Biweekly magazine of the Eindhoven University of Technology For news: www.cursor.tue.nl and follow tuecursor on andmm
January 24, 2013 | year 55
5 | Fusion@TU/e 3 Colder than absolute zero
4 Pocket radar
6 Ten million for PhDâ€™s
2 | For Starters
January 24, 2013
Fusion is hot
Colophon Editor in chief Han Konings
Executive editor Brigit Span
Editorial staff Judith van Gaal Tom Jeltes | Science Odette Knappers (trainee) Frits van Otterdijk Norbine Schalij Monique van de Ven
Fusion is big. At least in my mind. To obtain energy from the fusion of atomic nuclei, one has to build a huge reactor, containing a plasma that is even hotter than the Sun. Such a reactor, ITER, is planned in Cadarache, in the South of France. Our researchers from Science and Technology of Nuclear Fusion are heavily involved in this international project, preparing students for a future job at ITER. To give these students some hands-on experience with a small-scale fusion experiment, a so-called Fusor has been built
Clmn Stealing in the digital age
(by the students themselves!) here at TU/e. Fusion can be small, it seems. And very close, as you can see on the cover and page 5.
Nicole Testerink Gerard Verhoogt
Photography Rien Meulman Bart van Overbeeke
Translation Annemarie van Limpt (pages 2,3,4,5) Benjamin Ruijsenaars (page 6)
Our Rewwwind feature provides you with snippets of last week’s news. What happened online after the previous Cursor magazine was published?
Layout Natasha Franc
Editorial board prof.dr. Cees Midden prof.dr. Hans Niemantsverdriet Angela Stevens- van Gennip Thomas Reijnaerts Arold Roestenburg Anneliese Vermeulen-Adolfs
Address editorial office TU/e, Laplace 0.35 5600 MB Eindhoven tel. 040 - 2474020 e-mail: email@example.com
Doctorate candidates remain employees for now 23 January - After criticism from the Council of State, the government has decided that doctorate candidates will remain university employees and shall not become students. This means doctorate candidates will be paid wages and won’t have to start paying tuition fees. Universities
are disappointed. They were in favor of the plan because it would have meant that instead of paying wages, they’d only have to pay for the state stipend. They’ve been trying to have their plan approved ever since the mid-90s, because it would save them a lot of money.
There has been a lot of controversy in the past week due to the prosecution of Internet activist Aaron Swartz. The crime? Downloading around 4 million academic journal articles. The sentence? 35 years in prison and 1 million USD. The outcome? Swartz took his own life. Some call him a coward, some a martyr. In the end, it doesn’t matter. By all accounts, he was affected by the outcome of a flawed system where the rules of physical media should no longer apply. No servers were hacked, no physical property trespassed, no malicious intent proven. The affected parties did not pursue litigation, but “stealing is stealing”, and concordantly he was prosecuted. And herein lies the problem. We can no longer hold the laws of the physical over the intangible. It just makes no sense. Granted, this does not mean that there shouldn’t be any laws regarding electronic content. The intellectual property of the copyright holders must be respected. However the punishment system in this regard must be carefully drawn from scratch, because we’re not making sense anymore. Someone downloads a movie or a music album and everyone loses it. But when that same person goes to a library, and copies several chapters from a book? No one bats a single eyelash.
And the issue stems from the concept of potentiality. Someone came in and stole a CD from your store? Well, you just lost a sale, unfortunately. That same person copies the CD and distributes it through the internet? Very well, you just lost a considerable amount of probable sales. There’s a keyword there, and it is ‘probable’. Probability is just that; it’s chance. Punishment for theft should not be pursued over probability, but over certainty. It’s about time we stop having double standards and get our act together.
Emilio Mal do in M.Sc. Au nado second year student tomotiv Monterreye Technology from , Mexico
East entrance campus to be closed for three weeks
TU/e starts pilot with e-bikes en e-scooters for employees
22 January - The east entrance of campus situated at the Insulindelaan will be closed for three weeks starting February 4. The closing is necessary because of the building of the new FOM institute DIFFER. The work
21 January - From 4 February, TU/e employees can borrow an e-bike or e-scooter for a week, for free. The main target group are employees living between seven and twenty kilometers from the TU/e campus.
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progress -and with that the closing of the east entrance- will be dependent on weather conditions. In case of frost, the contractor’s work and planning could be disrupted especially.
Three electrical men’s bikes, three lady bikes and four scooters will be available for the experiment.
