Upcoming Seminars and Events

Capillary interaction, micromanipulation and materials characterization

Prof. Quan ZHOU Department of Electrical Engineering and Automation of the Aalto University, Finland https://www.aalto.fi/people/quan-zhou  

This talk will present our research in surface tension driven micromanipulation, wetting control, microfluidic manipulation, and recently invented scanning droplet adhesion microscope that can measure the fine wetting details of water repellent surfaces. Additionally, this talk will report our other microrobotic instruments, including acoustic manipulation device and robotized electromagnetic needle device.

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Constructing and Using a Locomotor Circuit in Drosophila

Prof. Richard Mann, Columbia University, New York City, NY (USA)

(sandwiches served)
Abstract / Bio (about the speaker):
Richard Mann is the Higgins Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, and holds an Interdisciplinary Faculty appointment in the Department of Systems Biology. He uses the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model system for studying a range of problems related to how transcription factors coordinate complex processes during animal development. The lab is particularly interested in the Hox family of homeodomain genes, which code for transcription factors that specifiy tissue and cellular identities across the animal kingdom. The Hox projects address how these transcription factors are able to specifically regulate their target genes during development. Their studies have also focused on motor neuron differentiation in the fly leg, the development of the proximal-distal axis in leg development, and the regulation of tissue growth and organ size. In collaborations with Barry Honig and Harmen Bussemaker, the Mann Lab is also developing novel computational tools to discover transcriptional regulatory regions and analyze DNA binding specificities on a global scale.
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Rare earth high performance magnets for energy applications: Demand, sustainability and the reality of alternatives

Prof. Oliver Gutfleisch, TU Darmstadt Germany

Magnetic materials are key components in energy technologies, robotics, sensors and information technology. Magnets are inseparable from our everyday life. “Green” energy technologies such as wind turbines, electro-mobility and solid state cooling, rely on high performance magnetic materials which have to be available in bulk quantities, at low-cost and with tailored magnetic hysteresis.
The realisation of renewable energy technologies is generally linked to the sustainable availability of strategic metals such as the group of rare earth elements (REE) namely Nd, Gd, Tb, Dy, transition metals such as Co, Ga, Ge, In, and the platinum group metals. Resource criticality is understood here as a concept to assess potentials and risks in using raw materials and their functionality in emerging technologies. Specifically, the demand, sustainability and the reality of alternatives of rare earth elements will be discussed.
There is an ever-growing demand for the benchmark high performance Nd-Fe-B magnets. The increase in e-mobility and wind energy and other smart magnet usages in the future has yet to have its impact on the rare earth market. No substitute is at hand for the massive amounts of high-energy density magnets needed; yet various concept of heavy rare earth free, free rare earth and rare earth free magnets are being explored.
Gas-vapour compression technology for refrigeration, heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning has remained unchallenged for more than 150 years. There is a huge demand for a smarter, more flexible and more efficient cooling technology. Magnetic refrigeration could be that alternative working without gas-based refrigerants. Energy spent for domestic cooling is expected to outreach that for heating worldwide over the course of the twenty-first century.
I will address these different global trends and will attempt to scale bridge these challenges by discussing the modelling, synthesis, characterization, and property evaluation of novel magnetic materials considering their micromagnetic length scales, phase transition characteristics and hysteretic properties.
[1] O. Gutfleisch, M. A. Willard, E. Brück, C. H. Chen, S. G. Sankar, and J. P. Liu, Magnetic materials and devices for the 21st century: stronger, lighter, and more energy efficient. Adv. Mater. 23 (2011) 82.
[2] K.P. Skokov and O. Gutfleisch, Heavy rare earth free, free rare earth and rare earth free magnets - vision and reality, Scripta Materialia View Point Set, 154 (2018) 289-294.
[3] T. Gottschall, A. Gracia-Condal, M. Fries, A. Taubel, L. Pfeuffer, L. Manosa, A. Planes, K.P. Skokov, O. Gutfleisch, A multicaloric cooling cycle that exploits thermal hysteresis, Nature Materials, accepted.
[4] M. Duerrschnabel, M. Yi, K. Uestuener, M. Liesegang, M. Katter, H.-J. Kleebe, B. Xu, O. Gutfleisch, L. Molina-Luna, Atomic structure and domain wall pinning in samarium -cobalt based permanent magnets, Nature Communications 8:54 (2017).
[5] J. Liu, T. Gottschall, K.P. Skokov, J.D. Moore, O. Gutfleisch, Giant magnetocaloric effect driven by structural transition, Nature Mat. 11 (2012) 620.

Prof. Oliver Gutfleisch is a full Professor (W3) for Functional Materials at TU Darmstadt and a scientific manager at Fraunhofer IWKS Materials Recycling and Resource Strategies. He studied Material Science at TU Berlin, did his PhD in Birmingham, UK, and was a group leader at Leibniz Institute IFW Dresden. 2012 he joined TU Darmstadt. His scientific interests span from new permanent magnets for power applications to solid state energy efficient magnetic cooling, ferromagnetic shape memory alloys, magnetic nanoparticles for biomedical applications, and to solid state hydrogen storage materials with a particular emphasis on tailoring structural and chemical properties on the nanoscale. Resource efficiency on element, process and product levels as well as recycling of rare earth containing materials are also in the focus of his work.
He has published more than 370 papers in refereed journals, and has given more than 210 invited talks. In 2011 he was an IEEE Magnetics Society Distinguished Lecturer on the topic of Magnet Materials for Energy. He is on the Intl. Advisory Committees of JEMS, of the Int. Workshop on Rare Earth Permanent Magnets and their Applications and of the Magnetic Refrigeration Intl. Working Party, and of the TMS Magnetic Materials Committee. He served on the IEEE Magnetics Society AdCom (2011-2013). He is EU ERAMIN (Network on the Industrial Handling of Raw Materials for European Industries) advisor on substitution, a member of the EU ERECON (European Rare Earths Competency Network) Steering Committee and chairs the DGM Fachausschuss Functional Materials. He did hold visiting Professorships at Imperial College London and Chinese Academy of Science NIMTE Institute in Ningbo and from autumn 2017 he is a visiting Professor at University of Parma. In April 2017 he was awarded an ERC Advanced Grant (Cool Innov) and he will receive the Prize of the German Materials Society (DGM Prize 2018).

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Mitigating Side Channels in Deduplicating Cloud Storage

Dr. Mohsen Toorani, Department of Informatics, University of Bergen

Outsourced storage is by now strikingly prevalent for individuals and enterprises. Cloud storage providers (CSPs) use deduplication for saving bandwidth and storage which helped them to reduce the costs tremendously. Deduplication is the process by which CSPs only store one copy of each file, irrespective of how many times that file is uploaded. Client-side deduplication, where the client only uploads the file upon the request of the server, provides significant storage and bandwidth savings but introduces some security concerns. An adversary can exploit side-channel information in several attack scenarios when deduplication takes place at the client side, leaking information on whether a specific plaintext exists in the cloud storage. In this talk, we elaborate on these attack scenarios on deduplicating cloud storage systems and discuss some possible countermeasures, specifically the method of probabilistic uploads. We introduce formal definitions for deduplication strategies and their security in terms of adversarial advantage. Using these definitions, we provide a criterion for designing good strategies and then prove a bound characterizing the necessary trade-off between security and efficiency. Generalizing existing security definitions, we introduce formal security games for some possible adversaries in this domain and show that games representing all natural adversarial behaviors are in fact equivalent. These results allow users and practitioners alike to accurately assess the vulnerability of deployed systems to this real-world concern and identify the steps required to mitigate the security risks. 
Mohsen Toorani is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Informatics at the University of Bergen. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Bergen in 2015. Since 2016, he has been working on a collaborative project with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology on Cryptographic Tools for Cloud Security. His research interests include cryptographic protocols and primitives and security of distributed systems. He has served as the editorial board member, TPC member, and reviewer for several journals and conferences and is a member of the IACR, IEEE, and ACM. 

