We connect IT to the real world. Photograph: IMMS.
We connect the digital to the analog world. Photograph: IMMS.

20 Years of IMMS

The day was 13th September, 2016. It celebrated 20 Years of IMMS. About 300 people came from industry, research, teaching, networks, project clusters, politics and the media. Besides the ceremonial gathering and colloquium in the Helmholtz lecture theatre of Ilmenau University of Technology, they attended the various guided tours, the exhibition and the networking events on the IMMS premises. Among the 300 were 26 speakers, 13 exhibitors, 41 students, 60 school pupils and 56 guided tour participants.

  • 20 Years of IMMS. Lasting memories …

    The morning colloquium was entitled ”We connect information technology to the real world“, and began with a keynote speech on the subject of digitisation by Dr. Johannes Eisenmenger of Carl Zeiss SMT GmbH. Then four specialist lectures were given on a selection of IMMS’ current research themes. Speakers came from X-FAB, Senova, Melexis and SONOTEC and, paired with their IMMS research colleagues, explained the design of complex MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems); point-of-care diagnosis using microelectronics; reliability and quality in integrated sensor circuits; and leak detection in industrial processes using ultrasonics. The boundaries were explored between the fields of physics and engineering and between pure science and its applications.

    There were welcoming words from Professor Peter Scharff, the Rector of the Ilmenau University of Technology, from Professor Dagmar Schipanski (who was a co-founder of IMMS) and from Gerd-Michael Seeber, Ilmenau’s Mayor, in the formal ceremony in the afternoon. Then, the Minister gave his speech before slipping into a rather special jacket. This smart little number has electronically conducting threads knitted into it which in combination with washable electronics developed by IMMS form the prototype of a textile remote control system. It has now been submitted for patenting under the name Knitty-Fi. It is the wish of Dr. Gottfried Betz, the Managing Director of the Zella knitwear factory, to develop this system right through the mass production stage with IMMS. But now it was possible for Minister Tiefensee to use the jacket and and its integrated wireless switches to start off the live demo with the trip of a model train to three miniature railway stations. On arrival he took out of the trucks three scaled-down versions of projects developed at IMMS for the fields of Industry 4.0, biomedical sensors and IoT (the Internet of Things), getting Professor Ralf Sommer of IMMS to explain their highlights.

    There followed a series of nine five-minute presentations in which partners of IMMS spoke of their joint developments. Many are already ripe for marketing and some already providing useful service in practice. Steffen Quasebarth, the host of the Thüringen Journal programme on MDR, chaired the proceedings and elicited explanations of the succession of innovations rapidly assembling on the birthday table: an optical implant to treat blindness, the planar positioning system of a nano 3D printer used in biological implantation, a smart current clamp used in checking industy and equipment, wireless sensor networks for exploring the environment and a USB programmer toolkit for highly efficient testing of chip production. The exhibits were shown in action by the various partners, live pictures and short videos of the many ways they are used were projected on the big screen.

    These and other exhibits, for instance those extending the range of electric vehicles in town traffic, those providing quantitative early cancer diagnoses, the ultrasound device used in industry for preventive maintenance and many others, were on show to the visitors gathered at the Expo and on guided tours on the IMMS premises and in the Competence Centre Nanopositioning and Nanomeasuring Machines (CC NPMM). Many lively conversations ensued during the networking at IMMS. Questions evoked explanations, ideas were exchanged and new contacts established.

    During the formal ceremony, Professor Erich Barke, erstwhile president of the Leibniz University, Hannover, spoke in his keynote address, ”Keeping up with Complexity (Wettlauf mit der Komplexität)“, about means of reaching highly complex technical solutions and the significance of preparatory research which is geared to a particular application. He shed light on how important it is to transfer any success achieved in developing electronic design automation (EDA) in the field of microelectronics into other systems such as the micro-mechanical type – one of the research practices followed at IMMS. Professor Barke emphasised that it is in the design that the key to scientific and marketing success in complex smart digitised systems lies.

