«Falling Walls 2020»: three Empa scientists in the finals

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The three Empa finalists: Marie-Claude Bay, Tanmay Dutta und Jing Wang, Images:

The three Empa finalists: Marie-Claude Bay, Tanmay Dutta und Jing Wang, Images: Empa, ETH

To commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November, various scientists who have achieved special breakthroughs with their research will be honored at the «Falling Walls» conference. Among the 600 finalists at this year’s event are also three Empa scientists.

Since the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, an annual conference has been held to honor scientific breakthroughs that could tear down walls in research and society. Leading scientific institutions from around the world have once again submitted their breakthroughs in ten different categories - Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Engineering & Technology, Social Sciences and Humanities, Science in the Arts, Digital Education, Science and Innovation Management, Emerging Talents, Science Start-Ups, Science Engagement Initiatives. From these, 600 finalists have been nominated, including one scientist and two scientists from Empa and ETH Zurich.

Marie-Claude Bay from the "Materials for Energy Conversion" lab and Tanmay Dutta from the "Magnetic and Functional Thin Films" lab are finalists in the "Emerging Talents" category. Jing Wang from Empa’s "Advanced Analytical Technologies" lab, who is also a professor at ETH Zurich, is a finalist in the "Engineering & Technology" category.

In her research, Marie-Claude Bay is looking for a method of charging novel solid-state batteries ultra-fast and at the same time safely. In the new Empa solid-state battery, the (solid) ceramic electrolyte is to be cleaned by heat treatment in such a way that an optimal interface between the anode and electrolyte is created. Only an ultra-clean surface of the electrolyte enables the extremely fast charging process, i.e. the resistance-free movement of ions between cathode and anode.

Tanmay Dutta’s research is designed to help store huge amounts of data that we need more of today and in the future, for example with Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications - with the least possible loss and in the smallest and fastest possible physical form. Skyrmions are special nanomagnetic structures that could be the basis for a future, large-scale data storage. However, these are often unstable and deform, causing data loss and latency (slower data transfer). Developing novel ferrimagnetic skyrmions could help overcome these problems.

Jing Wang’s research team developed an optical sensor to detect SARS-CoV2 viruses in the air. This should help to better understand and quantify the virus’ transmission routes and to establish early warning systems.

Between 1 - 10 November, numerous digital discussion panels and lectures from various scientific fields will take place as part of the "Berlin Science Week". You can register for and participate online in individual events.

The winners will be announced on Wednesday, November 4. On November 9, they will present their breakthroughs at the Grande Finale.