The management group of the department of Signals and Systems (S2) devised this initiative in autumn 2016. On 1 May this department is being merged with the Electric Power Engineering and High Voltage Engineering divisions to form the department of Electrical Engineering (E2). This initiative has a long-term focus and will continue as a strategic project until 2019.
Anders Karlström, Head of Department, says: “We have a lot to gain from thinking outside divisional and departmental boundaries. It’s just the first step towards what I hope will be an ongoing process of encouraging new research initiatives.”
There was a good response to the call for proposals that went out at the beginning of the year. No less than eleven project concepts were submitted. After assessment, six were selected and were allocated an internal grant of SEK 0.5 million each, for use during 2017.
Karlström continues: “The project proposals are highly promising and of a high quality, so we decided to accept more of them than we had intended at the outset. The idea is that the researchers have six months’ funding to enable them to produce results that are interesting enough that they can then seek external funding for further development work on the projects. Another objective is for this initiative to work as a catalyst for a new way of working and thus enhance integration within the new department.”
Preparations are already under way for the new call for proposals in September, for the next cross-boundary project in 2018.
“It will be exciting to see the proposals. The researchers’ creativity in putting forward cross-boundary initiatives has so far exceeded my expectations,” he says.
Communications technology provides medical benefits
Thomas Eriksson (Communication Systems) and Christian Fager (Microwave Electronics at MC2) have collaborated for many years in the communication field. Eriksson’s research is geared to signal processing and communications whereas Fager focuses on the hardware side, specialising in areas such as circuit design and measurement techniques. When the call for proposals went out at the beginning of the year they firmed up their previously rather vague plans to expand their area of research to the field of medicine. Eriksson and Fager joined forces with Andreas Fhager, a researcher in biomedical electromagnetics, to submit a project proposal combining their respective specialist fields.
Andreas Fhager, Thomas Eriksson and Christian Fager are starting a cooperation between medical engineering and communications technology.
"If we transfer established technology from the communication field to the technology platform we are using in the medical research area, this may open the door to a number of exciting new applications,” says Andreas Fhager. “I also see significant advantages from gaining access to systems that are faster, smaller, cheaper and lighter."
“We are aiming to reduce the measuring time and improve the calibration technology for microwave measurements. For instance, we use what are known as Stroke Finder helmets which help to diagnose stroke patients,” says Thomas Eriksson. “As a result of our experiences in the communication field we believe it is possible to perform real-time measurements if we develop the measuring equipment by using several rapid wideband antennas.”
Such rapid and reliable microwave measurements could be used to monitor a patient’s pulsating heartbeat, for example. If the technology could also be simplified to such an extent that it could be provided in medical centres and ambulances, this would bring significant advantages in diagnosing patients and assessing the medical care they require.
“Applying your research to a new field, which is also so close to people and where there is a clear link to the benefits for the patient, is an enjoyable and exciting challenge”, says Christian Fager.
“It’s also important for us to have the opportunity to learn from one another and enhance our understanding of our respective research fields. We represent three strong research teams at Chalmers and by joining forces we have the potential to develop something really good,” he stresses.
The project is a long-term one but it needs initial help in order to establish a concept for further work. The plan is to use the funds in 2017 for a temporary post-doctoral appointment to allow a simple demonstration of the technology to be carried out. The project team believes there is a good chance of producing results fairly rapidly, which would then allow it to take the project forward with external funding.