Brainmatters Psychology is becoming ever more important at TU/e. Technical systems and artifacts, be they games, cars, robots, lighting systems or buildings, are all meant for human end users eventually. It’s essential to know how these users perceive, think, feel, and act. The new human-oriented program Psychology & Technology examines every technical design from a psychological perspective. From now on, Cursor will be taking a closer psychological look at students, teachers, labs, technical artifacts, the workplace, the scientific business, campus, education, and websites.
Take your time!
The TU/e is the place ‘where innovation starts’. In my experience it is also a place where work pressures have increased considerably over the last years, for employees and students alike. They all are challenged to come up with innovative solutions to urgent, practical problems of an increasingly complex nature, under the pressure of strict, tight deadlines. This requires creativity. But how do these things relate to each other? How creative are we when under time pressure? Many people think that time pressure makes them more creative. They procrastinate and wait for inspiration in the hope that a cut-and-dried solution will present itself once the pressure gets really high. Unfortunately, though, psychological research has shown that this is not how it works. As it turns out, most people are less creative when under time pressure. Time pressure reduces one’s ability to concentrate. It is simply more difficult to get into the flow when one worries about time, and one’s cognitions become less flexible. Plus, there is less time available for exploring different approaches and solutions.
Then again, working way ahead of the deadline is not always profitable either. Often, essential information Josette Gev ers, Assist only becomes available at a later stage and, not ant Profes Psychology sor of Wor , Human Pe k & Organ uncommonly, detailed plans have to be discarded isational rformance Faculty of Managem Industrial ent Group Engineerin again because they don’t fit with newly presented , g & Innova tion Scienc es requirements. Therefore, in many creative professions, people typically show a U-shaped pacing style. They start task activities early to familiarize themselves with the task and to get acquainted with the topic. Then, they put the work aside. They allow ideas to simmer, without actually working on the task itself. Later, when the deadline approaches, they return to the task, get down to it, and finish it in a relatively short time period. The thorough preparations, followed by a period of incubation, allow for ideas to be formed and weighed, after which sufficient time remains to develop them into applicable, smart solutions for complex problems. And that is “where innovation starts”!
For Starters | 3
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Vox Academici Prof.dr.ir. Paul van der Schoot, assistant professor of Theory of Polymers and Soft Matter, Department of Applied Physics
Can it get colder than absolute zero? The Netherlands are currently obsessed with the cold. Having experienced quite a number of subsequent icy days - where the temperature doesn’t make it above 0 centigrade day or night - people are already saying this is the longest cold spell of the past fifty years. Still, this is nothing. The past weeks, physicists have been pretty fanatical about absolute zero: -237 degrees centigrade: 0 Kelvin. A group of German scientists managed to prove it’s possible to realize a temperature below absolute zero. How did they manage, and what does their find mean for physics and our daily lives?
“It’s an interesting study, but it’s not entirely new. There have been several instances where researchers have seen temperatures below absolute zero, but this group has shown a negative temperature that’s thermostable, and that’s new and important for us in order to learn more about temperature”, says
Paul van de Schoot, assistant professor at the Theory of Polymers and Soft Matter group of the Department of Applied Physics (as well as part-time professor of Theoretical Physics at Utrecht University). He reacts from the Physics@FOM Meeting, where close to two thousand physicists get together to discuss the latest news in physics. Absolute zero will definitely be discussed as well, if only during drinks afterwards. “Classical physics has taught us that the lower the temperature, the slower the movement of atoms in a gas. At a certain point it’s so cold, the atoms stop moving altogether, and that happens at 0 Kelvin: absolute zero. In reality, the particles do still move, but classical physics doesn’t apply to temperatures that low. It’s the laws of quantum mechanics that takes over at that point. Researchers manipulated a gas so the atoms went into a high energetic state -meaning they kept moving- so they could go past absolute zero. It gets pretty complicated after that: you’d have to go beyond infinite Kelvin, then to negative infinite Kelvin, and eventually you’d get to the finite negative temperatures. It’s because in the definition of temperature, energy and entropy (chaos) are interconnected. The odd thing about those negative temperatures, then, is that they’re not colder, but actually warmer than 0 K.”
