Silicon Austria Labs: Top Research Centre in the Field of EBS
In a network linking science and business, SAL carries out research at the highest global research level. In this way, it creates the basis for new types of products and processes in the fields of sensor systems, power electronics, RF (radio frequency) systems, integration technologies and embedded systems.
Tiny Power Box: Cooperation project with broad-based industrial participation
The project called "Tiny Power Box" is not only a showcase project for power electronics but also a cooperation model of SAL, serving as the basis for the cooperation with industrial partners from different fields along the value chain. In this project, SAL works together with five internationally operating flagship companies specialising in power electronics on a bidirectional onboard charger. In other words, this is a built-in battery charging device for use in e-powered vehicles. In addition to the research centre itself, the project partners are Fronius International GmbH, Infineon Technologies Austria AG, AT & S Austria Technologie & Systemtechnik AG, TDK Electronics GmbH & Co OG and AVL List GmbH. The focus of the project is on optimising the power density of onboard chargers which could also be utilised for industrial facilities. The result is a lower weight, fewer components and less physical space required while ensuring a high level of efficiency for rapid charging and, at the same time, enhanced environmental compatibility. Moreover, the device is designed to allow for a bidirectional energy flow. The electricity flowing into the vehicle via the charging process can also be used as an energy source or as an intermediate storage for other applications. This is an interesting utilisation aspect when combined with solar power facilities, local energy supply systems and also for the purpose of network stabilisation. In this case, the cooperation with the project partners enables a bundling of competencies and know-how in order to secure an unprecedented level of innovative strength.
Radar Tomography: New areas of application in the high frequency range
SAL is working on the project entitled "Radar Tomography", aimed at pushing ahead with the novel use of intelligent radar sensors for industrial applications, together with Infineon DICE GmbH & CoKG and voestalpine Stahl GmbH. At the same time, the project serves as a showcase for the increasing digitalization of Austrian industry with the help of collaborative, cutting-edge research. Two leading technology companies from different industries have been brought together at the SAL research centre, namely Infineon, a worldwide leader in the develop of radar chips, and voestalpine, a leading global manufacturer of high-tech products made of steel and other metals. In turn, this enables the project partners to generate new thought patterns and approaches to solutions which will make a difference on the global marketplace.
Visual Inspection of Quality Control: SAL and voestalpine further expand their partnership
The "Visual Inspection of Quality Control" project, one more example of the ongoing cooperation of SAL and voestalpine, focuses on the use of data-based algorithms for quality control in industrial production. It shows how machine learning and artificial intelligence can significantly improve production and control processes under real conditions. The project broadens the range of applications for research approaches which have long gained recognition under the general heading of the "smart factory" by focusing on real-time capabilities. For example, this enables the early identification of anomalies under real production conditions or the evaluation of results by plant personnel.
Around the world with (MEMS) micromirrors
Products developed by Austrian research can also play a role internationally. One current example is the field of sensor systems, where SAL is investigating the potential of microelectromechanical (MEMS) micromirrors for use in automobile systems within the context of a strategic project. This project was presented to a broad-based professional audience at the biggest MEMS conference held in Vancouver in January 2020. The investigated MEMS micromirrors consist of small mechanical structures on a silicon basis which can oscillate around one or two rotation axes and be scanned by a laser beam. The micromirror developed by SAL is mechanically driven by a piezoelectric PZT thin film. The advantages in deploying such systems in the automobile industry is the comparatively high performance, reduced space requirements and a simplified manufacturing process.
Joint research with Austrian universities
In order to live up to its claim of conducting "research along the entire EBS value chain", SAL jointly carries out research with Austrian universities at so-called "Uni SAL Research Labs". Employees of SAL and the respective university are already researching into various technologies at the Carinthia University of Applied Sciences in Villach, the Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) and Johannes Kepler University Linz. Work is being done on high frequency technologies and new solutions for wireless communication in 5G and WLAN at the "Radio Frequency Front-End RFFE" Lab in Villach. The TU Graz-SAL Dependable Embedded Systems Lab (DES LAB) deals with the reliability of modern computer-based systems, whereas the EMCC and Radio InterOp Lab (EMCC LAB) focuses on the electromagnetic compatibility of electronics-based systems. A mmWave Lab and a testing facility for the next generation of sensors and communication extending up to the high GHz frequency range are being created in Linz. The eSPML Lab is jointly working on signal processing and machine learning. These Uni-SAL Labs comprise the foundation for application-oriented research implemented in collaborative projects with industrial partners.
SAL has not only shown itself to be versatile in the selection of projects, but also operates at three locations in Graz, Linz and Villach. Embedded in established EBS sites, SAL develops innovations along the value chain and thus strengthens the Austria ecosystem of electronics-based systems.