Research Field Information – from new data processing systems to innovative materials to powerful supercomputers

Modern research would be impossible without the capacity to store and process large amounts of data. In order to handle these almost endless quantities of data, we need completely new methods and technologies. Helmholtz researches every facet of information processing and develops powerful tools such as quantum technologies and supercomputers as well as innovative materials and data processing systems. Through this research, we deliver solutions for major challenges facing society – from healthy living to smart mobility to adapting to climate change.

How will the climate change in the coming decades? When will autonomous vehicles become a reality? And how dynamically will diseases spread among the population? Today, we are already answering complex, data-intensive questions. But the information technologies of the future need to be even more powerful as well as energy efficient. In the Research Field Information, we address these questions on several levels.Our overarching aim is to enable the secure collection, storage, processing, transfer, and use of information. We pursue this goal by analyzing natural, artificial, and cognitive processing systems, exploring new materials and concepts, and developing strategies that make it possible to transfer this new knowledge into algorithms and the most powerful next-generation computers.

We want to demonstrate the potential of pioneering digital technologies for value creation and industry, and transfer our knowledge into applications at a rapid pace. In doing so, we always look at the whole picture – which means that the topics of data and cyber security are just as much a priority for us as our ethical and social responsibility when dealing with sensitive data and technologies.

The best role model for computing power and efficiency is nature. The human brain is the most complex organ nature has ever produced, with 100 billion nerve cells that continually form new connections to give the brain incredible capabilities. Our vision is to create a piece of hardware modeled on the human brain. A further objective is to use the intelligent way that biological cells work and organize themselves to develop new computing and storage concepts.

We also utilize the amazing properties of quanta and conduct research into a wide array of technologies based on elementary particles. We aim to tap into the potential offered by quantum computing to process enormous amounts of information simultaneously. In the future, we could answer questions in minutes that even today’s supercomputers would need weeks or years to resolve.

The majority of all technical innovations are directly or indirectly attributable to new materials. These materials pave the way for innovative components in the fields of photovoltaics and vehicle manufacturing as well as highly sensitive sensors for medical diagnostics. We model and develop innovative materials and link them together as complex systems to create the information technologies of the future. We take materials research to the next level based on a unique combination of new materials, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

But we can only achieve these ambitious goals by networking with the best players. To this end, we are involved in initiatives such as the EU Quantum Flagship, which brings together over 5,000 researchers from science and industry who will work together over the coming years to develop information technologies based on the world of quanta. In addition, we operate joint laboratories with other research fields at Helmholtz that let us work across disciplines to address complex challenges, for example by simulating climate change at the regional level on mainframe computers.

Programs in the Research Field Information:

Participating Helmholtz Centers:

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