Big scope for Indo-German electronics R&D partnership: Dr Prof. Kutter
The German Fraunhofer Research Institution for Microsystems and Solid State Technology (Fraunhofer EMFT) stands for applied research into sensors and actuators for people and the environment. Its competencies include: Functional Molecules, Silicon Technologies, Devices and 3D Integration, Foil Technologies, Micropumps and Design, Test & System Integration. Each of these competences in its own right allows new kinds of sensors and actuators to be created. Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Christoph
Kutter, Director Fraunhofer EMFT, in a question and answer session, said that, “The German R&D landscape has a strong background in most of these areas, especially in the fields of sensor, analogue, opto and power technologies. India is very strong in software development and in integrated chip design. Bringing together these competences holds great potential for successful R&D collaboration between the 2 countries.” The excerpts:
Q: What are the emerging trends in the field of microelectronics globally?
Prof. Kutter: According to the recently published high tech strategy of the German federal government, the following trends will be shaping the future of microelectronics: Multifunctional electronic systems and system integration technologies; Power electronics for energy efficiency;Innovative tools for chip and system design; Chip-based security technologies; Novel production technologies – precise, reliable and cost-efficient.
Innovation and research activities in these areas are mandatory for tackling the ground challenges facing our society on a global scale today and in the future.
Q: What are the prospects for IndoGerman collaboration in this field?
Prof. Kutter: The German R&D landscape has a strong background in most of these areas, especially in the fields of sensor, analogue, opto and power technologies. India is very strong in software development and in integrated chip design. Bringing together these competences holds great potential for successful R&D collaboration between the 2 countries. Such activities could be supported by suitable bilateral research programmes and targeted technology transfer undertakings.
Q: The Electronic market in India is expected to be a $400 billion worth by 2020, which is currently stated at $91 billion (source: India Brand Equity Foundation). The thrust areas of investment are semiconductor manufacturing i.e. ESDM (electronics system design manufacturing), telecommunication equipment manufacturing, medical electronics, automotive electronics and solar energy. Can you please highlight some of Fraunhofer R&D competencies in the aforesaid areas?
Prof. Kutter: The 67 Fraunhofer institutes can flexibly combine their competences, depending on the individual requirements and goals of each collaborative undertaking. Institutes working in related subject areas also cooperate in Fraunhofer Groups and foster a joint presence on the R&D market. The Fraunhofer Groups include:Information and Communication Technologies Life Sciences Microelectronics Light &; Surfaces Production Defence and Security Materials and Components
Whereas all the Fraunhofer Groups can certainly contribute to the observed thrust areas of investments in India to a certain degree, one of the most relevant ones is probably the Fraunhofer Group for Microelectronics with its combined core competences which include: Semi conductor- based technologies, sensors and sensor systems, power electronics and system technologies for energy supply, design for smart systems, RF and communication technologies, quality and reliability, and system integration technologies. Bundling the core competences of the member institutes allows sector----
specific, holistic and tailor-made system developments for the industry partners.
Q: Do you see Fraunhofer EMFT collaborating with OEMs in India as a technology resource partner?
Prof. Kutter: Fraunhofer, in general, is pursuing several activities outside Germany as a technology resource partner to industry today. Important is to achieve a win-win situation for both parties, i.e. lasting, successful business relationships are only possible, if both partners benefit from the cooperation. For Fraunhofer EMFT it would be important to build trustful, long-term relationships to industrial partners in India. Cooperation with Indian industry could also be established via a German company having operations, OEM’s or strategic industry partners in India, since supporting the German industry abroad is of particular interest to Fraunhofer.
Q: One of the factors hampering the growth of electronics in India is lack of targeted and proactive R&D in collaboration with industry. What scope do you see for Fraunhofer EMFT in India.
Prof. Kutter: Fraunhofer EMFT could envision delivering innovative technologies to OEMs in India in areas like semiconductor manufacturing, MEMS, flexible electronics or sensor and actuator systems. The technology transfer could include common R&D activities with the industry, technology consulting by Fraunhofer EMFT or staff exchange agreements. Such activities could be financed via R&D contracts directly with the industry, or via targeted research projects funded mutually by the Indian and German governments. Fraunhofer EMFT could also support the Indian research infrastructure by helping to install “Fraunhofer-like” operation models for collaborative R&D in India.
Q: Could you please highlight some of your recent technology inventions/innovations at Fraunhofer EMFT?
Prof. Kutter: One example of the innovative developments of Fraunhofer EMFT is the smallest micropump in the world. Reliable, nanoliter-exact micro dosing systems are essential for several applications in the medical technology, such as drug delivery or wound therapy. In the manufacturing environment, the micropump can help save material and reducing waste, e.g. by exact dosage of lubricants for the production machinery. Another interesting recent technology project is the lab-on- foil system for point-of- care diagnosis of infectious diseases. The system is based on electronics printed on plastic foils, which enables low production costs, thus making the system suitable for disposable use in environments with no access to expensive laboratory infrastructure.
“Fraunhofer EMFT could envision delivering innovative technologies to OEMs in India in areas like semiconductor manufacturing, MEMS, flexible electronics or sensor and actuator systems.”