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Research Field "Information"

The scientific performance of the Helmholtz Centers and their contribution to the programs of the research field Information was evaluated in four reviews in the period October to December 2017 by four top-class panels with a total of more than 80 international scientists. On a total of 14 days in the three participating centers, the research was assessed and discussed on site and large-scale facilities were visited.

The reviewers identified numerous activities across the entire research field, which they rated as world leading. They particularly emphasized the operation of the Jülich Supercomputing Center and stressed that only a few institutions could match this combination of services. The 3D brain mapping was certified to be at an excellent level. In the field of quantum materials, the experts recognized a very high quality. The contributions in the research areas of optics and photonics as well as structural biology are outstanding. The reviewers were also convinced about the research on metallic and polymeric biomaterials and the research on plant phenotyping. Research on technology assessment was highlighted as well. 

The holistic concept of the research programs and their inter- and transdisciplinary approaches impressed the reviewers. They optimally fulfil the mission of the Helmholtz Association. Added value is generated by links between the programs, for example by combining supercomputing, neurosciences and biological bases and through the good cooperation between the centers of the research field, which complement each other perfectly with their complementary competences. 

The various and often world-leading research infrastructures offer excellent conditions for research of the highest quality. From the Supercomputing Center to micro- and nanocenters to the latest electron microscopy, the best research facilities are available to scientists. Unique imaging facilities for neurosciences and life sciences, a center for zebrafish research and a platform for the research and processing of magnesium are further examples. They illustrate the unique combination of high-quality scientific infrastructures, which form a decisive basis for the strength of the research area.

The evaluators provided numerous valuable suggestions to the research field and the centers for the further development of the programs. In addition to increased resources for data sciences, they recommended a holistic approach and the combination with activities for simulation and modeling. For further development, the experts recommended funding for the future fields of quantum computing and neuromorphic computing. The suggestions further include strengthening simulation and modeling for materials science; bioinformatics; and the field of technology assessment, especially with regard to digital transformation. In addition, there were numerous recommendations on individual aspects of the research programs, such as future investments in scientific infrastructure. 

In the view of the experts, the research area is very well positioned with many activities at the highest international level. The experts unanimously support the development towards a focus on information based on the outstanding research of the three centers.

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