“It won’t radically change physics, although it could be important for cosmology. This special gas seems to mimic the characteristics of dark matter, which is what makes the universe expand. That alone makes this a fun finding, because it allows for connecting results on a tiny atomic scale to those on a cosmic scale - and we all know that’s huge.” “For those who aren’t particularly interested in either physics or cosmology, well… I’m not sure what the practical use could be. What I’d like to point out though, is that the German researchers assume, thanks to the negative temperatures, the theoretical possibility of creating machines with an efficiency of more than one hundred percent. Unfortunately, their article only mentioned it briefly and didn’t elaborate on it, so your guess is as good as mine. Come to think of it, it almost sounds too good to be true: as if you could drive to work in your car and generate fuel instead of using any. Oh well, our fantasy needs to be fueled, too…” (NT)
Paul van der Schoot. Photo | Bart van Overbeeke
Braving the cold at daybreak Heijmans is responsible for the maintenance of the entire campus grounds, and is therefore in charge of ice control as well. For ‘team slipperiness’, consisting of Heijmans employees, the day can start as early as AM on busy days like last Monday. They do their utmost to make sure university grounds are accessible and stay that way.
On Monday morning they scattered approximately kilos of grit the roads, both manually and with gritters. That comes down to grams per square meter on paved areas. On top of that, buckets containing liters of thaw agent were used; this environmentally-friendly substance prevents the grit from sticking to shoes and so entering buildings.
4,000 14 26
The lowest temperature the Heijmans team has had to endure in the early morning was centigrade sometime last year. (MvdV)
Photo | Bart van Overbeeke
4 | Research
January 24, 2013
Pocket radar Thinking about radar usually produces images of satellite dishes tracing ships and airplanes from miles away; it’s not exactly a technique you’d expect to fit on a chip. And yet that’s very well possible, say dr.ir. Reza Mahmoudi, associate professor at Mixed-signal Microelectronics (MsM), and dr.ir. Paul van Zeijl of the recently founded OmniRadar. Late last year they were awarded a 200,000-euro Valorization Grant for marketing their One-Chip-Radar, a radar system on a chip.
“When you mention radar, everyone immediately visualizes the satellite dishes used by the navy in Den Helder or at Schiphol, which are some five meters across”, says Mahmoudi. “Radar systems like that can spot airplanes and ships from great distances. They require a great amount of power. If you’re interested in nearby objects however, you can make do with a smaller system
using less power. On top of that the resolution, or accuracy, of large radar systems is quite limited, which is fine if you’re looking for ships that are several dozen meters in length, but we’ve built radar that can distinguish between details measuring less than a centimeter. Doing so requires a higher frequency.” Radar is a type of echolocation. Bats
map their surroundings by producing high-frequency sounds and listening to their reverberations. Radar works in much the same way, but uses radio waves. Radar enables measuring the distance and size of objects, but also - through the Doppler Effect - its speed in relation to the radar. The higher the frequency, the shorter the wavelength of the transmitted waves, and the more accurate the visualization of objects or surfaces will be. One Megahertz equals a 300-meter wavelength; one hundred Gigahertz equals three millimeters. The frequency used has a direct influence on the size of the antennae required. “We’re using a frequency band of about 60 Gigahertz”, says the Iranian-born Mahmoudi. “It means the antennae we work with are just a few millimeters in size, and so they fit on a chip.” One of the advantages of 60 Gigahertz is the availability of some ‘free space’: the frequency has a license-free frequency band of approximately seven Gigahertz that may be used to transmit signals freely - up to a certain capacity because those frequencies aren’t used for radio, mobile telephony and the like. For that reason, the MsM group has been working on 60-Gigahertz electronic systems for years. For the design of the required antennae, they are aided by prof.dr. Bart Smolders and doctoral candidate Ulf Johannsen of the Electromagnetics group (EM). Research on this topic has already led to several doctorates, and now it has also set in motion the One-Chip-Radar idea, a silicon chip measuring only 6 x 7 x 1 millimeters.