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Rhythms for Cognition: Communication through Coherence

Prof Pascal Fries, Ernst Strüngmann Institute, Frankfurt, GE

I will show that continuous optogenetic stimulation of excitatory neurons in visual cortex results in strong gamma-band oscillations, and respective white-noise stimulation reveals gamma-band resonance. Correspondingly, visual stimulation with artificial or natural stimuli induces gamma-band synchronization. Gamma in visual area V4 entails gamma-rhythmic modulation of the gain of spike responses and of behavioral reaction times. Correspondingly, V1-V4 gamma-band synchronization leads to effective interareal communication, with the typical interareal phase relation resulting in the shortest behavioral reaction times. This V1-V4 gamma-band synchronization occurs selectively for the attended stimulus, and is controlled by beta-band influences from parietal onto visual cortex. Generally, gamma-band influences are stronger in the bottom-up and alpha-beta influences stronger in the top-down direction, which establishes a functional hierarchy of areas both in human and non-human primates. Attention itself samples stimuli at a theta rhythm and therefore modulates local and interareal gamma-band synchronization. I will also present some of the technologies that we developed for this work, including large-scale high-resolution polyimide electrocorticographic grids, partly in combination with silicone dura replacements, insertable multi-contact polyimide depth probes, and the first in-vivo magnetic recordings of neuronal activity, with spin-electronics based magnetrodes.

Prof. Dr. med. Pascal Fries is scientific Member of the Max Planck Society, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Neurobiology, Martinsried, and Director of the Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) in Cooperation with Max Planck Society, Frankfurt (since 2009). Professor of Systems Neuroscience, Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands (since 2008). Principal Investigator at Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands (2001-2009). Postdoc in the Laboratory of Neuropsychology at the National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD, USA (1999 – 2001). Doctorate at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and at the Johann Wolfgang von Goethe University in Frankfurt (1993 – 1999). Study of medicine at the University of Saarland (1991-1993) and at the Johann Wolfgang von Goethe University in Frankfurt (1993 – 1998).

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IGM Colloquium: Geometric Excursions in Computational Design and Manufacturing

Prof. Horeas Ilies, University of Connecticut

We’ve always seemed to be able to fabricate physical artifacts before being able to formally describe what we do and how we do it. Geometry has historically, and naturally, played a key role in the development of new abstractions used to build formal models of physical artifacts and of the associated design and fabrication processes. However, these formal models as well as the associated computational tools are still playing catch up with manufacturing. For example, even as the enthusiasm for 3D printing continues to build, the computational support for this technology is not adequate. In this talk I will review some of our recent efforts in developing valuable solutions to complex (geometric) problems in computational design and manufacturing, ranging from printability analysis in robotic 3D printing, to interactive haptic assembly of complex shapes, and systematic design methods for controllable nano-machines.

Horea Ilies is a Professor and Department Head of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Connecticut with a secondary appointment in Computer Science. He holds a Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of Wisconsin – Madison, and received M.S. degrees in Mechanics and ME from Michigan State University, and Technical University of Cluj, Romania. He has several years of industrial experience with Ford Motor Company in research, manufacturing, and product design and development activities. His current research interests center on theoretical and computational aspects for systematic design and manufacturing of engineered systems. Dr. Ilies has received the NSF CAREER award in 2007, as well as several Best Paper awards, and he is an elected member of Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE).
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Installing autonomous seal cameras in the Mediterranean Sea

Julien Pfyffer, Andy Guinand (http://octopusfoundation.org/)

The Mediterranean monk seal is, according the marine biologists, the marine mammal closest to extinction in the world. Still according to scientists, there are about 500-1000 individuals left in the Mediterranean sea. One of the problems biologists are facing is their difficulty to approach and study these animals, as the Med monk seals have adapted to an intense historical human hunt by staying as far as possible from humans, and by resting and giving birth in remote caves along the shore. In the past recent years, several monk seals families have been observed in the Sporades islands and in the Ionian islands in Greece.

Following that difficult analytical situation, the Octopus Foundation decided to help the marine biologists and the research in general of this animal by assembling with off the shelves components an autonomous surveillance system that would use the solar energy, Poe cameras, a 3G-4G router, a Raspberry Pi and a very simple Python based program to monitor continously and remotely a single monk seal cave. The idea was to test for at least 6 months this monitoring system on two different caves, with two different configurations to see if a monitoring system that costs less than 2000 CHF could work. If this works, then the idea is to deploy as many of these systems as possible in the entire Mediterranean sea to have maybe, in a couple of years, a better assessment of the monk seal populations.

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Mechanical force mediated 3D organogenesis withstanding gravity controlled by YAP

Makoto Furutani-Seiki, M.D.,Ph.D
Professor, Department of Systems Biochemistry in Regeneration and Pathology 
Yamaguchi University, School of Medicine

Cells of terrestrial animals are constantly exposed to external forces including gravity. However, the complex 3D structure of the body and its organs form without being flattened. A century ago, the mathematical biologist D’Arcy Thompson predicted in ‘On Growth and Form’ that terrestrial animal body shapes are entirely conditioned by gravity, but the prediction remained to be proved due to the lack of an appropriate animal model. I will present a new mechanism of morphogenesis which ensures the generation of vertebrate 3D body and organ shape that can withstand gravity identified by the analysis of medaka fish mutant “hirame” (Porazinski et al., Nature 2015). Its molecular mechanism regulated by the transcriptional activator YAP is involved in the bi-directional mechanical interactions between cells and extracellular matrix (ECM), called mechano-homeostasis: tissue stem cells differentiate according to ECM stiffness and conversely, differentiated cells maintain their identify by controlling ECM stiffness (Asaoka & Furutani-Seiki, Curr Opin Cell Biol, 2017). Our finding also lead to the identification of YAP as a gravity response gene. We now plan to carry out experiments in space to prove this model.
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A macromodeling approach to accelerate multiscale EM simulations, with application to metasurface antennas, 3D ICs and power cables

Prof. Piero Triverio, University of Toronto

Electromagnetic simulations play a crucial role in the design of antennas, integrated circuits, and power grids. Unfortunately, the multiscale structure of many practical designs defies even the best method of moments (MoM) solvers. For example, while metasurface antennas have thousands of unit cells, existing simulators can barely handle a few cells.

We present a new macromodeling concept to efficiently model multiscale objects in MoM solvers. Given a closed surface S, the proposed macromodels are able to capture the electromagnetic response of the enclosed objects using only an equivalent electric current distribution on S. This current is related to the tangential electric field using a novel surface admittance operator. We show that a single macromodel can accurately capture the electromagnetic response of an intricate metasurface unit cell, leading to significant savings over a state-of-art MoM solver in terms of CPU time (up to 24X) and memory consumption (up to 12X).

We also show that the proposed operators can accurately model skin effect in conductors of arbitrary shape. This approach is computationally efficient, since it requires only a surface mesh, but broadband and Maxwell-accurate. We present examples related to the electromagnetic analysis of 3D integrated circuits and underground cables for energy distribution.

Bio: Piero Triverio received the Ph.D. degree in Electronic Engineering from Politecnico di Torino, Italy, in 2009. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto, and in the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering. He holds the Canada Research Chair in Computational Electromagnetics. His research interests include signal integrity, computational electromagnetism, model order reduction, and computational fluid dynamics applied to cardiovascular diseases.

Prof. Triverio received the Best Paper Award of the IEEE Transactions on Advanced Packaging (2007), the EuMIC Young Engineer Prize (2010), the Connaught New Researcher Award (2013), and the Ontario Early Researcher Award (2016). Triverio and his students won several awards at international conferences, including the Best Paper Award of the IEEE Conference on Electrical Performance of Electronic Packaging and Systems (2008, 2017).  

