Lab overview

IBM has maintained a research laboratory in Switzerland since 1956. As the European branch of IBM Research, the mission of the IBM Research – Zurich Lab — in addition to pursuing cutting-edge research for tomorrow's information technology — is to cultivate close relationships with academic and industrial partners, be one of the premier places to work for world-class researchers, to promote women in IT and science, and to help drive Europe's innovation agenda.

Internal and external collaboration

Worldwide interaction and collaboration with internal partners in research, development, industry sectors, and with IBM customers play a vital role in the Zurich Laboratory’s activities.

At the same time, IBM researchers are active members of the international scientific community by participating in seminars, conferences, and professional associations in a variety of functions. IBM Research – Zurich is also involved in many joint projects with universities throughout Europe, in research programs established by the European Union and the Swiss government, and in cooperation agreements with research institutes of industrial partners.

Members of IBM Research – Zurich

IBM Research – Zurich employs a steady stream of postdoctoral fellows, PhD candidates, and summer students who pass through the Laboratory.

More than 45 nationalities, primarily from European countries, are represented among the research staff members, including such specialists as computer scientists, mathematicians, electrical engineers, physicists, and chemists. They often work together on an interdisciplinary basis.

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Historical highlights

Throughout the years, scientists of IBM Research – Zurich have made signficant contributions not only to leading IBM products and systems, but also to scientific progress and international standards:

Kavli prize: Gerd Binnig and Christoph Gerber were awarded the Kavli Prize in Nanoscience in 2016 for their invention of the atomic force microscope.

Nobel prizes: Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1986 for the invention of the scanning tunneling microscope. One year later, Georg Bednorz and Alex Müller received the same honor for the discovery of high-temperature superconductivity.

Trellis-coded modulation: The invention of this signaling technique revolutionized data transmission over telephone lines. The method also became a standard for modems.

Magnetic recording channel: PRML (Partial-Response with Maximum Likelihood sequence detection) and NPML (Noise-Predictive Maximum Likelihood sequence detection) are signal processing techniques that, together with novel coding schemes, have contributed significantly to the dramatic increase of storage density on magnetic hard disks.

Token Ring: In the 1980s, IBM Research – Zurich scientists developed the Token Ring, which became a standard for local area networks and a highly successful IBM product.

PowerPRS Packet Routing Switch: This highly efficient switch architecture excels in multi-dimensional scalability and has been used by IBM and OEM customers in a variety of switch products.

SET: The Secure Electronic Transaction (SET) standard used for highly secure payments over the Internet is largely based on technology developed at IBM Research – Zurich and supported by major credit card companies.

Smartcards: Highly efficient JavaCard™ technology developed at IBM Research – Zurich has been licensed by a leading smart card manufacturer for secure multiapplication smart cards and is used in many JavaCard™ projects.