News

Engineering cellular function without living cells 25th March, 2019

EPFL scientists have come up with a systematic method for studying and even predicting gene expression – without using cells. Using their innovative, quantitative approach, they measured important parameters governing gene regulation. This allowed them to design and construct a synthetic biological logic gate, which could one day be used to introduce new functions into cells. Their research has just been published in PNAS.

Robots enable bees and fish to talk to each other 21st March, 2019

Through an imaginative experiment, researchers were able to get two extremely different animal species located far apart to interact with each other and reach a shared decision with the help of robots.

Virtual time-lapse photos can capture ultrafast phenomena 13th March, 2019

EPFL scientists have developed a new image-processing method that can capture extremely rapid phenomena using any type of camera. Their method, called Virtual Frame Technique, delivers better performance than any commercial high-speed camera and is affordable and accessible to anyone.

MT180: First place for the artificial ligaments of Alvaro Charlet 11th March, 2019

The winner of the fourth annual My Thesis in 180 Seconds competition, held last night at the Rolex Forum, was Alvaro Charlet – a PhD student in materials science. In just three minutes he explained to the 600 people in the audience how his hydrogels receipes could one day replace ligaments in the human body. His presentation – perfectly orchestrated and seasoned with humor – won over the jury.

Turning buildings into energy producers 11th March, 2019

EPFL has become the coordinator of Be-Smart, an EU research project that aims to step up the deployment of building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) and cut their costs by 75% between now and 2030. The project was launched in response to EU regulations that require new buildings to be nearly zero-energy by 2020.

A self-healing composite 7th March, 2019

Researchers from EPFL's Laboratory for Processing of Advanced Composites have developed a material that can easily heal after being damaged. This cutting-edge composite could be used in aircraft, wind turbines, cars and sports equipment.

Coordinating the movements of mother and baby to facilitate delivery 6th March, 2019

A team of researchers from EPFL and Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) has been awarded one of two Fondation Leenaards 2019 science prizes for its research into the biomechanics of labor. The aim of the project is to determine the best position for each mother to adopt in order to make vaginal delivery easier. 

EPFLoop in the running again 6th March, 2019

The EPFLoop team – which took home third place in last year’s Hyperloop Pod Competition – has been selected to compete again, making it one of around 20 short-listed teams that will head to California this summer.

Several programs in EPFL Engineering move up in the rankings 1st March, 2019

Two programs are now ranked in the top ten worldwide. According to the most recent QS World University Rankings, the Institute of Materials Science is now ranked #6 up from #10, and the Institute of Electrical Engineering is now ranked #9 up from #16. The Institute of Mechanical Engineering has moved up 9 positions to #18 from #27. Overall, EPFL is ranked #11 under Engineering and Technology.

EPFL students work on problems encountered by doctors 28th February, 2019

Students taking the biomechanics course at EPFL were given the chance to work directly on problems encountered by doctors. They looked at issues such as how to better assess the healing process of skin grafts on patients with severe burns, how to prevent broaches from breaking during hip replacement surgery, and how to replace a windpipe damaged in a traffic accident. 

Why a blow to the chest can kill or save you 22nd February, 2019

It is still a mystery why a blow to the chest can kill some people yet save others. We may be one step closer to an answer, however, thanks to a device developed by researchers at EPFL and the University of Bern that can replicate the experience in the laboratory.

The holy grail of nanowire production 21st February, 2019

EPFL researchers have found a way to control and standardize the production of nanowires on silicon surfaces. This discovery could make it possible to grow nanowires on electronic platforms, with potential applications including the integration of nanolasers into electronic chips and improved energy conversion in solar panels.

New residential solar panels deliver record-breaking efficiency 21st February, 2019

The solar panels developed by startup Insolight boast an impressive 29% yield – a record for the retail market. These systems, which have now been standardized for mass production, contain lenses that focus sunlight on tiny high-yield photovoltaic cells, employing what is a pioneering approach for the solar-power industry.

A prosthetic that restores the sense of where your hand is 21st February, 2019

Researchers have developed a next-generation bionic hand that allows amputees to regain their proprioception. The results of the study, which have been published in Science Robotics, are the culmination of ten years of robotics research.

A transformer to drive the transition from AC to DC 15th February, 2019

EPFL researchers have developed a compact and efficient medium-frequency transformer. Their device is poised to enhance the flexibility and efficiency of tomorrow’s smart grids and DC power distribution networks. An EPFL-made prototype has been thoroughly tested and presented in several tutorials designed for experts from the academic and industrial worlds.

Next-generation optics in just two minutes of cooking time 13th February, 2019

One of the key building blocks of flexible photonic circuits and ultra-thin optics are metasurfaces. And EPFL engineers have now discovered a simple way of making these surfaces in just a few minutes – without needing a clean room – using a method already employed in manufacturing. Their findings have just been published in Nature Nanotechnology.

Transferring technology from the lab to industry 12th February, 2019

Much of the pioneering technology developed in research labs struggles to reach the market. To help scientists and engineers turn their ideas into viable business plans, 22 Swiss companies and research institutes – including EPFL – have teamed up to create a network of Advanced Manufacturing Technology Transfer Centers across the country.