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MEchanics GAthering -MEGA- Seminar: Talk1 - The density of interacting quasi-localised modes in amorphous solids; Talk2 - How inertia can facilitate friction; Talk3 - Sudden failure in amorphous materials during quasistatic loading

 Wencheng JiTom de GeusMarko PopovicPCSL, EPFL

The density of interacting quasi-localised modes in amorphous solids by Wencheng JiPCSL, EPFL
Abstract Amorphous solids are very common materials in our daily life, such as glass, toothpaste, mayonnaise, coffee foam, and soya beans. Unlike crystals, amorphous solids do not present topological defects due to their lack of long-range order. Instead they display excitations where a group of particles can rearrange. These essentially local excitations lead to a dipolar change of stress in the medium, which can effectively couple them. One physical quantity related to the local low-energy excitations is a quasi-localized mode whose density follows D(ω)~ω4 [2-3] in glass different from Debye theory, where ω is the vibrational frequency of the quasi-localized modes.
Here, we provide a theory for the density of quasi-localized modes for classical systems at zero temperature, which takes their interactions into account and clarifies their relationship with shear transformations [4-5]. We confirm this relationship by using the molecular dynamics simulations of quasi-statically sheared glasses. 
[1] ArXiv prepring arXiv:1806.01561.
[2] V. Gurevuch, D. Parshin, and H. Schober, Physical Review B 67, 094203 (2003).
[3] E. Lerner, G. During, and E. Bouchbinder, Physical Review Letters 117, 035501 (2016).
[4] A. Argon, Acta Mettalurgica 27, 47 (1979).
[5] J. Lin and M. Wyart, Physical Review X 6, 011005 (2016).

How inertia can facilitate friction by Tom de GeusPCSL, EPFL
Abstract We study the nucleation of slip between two sliding  solids, whereby we focus on a mesoscopic level where the disorder, introduced by the surface roughness, matters. It is at this scale that we can study how different contacts interact through the bulk’s elasticity. A result of this interaction is that the detachment of one asperity can trigger that of other contacts in its vicinity. An interesting question is if such collective effects organise into depinning-like avalanches. Vice versa this system allows the clarification of the debated roled of inertia on an avalanche-like response [1-3]. We argue that, due to the presence of rare weak sites, the response is smooth in the thermodynamic limit. At the same time we find this mechanism not to be efficient, leading to a stick-sliip response in finite systems.
[1] D.S. Fisher, K. Dahmen, S. Ramanathan, Y. Ben-Zion, PRL 78(25), 4885-4888 (1997).
[2] J.M. Schwarz, D.S. Fisher, PRE, 67(2), 021603 (2003).
[3] K. Karimi, E.E. Ferrero, J.-L. Barrat, PRE, 95(1), 013003 (2017).

Sudden failure in amorphous materials during quasistatic loading by Marko PopovicPCSL, EPFL
Abstract The response of amorphous materials to an applied strain can be continuous, or instead display a macroscopic stress drop when a shear band nucleates. Such discontinuous response can be observed if the initial configuration is very stable. We study theoretically how such brittleness emerges in athermal, quasi-statically driven, materials as their initial stability is increased. We show that this emergence is well reproduced by elasto-plastic models and is predicted by a mean field approximation, where it corresponds to a continuous transition. In mean field, failure can be forecasted from the avalanche statistics. We show that this is not the case for very brittle materials in finite dimensions due to rare weak regions where a shear band nucleates. We build an analogy with fracture mechanics predicting that their critical nucleation radius follows ac~(Σ- Σb)-2  where Σ is the stress a shear band can carry.
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Neuroprosthetics Annual Research Symposium

Keynote speakers: Josef Parvizi & Florian Solzbacher.

With the support of the Bertarelli Foundation, the EPFL Center for Neuroprosthetics is launching an Annual Research Symposium to involve the academic, industrial and clinical communities into interdisciplinary discussions on current and future trends in technologies and applications of neuroprosthetic research.
The First Neuroprosthetics Annual Research Symposium will be held on November 23rd, 2018, at Campus Biotech, Geneva.  

This one-day event includes keynote lectures by world-leading investigators opening and closing the symposium, as well as presentations on topics encompassing neuroimaging, neuromodulation, neurotechnology, brain-machine interfaces, cognitive neuroprosthetics, and translational neural engineering.

Please register online here (deadline 21st November 2018).
Registration is free but mandatory.

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On Decisional Abilities for a Cognitive and Interactive Robot

Dr. Rachid Alami, CNRS

This talk addresses some key decisional issues that are necessary for a cognitive robot which shares space and tasks with a human. We adopt a constructive approach based on the identification and effective implementation of individual and collaborative skills. The system is comprehensive since it aims at dealing with a complete set of abilities articulated so that the robot controller is effectively able to conduct in a flexible manner a human-robot collaborative problem solving and task achievement. These abilities include geometric reasoning and situation assessment based essentially on perspective-taking and affordances, management and exploitation of each agent (human and robot) knowledge in a separate cognitive model, human-aware task planning and interleaved execution of shared plans.


Dr. Rachid Alami is Senior Scientist at CNRS. He received an engineer diploma in computer science in 1978 from ENSEEIHT, a Ph.D in Robotics in 1983 from Institut National Polytechnique and a Habilitation HDR in 1996 from Paul Sabatier University He contributed and took important responsibilities in several national, European and international research and/or collaborative projects (EUREKA: FAMOS, AMR and I-ARES projects, ESPRIT: MARTHA, PROMotion, ECLA, IST: COMETS, IST FP6 projects COGNIRON, URUS, PHRIENDS, FP7 projects CHRIS, SAPHARI, ARCAS, SPENCER and H2020 project MuMMER, France: ARA, VAP-RISP for planetary rovers, PROMIP, ANR projects). His main research contributions fall in the fields of Robot Decisional and Control Architectures, Task and motion planning, multi-robot cooperation, and human-robot interaction. Rachid Alami is currently the head of the Robotics and InteractionS group at LAAS.

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Backaction and entanglement in microwave optomechanics

Mika Sillanpää, Aalto University, Quantum Nanomechanics/ LTL, Finland

The interplay of measurement imprecision and quantum backaction limits the sensitivity with which the position of an oscillator can be continuously monitored, to be at best equal to the oscillator’s zero-point fluctuations. However, any single quadrature of the motion can, in principle, be measured without limit, provided that the measurement backaction is shunted to the orthogonal quadrature. Such backaction evading (BAE) measurements, which are examples of quantum nondemolition measurements, can be achieved by appropriately synchronizing the measurement with the oscillator’s intrinsic motion. In our work, we study the collective modes of two uncoupled mechanical oscillators, each independently coupled to a microwave cavity. The oscillators are realized as aluminum drumheads. We carry out a mechanical two-mode BAE measurement of the collective quadratures, and achieve an evasion of quantum backaction, caused by microwave shot noise, below the backaction arising in a continuous position measurement. The canonically conjugate quadrature is heated predominantly by the quantum backaction. On top of this, the work realizes the concept of quantum-mechanics-free subsystem. By perturbing the measurement slightly (i.e., reservoir engineering), such measurements can be used to generate stabilized entanglement between two macroscopic mechanical oscillators. This prepares a canonical entangled state known as the two-mode squeezed state. It corresponds to the variances of collective position and momentum quadratures being reduced below the quantum zero-point fluctuations level. We carry out such a measurement, and infer the existence of entanglement in the steady state by combining measurements of correlated mechanical fluctuations with an analysis of the microwaves emitted from the cavity.

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IGM Colloquium: Building Better Batteries

Professor Vanessa Wood, https://made.ee.ethz.ch/people/prof--vanessa-wood0.html


Lithium ion batteries are multiscale systems, and their performance, cycle life, and safety depend critically on their structure and the homogeneity of the structure from the nanometer to centimeter length scales. In this talk, I will explain how we use a combination of experimental and computational tools to quantify structure of lithium ion battery components across multiple length scales and understand the influence of this structure on performance. We have further pioneering a number of electron, neutron, and x-ray based techniques to study and visualize dynamical phenomena and degradation mechanisms of lithium ion batteries. By better understanding and quantifying the interplay between physical and electrochemical processes, we are able to improve battery performance, extend lifespan, and improve safety through innovative chemistry and manufacturing.

Vanessa Wood holds a Bachelors in Science from Yale University in Applied Physics (2005), a Masters in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2007), and a PhD in Electrical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2009). Her PhD work, with Prof. Vladimir Bulović, was focused on the development of quantum dot LED technology. From 2010-2011 she was a postdoc in Department of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT, working with Professors Yet Ming Chiang and Craig Carter on lithium ion battery flow cell technology.
In 2011, she was appointed as an assistant professor in Department of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich). She received tenure in 2014 and holds the chair in Materials and Device Engineering. She won the 2014 Science Prize in Electrochemistry endowed by BASF and Volkswagen Group and the 2018 Outstanding Young Investigator Award from the Materials Research Society.
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Fujibox - Idea to Prototype to XGrant

Guillaume Thivolet

It all started with the idea for a Christmas present and the desire to make long distance communication more personal again. What came out of it is Fujibox, a small cube, which can receive messages but from one unique sender.

