Prof. Heuberger, microelectronics plays a decisive role in almost all areas of life. The digitization of entire industries gives rise to new applications and requirements. What tasks are associated with this?
In my view, the main requirements for next-generation microelectronic components are flexibility, data efficiency and energy efficiency, as well as reliability. For sensors, we need modular platforms that can be adapted to special requirements. The trend towards strong networking in industry and the consumer sector is continuing, although I believe that not all data must and can be sent to a cloud. For many applications, local data processing and decision- making are important. To achieve this, we must develop energy-efficient distributed components. In general, the challenge is to position ourselves organizationally and technologically in such a way that the different requirements of industry can be served by research at Fraunhofer and that we can work together efficiently.
Let us look beyond the borders of Germany: what challenges do you see for Europe in terms of technological sovereignty, and how can these challenges be met?
At the European level, we have to ensure the supply of components and innovations. To this end, we want to drive forward the strategic research field of “Next-Generation Computing” within the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. The topics there are neuromorphic hardware, trusted electronics and quantum computing. We have expertise in all these areas to make technological contributions.
In order to generate a real impact as a third player alongside the United States and China, we must pool our strengths in Europe. We want to do this by working with what are known as “Research and Technology Organizations” (RTOs) in Europe. To this end, we have to organize collaboration between the RTOs and invest in the technological infrastructure. For this, we need the support of the European Commission, which is funding infrastructure and projects within the Horizon Europe program. In this context, the FMD is considered a role-model when it comes to setting up various institutions with a common strategy and focused offers to industry.
Apart from that: where would you, as spokesman of the Group for Microelectronics, like to set special priorities?
As spokesperson, I am responsible for organizing collaboration between the microelectronics institutes. It is a dear issue to me that the office of the Research Fab Microelecronics Germany and the Group for Microelectronics continues to operate well and is engaged in the design of strategic initiatives.
Furthermore, I would like to strengthen the significance of microelectronics in industry and politics. We all know that microelectronics is the cross-sectional technology that has an impact on all industries. We therefore need an awareness of the importance of technological sovereignty and of the opportunities that emerge in new industries through the advancements in microelectronics. To achieve this, we must act together by further promoting collaboration between the Fraunhofer Institutes. This is what I would like to advocate as spokesman for the Group for Microelectronics, together with my deputy Christoph Kutter and the Executive Board.
Thank you for the interview!