The research profile of KiNSIS is currently characterised, in essence, by six main fields Neuroelectronics,
Sensors, Energy systems, Nanomedicine, Reactions at interfaces and Quantum technology. They reflect the diverse research activities of KiNSIS members while pooling their expertise and pursuing fundamental scientific questions and societal challenges. They are based on large interdisciplinary projects as well as excellent individual research and are strategically supported by KiNSIS. The fields are dynamic and partly intertwine. Other planned research initiatives influence the future direction of KiNSIS and contribute to the research focus' ability to develop itself.
For future technologies such as autonomous driving, technical systems are needed that are very good at pattern recognition and, at the same time, use little energy. The human brain could be a model for this: in the course of its evolution, it has developed into a sustainable miracle of efficiency and performance. KiNSIS members have been investigating for many years how principles from biological information processing can be transferred to technical systems. Initially in the Research Group 2093 'Memristive Devices for Neural Systems' and currently together with external partners in the Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 1461 'Neuroelectronics: Biologically inspired information processing'. The aim of the alliance of engineering, life and natural sciences is to develop new electronic components for highly efficient computer architectures. It has been funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) since 2021.
Sensors are ubiquitous in our everyday lives, and are present in a range of items, from smoke detectors to cars to doctors' surgeries. They measure physical or chemical properties and, in some cases, react immediately to the recorded data. KiNSIS members from various disciplines are researching to develop sensor systems and data processing further or to rethink them with a completely new approach. At Collaborative Research Centre 1261 'Magnetoelectronic Sensors' materials science, electrical engineering and medicine are working on highly sensitive, magnetic field-based sensors for medical diagnostics. Unlike electrical measurements such as electrocardiography (ECG), they work without contact and could thus provide better spatial resolution and facilitate long-term examinations. In the EU programme 'SENNET' researchers from chemistry and materials science are developing special sensors based on nanoporous materials to detect pollutants in indoor air. The soil sensors from the EU project 'Soilmonitor' are intended to help farmers apply fertiliser in a more targeted way than before. The Centre for Networked Sensor Systems (ZEVS) at the Faculty of Engineering pools KiNSIS' sensor research and that of other research focuses. Medicine and life sciences, maritime applications, energy technology and the environment come together and science and industry interconnect.
New or improved nanomaterials and a precise understanding of electrochemical processes at the nanoscale can make significant contributions to current energy and sustainability issues. One key to the necessary technical innovations is nano, surface and interface research, which combine expertise from physics, chemistry, materials science and power electronics. In the EU project 'SUPER-HEART' KiNSIS members are working across disciplines and in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology on a modern power grid, which meets the complex challenges of the energy transition. New materials and power electronics systems are to integrate fluctuating energy demands and supplies and decentralised electricity producers and consumers in a reliable manner. Results from projects that are funded by the German government, such as PORSSI, are incorporated as well. The aim was to improve the performance of silicon as a storage material so that electric cars, for instance, can drive longer or charge faster. Insights into electrochemical processes, as they occur in batteries and fuel cells, could lead to longer-lasting electrodes. In the CAPTN innovation network (Clean Autonomous Public Transport Network) regional partners are jointly developing new mobility concepts for autonomous and clean public transport.
In medicine, nanomaterials are used to develop new drugs, diagnostic procedures and medical instruments. As nanoparticles (< 100 nm), small substances and structures can have special properties and be suitable as carriers for drugs, for example, to treat certain diseases. Researchers from materials science and medicine are working in the Research Training Group 2154 'Materials for Brain' on nano- and microscale coatings for implants that could facilitate more targeted and gentle treatments for brain diseases such as epilepsy, aneurysms and tumours. The 'BlueBioPol' research project also has the goal to develop therapies whose effect is as localised as possible: Biohydrogels from algae should be able to transport active substances and release them in a controlled manner through the addition of reactive nanomaterials. Targeted controllable molecules, such as those developed in the Collaborative Research Centre 677 'Function by Switching' are suitable for medical applications. Contrast agents in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), for example, could be activated in a targeted manner and used more gently.
Which properties materials have is decided on a small scale and is determined by the arrangement and behaviour of atoms. Especially at the surface of materials, crucial processes take place at the nanoscale - for example, for example, in plasma treatments in industry or in catalysis. The key technology in chemistry is being investigated in the supraregional Collaborative Research Centre 247 "Heterogeneous Oxidation Catalysis in the Liquid Phase". In many areas of life and nanosciences it plays a crucial role what happens at the interface between liquids and gases - the release of drugs at cell membranes or in molecular electronics, for example. It is important to understand what happens at the interfaces between electrodes and liquids in electrochemical processes in batteries, fuel cells and electrolysis. However, these interfaces are difficult to access with conventional examination methods. For this purpose, KiNSIS members from the field of physics are developing methods that use, for example, high-intensity X-ray light generated at the German Electron Synchrotron DESY research centre in Hamburg. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research is funding several of these projects.
The foundations for quantum physics was laid by Nobel Prize winner Max Planck, born in Kiel. d Today, KiNSIS members are investigating the unusual electronic properties of quantum materials with state-of-the-art high-performance instruments such as those in the Ruprecht Haensel Laboratory or with new methods of electron microscopy, developed by themselfes, or theoretical calculation models. Complex interactions prevail between the numerous electrons inside quantum materials, which is why they behave completely differently from conventional materials. The research field of spintronics uses not only the charge of electrons but also their sense of rotation ("spin"). This quantum mechanical property can lead to the formation of "atomic bar magnets" in magnetic materials. They are suitable for processing and storing information and could be the basis for more energy-saving and more powerful components in information technology. Molecular spintronics combines spintronics with molecular electronics. Here molecules serve as components of electronic devices and can contribute to the miniaturisation of electronics.Quantum-physical effects can also be used, for example, for novel, extremely powerful computers. In quantum computers, the bit, i.e. the smallest unit of information in today's processors, becomes the quantum bit ('qubit'). While a bit assumes either the state 0 or 1, a qubit can enter into all possible combinations. In this way, encryption techniques that are 100% secure can be developed, complex processes in materials or dependencies can be calculated ultra-fast from large amounts of data and, for example, climate developments can be predicted more precisely.