

Tandem Industry Academia funding programme of the The Finnish Research Impact Foundation is aimed at enhancing the impact of research through increased cooperation with industry partners. Aalto professors Mikko Möttönen, Robin Ras and Zhipei Sun received funding together with their industry partners. 

Aalto University professor Mikko Mottonen, photo Mikko Raskinen

Faster testing methods in quantum technology

The development of quantum technology involves a wide range of exciting applications, such as fast computing and secured communications. In this joint project scientists at Aalto University and Bluefors Oy are working to develop a new type of measuring device that will speed up the testing of different components used in quantum computers and in quantum technology more generally. It will therefore accelerate the development of quantum computers and computers already under construction. The project contributes to quantum research in two ways. Firstly, real-time microwave pulses are detected using bolometers, which paves the way to bolometric quantum bit or ‘qubit’ readout. Secondly, the project will introduce a new tool to achieve power calibration and spectrum analysis at cryogenic temperatures.

“This funding will facilitate the university’s collaboration with business partners through the individual appointed to the position. This is why it’s an ideal way of exporting results produced in academic research out into business companies’ products,” says Möttönen.

Robin Ras, photo: Mikko Raskinen.

Contaminant-repellent coatings can meet the needs of many branches

Just about every surface material is liable to become contaminated, especially in challenging conditions. Dirt and other contaminants adversely affect the technical performance and uses of surface coatings, for instance in medical equipment, sensors and cameras. In this project researchers from Aalto University are working closely with GE Healthcare to develop a new kind of super-repellent coating for medical applications. The researchers drew their inspiration for the project from nature.

“Nature has ingenious ways of keeping surfaces clean, from mud-repellent lotus flower leaves to dew-repellent butterfly wings. Our aim is to develop a completely novel type of repellent surface coating that has application not only in the field of medicine but more widely,” says Ras.

Zhipei Sun

Laser technology to bring enhanced impact in several fields

Mid-infrared ultrafast fibre lasers play an essential role in various new and emerging areas of application, such as sensing, imaging and medicine. The aim of this multidisciplinary project is to combine Aalto University’s unique expertise in nanotechnologies with the know-how of nLight Oy in optical fibre and laser technologies and to develop high-performance mid-infrared fibre lasers. The Tandem funding model provides the ideal platform for this kind of project geared to achieving wide-ranging impacts.

“I was very excited about this new funding model that includes one year at the university and one year in industry. It’s a unique and different kind of funding system compared to other Finnish and European mechanisms and just right for our needs,” says Sun.

The projects involve precompetitive research, which will not only produce important scientific results but also strengthen Finnish industry and its competencies. In projects funded under the Tandem Industry Academic model, academic researchers with a PhD will work for one year in the academic partner organization and another year more closely with the business partner.

“We expect that the projects will inspire the movement of new knowledge and competencies in both directions and in this way promote both scientific and commercial interests,” says Lauri Oksanen, Chairman of the Board of the Finnish Research Impact Foundation.

The Finnish Research Impact Foundation is a research funding agency launched in spring 2019 by the Finnish government. It was given an initial capital stock of 60 million euros. FRIF’s mission is to promote the impact of Finnish cutting-edge research by strengthening collaboration between academia and industry.

More information on all the 11 projects funded.

Photos: Mikko Raskinen and Anni-Hanen-Kajander.

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