    It was exactly this that Minister Tiefensee, speaking without notes, praised in the speech he gave as guest of honour. IMMS was founded 20 years ago to blaze this trail for Thüringen’s industrial enterprises. This institute of the ’Land’ of Thüringen had meanwhile brought the most up-to-date of research outcomes from microelectronics, mechatronics, IT and systems engineering within reach of the region’s SMEs. In the period 1996 – 2016, the ’Land’ had funded the Institute to the extent of more than 37 million euros. The Minister vouched for the efficacy of IMMS in continuing to support Thüringen’s industry: addressing the challenges of the future in digitisation and life sciences. For that reason, the regional government would not cease to continue in its positive support of IMMS.

    Our guests’ lasting memories are the many eureka moments – the illuminating solutions, the presentation of the state of the art in engineering research and development, the breadth of the work and collaboration, the interlocking of the various subjects, and the insight into the very DNA of IMMS, as so many of them indicated in their response to the day. The day also brought many interesting and productive conversations. Ideas were tossed about that might be input for future projects, new contacts were established and mutual aquaintances shared. We at IMMS were particularly delighted to find school pupils and university students getting into dialogue with our industrial partners. Lasting results are not restricted to the TV and radio feature, the 15 reports in the regional press and professional journals, the 12 contributions appearing on other websites, the many social media mentions given by our partners and the highest hit rate the IMMS website has experienced since its relaunch. Lasting results can also be found in the documentation. The lectures, speeches and glimpses of the day were recorded on film. IMMS has set up a YouTube channel, embedded the video files into www.imms.de, accompanied by links to scripts, photographs and relevant project content.

    As all of this would not have been possible without the commitment of our colleagues in the partner businesses, we hereby express our sincere thanks to all those partners and, indeed everybody who worked so hard to contribute to the success of the event. We also wish to thank the companies that made a donation to our charitable activities, the funding scholarships and grants to the next generation of scientists. For their highly competent support in video streaming and photography, our thanks go to the ”Forschungsgemeinschaft elektronische Medien e.V.“ of Ilmenau University of Technology.

  • Video clips

  • Gallery

  • Press releases

  • Voices from industry and academia

    Khalid Ishaque, Pixium Vision

    ”One must remember the notion that restoring some vision to those who have lost their sight is possible, has long been thought to be fanciful.… more »

    Thomas Freitag, Melexis

    ”For many years, IMMS has been supporting us in the development and refinement of our ICs, among them those for LIN-based regulation of RGB LEDs so… more »

    Prof. Dr. Peter Holstein, SONOTEC GmbH

    ”SONOTEC was in search of a partner with whom to develop an innovative digital ultrasonic testing device. The purpose of the device is to detect leaks… more »

    Prof. Dr.-Ing. Erich Barke

    ”For a number of years up to 2015, I had a role in the scientific support of the staff at IMMS as a member of their Scientific Advisory Board. Since… more »
  • Selected projects

    Smart Jacket

    A knitted and washable remote control for better daily living more »


    Smart digital ultrasonic allows preventive maintenance and process optimization. more »


    Personalised recognition and therapy of cancer thanks to smart microelectronic diagnostic systems more »

    Current Clamp

    The clamp developed by IMMS registers and evaluates parasitic currents of data cables in industrial plant without interrupting production. more »


    The IMMS tool automatically generates mechanical designs. MEMS can be simulated and verified as an entire system. more »


    The drive system for a terahertz camera allows security checks whereby people can be effectively scanned for hidden objects as they simply pass by. more »


    The work of IMMS on novel high-precision drives contributes to nanopositioning systems acting over long distances of travel. more »


    Within the project a novel planar drive system was developed which is magnetically guided and moves objects with nanometer precision. more »


    IMMS’ biocompatible microelectronic chip is part of a retinal implant system with which blind patients are learning to see again. more »