The antennae are just a few millimeters in size What’s unique about the new system is that all parts are integrated in one chip, including the antennae and the conversion from analog to digital signals. Obviously, complicated calculations will require an external processor, and the unit will of course need to be fitted with electricity, but radar on a chip is much more convenient than one taking up half an aircraft carrier. In short, it seems radar smartphones could soon be a reality. Because yes, the One-Chip-Radar is meant for consumer markets, says Van Zeijl, a Delft-based engineer who’s worked with Mahmoudi before at Philips. “In Germany especially, they’re working very hard on a radar system for cars that looks ahead, so a car may be attached virtually to the car in front, creating a so-called road train.” The system measures the distance to the car in front by having radar look ahead several hundreds of meters, so the car can respond to the driving of the driver in front of it - either automatically or not. Ideally, it should lead to fewer traffic jams and accidents. Several research groups at TU/e, united in the ATeam, are currently working on similar solutions for ‘cooperative driving’. Reza Mahmoudi and Paul van Zeijl. Photo | Bart van Overbeeke
Research | 5
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to introduce a cheap radar system like that to the market. The fact that all parts fit onto a single chip will already keep down the costs significantly.” Mahmoudi adds: “We’re working with NXP semiconductors, who have a very cheap production process for silicon. Unfortunately, that does make for a more challenging design process. It’s a bit like signing up for a Formula 1 race with a second-hand car.”
It seems radar smartphones could soon be a reality
To that end, tests were carried out on the freeway between Helmond and Eindhoven.
Van Zeijl: “This ‘look-ahead’ radar system is merely an extra feature in a car and should therefore be relatively
cheap, no more than several dozen euros. It means the parts have to be very cheap. We aim at being the first ones
They’ll have to hurry to seize their chance on the consumer market, though. Mahmoudi: “The moment a major company like Samsung decides it’s a valuable technique, we can forget it. So we have to work fast. On the other hand, if in a few years a multinational decides to buy OmniRadar or purchase the intellectual property of the One-Chip-Radar, then that’s fine.” Radar on a chip can be used for more than just car systems, says van Zeijl. Sensors used to open doors automatically also work with radar, for example. “Those systems are rather large and
expensive, and don’t work perfectly yet. But there are more potential uses. The chip could measure the oil level in large oil tankers on the Maasvlakte very accurately, they might be fit into robot fingers to measure the distance to an object, and radar could be used in hydraulic cylinders to determine stretching to the millimeter.” Van Zeijl continues with yet another practical example. “There are infrared sensors that check whether or not people are present in an office space. If not, the lights switch off automatically to save energy. However, if you’re calmly typing away at your desk the lights turn off as well. Radar detection can make sure that doesn’t happen.” In all these examples, radar could be an addition to or improvement of existing sensors, Mahmoudi adds. “The goal of this project is to market advanced techno logy, and in this case that’s radar. It’s exactly what the government expects us to do.” (TJ)
Fusion @ TU/e If you want to study nuclear fusion, why not build a miniature fusion device in your lab? Last week, first fusion reactions were produced in a device called a ‘Fusor’, essentially designed and developed by students in the PlasmaLab@TU/e, a new facility
operated for educational purposes by the TU/e plasma physics groups. The picture shows the inside of the Fusor during an experiment last Friday where a fusion plasma produced almost a million neutrons per second, placing the device among a handful of best
performing Fusors in the world. We are looking through the window of a spherical vacuum chamber, containing a smaller sphere of glowing hot nickel wires ten centimeters across. A voltage of 55 kilovolts, applied to the nickel sphere, accelerates deuterium ions to
energies high enough to allow fusion reactions to occur on collision with other deuterium ions or atoms. The high voltage is applied through a wire entering the Fusor from above, creating a bluish glow. The promising results mean that,
Photo | PlasmaLab@TU/e
in parallel to its educational function, a research program will be set up around the Fusor in the group Science and Technology of Nuclear Fusion (TU/e department of Applied Physics). (TJ)
6 | Zoom in
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Extra investment to keep research up to standard Text | Gerard Verhoogt Photo | Bart van Overbeeke TU/e will in the next few years invest ten million euro to put a partial stop to the impending decrease in the number of doctoral candidate positions. Executive Board chairman Arno Peels recently announced that measure during his New Year’s speech. PhD students are of crucial importance to TU/e”, says Steef Blok, director of the Innovation Lab, “they account for more than eighty percent of all our inventions.”
Ten million euro will enable TU/e to appoint some fifty doctoral candidates in the coming years. Still, TU/e only finances a doctoral candidate if the business community does so as well. Hence, this joint arrangement should result in around 100 doctoral candidates, as against the 200 to 250 that threaten to be lost due to reductions in subsidies. After all, the FES funds (the proceeds of Dutch natural gas, ed.) that were formerly used to pay for the aio’s are now being used by the Cabinet to push back the budget deficit. At the same time, a stagnation of European subsidy schemes is imminent. “If TU/e did not make this investment, we would in the long run miss almost a quarter of our research capacity. Ten million is really a substantial investment and the one hundred PhD students it would allow us to appoint are a significant number”, asserts Sjoerd Romme, dean of the Department of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences (IE&IS). “If the scheme is also used as a lever for other financing steps, it may lead to an extra effort to land big programs elsewhere as well. There would be a reinforcing effect.” Steef Blok, director of the Innovation Lab, calls it a fantastic initiative: “You should bear in mind that eighty percent of our inventions is generated by this type of research. If that decreases, so will the collaboration with the corporate sector and the valorization of those inventions.”
