Highly sensitive sensors to measure the heart and brain activity

Kiel research team develops energy-efficient sensors for extremely low frequencies.

Electrical signals measurements such as the ECG (electrocardiogram) can show how the human brain or heart works. Next to electrical signals magnetic signals also reveal something about the activity of these organs. They could be measured with little effort and without skin contact. But the especially weak signals require highly sensitive sensors. Scientists from the Collaboraive research Center 1261 "Magnetoelectric Sensors" at Kiel University have now developed a new concept for cantilever sensors, with the future aim of measuring these low frequencies of heart and brain activity. The extremely small, energy-efficient sensors are particularly well-suited for medical applications or mobile microelectronics. This is made possible by the use of electrets. Such material is permanently electrically charged, and is also used in microphones for hearing aids or mobile phones. The research team presented its sensor concept in a special edition of the renowned journal Nano Energy.

Full CAU press release: https://www.uni-kiel.de/en/university/details/news/280-sensoren/ 


Workshop on Biosignals

On Wednesday the 11.03.2020 the three-day workshop “Innovative Processing of Bioelectrical and Biomagnetical Signals” started at Kiel University. This workshop is a collaboration of the two expert committees “Biosignals” and “Magnetic Methods in Medicine” of the German Society for Biomedical Engineering in the VDE. Researchers working at the interface between medicine and technology were able to present their research during poster sessions and short scientific talks. The subjects included cardiological examinations, possible applications for biomagnetism, methods to analyse movement as well as neurological biosignals. Despite the broad field of discussions, a lively scientific exchange was achieved.

The dean of Kiel University’s Faculty of Medicine, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Stephani, praised the work of the researchers, stating that no progress of medical diagnosis would be possible without technological research. This was also underlined by four keynotes given by Prof. Dr. Eckhard Quandt (Kiel Univer-sity), PD Dr. Helmut Laufs (University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein), Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Schulte-Mattler (University Medical Center Regensburg) und PD Dr. Philipp Hüllemann (University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein, MediClin Klinikum Soltau). They provided insight in sensor systems, signal processing and diagnostic procedures within different medical contexts.

In the course of the workshop six junior scientists were honoured by the Young Investigator Award for excellent talks or posters. The best talk was given by Michael Kircher (KIT) about “Nonlinear and Piecewise Fitting of Indicator-Enhanced EIT-Signals: Comparison of Methods“. The talk about “Colour Spaces and Facial Regions for a Camera-Based Heart Rate Estimation” by Hannes Ernst (TU Dresden) was voted second best. Patricia Piepjohn (Kiel University) was awarded the third place for her talk concerning “Real-Time Classification of Tremor Patients’ Movement Patterns”. The price for the best poster was awarded to Nicolas Pilia (KIT) for his contribution about “Reconstruction of Potassium Concentrations with the ECG on Imbalanced Datasets“. The poster on the subject of “Active Shielding of Optically Pumped Magnetometer by Means of Helmholtz Coils” by Christin Bald (Kiel University) was honoured with the second place. Richard Hohmuth’ poster (TU Dresden) concerning “Applicability of Spectroscopy in Multispectral Photoplethysmography” was voted third best. The award winners will be supported in publishing their contributions to the workshop in the journal “Biomedical Engineering/ Biomedizinische Technik”.

Owing to the precautionary measures which were taken due to the corona virus, several participants could not be part of the workshop. The organisers of the event, Prof. Dr. Gerhard Schmidt (Kiel University), Prof. Dr. Andreas Bahr (Kiel University) and Eric Elzenheimer (Kiel University) concluded that they are glad to have held the workshop in spite of the corona virus and they hope that the participants could draw on the exchange with colleagues they have had during those three days for a while.

Cara Broß, IPN - Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education, Kiel, Germany

First summer school on sensor magnetic sensing in Kiel

From 19-21 August 2019, the first summer school of the CRC took place at the Wissenschaftszentrum Kiel und the Faculty of Engineering. About 30 doctoral candidates and external speakers from Kiel, Germany as far as Moscow attended the interdisciplinary event with the title “Magnetic sensing and applications in medicine and industry – state of the art and new prospects”. It contributed to establish new contacts as well as enhance existing collaborations that, for example, started at some of the research stays of many CRC-members. 

