Collaborative Research Centres
Collaborative Research Centres at FAU
Collaborative Research Centres (CRCs) and Transregios (TRs) are research institutions at universities which are awarded long-term funding where researchers work together as part of an interdisciplinary research programme. FAU is currently involved in 14 CRCs/TRs and is the coordinating university for nine of these projects.
Collaborative Research Centres coordinated by FAU
Additive manufacturing describes production technologies which construct components in layers according to a computer model. In the future, it will be possible to produce plastic and metal components directly from a computer at the click of a mouse, very much like printing on paper today. CRC 814 concentrates on the fundamental questions surrounding this promising technology. A better understanding of how powder behaves during production will be used to manufacture new and improved powder materials, and optimise machine design and processes.
Synthetic carbon allotropes such as fullerenes, carbon nanotubes and graphenes are one of the most promising families of materials today. Due to their unique electrical, optical, mechanical and chemical properties, they have a great deal of potential for high-performance applications in areas of nanoelectronics and optoelectronics, in hydrogen storage, in sensors, and in polymer strengthening.
Inflammation is an important repair mechanism that activates the body’s immune cells in order to respond to tissue stress and damage. CRC 1181 aims to gain a better understanding of the molecular processes involved in stopping this immune response after repairs have been completed. This is important as immune cells that are not deactivated continue to act on healthy tissue, leading to chronic inflammation which is manifested as conditions such as asthma or arthritis. Researchers at CRC 1181 are investigating fundamental immune mechanisms, the activation of defence cells, and the relationship between tissue structure and cell death in order to find out why the immune response is not deactivated in the case of chronic inflammation.
CRC 1411 focuses on optimising nanoparticle design. For this purpose, particle syntheses are combined with novel separation methods for classifying nanoparticles. The key feature of this approach is that production is optimised in such a way that particles with engineered properties can be produced in continuous processes. These elegant approaches to property and process design replace current methods that are often highly complex and based on experiments. Thanks to this innovation, the new CRC will make important contributions to the digitalisation of the product design of particle systems. In 20 individual projects, researchers from the fields of chemical engineering, materials sciences, mathematics and physics will design, produce and characterise new nanoparticles. Designing particles with special optical properties is a central aspect of this research. Within the framework of the CRC, a research training group has been set up for doctoral research in nanoparticle design – a world first. The CRC is also breaking new ground in dealing with the large amounts of data generated in the experiments and simulations.
The goal of CRC/TR 73 is to optimise components made of sheet metal. One aspect of research is how the functionality and complexity of sheet metal can be increased. The second research focus is developing new, robust and flexible manufacturing processes in the first ever attempt to combine sheet metal forming processes with processes used in bulk metal forming. This should make it possible to produce integrated components which have fewer individual parts, as well as high-performance and lightweight components which can be produced in both large and small quantities.
The key innovative idea behind invasive computing is to introduce resource-aware programming support. This means that a programme can dynamically distribute its computing processes to neighbouring processors, in a process similar to a phase of invasion. Code with a high degree of parallelism is then run in parallel through the available (invasible) parts of the multi-processor architecture.
CRC/ TR 130 contributes to the fundamental understanding of autoimmune diseases by carrying out research into why the immune system turns on the body in certain diseases. As B cells are often the root cause in diseases which are based on autoimmune reactions, CRC/Transregio 130 is focusing its research on the antibody response to foreign bodies triggered by B cells and what goes wrong in this process in autoimmune diseases.
The goal of CRC/Transregio 154 is to meet the challenges of energy reform using mathematical modelling, simulation and optimisation in order to provide solutions which set a new quality standard. New knowledge of various fields of mathematics, such as mathematical modelling, numerical analysis and simulation, or integer, continuous and stochastic optimisation are required to achieve this.
The aim of CRC/TRR 241 is to better understand the interaction between cells in mucous membranes and immune cells in the bowel and to develop more effective therapy methods for chronic inflammation. During the next few years, researchers will integrate findings about the regulation and function of the immune system in the bowel and current data about anti-microbial defence on the mucous membrane barrier into a new concept. The individual projects will focus in particular on the role of misdirected communication between epithelium and immune cells during the pathogenesis of IBD. The researchers’ long-term aim is to develop medication that targets the causes of bowel inflammation while retaining the ability of the immune system to fight infections and cancer cells. In addition, they hope to find diagnostic methods that predict patients’ response to therapies – a goal that not only serves to relieve symptoms quickly, but should also contribute to lowering treatment costs.
Collaborative Research Centres involving FAU
More than two million people suffer from chronic kidney disease in Germany alone. 80,000 of them with scarred kidneys which are no longer capable of functioning rely on dialysis treatment. The aim of modern medicine is therefore to recognise kidney disease at an early stage and use specific treatments to prevent or slow down further damage, in particular excessive inflammation and scarring processes. A major problem facing those hoping to develop specific approaches for treating kidney disease is the fact that kidney damage often involves complex interactions between the various types of cell in the tubule system and the interstitium, whilst the underlying signals and mechanisms are still largely unknown.
The new Collaborative Research Centre 1350 made up of an interdisciplinary team of kidney researchers from Regensburg and Erlangen has thus set itself the ambitious goal of exploring the pathophysiology and interactions between the various types of cell in the kidney of relevance to the disease.
Monocrystalline superalloys are key materials in the manufacturing of turbine blades for modern gas turbines, such as those used in space technology and energy production. For this reason, they are as essential for modern society as they are for a sustainable energy supply. Using new monocrystalline technology in gas turbines increases efficiency while reducing harmful emissions – one of the main aspects of research by CRC/TR 103.
Blood stem cell transplants are one treatment option for certain forms of leukaemia and lymph node cancer. However, in some patients immunological reactions can occur between the transplanted cells and the healthy tissue after the transplant. This often causes damage to the skin, liver and intestines. CRC/TR 221 is therefore researching the immunological mechanisms of blood stem cell transplants. The long-term aim is to increase the tolerability of this therapy and to suppress undesirable immune reactions.
This collaborative research centre/Transregio is dealing with a new field of research where structures are generated using 3D printing in which cells and materials are arranged in structures similar to tissues. In the long term, this method could be used to create tissue models that could replace animal testing, for example. CRC/TR 225 is conducting research in the foundations of biofabrication and is investigating the behaviour of cells before and after the printing process. In addition, it is seeking to develop new materials and processes for 3D printing of tissue.
In all fields of product manufacturing, such as automotive and mechanical engineering, individual parts are joined to form structures with several connection points. The joinability of parts is the key to efficient production processes. In addition to the need for a prognosis of joinability, the growing number of combinations of materials and geometries means that inflexible mechanical joining processes need to adapt. Up to now, these needed to be tailored to new combinations, which is a complex process. CRC/Transregio “Method development for increasing mechanical joinability in adaptable process chains” will research methods for increasing adaptability in the areas of materials (suitability for joining), construction (joining safety) and manufacturing (joining capability) as well as for joinability prognosis.