In this presentation, Guillaume will give us an overview over the the Fujibox project, from the initial idea, over the months of effort put into producing a first and a second prototype and up to his participation in the X-Grant program.

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Is Mars Habitable ?

Prof. Javier Martín-Torres

Assessing the habitability of Mars has been an objective of the scientific community for a long time, but it has recently become a sustained focus in light of data being returned from the planet and growing knowledge about life in extreme environments. The Curiosity rover on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), one of NASAs flagship missions, analyses since August 2012 the Martian environment to assess whether Mars could have supported life. After more than 5 years of operations on Mars the rover Curiosity has acquired an unprecedented data record of near surface measurements providing an invaluable ground truth about the environmental conditions on Mars. In particular Curiosity has found: (i) evidences for liquid water conditions on Mars; (ii) preserved indigenous organic molecules in mudstone soil samples; (iii) indigenous fixed nitrogen which may provide a biochemically accessible source of nitrogen for life; (iv) manganese oxides on the surface; and (iv) also detected methane in the atmosphere at variable concentrations throughout the mission. These discoveries, together with other from previous and current missions to Mars, have sparked speculation about the past or present existence of life on Mars; and they have opened many scientific questions and challenges. Moreover, the future human exploration of Mars requires access to in-situ resources. Space agencies are requesting, for the first time ever, for ideas on In-situ Resources Utilization (ISRU) instruments that can efficiently extract key resources (water, oxygen, etc.) from Mars. But the international efforts of Mars surface exploration require a coordinated effort to respect the Planetary Protection protocols and to avoid the forward contamination of Mars. This in turn requires, updating our knowledge about the Martian habitability conditions.

Javier Martín-Torres is Chaired Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the Luleå University of Technology in Sweden. He is also Visiting Professor at the School of Physics and Astronomy, at the University of Edinburgh, in the United Kingdom, at the Spanish Research Council, and Specially Appointed Professor at the University of Okayama in Japan.
Javier is the principal investigator of the HABIT instrument that will fly to Mars aboard the ExoMars mission of the European Space Agency. He has been the scientific responsible for the REMS instrument in NASA's Curiosity, which since 2012 investigates the habitability of Mars, and co-investigator of 7 space missions of NASA and ESA. He has worked for ESA, CalTech and Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and ten years for NASA, from which he has received seven awards, one for "Outstanding contributions to the Investigations to the Columbia Challenger accident" and another "for the success of the operations and scientific exploitation of REMS/Curiosity ". Recently his team has won several European space innovation awards, including the OHB Innospace Challenge, and in November a team consisting of two of his students will fly in the Fly Your Thesis! Campaign of the European Space Agency, after being one of the 2 European teams selected in a European competitive process. In addition, for three years he was director of the Planetary Atmosphere Group of the Center of Astrobiology in Madrid, Spain.


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The Language of Science

Jeremy Garwood, Science and Society unit, University of Strasbourg, France

Most scientists are too busy doing research to think much about the language they actually use in their work. However, accompanying the rise of modern science since the 17th century has been an increasingly specialized use of language, with its own vocabulary, grammar, and structural organization. While this provides for clear and direct communication of scientific ideas and observations within the scientific community, most people cannot read, let alone understand it without a considerable period of learning. I will describe the characteristics of this language of science and why it may be causing misunderstandings about science among the non-specialists (i.e. everyone else).

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Novel porous materials for CO2 capture applications

Prof. Susana Garcia
Institute of Mechanical, Process and Energy Engineering,
Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

ChE-605 - Highlights in Energy Research seminar series
The UK Government has an ambitious target to reduce CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050, where Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) together with bioenergy are critical for the UK to meet its reduction targets, whilst delivering affordable, secure and sustainable energy.  However, significant challenges remain in growing CCS from the megaton level on CO2 emissions reductions, where it is today, to the gigaton level where it needs to be to help mitigate global climate change. These challenges include the efficiency and capital cost penalties associated with CO2 capture, which are hindering the deployment of CCS. The advancement of sorption-based technologies for capturing CO2 from power plants and large industrial facilities has attracted a lot of interest in recent years. Some of the main advantages of a sorption-based process over the conventional amine scrubbing process include low regeneration energy requirements, no liquid waste and a much wider range of possible operating temperature (typically ranging from ambient temperature to 700°C). 
In the past few years, our group has engaged in the development of novel solid sorbents for CO2 capture with superior performance and desirable economics. This seminar will provide an overview of our research – past and current – in that field. I will present selected examples of our work, where our group’s approach encompasses not only materials synthesis but also characterization, lab-scale performance testing, process intensification and process modelling including process integration and optimisation. By establishing the materials composition-structure-performance relationship and by anticipating the required process performance, we can ultimately provide guidance for the development of more advanced, next-generation materials for cost-competitive and efficient separation processes in energy, industrial and environmental applications.
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Utilization of physics-based simulated earthquake ground motions for performance assessment of tall buildings – validation, collapse safety, and machine learning tools for regional risk evaluation

Dr. Nenad Bijelić, postdoctoral scholar at the Unit of Applied Mechanics, University of Innsbruck, Austria

Limited data on strong earthquakes and their effects on structures poses one of the main challenges of making reliable risk assessments of tall buildings. For instance, while the collapse safety of tall buildings is likely controlled by large magnitude earthquakes with long durations and high low-frequency content, there are few available recorded ground motions to evaluate these issues. The influence of geologic basins on amplifying ground motion effects raises additional questions. Absent recorded motions from past large magnitude earthquakes, physics-based ground motion simulations provide an attractive alternative. This talk will focus on utilization of simulated ground motions for performance assessment of tall buildings with the following overall goals: (1) developing confidence in the use of simulated ground motions through comparative assessments of recorded and simulated motions; (2) identifying important characteristics of extreme ground motions for collapse safety of tall buildings; (3) exploring areas where simulated ground motions provide significant advantages over recorded motions for performance-based engineering. First, we will examine an effort to validate the use of physics-based simulations in engineering applications by using ground motions simulated with Southern California Earthquake Center’s (SCEC) Broadband Platform (BBP). Next, collapse risk of tall buildings in the Los Angeles basin will be investigated by contrasting conventional risk assessments with assessments obtained utilizing the SCEC CyberShake simulations. Finally, we will quantify the influence of basin effects on seismic collapse risk and present machine learning approaches for identification of efficient intensity measures and development of reliable collapse classification algorithms. Opportunities for future work will be discussed.

Nenad Bijelić is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the Unit of Applied Mechanics, University of Innsbruck, Austria. He obtained his Ph.D. (2018) and M.S. (2014) from Stanford University, USA, and B.S. (2010) from University of Zagreb, Croatia all in civil engineering. In 2012 he received the Fulbright Science and Technology award to study earthquake engineering in the USA. His research is in the area of structural and earthquake engineering focusing on dynamics of nonlinear systems and application of statistical and machine learning tools. Focus of his recent research was on reliable risk assessment of tall buildings located in sedimentary basins through high-performance computing and utilization of emergent technologies in earthquake simulations. He is a reviewer for Natural Hazards Review and served as a reviewer for the 11th U.S. National Conference on Earthquake Engineering.

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BMI Symposium // Controlling Behavior in Animals and Robots

With this symposium, we aim to facilitate discussion between leading neuroscientists and roboticists interested in discovering algorithms for selecting and executing actions. The speakers will describe state-of-the-art studies investigating action selection, decision-making, motor control, cognition, active sensing, and multimodal integration in flies, rodents, models, and robots.

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IMX Seminar Series - Theoretical spectroscopy at interfaces

Prof. Claudia Draxl, Humboldt University of Berlin Germay

Interfaces are most exciting since one can expect new properties that are absent in either of their building blocks. They open new perspectives towards the design and tailoring of materials with desired features and functions, e.g. for applications in opto-electronics. Theoretical spectroscopy, combining Green-function based methods and density-functional theory provide powerful tools for the in-depth understanding of the response of such materials to excitations by electromagnetic radiation. I’ll discuss the theoretical concepts, recent progress, and critical challenges in understanding level alignment and light-matter interaction in selected examples, including 2D heterostructures and organic/inorganic hybrid systems.