Gummy-like robots could help prevent disease 8th February, 2019

EPFL scientists have developed microscopic, hydrogel-based muscles that can manipulate and mechanically stimulate biological tissue. These soft, biocompatible robots could be used for targeted therapy and to help diagnose and prevent disease.

Lunaphore, an EPFL spin-off, brings its first product to market 7th February, 2019

The first rapid screening test for cancer developed by EPFL spin-off Lunaphore is being released today. It holds the European Union's CE marking and will be available in most European countries.

A new EPFL fund rewards nine open science ideas 4th February, 2019

The first call for proposal for the EPFL Open Science Fund attracted nearly 50 propositions. Nine projects were selected and will receive support to develop ideas fostering open and reproducible research on campus, and beyond. Three of the nine selected projects are being developed by the School of Engineering.

New Excellence in Engineering Program attracts over 2000 applicants 4th February, 2019

For its inaugural edition, the new E3 EPFL Excellence in Engineering Program attracts over 2000 applicants, from 82 countries. 

Prof. Nicola Marzari receives IBM Faculty Award for curated datasets 4th February, 2019

Nicola Marzari, head of the Laboratory of theory and simulation of materials (THEOS) and director of the NCCR MARVEL has been granted an IBM Faculty Award for the project “Curated Datasets on Demand”.

Using artificial intelligence to save bees 31st January, 2019

A beekeeper teamed up with the Signal Processing Laboratory 5 and a group of EPFL students to develop an app that counts the number of Varroa mites in beehives. This parasite is one of the two main threats – along with pesticides – to bees’ long-term survival. Knowing the extent of the mites’ infestation will allow beekeepers to protect their bees more effectively.

More energy-efficient cruise ships 22nd January, 2019

An EPFL researcher has developed a system based on fuel cells to reduce the carbon footprint and energy consumption of cruise ships, which are increasingly popular among vacation goers around the world.

Smart microrobots that can adapt to their surroundings 21st January, 2019

Scientists at EPFL and ETH Zurich have developed tiny elastic robots that can change shape depending on their surroundings. Modeled after bacteria and fully biocompatible, these robots optimize their movements so as to get to hard-to-reach areas of the human body. They stand to revolutionize targeted drug delivery.

A robot recreates the walk of a 300-million-year-old animal 17th January, 2019

Using the fossil and fossilized footprints of a 300-million-year-old animal, an interdisciplinary team that includes scientists from EPFL and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin have developed a method for identifying the most likely gaits of extinct animals and designed a robot that can recreate their walk. This innovative study of animal biomechanics using robots can help researchers better understand how vertebrate locomotion evolved over time.

EPFL drones draw crowds in Las Vegas 14th January, 2019

This week, four EPFL-designed drones are being shown in the Swiss Pavilion at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The spin-offs developing the drones are trying to follow in the footsteps of Flyability and Pix4D by establishing themselves in the international market. Americans may be more familiar with Swiss chocolate than with Switzerland’s “Drone Valley,” but US specialists are keeping a close eye on the technologies being developed here.

Excitons pave the way to more efficient electronics 7th January, 2019

After developing a method to control exciton flows at room temperature, EPFL scientists have discovered new properties of these quasiparticles that can lead to more energy-efficient electronic devices.

EPFL startups raise a total of 217 million in 2018 3rd January, 2019

2018 was a prosperous year for EPFL startups, which raised a total of CHF 217 million in fresh capital. Nexthink alone announced a successful CHF 85 million fundraising round last week and Abionic, a spin-off from the School of Engineering, raised CHF 20 millions. This remarkable showing reflects EPFL’s vibrant entrepreneurial culture as well as the many different forms of assistance that the school has introduced over the years.

The School of Engineering welcomes two talented new professors 13th December, 2018

Philip Moll, a new Tenure Track Assistant Professor of Materials Science, and Vivek Subramanian, a new Full Professor of Microtechnology, joined the EPFL School of Engineering.

New foldable drone flies through narrow holes in rescue missions 12th December, 2018

A research team from the University of Zurich and EPFL have developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Using water molecules to unlock neurons' secrets 11th December, 2018

EPFL researchers have developed a method to observe the electrical activity of neurons by analyzing the behavior of surrounding water molecules. This simple and non-invasive method, which could eliminate the need for electrodes and fluorophores, can be used to monitor the activity within a single neuron or potentially on an entire region of the brain.

Two School of Engineering Professors win SNSF Eccellenza Grants 2nd December, 2018

Maartje Bastings, an assistant professor with the Programmable Biomaterials Laboratory and Romain Fleury, an assistant professor with the Laboratory of Wave Engineering, have been awarded an Eccellenza Grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Drazen Dujic receives an ERC Consolidator Grant 30th November, 2018

Prof. Drazen Dujic, head of the Power Electronics Laboratory, has received an ERC Consolidator Grant, for his project entitled EMPOWER- Medium Voltage Direct Current Electronic Transformer.

