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IBM and ETH Zurich form $90 million partnership in nanoscience

Two organizations establish Nanotechnology Center in Zurich

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Zurich, Switzerland— June 25, 2008: IBM (NYSE:IBM) and ETH Zurich, a premiere European science and engineering university, today announced the formation of a partnership in the field of nanotechnology.

As part of this collaboration, a new nanotechnology laboratory will be constructed on the campus of IBM Research - Zurich to focus on key nanotechnology research areas ranging from exploratory and basic research to applied and near-term projects.

Under the $90 million, multi-year program, researchers and engineers from IBM and ETH Zurich will join forces to conduct research into new atomic and molecular-scale structures and devices for enhancing information technologies, as well as into discovering and understanding their scientific foundations—all in dimensions below 100 nanometers (approximately 400 times thinner than a human hair).

“By creating this common research center, IBM is expanding a collaborative and cooperative research program aimed at accelerating our understanding and implementation of nanotechnology and its broad range of applications,” said Dr. John E. Kelly III, senior vice president and director of IBM Research. “We see this type of collaboration as an emerging model for future industry-academic partnerships.”

The new nanotechnology center will occupy nearly 1,000 square meters of cleanroom space dedicated to research projects, such as carbon-based materials, nano-photonics, spintronics and nanowires. It will allow for research on new device concepts based on carbon materials utilizing quantum mechanical effects for computing and sensing, and it will contribute to resolving upcoming challenges in nano-manufacturing by research aimed at directed self assembly of nanostructures and molecular functional materials, and 3D integration.

“The joint nanotechnology center on the IBM campus is a perfect complement to the existing research infrastructure at ETH Zurich,” said Prof. Ralph Eichler, president of ETH. “An important aspect of the new center is the unique opportunity for our scientists and students to pursue their research in close collaboration with an industrial partner, which is an important asset in ETH Zurich’s education and science curriculum.”

This investment follows IBM’s $100 million three-year commitment announced earlier this year to focus on areas of nanotechnology to build the next switch, with research in atomic-scale and molecular switching, self-assembly, spintronics, and new materials such as graphene and carbon nanotubes.

Already one of the largest global centers for nanotechnology, IBM’s Zurich Research Lab has a long-standing tradition of scientific collaboration and is the birthplace of nanotechnology.  Nanotechnology started with the development of the scanning tunneling microscope at the IBM Zurich Research Lab, for which Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1986.  This instrument allowed the first look into the world of atoms. Shortly afterwards, an IBM researcher used this invention to become the first person to manipulate individual atoms.

Nanotechnology is an enabling technology that is expected to spark advances in various fields.  These include advanced functional materials, nanoelectronics, information and communication technology, sensing, tools, healthcare and life sciences, and energy technology.  In particular, nanotech applications in the energy sector, such as more efficient use of solar energy, or new ways of purifying or desalinating water, may even help tackle some of the biggest challenges of our time. Analysts of Credit Suisse estimate a growth rate for nanotechnology of 25 to 30% per year and a market size of 220 billion USD by 2010.*

ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich) has a student body of 14,000 students from 80 nations. Nearly 360 professors teach mainly in engineering sciences and architecture, system-oriented sciences, mathematics and natural sciences, as well as carry out research that is highly valued worldwide. On a yearly basis, ETH Zurich applies for 80-100 patents and directly supports the founding of up to 20 spinoff companies. Distinguished by the successes of 21 Nobel laureates, ETH Zurich is committed to providing its students with unparalleled education and outstanding leadership skills. The Platform of Micro and Nano Sciences is a competence center at ETH Zurich, connecting the expertise of 43 research groups from nine departments.

IBM Research - Zurich (ZRL)
IBM Research - Zurich is the European branch of IBM Research. This worldwide network of more than 3500 employees in eight laboratories around the globe is the largest industrial IT research organization in the world. ZRL, which was established in 1956, currently employs some 330 persons, representing more than 30 nationalities. ZRL's spectrum of research activities includes nanoscience, future chip technology, supercomputing, advanced storage and server technologies, security and privacy, risk and compliance, as well as business optimization and transformation. World-class research and outstanding scientific achievements—most notably two Nobel Prizes—are associated with the Zurich Lab.

*Credit Suisse, Global Nanotechnology Index, Nano Circle, February 2008.

Press contact

Nicole Strachowski
Media Relations
IBM Research - Zurich
Tel +41 44 724 84 45

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