Bio: Claudia Draxl is Einstein Professor at the Humboldt-Universität and Max-Planck Fellow at the Fritz-Haber-Institut Berlin, Germany. She studied physics and mathematics at the University of Graz, where she got her PhD in solid-state theory. Her research interests cover theorectical concepts and methodology, the development of computer codes, and their application to answer questions related to a variety of materials and their properties. Examples are conventional and organic semi-conductors and interfaces thereof, complex alloys, 2D systems, oxides, and more. A major focus is on excited states, using and developing techniques beyond density functional theory as implemented in the exciting code that is developed in her group. Another focus point concerns data-driven research. She is one of the founders of the Novel Materials Discovery (NOMAD) Repository.

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EMC at CERN – a short overview

Dr Szoncsó received the degree of Electrical Engineer from the University of Technology in Graz in 1981 and the Ph. D. in Electrical Engineering diploma from the University of Technology in Vienna in 1986. He is one of the founding members of CERN’s CMS experiment in 1990 with contributions in the fields of Data Acquisition, Triggering, Electromagnetic Compatibility and Power Supply Engineering. He has worked for CERN  in the Safety Commission for EMC, NIR and Electrical and has coached several EMC activities, such as the EMC workshop for LHC, EMC for CERN's experiment CMS.

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IGM Colloquium : Sustainable and Clean Energy Research @ REaCT

Prof. Klaus Hellgardt, https://www.imperial.ac.uk/people/k.hellgardt

The purpose of this seminar is to give an overview of some of the sustainable and clean energy research themes being pursued at the Reaction Engineering and Catalytic Technology group, Imperial College London. Examples will cover solar fuels, biofuels and clean fossil energy. Solar fuels examples will touch on recent work relevant to the engineering of photo-electrochemical water splitting devices.
Biofuels examples will outline our work on algae based fuels production as well as the transformation of such biomass into crude.
Clean fossil energy will focus on our most recent work in the area of methane pyrolysis.

Klaus Hellgardt (KH) is a Professor of Chemical Engineering in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London. He is the current Director of Undergraduate Studies. KH’s research focuses on advanced reaction engineering and applied catalysis, with specific emphasis on solar (bio)fuels, smart petrofuels engineering, kinetics, (electro-) chemical and bioreactor modeling, design and application. He is the head of the REaCT group (Reaction Engineering and Catalytic Technology). To date, his cumulative grant support exceeds £20M. He has published over 150 papers, a similar number of conference proceedings, six book chapters and eight patents.
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The quest for habitable worlds and a look back at Earth

Brice-Olivier Demory

The quest for life beyond Earth has a profound impact on all people and civilisations, irrespective of their cultures or beliefs. For millennia, human beings have wondered “are we alone?”. The onset of exoplanet discoveries, which started 20 years ago, inspires hope that this question may be eventually answered. In this talk I will describe some of the recent breakthroughs in exoplanet science including the TRAPPIST-1 system and detail the prospects of characterising life in our solar system and beyond within the next decade. I will also present a new experiment currently in design phase aiming at demonstrating the remote detectability of bio-signatures using spectro-polarimetry. Applications of this technique include novel research in Earth remote sensing and could improve screening capabilities for cervical, skin and gastric cancers.
Brice-Olivier Demory (born 1980) is SNSF Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Bern. He obtained his MSc in physics from EPFL and PhD from the University of Geneva. Brice-Olivier spent three years at MIT (USA) and three others at the University of Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory (UK). He leads in Bern a research group aiming at finding and characterising Earth-like exoplanets. Among the different projects he is involved in, Brice-Olivier is leading the development of a new space mission that will pave the way for the detection of life beyond the Earth within the next decade. He is striving to develop societal applications through his research, from cancer screening and monitoring to education in developing countries. Brice-Olivier is recipient of the Royal Society and Rutherford Fellowships. He has received several awards from NASA for the discovery of the TRAPPIST-1 system and for his pioneering work in cubesat science in collaboration with the Jet Propulsion Lab.

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Relevance of Geotechnical Engineering for the Conservation of the Historic City of Venice

Prof. Paolo Simonini, Department ICEA, University of Padova, Italy

The worldwide-known historic city of Venice continues to preserve a rather precarious equilibrium with the surrounding lagoon, although the margin of security is being eroded at an ever increasing rate. The rate of environmental deterioration is being accelerated by the increasing frequency of the flooding of the historic city – referred as to ‘acqua alta’ (i.e. literally ‘high water’) - caused by the natural eustatic rise of the sea level, by natural subsidence and by a regional man-induced subsidence, the latter particularly important between 1946 and 1970.
From the late ‘60, several geotechnical studies on geotechnical were carried out and, to keep under control the evolution of subsidence, a continuous survey activity was at that time initiated and prosecuted up to nowadays.
But the continuous increase of the annual frequency of the city flooding causing additional environmental damages, induced the Italian Government to start with several projects,  the MOSE project - involving the design and construction of movable gates located at the three lagoon inlets, the INSULAE project, namely the artificial elevation of islands, on which the historic buildings are founded, and other smaller projects, such, for instance, improvement of old building foundations,  erosion mitigation intervention in the lagoon including the reinforcement of the existing jetties at the  inlets, fish farm reopening ect.
Starting from the historic subsidence evolution, the seminar will provide a short overview of some relevant geotechnical issues that have been and have to be solved to realize the interventions to protect Venice and the surrounding lagoon from the increasing environmental deterioration.


Paolo Simonini, MSc, PhD, Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Padova, Padova, Italy.

1981, Graduation with honors in Civil Engineering (MSc), University of Padova (UNIPD);
1987: Doctoral Degree at the Technical University of Torino in Geotechnical Engineering.
Carrier history:
 1987-89: Teaching assistant at the University of Trento;
1990-1998: Research assistant of Geotechnical Engineering at UNIPD;
1998-2004: Associate Professor at UNIPD;
2005: Professor of Geotechnical Engineering at UNIPD. 
2009-2012: President of the Civil Engineering Council;
2012-2015: President of the School of Engineering, University of Padova.
2015-2018: President of the Italian Academic Society of Geotechnical Engineering
2016-2019: Co-Founder and Vice-President of the Civil and Industrial Safety Engineering Master Course.
2016-2018: President of the National Committee for Professorship Selection.

Focus on recent research: 
Studies on geotechnical engineering for the preservation of historic city of Venice, namely the San Marco Square Project, to protect the most famous island of San Marco against recurrent flooding.
Site testing: Use of CPTU to predict maximum stiffness in soils; Applicability of SCPTU and SDMT to characterize the soils of the Venice Lagoon; CPTU calibration to predicting secondary compressions in sands and silts, MPM numerical modelling of CPTU penetration;
Site monitoring: Use of InSAR to monitor settlements on coastal structures; landslide monitoring and data interpretation, use of optical fibers to monitor subsurface groundwater flows; 

Landslide: Evaluation of impact forces on structures realized to protect against rapid landslide and debris flow with MPM.

Studies on erosion processes and instability of leveee and dams in the Venetian Plain.

Some recent expert activities:
Member of the AGI Committee for standards in site investigation practice and of the AGI-AICAP Committee for standards in ground anchors.
Member of Scientific Council of International Research Society Interpraevent. The Research Society works to set up preventive protection against disasters and supports interdisciplinary research to protect our living space against flooding, debris flow, avalanches and mass movements.

Official member of the Material Point Method Community (Univ. Cambridge, UPC Barcelona, TU Delft, TU Hamburg-Harburg, Deltares; Virginia Tech, UC Berkeley).
Member of the Municipal Committee for the preservation of the Chapel of Scrovegni, the most relevant example of Giotto Painting in Italy.

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Photonics Day 2017

The Doctoral Program in Photonics (EDPO) organizes the EPFL Photonics Day, which gathers the entire EPFL photonics community. The EPFL Photonics Day is for everyone: students, PhD students, researchers at every level and all those interested in photonics. Participation of EDPO PhD student is mandatory and they will have to bring their poster if they are enrolled for more than six months. EDPO students can also present their poster in 180 seconds. 
Participation is free and includes lunch; registration is mandatory by Sunday December 2, 2018, registration here and program here.