An app to help students study for their EPFL classes 30th November, 2018

Uniknow, an app developed by EPFL students, offers theory, videos and graded exercises. The first module, on mechanics, was a big hit with users. With EPFL’s support, the project is now set to expand and cover other subjects.

5 EPFL Engineering Professors recognized as Highly Cited Researchers 30th November, 2018

Christophe Ballif, Tobias Kippenberg, Andras Kis, Nicola Marzari and Ali H. Sayed, from the EPFL School of Engineering, are recognized as "Highly Cited Researchers" for 2018.

A hydrogel that adheres firmly to cartilage and meniscus 26th November, 2018

EPFL researchers have developed a hydrogel – made up of nearly 90% water – that naturally adheres to soft tissue like cartilage and the meniscus. If the hydrogel carries repair cells, it could help damaged tissue to heal.

Tech-Transfer: Science is keeping pace with marathoners 19th November, 2018

Thanks to sensors attached to their shoes, long-distance runners can harness the power of algorithms to analyze their stride. The algorithms, developed by EPFL spin-off Gait Up and tested in the Laboratory of Movement Analysis and Measurement (LMAM), are unmatched in terms of precision and the range of parameters measured, such as objective fatigue, cadence, strike angle and foot impact.

EPFL's PhD Summit attracts students from around the world 14th November, 2018

Thirteen PhD students from the US, Asia and Europe presented their research at the first Engineering PhD Summit held by EPFL’s School of Engineering. The topic for this year’s event was data-driven engineering in the life sciences. Shachi Mittal from the University of Illinois took home the jury award with her presentation on “Combining Data Science and Chemical Imaging for Automated Cancer Diagnosis.” 

Tech-Transfer: Using diamonds to recharge civilian drones in flight 7th November, 2018

A small lab-grown diamond measuring a few millimeters per side could one day enable civilian drones to be recharged in mid-flight through a laser. Thanks to the diamond, the laser beam can remain strong enough over a long distance to recharge photovoltaic cells on the drones’ surface. This system, which poses no threat to human health, is being developed by EPFL spin-off LakeDiamond. It could also be used to transmit both power and data to satellites and has just been included in the ten projects supported for two years by of the Swiss Space Office.

TWIICE One exoskeleton is a step towards independence 7th November, 2018

The new version of the TWIICE walking-assistance system is not only lighter, more comfortable and more powerful, but patients can also put it on and use it themselves – giving them greater independence. It has been tested by handcycling champion Silke Pan.

A MOOC pioneer honored at EPFL 30th October, 2018

Jennifer Widom, dean of the Stanford School of Engineering, has won the Erna Hamburger Prize, which she will be awarded this evening by the EPFL-WISH Foundation.

Small flying robots able to pull objects up to 40 times their weight 29th October, 2018

Researchers from EPFL and Stanford have developed small drones that can land and then move objects that are 40 times their weight, with the help of powerful winches, gecko adhesives and microspines.

AI and NMR spectroscopy determine atoms configuration in record time 29th October, 2018

EPFL scientists have developed a machine-learning approach that can be combined with experiments to determine, in record time, the location of atoms in powdered solids. Their method can be applied to complex molecules containing thousands of atoms and could be of particular interest to the pharmaceutical industry.

Nerve-on-a-chip platform makes neuroprosthetics more effective 23rd October, 2018

EPFL scientists have developed a miniaturized electronic platform for the stimulation and recording of peripheral nerve fibers on a chip. By modulating and rapidly recording nerve activity with a high signal-to-noise ratio, the platform paves the way to using chips to improve neuroprosthetic designs. 

EPFL opens new research center for educational science 16th October, 2018

EPFL inaugurate this Wednesday, October 10 the LEARN Center for Learning Sciences. The Center will promote innovation in teaching and help formulate responses to the challenges being created by our society’s digital transformation.

Ultra-light gloves let users “touch” virtual objects 16th October, 2018

Scientists from EPFL and ETH Zurich have developed an ultra-light glove – weighing less than 8 grams per finger– that enables users to feel and manipulate virtual objects. Their system provides extremely realistic haptic feedback and could run on a battery, allowing for unparalleled freedom of movement.

Using mobile data to model the drinking habits of Swiss youth 16th October, 2018

Researchers from Idiap Research Institute and EPFL have carried out a study using smartphone data from young Swiss people to better understand the circumstances in which they are most likely to drink. A computer model developed from the data can estimate, with over 75% accuracy, whether alcohol was consumed on a given weekend night.

The School of Engineering congratulates 234 new graduates! 6th October, 2018

234 students received their Master's degree in Electrical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Microengineering on Saturday, October 6, during the traditionnal EPFL's graduation ceremony. 

Microresonators offer a simpler approach to sensing with light pulses 2nd October, 2018

Researchers at EPFL have found a way to implement an optical sensing system by using spatial multiplexing, a technique originally developed in optical-fiber communication. The method, which produces three independent streams of ultrashort optical pulses using a single continuous-wave laser and a single optical microresonator, is far simpler than existing technologies.