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Success Stories


The following examples of successful technology transfer merely provide an insight into PTB's technology transfer, what cooperation between PTB and industry can look like, and how this cooperation eventually contributes to the company's success.




Recharge simply everywhere!

An electric car charges at a wallbox.
On-board metering lowers the costs of electromobility.

A million electric vehicles on the roads by 2020, this is the goal the German federal government has set itself. One of the main obstacles hereby is the need for an efficient and affordable infrastructure for recharging the batteries. The new concept of the Ubitricity company brings the charging station to where electric energy is already available, e.g. into lamp posts on the street and to simple charging stations in car parks or at work.

Developing a reliable system for the billing of the electrical power that is both secure and admissible for verification was a predestined task for PTB. Within the scope of a project extending over several years and funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), this concept has been implemented by PTB together with the companies involved in the consortium. The fact that the power meter needed to bill the energy charged is on board the vehicle is to reduce the costs for power dispensers by more than a factor of 10. This would allow more charging facilities to be made available and, in many cases, to be operated profitably at all. After implementing the concept and developing the security architecture in cooperation with PTB, ubitricity has been carrying on the project further on its own since 2013 and has, for example, launched a pilot phase in Berlin, in the Lake Constance region and in various other places.

For further information, please visit: www.ubitricity.com

High-end electronics

Ultracold sensors for biomedical use, low-temperature physics, materials testing and astronomy

SQUIDs, short for "superconducting quantum interference detectors", have been developed and used at PTB since the 1980s. At low temperatures, they change states to become "superconducting", i.e. their electrical resistance is fully suppressed. This allows the smallest magnetic field strengths and currents to be calibrated. But SQUIDs can also be used directly as low-temperature thermometers. Towards the end of the 1990s, connection complexity and demand were so high that marketing them was envisaged. Dozens of SQUID amplifier circuits are used, for example, for the contact-free detection of brain waves. The Magnicon company, which arose from Hamburg University, became a license holder who makes commercial products out of PTB's circuit connections. PTB was thus able to focus on its core task, namely realizing and disseminating the units. In addition, licensing supplies PTB with royalties. The Hamburg company with a branch in Berlin has meanwhile become a renowned supplier in this specialized market, with its clientele operating in the fields of research and industrial development. The constant development of new SQUID applications from the most diverse fields of research hereby requires a high degree of flexibility and innovativeness from the company, which has meanwhile created 6 jobs.


For further information: www.magnicon.com

Maximum precision with LaserTracer

Sub-micrometer metrology for production

Modern precision engineering in the field of mechanical engineering, the automotive or the aerospace industry requires measurement uncertainties in the lower micrometer range. Hereby, it is often workpieces of more than a meter in length which have to be measured. Coordinate metrology is thus a key technology when it comes to modern production processes; it has been intensively developed at PTB for more than 20 years. The LaserTracer, one of PTB's developments, is based on a patent of the National Physical Laboratory (NPL, United Kingdom); it is an interferometric system that provides the low measurement uncertainty required. This and other technologies of PTB's portfolio have been protected by patents and utility patents.

In 2004, two of PTB's staff members seized the opportunity and created the ETALON company which is based on PTB's premises and which they operate part-time  according to the rules applying to start-ups. This young company was supported by AICON, a Braunschweig-based enterprise which already operated in the field of dimensional metrology and could, thus, provide valuable market knowledge. ETALON now has its own site outside PTB's premises and is, in its own terms, technology leader in the world market for the calibration of machine tools. This start-up has allowed 20 jobs to be created to date.


For further information: www.etalon-ag.com/

High power – and still explosion-protected

New concept of intrinsic safety for potentially explosive atmospheres

The certification of devices and protective systems for explosion protection is an important task of PTB. Due to the high potential dangers, provisions with regard to potentially explosive substances are much stricter for industrial use than for private use – for example for communal gas utilities. A concept for the safety of chemical facilities, biogas facilities as well as gas and oil platforms, etc. is summarized under the designation "intrinsic safety". Hereby, the electrical power available at the relevant potentially dangerous points must be so low that explosion is strictly impossible, even under worst-case conditions. In practice, this has, however, meant a limitation of the electrical power to 2 watts – which is less than an LED lamp for domestic use. The "power i concept" has allowed this power scale to be extended to values of up to approx. 50 watts. This concept is based on a precise analysis of the evolution of spark formation and on reliable and fast-reacting circuits which shut off the electric supply within a few millionths of a second (completely or down to a safe value) as soon as the first warning signals are detected. This concept has been promoted by the "Arbeitsgemeinschaft industrielle Forschungsvereinigungen" and has been developed together with a German company which, with an annual turnover of more than 100 millions euros, is the leader on the world market. This concept has meanwhile been transposed into international standardization as IEC 60079-39. Researchers from PTB were awarded the Technology Transfer Prize of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of Braunschweig for the great potential this technology offers to maintain existing jobs and create new ones in Germany.