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Soft Microrobotics and its Application in Medicine

Prof. Dr. Brad Nelson, ETH Zurich, Switzerland  

Institute of Microengineering - Distinguished Lecture

Abstract: The field of micro and nano robotics has made impressive strides over the past decade as researchers have created a variety of small devices capable of locomotion within liquid environments. Robust fabrication techniques have been developed, some devices have been functionalized for potential applications, and therapies are being actively considered. While excitement remains high for this field, a number of challenges must be addressed if continued progress towards clinical relevance is to be made, including the development of bioerodable and non-cytotoxic microrobots, development of autonomous devices capable of self-directed targeting, catheter-based delivery of microrobots near the target, and tracking and control of swarms of devices in vivo.
As we consider advancements that are on the horizon, it becomes clear that the field of micro and nanorobotics is moving away from hard microfabricated devices and towards soft, polymeric structures capable of shape modification induced by environmental conditions and other “smart” behaviors. Just as the field of robotics witnessed the emergence of “soft robotics” in which soft and deformable materials are used as primary structural components, the field of microrobotics is beginning to experience a move towards “soft microrobots.” Soft microrobots are made of soft, deformable materials capable of sensing and actuation and have the potential to exhibit behavioral response. As we develop more complex soft microrobots, we are poised to realize intelligent microrobots that autonomously respond to their environment to perform more complex tasks. 
Bio: Brad Nelson has been the Professor of Robotics and Intelligent Systems at ETH Zürich since 2002. He has over thirty years of experience in the field of robotics and has received a number of awards in the fields of robotics, nanotechnology, and biomedicine.

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"Nanomaterias-based biosensors for diagnostics applications"

Prof. Arben Merkoci,Institut Català de Nanociencia i Nanotecnologia (ICN2), University of Barcelona

(sandwiches served)

To be provided.
After his PhD (1991) at Tirana University, in the topic of Ion-Selective-Electrodes (ISEs) designs and applications in clinical and environmental analysis, Dr. Merkoçi worked as  postdoc at  other European research centres and USA in the field of nanobiosensors and lab-on-a-chip technologies. His postdoc periods were followed by leading positions in several laboratories: (1997-2006) at Autonomous University of Barcelona and since 2006 in ICN2.
Prof. Merkoçi research is focused on the design and application of cutting edge nanotechnology and nanoscience-based biosensors. These nanobiosensors are based on the integration of biological molecules (DNA, antibodies, cells and enzymes) and other (bio)receptors with micro- and nanostructures and applied in diagnostics, environmental monitoring or safety and security. He has published around 270 peer review research papers, is editor of books (“Nanomaterials Based Biosensing Systems, by Wiley; “Electrochemical Sensor Analysis”, of Comprehensive Analytical Chemistry series by Elsevier etc.), book chapters and special journals issues (Lab on a Chip, Electroanalysis, Microchimica Acta) dedicated to the field of nanomaterials integration and applications in biosensors. 
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IMX Seminar Series - Designing super-specificity with precision materials

Prof. Maartje Bastings, EPFL Switzerland

Understanding the mechanisms, extent, and consequences of receptor co-localization and inter-receptor communication is critical for the design and development of therapeutic nanoparticles and functional biomaterial scaffolds. Nature orchestrates specificity and selectivity in receptor targeting by introducing multivalency to control binding affinities. (i) Cell-cell interactions, cell-matrix binding and immune activation all are controlled through multiple weak interactions between one or more types of ligand-receptor pairs. Materials scientists have utilized this concept to achieve targeted delivery, increased specificity and selectivity of therapeutic and diagnostic ligand-functionalized nanoparticles. Numerous ligand-presenting materials have been developed yet the translation to clinical success is limited. The main cause hereof is a lack of control in particle shape, size, ligand-spacing and ligand-number, resulting in a distribution of particles with varying functionality. Precision engineering of functional materials is required to acquire insight into these fundamental natural mechanisms.
In this talk, I aim to develop a precision-engineered materials platform to gain quantitative insights into the fundamental mechanisms of complex multivalency that lead to super-specificity. I show how the development of multivalent particles with controlled ligand spacing, heterogeneity, stoichiometry and positioning are needed to accurately study the role of these parameters in overall binding affinity on model surfaces and on the cell membrane. Together with new analysis methods, theory and simulations we aim to introduce an unmet level of accuracy and control in functional materials self-assembly and truly be super-specific.   

(i) Kiessling, L. L., Gestwicki, J. E. & Strong, L. E. Synthetic multivalent ligands as probes of signal transduction. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed Engl. 45, 2348–2368 (2006).
Maartje Bastings studied Biomedical Engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and graduated Cum Laude in the group of Prof. E. W. “Bert” Meijer, where she continued her Ph.D. program funded by a Toptalent Fellowship from the Dutch Science Foundation (NWO), cosupervised by Dr. Patricia Y. W. Dankers. Her research focused on the understanding of multivalent binding mechanisms for directed targeting and the development of supramolecular biomaterials, and she received her Ph.D. degree in 2012. She was awarded the University Academic Award in 2013 for best Ph.D. thesis at the TU/e. She moved to the Wyss Institute of Harvard University in Boston as a NWO Rubicon and Human Frontier Science Program postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Prof. William M. Shih. She studies DNA as programmable biomaterial to design immune responses and assemble into multimodal nanoparticles. Since January 2017 she is heading the Programmable Biomaterials Laboratory as tenure track Assistant Professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department at EPFL, Switzerland, developing novel precision-engineered materials as tools to better understand fundamental mechanisms in multivalent interactions.

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IGM Colloquium: Folding of a continuum and energy releasing or fluttering rods

Prof. Davide Bigoni, Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering
University of Trento, Italy

It will be shown that Cosserat elastic solids with extreme anisotropy may exhibit folding and faulting, the former being the process in which bending localizes into sharp corners separated by almost undeformed elements, while the latter corresponds to the formation of displacement jumps of finite size [1,2]. While faulting can be often observed in geological formations, folding is rarely encountered in nature and is difficult to be described within the realm of the Cauchy theory of elasticity, but is shown to become possible in constrained Cosserat elastic materials.
The nonlinear theory of elastic rods is a framework for describing bifurcation and instabilities of a number of interesting structures, showing for instance configurational forces analogous to those acting on dislocations in solids. Several problems influenced by configurational forces or involving elastic energy releases will be resented, including snaking of an elastic rod [3, 4].
The dynamics of an elastic rod in a cantilever configuration and subject to a tangential follower load of the ‘Ziegler type’ at its end (the ‘Pfluger problem’) is finally addressed. This structure is subject to a Hopf bifurcation, corresponding to the initiation of the so-called ‘flutter instability’. A new experimental set-up has been designed, produced and tested to realize the follower load. Experiments provide the evidence of flutter and divergence instability and provide the first proof that damping sources have a destabilizing effect on the system (the so-called ‘Ziegler paradox’) [5].
[1] Bigoni, D., Gourgiotis, P.A. (2016) Folding and faulting of an elastic continuum. Proc. Royal Soc. A 472, 20160018.
[2] Gourgiotis, P.A., Bigoni, D. (2017) The dynamics of folding instability in a constrained Cosserat medium. Phil. Trans. Royal Soc. A, 375, 20160159.
[3] Dal Corso, F., Misseroni, D., Pugno, N.M., Movchan, A.B., Movchan, N.V., Bigoni, D. (2017) Serpentine locomotion through elastic energy release. J. Royal Soc. Interface 14, 20170055.
[4] Armanini, C., Dal Corso, F., Misseroni, D., Bigoni, D. (2017) From the elastica compass to the elastica catapult: an essay on the mechanics of soft robot arm. Proc. Royal Soc. A 473, 20160870.
[5] Bigoni, D., Kirillov, O., Misseroni, D., Noselli, G.Tommasini, M. (2018) Flutter and divergence instability in the Pflüger column: Experimental evidence of the Ziegler destabilization paradox. J. Mech. Phys. Solids 116, 99-116.

