PICTURES OF THE FUTURE
Siemens: Two Nominations for German Future Prize
F or the first time in the almost ten-year history of the German Future Prize, one company has received two of the four nominations for the award. This year, the Straton X-ray tube — a key component of the world’s fastest computer tomograph — and the piezo fuel-injection technology for diesel and gasoline engines have been nominated. Both innovations were de- veloped by Siemens. The winners of the 250,000-euro-prize will be announced by German President Horst Köhler on November 11. It’s generally regarded as an honor just to be nomi- nated. Since the award was introduced in 1997, Siemens employees have been nominated four times. This year’s nominees are Dr. Peter Schardt, Dr. Karin Söldner and Prof. Wolfgang Knüpfer (Straton X-ray tube) and Dr. Klaus Egger and Prof. Hans Meixner (piezo fuel-injection system).
With the Straton X-ray tube, researchers at Siemens Medical Solutions pursued a new im- aging concept for computed tomography (CT). The tube cools much quicker than conventional
Nominations for two teams from Siemens. From left to right: Prof. Hans Meixner, Friedrich Böcking (Bosch) and Dr. Klaus Egger for piezo fuel injection; and Dr. Peter Schardt, Dr. Karin Söldner and Prof. Wolfgang Knüpfer for the Straton X-ray tube.
systems — thus eliminating the need for cooling-off periods during examinations and thereby cutting the time patients have to spend in the CT. It also features a new projection technique whereby the X-rays strike the detector several thousand times a second at two alternating an- gles. Resolution can be boosted to below 0.4 millimeters as a result. This provides images of the tiniest blood vessels in a beating heart at an unparalleled resolution, which in turn en- hances diagnostic quality. The Straton is now a part of the CT Somatom Sensation 64. Since its launch in 2003, more than 350 systems of this type have been installed worldwide.
The nomination of the piezo direct fuel-injection system also marks another first. It is the only time to date that two rival companies — Siemens VDO Automotive and Robert Bosch GmbH — have been jointly nominated for the award. The piezo system provides more precise control of the amount of fuel injected into the combustion chamber, which in turn cuts con- sumption and emissions. Researchers at Siemens Corporate Technology and developers at Siemens VDO have been working on the technology since the early 1980s. The piezo direct- injection system for diesel engines was launched in 2000, and Siemens is planning to in- troduce a counterpart system for gasoline engines in 2006. Bosch and Siemens have in- vested over 5 billion euros in the development and production of such systems since the m i d - 1 9 9 0 s . A l l i n a l l , t h e t w o c o m p a n i e s e m p l o y 9 , 4 0 0 p e o p l e i n t h i s f i e l d , n o t c o u n t i n g a n ■ n a additional 8,000 jobs at suppliers.
Giant TV Screen
F lat screen displays can now be produced in much larger sizes than ever before possible thanks to a new backlighting system developed by Siemens subsidiary Osram Opto Semiconductors. The company has produced a two-meter prototype display featuring 1,120 Golden Dragon light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The display measures 82 inches diag- onally, which is about the size of a door. Moreover, as the system is scalable, it can be used to backlight much larger areas in the fu- ture. Osram’s LEDs are now almost on a par with the backlighting technology currently used for LCD displays. Their high luminous efficiency is achieved by means of a special thin-film technique involving the use of a mir- rored layer to ensure minimal light diffusion within the LED and therefore maximum lumi- nosity in the desired direction. Moreover, thanks to very fast switching times (less than 100 nanoseconds), LED-based backlighting systems are free of striation. The new system uses a monochrome, high-speed switching display. Only those pixels are opened that produce the three primary colors – with each associated LED flashing at high frequency
Enhanced TV images for soccer. Giant flat- screen displays with backlighting technol- ogy feature Osram LEDs.
from red to blue to green. Since the human eye cannot follow such rapid changes, the system creates the impression of brilliantly- colored moving images. This results in high resolution, since each LCD pixel is polychro- matic. And since color filters are not needed, t h e d i s p l a y l o o k s b r i g h t e r a n d t h e p r i c e c a n ■ n a even be lower
Cornflakes packaging. Design study showcases the use of an ultra-thin elec- trochromic film to display information.
