In 2016, TUT was successful in obtaining funding: for example, the amount of funding obtained from the Academy of Finland continued to increase. In the Academy’s call for key projects, 31% of applications submitted by TUT were accepted, which is considerably above average.
In order to succeed in the intensified competition for funding, the University must know its strengths. TUT has made bold and successful choices in building its research profile. In the Academy of Finland’s second application process for funding university research profiles, TUT was granted funding for photonics research and to strengthen its research on smart machines, which had already received funding previously. In the third funding application process, TUT will focus on its profile in circular economy research.
These profile building efforts have been carried out together with the University of Tampere from the beginning. The universities engage in close cooperation in other respects as well. A total of 20 research communities were chosen for the international assessment of research in 2017. Half of these communities also include researchers from the University of Tampere. The assessment will provide a good basis for the new university’s strategy work.
Ulla Ruotsalainen, Vice President for research 2015-2016
Jarmo Takala took over the position in 2017
Professor Mircea Guina’s research team at the Optoelectronics Research Centre received €2.5 million in ERC funding for research into solar cells of the future. This new technology could potentially make Finland one of the world’s leading countries in next generation solar energy solutions as well as in the field of renewable energy as a whole.
The cells developed in the Advanced III–V Materials and Processes Enabling Ultrahigh-efficiency (50%) Photovoltaics project will be able to recover over a half of the energy contained in rays of the Sun. At present, the best solar panels in the world only operate at an efficiency of 30–40%.
“Percentage-wise, this may not sound like a major improvement, but when you consider the fact that this increased cell efficiency could reduce the energy costs by a fifth, we are talking about billions of euros,” Professor Mircea Guina explains.
Triple-junction solar cells currently represent the pinnacle of the industry. The new cells may comprise up to eight structural layers.
“To give you an idea of the scope: a whole football field full of current silicon cells could be replaced with a few square metres of new cells made of III–V materials.”
There are an estimated 30,000 abandoned water-filled mines in Europe. They contain a great deal of forgotten history and, presumably, valuable minerals. TUT is currently working on developing a diving robot that would allow these mines to be explored.
“Many water-filled mines may contain valuable minerals, but we have thus far lacked the technology to explore them. A robot is a necessary tool, as diving into these mines is too dangerous for people,” says Jussi Aaltonen, who leads the project in Finland.
While underwater, the robot compiles a point cloud of its surroundings, which can then be used as a basis for building a three-dimensional model of the mine. It also takes pictures and records video. The robot’s hyperspectral camera takes photos that show the minerals in different colours.
Finding new mineral resources would help increase the EU’s security of supply.
The project is part of the international four-year UNEXMIN project funded by the Horizon 2020 programme and involves several parties from different European countries. The total funding for the project is almost five million euros, with a little under a million granted to TUT.
A large amount of waste still remains unutilised, even though the opportunities available are enormous. One man’s rubbish may be another man’s treasure. TUT strengthened its circular economy research further in 2016, as it is an important part of the University’s key research area of energy and eco-efficency.
Research in the field was reinforced further when Marika Kokko was appointed to the position of Assistant Professor in mid-September. Kokko wants to develop biological methods for enhancing circular economy.
“Even if we try to minimise the amount of waste when designing products, cities and industries still produce various side and waste streams. These streams can be recycled to recover nutrients and energy, for example.”
“I study various anaerobic bioprocesses for treating urban and industrial waste. These biological processes can be utilised in many ways, such as generating renewable energy and recycling nutrients,” Kokko says.
TUT has a diverse research environment for researching circular economy. Circular economy is being promoted nationally as well as at the level of the European Union.
Science workshops, lectures, Science Slam. In September, the science event Researchers’ Night acquainted the general public with science and the work of scientists all over Europe. Held in Tampere for the first time, the event attracted over a thousand people who were interested in science and scientists.
The LUMATE Centre’s science workshops for children, which were held at Children’s Cultural Centre Rulla, were particularly popular. The workshops gave children the opportunity to examine optical illusions, play puzzle games, and make miniature parachutists.
At Vapriikki, the public was offered information on the future of artificial intelligence, space research, and the dark side of technology. The demo stands featured innovations such as robots, algal shots, and artificial skin.
Science Slam attracted a full house at the Student Union Building in the evening. The light-hearted contest between researchers was won by TUT’s Tenure Track Professor Veikko Sariola, who contemplated the benefits of leg hair in electronics manufacture.
Various activities were also on offer on the campuses of TUT and the University of Tampere. The next Researchers’ Night will take place on 29 September 2017.
Research gives rise to many innovations and spinoff companies. For example, TUT has been researching particle-liquid mixtures for many decades. An online analyser called Collo was developed as part of the research, and the commercialisation project funded by Tekes has now resulted in the founding of a company.
Developed by researchers of materials science and systems engineering, Collo provides companies with a reliable and easy-to-use solution for monitoring liquid processes, based on IoT technology. The Collo platform is being developed for different purposes – for example, researchers are working together with Nokian Vesi to develop it for analysing wastewater. Collo has already been tested in paint, mining, and chemical production, among other things.
“Savings can be achieved by digitalising production, which enhances the use of raw materials, chemicals, energy and time. In other words, we can improve quality and reduce waste,” says Postdoctoral Researcher Matti Järveläinen.
Researchers have also developed a table top version of Collo, on top of which liquid can be analysed directly through the container.
“For the sake of experimentation, we have used it to test if beer has been spiked with drugs. Even if there's just a drop of something extra in a pint, Collo will recognise it,” says Järveläinen.
In 2016, our bold profiling in research bore fruit. For example, the funding we received from the Academy of Finland continued to increase. In the Academy of Finland’s second profiling application, TUT was granted funding for the research of photonics and further funding to strengthen the research of intelligent machines.
In 2016, TUT recruited 24 new tenure track professors.
|Funding by Academy of Finland (MEUR)||10.6||11.3||12.4|
|Publications in Jufo-ranked journals (1280)||1280|
TUT´s profile areas: Digital operating environment, Energy- and eco-efficiency, Health technology, Light-based technologies