Davide Bigoni is a mechanician working in solid and structural mechanics and material modeling, wave propagation, fracture mechanics. His approach to research is the employment of a broad vision of mechanics, with a combination of mathematical modelling, numerical simulation, and experimental validation. From 2001 Davide Bigoni holds a professor position at the University of Trento, where he is leading a group of excellent researchers in the field of Solid and Structural Mechanics.
He has authored or co-authored more than 100 journal papers and has published a book on nonlinear Solid Mechanics. He was elected in 2009 Euromech Fellow (of the European Mechanics Society), has received in 2012 the Ceramic Technology Transfer Day Award (of the ACIMAC and ISTEC-CNR), in 2014 he has received the Doctor Honoris Causa degree at the Ovidius University of Constanta and in 2016 the Panetti and Ferrari Award for Applied Mechanics (from Accademia delle Scienze di Torino). He has been awarded an ERC advanced grant in 2013. He is co-editor of the Journal of Mechanics of Materials and Structures and associate Editor of Mechanics Research Communications and in the editorial board of 8 international journals.

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Functional interplay between chromatin organizers and condensins for the control of chromosome conformation and segregation in bacteria

Frédéric Boccard, Institut de Biologie Intégrative de la Cellule, CNRS, Gif-sur-Yvette, France

Condensation of DNA molecules results in the formation of chromosomes. In bacteria, the chromosome is a folded structure called nucleoid. The objectives of our laboratory are to reveal the principles of chromosome organization, characterize the molecular mechanisms involved, and analyze the coordination of chromosome segregation with progression of the cell cycle in different bacterial models. Using Chromosome-Conformation-Capture methods combined with genomics, fluorescence microscopy and genetic approaches, we have disclosed in E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa the three-dimensional folding of the chromosome and characterized the activity of several factors involved in chromatin organization and nucleoid conformation. At short scale, the contact map revealed the presence of domains ranging in size from 50kb to 300kb with long and highly expressed genes frequently found between domains. At large scale, long distance contacts accounted for the presence of macrodomains. By analyzing the contact frequency in several mutants, we revealed the modus operandi of chromatin organizers and condensins as well as their interplay in controlling short- and long-range DNA contacts.

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EDMX Research Day 2018

PhD students presentations
Posters sessions 
Talks of EDMX Alumni
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Efficient and cost-effective water splitting electrocatalysts based on transition metal phosphides

Dr. Lifeng Liu
International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL),
Braga, Portugal

ChE-605 - Highlights in Energy Research seminar series
Splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen is an ecofriendly way to produce high-purity hydrogen fuels and has shown substantial promise as a means for renewable energy storage. To enable widespread deployment of water electrolyzers, it is of paramount importance to develop efficient, durable and inexpensive water splitting catalysts so that the electrolyzed hydrogen fuels can become economically competitive and viable. In this presentation, I will show our recent effort towards developing transition metal phosphide (TMP) based electrocatalysts for the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) and the oxygen evolution reaction (OER). Specifically, I will showcase, primarily from catalytic materials point of view, the preparation of self-supported TMP electrodes [1-3] as well as microstructural and compositional engineering of TMP catalysts to achieve good electrocatalytic performance [4-6]. Besides, I will mention our recent work on the development of acid/alkaline hybrid water electrolysis taking advantage of self-supported TMP electrodes we developed [7].
[1] X. Wang, Y. V. Kolen’ko, L.-F. Liu, Chem. Commun. 2015, 51, 6738.
[2] X. Wang, Y. V. Kolen’ko, X. Bao, K. Kovnir, L.-F. Liu, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 8188.
[3] X. Wang, W. Li, D. Xiong, D. Y. Petrovykh, L.-F. Liu, Adv. Funct. Mater. 2016, 26, 4067.
[4] J. Xu, Y. Liu, J. Li, I. Amorim, B. Zhang, D. Xiong, N. Zhang, S. M. Thalluri, J. P. S. Sousa, L.-F. Liu, J. Mater. Chem. A 2018, DOI: 10.1039/C8TA07958G
[5] J. Xu, J. Li, D. Xiong, B. Zhang, Y. Liu, K. H. Wu, I. Amorim, L.-F. Liu, Chem. Sci. 2018, 9, 3470.
[6] J. Xu, T. Liu, J. Li, B. Li, Y. Liu, B. Zhang, D. Xiong, I. Amorim, W. Li, L.-F. Liu, Energy Environ. Sci. 2018, 11, 1819.
[7] J. Xu, I. Amorim, J. Li, N. Zhang, D. Xiong, L.-F. Liu, in preparation.
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Innate DNA sensing through the cGAS-STING system - Blurring the boundary between PAMP and DAMP

Dr Andrea Ablasser

Abstract :
The life of any organism depends on the ability of cells to accurately recognize and eliminate harmful microbes. In order to detect the immense repertoire of pathogenic entities, the innate immune system of mammals has evolved a range of distinct sensing strategies. One major mechanism is based on the recognition of microbial DNA - an invariant and highly immunogenic pathogen-associated molecular pattern (PAMP). Host cells, however, contain abundant sources of self-DNA. In the context of cellular damage or metabolic derangement, “out-of-the-context” self-DNA can elicit potentially damaging inflammatory responses, thus serving as a potent danger-associated molecular pattern (DAMP).
In my laboratory at EPFL, we study primarily the so-called cGAS-STING system - an evolutionary highly conserved innate DNA sensing system. On DNA binding, cGAS is activated to produce a second messenger cyclic dinucleotide (cyclic GMP-AMP), which stimulates the adaptor protein STING to induce innate immune responses. While this process was originally discovered as a crucial component of immune defense against pathogens, recent work has elucidated a pathogenic role for innate DNA sensing in a variety of sterile inflammatory diseases. In this seminar I will give an overview of our contributions to the understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying innate DNA recognition and highlight how such knowledge may be leveraged to develop innovative new medicines.

Selected References:
Haag et al., Nature 2018 Jul;559(7713):269-273.
Gulen et al., Nature Communications 2017 Sep 5;8(1):427.
Glück et al., Nature Cell Biology 2017 Sep;19(9):1061-1070.
Wassermann et al., Cell Host & Microbe 2015 Jun 10;17(6):799-810.
Ablasser* et al., Nature 2013 Jun 20;498(7454):380-4.
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Materials discovery using deep learning

Prof. Gareth Conduit, University of Cambridge UK

We propose a novel deep learning tool for materials discovery. The approach merges together both experimental data and computer simulations to exploit all possible sources of information. The tool has been used to design several materials that have been experimentally verified and patented. We present just one case study where we discover and characterize the new nickel-base alloy for direct laser deposition most likely to simultaneously satisfy targets of processibility, cost, density, phase stability, creep resistance, oxidation, and resistance to thermal stresses. Experimental testing confirms that the physical properties of the proposed alloy exceed those of other commercially available Ni-base alloys for combustor liner applications.

Probabilistic design of a molybdenum-base alloy using a neural network
B.D. Conduit, N.G. Jones, H.J. Stone & G.J. Conduit
Scripta Materialia 146, 82 (2018)

Materials data validation and imputation with an artificial neural network
P.C. Verpoort, P. MacDonald & G.J. Conduit
Computational Materials Science 147, 176 (2018)

Design of a nickel-base superalloy using a neural network
B.D. Conduit, N.G. Jones, H.J. Stone & G.J. Conduit
Materials & Design 131, 358 (2017)

Bio: Gareth Conduit has a track record of applying artificial intelligence to solve real-world problems. The technique, originally developed for materials design, is now being commercialized by startup Intellegens in not only materials design, but also infrastructure, drug discovery, and healthcare. Previously, Gareth had research interests in strongly correlated phenomena, in particular proposing spin spiral state in the itinerant ferromagnet that was later observed in CeFePO. Gareth's group is based at the University of Cambridge. 

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Printed EEG and EMG electronic-tattoos for neurological applications

Prof Yael Hanein, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, IS

Electroencephalography and surface electromyography are notoriously cumbersome technologies. A typical setup may involve bulky electrodes, dandling wires, and a large amplifier unit. The wide adaptation of these technologies in numerous applications has been accordingly fairly limited. Thanks to the availability of printed electronics technologies, it is now possible to dramatically simplify these techniques. Elegant electrode arrays with unprecedented performances can be readily produced, eliminating the need to handle multiple electrodes and wires. Specifically, in this presentation I will discuss how printed electronics can improve signal transmission at the electrode-skin interface, facilitate electrode-skin stability, and enhance user convenience during electrode placement while achieving prolonged use. Customizing electrode array designs and implementing blind source separation methods, can also improve recording resolution, reduce variability between individuals and minimizing signal cross-talk between nearby electrodes. Finally, I will outline several important applications in the field of neuroscience and how each can benefit from the convergence of electrophysiology and printed electronics.