There will be a ‘light’ procedure for the applications Had the Executive Board not taken this initiative, the departments would also have had to skimp considerably, says Romme. Indeed, if the number of research projects decreases, the scientific staffing will be reduced as well. Romme estimates that it would definitely take another ten years to arrive at the old number of PhD students again. He draws a comparison between the investment of ten million and the
knowledge worker scheme of two years ago: “In case of a temporary downturn you should not fire a lot of people, for a number of them will leave and never come back.” Potential companies for collaboration include ASML, DSM and Philips, and talks with the last-mentioned company appear to have reached an advanced stage already. Blok sees yet other options, like cooperation with SMEs: “As you only need half of the original amount with this scheme for the payment of a PhD student, research also becomes interesting for consortiums of bigger SMEs like Sioux (embedded systems), VDL or Simac (ICT). At the Innovation Lab we are already working on that, but now we have an extra that we can offer.” It has been agreed with the Executive Board that there will be a ‘light’ procedure, holding concise proposals, Romme explains. “We don’t want a flood of assessment committees and a whole series of feedback rounds as when you submit an NWO application. That takes a great deal of time, which would be better spent on education, research or other research applications. We really try to limit the number of proposals and to coordinate them well.” At present departments are deliberating which research projects qualify for the ten million euro. What criteria should be met by the applications, on which items will the Executive Board focus in its selection? Romme: “One of the conditions is that it should preferably be embedded in one of the three Strategic Areas: Health, Smart Mobility and Energy. This will give professors whose research is not encompassed by those three an extra impulse to connect their research with those areas.” Before long the Executive Board will come up with an appeal to submit proposals as well as a list of criteria. Neither Romme nor Blok advocates the even distribution of the ten million euro among the departments; both favor a choice for contents and quality, and multidisciplinary research groups. Blok: “I would say: decide on multidisciplinary projects and on research groups that collaborate with the business community.
Photo | Bart van Overbeeke
That also fits in perfectly with the policy pursued by the European Union and the top sector policy of the government. And there is an additional bonus: if you
invite applications for a multidisciplinary project, you can jointly describe a research protocol and the impact. Later you can link up further subsidy
applications to them for follow-up research.”
Where will the money come from? A doctoral candidate costs TU/e some 50,000 euro annually. Thus, there must be 2.5 million euro available per year for 50 PhD students, and given a term of four years that works out at ten million. If the business community also funds fifty positions - either by paying for them itself, or by supplying the funds to TU/e - that would yield one hundred PhD students for the next four years. At the moment there are some 200 to 250 doctoral candidates active at TU/e who are not on the university’s payroll. This group of PhD students is largely being paid by the business community and is on companies’ payroll. Altogether TU/e has about 1.200 doctoral candidates. TU/e can realize the new investments with a balanced budget and operating costs, says Ruud van de Donk, head of Finances and Economic Affairs: “At the end of last year it became clear that the extended-studying scheme would not go on, which also canceled the cutbacks that would be imposed upon TU/e within that framework. Moreover, additional data from the ministry showed that TU/e is getting some two million euro extra annually -and structurally. This enables us already to finance most of the required 2.5 million per year.” However, unexpectedly the ministry also made money available for wage and price increases, which Van de Donk estimates will boil down to a structural government grant of 1.9 million euro. That money will first be used to finance the new collective bargaining agreement, and whatever is left is earmarked for the new doctoral candidate positions. Van de Donk: “That covers most of the 2.5 million, but maybe not quite. Earlier the Executive Board reserved money for the financing of the Strategy 2020, which has not yet been allocated to projects. Perhaps we can finance the remainder from that.” However, the expected decrease in doctoral candidates is even higher than the one hundred PhD students that TU/e and the business community now wish to finance. As yet it is not clear whether there will be any money available again in 2014 for further compensation of the decrease; the Executive Board still needs to make choices for additional policy.
Published on Jan 23, 2013