New Look for Products
s he products on the shelves of stores and u p e r m a r k e t s c o u l d s o o n b e f e a t u r i n g a T novel way of telling consumers their price and use-by date. A new wafer-thin adhesive dis- play developed by Siemens can be used to show animated sequences on product pack- aging. Available in various sizes, it will also display other information at the press of touch-sensitive keys. The flexible film is around 200 micrometers thick and generates its colors by means of an electrochemical reaction, whereby so-called electrochromic substances change color when subjected to a voltage.
These substances, which have been spe- cially developed by Siemens researchers, are coated very thinly on the foil. The voltage — in this case 1.5 volts — is applied by means of a lattice of fine electrodes. The application of the voltage causes the molecules to alter their light absorption properties and appear in another color. By regulating the voltage at particular nodes of the lattice, it is possible to create letters or images. The power for the display comes from tiny batteries, which are made from organic material or miniature solar cells. Present plans envisage the intro- duction of the flexible mini-screens in food packaging as early as 2007. What’s more, the technology could also be used to display in- f o r m a t i o n o n p r e s c r i p t i o n p a c k a g i n g i n d i f f e r - ■ f m ent languages.
High-Voltage Connection S iemens and Pirelli Energy Cables & Systems are increasing the reliability of the power supply to Long Island. In particular, they are installing a facility for transmitting high- voltage direct current (HVDC) between power plants in Sayreville, New Jersey, and Long Is- land. This new facility is designed primarily to cover the increased demand for electricity in summertime. Long Island — some of the island forms part of New York City — is home to eight million people. Starting in the summer of 2007, 105 kilometers of submarine and land cable will transmit up to 750 megawatts of electrical power at a direct voltage of 500 kilo- volts. In terms of both efficiency and technological feasibility, HVDC represents an attractive complement to conventional energy transmission, which relies on alternating current. Siemens has been a pioneer in this field for a number of decades (see Pictures of the Future, Fall 2003, p. 78).
conversion HVDC technology is mainly used to transmit power over long distances or to link different power grids that operate with different frequencies or control sys- tems. At the start of the process, a recti- fier takes power from a three-phase sys- tem. This power is then transmitted as HVDC. Finally, an inverter is used to feed the power into another three-phase sys- tem. The reliability of HVDC is partially due to the use of direct-light-triggered thyristors with integrated overvoltage protection. Developed by Siemens, these t h y r i s t o r s a r e r e s p o n s i b l e f o r t h e c u r r e n t ■ n a
Valve towers in a converter station. Water- cooled thyristors will make Long Island’s power supply more secure.
Television via the Internet t he age of interactive digital television via the Internet has now dawned in Belgium and h e N e t h e r l a n d s , w h e r e S i e m e n s i s s u p p l y i n g B e l g a c o m a n d D u t c h t e l e p h o n e c o m p a n y m KPN with a complete package for “TV-over-IP” (see p. 19). To receive programs via the In- ternet protocol, viewers simply need a DSL connection and a conventional television. These are linked by means of a set-top box that converts digital data into interference-free TV sig- nals. The network operators are supplied with everything from a single source. The package includes server technology, user soft- ware, data encryption technology, the hardware needed to receive satellite data, and set-top boxes for consumers. Viewers also benefit from the fact that the set-top boxes and menu navigation are easy to operate. Belgacom, meanwhile, is offer- ing an exciting and exclusive attraction — transmission of games from the Belgian and Italian soccer leagues. If a fan misses a game, a server stores it as a digital recording. What’s more, Belgacom cus- tomers can use their TVs to make video- telephone calls, download their favorite o v i e s f r o m t h e I n t e r n e t , s u r f t h e W e b , ■ TV via DSL: Siemens offers network operators a comprehensive and user- friendly solution. n a T send e-mails and chat
Pictures of the Future | Fall 2005