Yael Hanein is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at Tel Aviv University.  In the past she conducted research at the Weizmann Institute (MSc and PhD in Physics), Princeton University (visiting student at the lab of Nobel Prize Laureate Prof. Dan Tsui), and at the University of Washington (Postdoc in Electrical Engineering and Physics).  Her research field is neuro-engineering and her main passions are developing wearable electronic technology and bionic vision.
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IGM Colloquium : Geometrically frustrated assemblies

Dr. Efi Efrati, http://www.weizmann.ac.il/complex/efrati/


Unlike Lego bricks that perfectly assemble next to one another, in molecular assemblies some misfit is almost always present. The molecular constituents thus must distort in order to form an aggregate, resulting in a frustrated assembly. The generation of geometric frustration from the intrinsic geometry of the constituents of a material is not only natural and ubiquitous but also leads to a striking variety of morphologies of ground states and exotic response properties.
In this talk, I will review the notion of cumulative geometric frustration and discuss two distinct examples of geometrically frustrated assemblies: liquid crystals in 2D, and twisted molecular crystals that form banded spherulites. For liquid crystal, we will present how to quantify the frustration and give specific examples that exhibit super-extensive elastic energy. Motivated by the twisted crystals observed for a wide variety of organic molecular crystals studied by the Kahr group in NYU, we study a model of frustrated assembly that in particular conveys the nano-metric pitch length of the constituents to the tens of microns pitch length observed for the twisted crystalline assemblies.


I graduated in 2010 from the Hebrew university of Jerusalem where I did my Ph.D. under the guidance of Eran Sharon and Raz Kupferman studying frustrated elastic structures. I then moved to the James Franck Institute at the University of Chicago where I was a Simons Postdoctoral fellow. Since 2014 I have been an assistant professor in the department of Physics of complex systems at the Weizmann institute of Science.
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Novel Mouse Models to Study Mitochondrial Proteostasis in the Nervous System

Hans-Georg SPRENGER Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, Dept. Mitochondrial Proteostasis, Cologne, Germany  


Disturbances in the morphology and function of mitochondria cause neurological diseases, which can affect the central and peripheral nervous system. The i-AAA protease YME1L ensures mitochondrial proteostasis and regulates mitochondrial dynamics by processing of the dynamin-like GTPase OPA1. Mutations in YME1L cause a multi-systemic mitochondriopathy associated with neurological dysfunction and mitochondrial fragmentation but pathogenic mechanisms remained enigmatic. Here, we report on striking cell-type specific defects in mice lacking YME1L in the nervous system. YME1L-deficient mice manifest ocular dysfunction with microphthalmia and cataracts and at later stages of life develop deficiencies in locomotor activity due to specific degeneration of spinal cord axons. We demonstrate that YME1L ensures efficient mitochondrial transport in neurons and maintains mitochondrial proteostasis and dynamics in vivo. Additional deletion of Oma1 restores tubular mitochondria but deteriorates axonal degeneration in the absence of YME1L, demonstrating that impaired mitochondrial proteostasis rather than mitochondrial fragmentation cause trafficking defects and the observed neurological dysfunction.
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Lecture Demonstrations in the age of YouTube

Ilya Eigenbrot

Demonstrations have been used to make lectures more interesting and accessible for a very long time – but is there any point in investing time and effort into demonstrations in the age of smartphones and instant YouTube clips? This workshop will discuss this question, as well as give practical tips on designing and using demonstrations in different settings. You will also get the chance to design one or more demos relevant to your own area of teaching expertise. Facilitated by Ilya Eigenbrot with 20 year experience in the popularisation of science.

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Assessment Matters

Roland Tormey

To develop assessment techniques which are valid and objective, notably to test if students have met the required learning outcomes.

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to be announced

Prof. David Sabatini,  Massachusettes Institute of Technology;  Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research

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To be provided.
David M Sabatini is an American scientist and Professor of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as a member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. He has been an investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute since 2008 and was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2016. He is known for his important contributions in the areas of cell signaling and cancer metabolism, most notably the discovery and study of mTOR, a protein kinase that is an important regulator of cell and organismal growth that is deregulated in cancer, diabetes, as well as the aging process.

MD/PhD 1997, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Research Summary
We probe the basic mechanisms that regulate growth — the process whereby cells and organisms accumulate mass and increase in size. The pathways that control growth are often hindered in human diseases like diabetes and cancer. Our long-term goals are to identify and characterize these mechanisms, and to understand their roles in normal and diseased mammals.

  • Dickson Prize in Medicine, 2017
  • Lurie Prize in Biomedical Sciences, 2017
  • National Academy of Sciences, Member, 2016
  • National Academy of Sciences, Award in Molecular Biology, 2014
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute, HHMI Investigator, 2008
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Leveraging Labs for Learning

Siara Isaac & Cécile Hardebolle

Explore ways to design lab experiments that help students develop a scientific approach which is transferable to real world complexity.

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Latsis Symposium 2019 on Diamond Photonics

Keynote and Invited Speakers on www.diamondphotonics.org

The Latsis Symposium 2019 on Diamond Photonics at EPFL will be a unique event bringing together for the first time the worldwide leaders in diamond photonics. It will gather on EPFL campus the key international players of academic research in physics and photonics, in growth and fabrication technologies, together with companies engaged in bringing the applications of diamond photonics to the market. As a meeting point for physicists, engineers, materials scientists, and entrepreneurs, the symposium will decisively contribute to the emergence of novel quantum technologies in photonics, such as quantum-enhanced sensors and secure communication devices, and of novel industrial photonic components such as cavities for high power lasers.

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2019 World Conference of Science Journalists

The 11th World Conference of Science Journalists will be held from July 1st to July 5th, 2019, in Lausanne.

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to be announced

Professor Chad Mirkin, Northwestern University, USA

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Chad A. Mirkin, Ph.D., is the Director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology and the George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry. Mirkin also is a professor of chemical and biological engineering, biomedical engineering, materials science & engineering, and medicine at Northwestern University.
Mirkin is a chemist and world-renowned nanoscience expert who is known for his discovery and development of spherical nucleic acids (SNAs), and the many medical diagnostic, therapeutic, and materials applications that have derived from them: Dip-Pen Naolithography (recognized by National Geographic as one of the "top 100 scientific discoveries that changed the world"); and numerous other contributions to supramolecular chemistry.
He is one of very few scientists elected into all three branches of the US National Academies (Medicine, Science, and Engineering). He served for eight years a member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology under President Barack Obama. He has been recognized for his accomplishments with several national and international awards, including: the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in Convergence Research, the Dan David Prize, the Wilhelm Exner Medal, the RUSNANOPRIZE, the Dickson Prize in Science, the American Institute of Chemists Gold Medal, and the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize.
Mirkin holds a B.S. degree from Dickinson College (1986, elected into Phi Beta Kappa) and a Ph.D.in chemistry from The Pennsylvania State University (1989). He was an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT prior to becoming a professor at Northwestern University in 1991.
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Prof. Richard Lenski, Michigan State University, USA

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1973-76B.A., Oberlin College
1977-82Ph.D., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
1982-85Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
1984Visiting Assistant Professor, Dartmouth College
1985-88Assistant Professor, University of California, Irvine
1988-91Associate Professor, University of California, Irvine
1991-Hannah Professor of Microbial Ecology, Michigan State University

1976    Phi Beta Kappa
1977    National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship
1978    Sigma Xi
1986    American Society of Naturalists President's Award for Best Paper in
            The American Naturalist (with B. R. Levin)
1988     National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator
1992    John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship
1992    American Society of Naturalists President's Award for Best Paper in
            The American Naturalist (with M. R. Rose, S. C. Simpson and S. C. Tadler)
1996    John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship
1997    Elected to Fellowship in American Academy of Microbiology
1998    Elected to Fellowship in American Academy of Arts and Sciences
1999    American Society of Microbiology, Division R Lectureship (Systematics and Evolution)
2006    Elected to Membership in National Academy of Sciences.
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