Invited speakers from science and industry presented their work on the development and the application of sensors. The discussed topics included sensor concepts, fabrication, characterization, modeling, benchmarking, Sensor array building and design, measurement electronics, signal processing, Forward/inverse problems and sensor fusion and medical diagnostics. The participants presented their work as a poster or in a short talk. At the second day, the participants could attend one of three soft skills courses on time management, intercultural competence or presentation techniques. An interactive talk on Public Outreach enabled them to present their own research project in a comprehensible way for non-scientists.

On the third day, the participants could visit several laboratories like Kiel Nanolab or the magnetically shielded room as facilities of the Departments of Materials Science and Electrical Engineering. The Lab Visits at the Faculty of Engineering should provide practical insights into methods and instruments used in Kiel. At the end of the conference Professor Eckhard Quandt, spokesperson of the CRC, awarded a prize for the best poster to Renato Huber from the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research Dresden.  

CRC Field Trip 2021 to DESY, Hamburg

On October 12th, a group of 13 CRC members traveled to Hamburg for this year's CRC field trip. The train, subway and bus rides from Kiel to the DESY campus provided a welcome opportunity to reconnect with colleagues from other CRC projects face-to-face after mostly seeing each other on screens for the last months. The day at DESY started with an overview talk by Dr. Oliver Seeck covering the physics of snychrotron radiation, the history and constructional characteristics of the DESY facility and selected current research projects highlighting the wide range of research fields working at DESY. The impressive examples included a high resolution 3D imaging technique providing new insights on how the coronavirus damages lung tissue, and on a lighter note, how synchrotron radiation was used to investigate the solidification mechanism of cooking egg whites. Furthermore, it was very interesting to learn about the process of applying for beam time at DESY.

After lunch on the sunny terrace of the FLASH building, Dr. Seeck gave a guided tour through the FLASH and PETRA III facilities. The group got to see a number of different beamlines with their specialized experimental setups. At beamline P08, Svenja Hövelmann explained the setup maintained by the group of Bridget Murphy, which has also been used for CRC research. To finish off the field trip, the group visited the DESY exhibition which features models of the technical equipment at DESY such as bending magnets, undulators and wigglers. A few brave members of the CRC experienced the effect of a Fresnel zone plate on sound waves.

A big thank you to Dr. Oliver Seeck for the very interesting and informative day at DESY!

Mona Stölting, CRC 1261

German-American exchange for young researchers

With a joint fellowship programme the American Ceramic Society, the Pennsylvania State University (Penn State) and the Kiel University (CAU) want to support the international exchange of doctoral researchers. The programme „International Research Experience for Students“ is funded by the American National Science Foundation (NSF) with 500,000 dollars. It enables young scientists from the USA to complete a six-month research stay in Kiel. From the winter semester 2019/20 onwards, they will be able to attend lectures at the Faculty of Engineering and get actively involved in its research work. The subject of the three-year programme is based around three of Kiel University's major research networks, which are working at the interface between engineering and medicine on sensors for biomagnetic fields (Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) 1261 "Magnetoelectric Sensors: From Composite Materials to Biomagnetic Diganostics"), on new materials to treat brain disorders (Research Training Group 2154 "Materials for Brain") and on the implementation of the information processing in nervous systems into hardware electronics.(Research Group 2093 "Memristive devices for neuronal systems").

The aim of the programme IRES is to support first-rate young researchers at the CAU and American universities in their career development: Programme participants, known as PACK fellows (Penn State – American Ceramic Society – University of Kiel), will have the opportunity of a training in an international setting and building long-term networks. The programme focuses on their exchange with scientist of the CAU and Penn State in the fields of magnetoelectric composite materials, biomagnetic sensors, imaging procedures to display brain activities, biomaterials, medical signal processing and neuromorphic components. The American Ceramic Society is administering the programme.

"Bringing young committed researchers together at international level and establishing networks for them is an important component of our support for young researchers," stressed CRC spokesperson Professor Eckhard Quandt. "This cooperation also demonstrates Kiel University's research strength and international visibility in the emerging field of biomagnetic field sensing. Through this project, we hope to establish the foundations for further German-American research partnerships."

Full CAU press release: https://www.uni-kiel.de/en/details/news/pack0/


SFB1261 Microsite

Click here to visit our Microsite with information for students, teachers and the public (German and English version available).




Prof. Dr. Gerhard Schmidt

Kiel University
Institute for Electrical Engineering and Information Engineering


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