“Technology demos are the ideal way of getting a discussion or brainstorm session underway”
At the beginning of May, my wife and I visited “De Techpeditie”, which was in Leuven at the time. Through this travelling exhibition about imec technology, we are showing how technology can make our lives more fun, healthier and more sustainable. It’s a lot of work to move the 10 containers to a different town or city in Flanders every 2 or 3 weeks and to make the 16 demos ready to perform each time. But it’s well worth the effort! Certainly when you see the enthusiastic faces of children who want to go round it ‘one more time’, or the inquisitive adolescents who view everything critically, or the slightly bemused seniors who are sure that ‘they’ll never be able to get to grips with it’. “De Techpeditie” makes the ideal springboard for initiating a discussion with visitors about technological progress, its importance and value, how important privacy and security are in relation to advances and so on.
Also, at our ITF conference at the end of May, technology demonstrators were very much center-stage. In total, we put on 55 demos during ITF. One of these was about bifacial solar cells. There was a wonderful model with a globe with different surfaces, allowing the researchers to demonstrate that the substrate and type of solar cell technology can make a major difference to the production of electricity. There was also a prototype of a ‘fingerprint sensor’, which uses thin-film technology to transform your whole smartphone screen into a fingerprint scanner. This makes it possible to secure every app with your fingerprint. Radar technology is also becoming increasingly important for the Internet of Things, as well as for smart buildings and driverless cars. During ITF, two demos enabled us to show just how far we have come. How we are developing both low and high-GHz radars for a whole range of applications, such as for detecting and counting people or for identifying individuals, robots and animals, etc.
The demo area was the bustling centerpiece of the ITF conference. Enthralling discussions between our researchers and industry representatives also raised some interesting ideas. When we develop a particular technology, we often already have an application in mind. But then someone from a specific industry sector comes along and sometimes sees very different possibilities for it. This makes a demo the ideal opportunity to bring people together, start a conversation and even to brainstorm about the possibilities of a certain technology.
This June issue of our magazine is also the ideal starting point for ideas. And even though interaction with a magazine is not so spontaneous as it is in a demo area, remember that you can always contact us if you read about a technology that may be of interest to you. This month we bring you news about solar cells that can be incorporated into the outer walls of buildings, a chip that enables doctors to test how stressful medication is for your heart, a new 3D approach for making chips even smaller and with more functions, a new process for producing better and cheaper GaN power electronics and a viewpoint about smart buildings that we heard during ITF. I wish you much reading pleasure!
Luc Van den hove,
General manager and CEO imec