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Two new German-Russian Research Groups at DESY

Projects for X-ray microscopy and advanced imaging applications receive three years of funding

A new funding instrument is launched in German-Russian research cooperation. The Helmholtz Association and the Russian Science Foundation (RSF) have selected the first six joint research groups for their "Helmholtz-RSF Joint Research Groups" funding program. For a period of three years, each will receive funding of up to EUR 130,000 per year respectively from the Helmholtz Association’s Initiative and Networking Fund, and an equal amount of funding from the RSF. DESY is participating in two new Helmholtz-RSF Joint Research Groups.

The first of a total of three calls for proposals focused on the fields of "Biomedicine" and "Information and Data Science". In the field of biomedicine, a cooperation between Tomsk State University (TSU) and DESY is to develop a new high-energy X-ray camera for Compton imaging, a very promising new technique for studying biological specimens. "In contrast to today's destructive techniques, Compton X-ray microscopy is a very gentle form of investigation: The structure of entire cells can be mapped without severely damaging the highly sensitive bioprobes," explained Heinz Graafsma, head of the detector group in the DESY photon science department. The main component required for this is a high-speed pixel detector with gallium arsenide (GaAs) sensors. Tomsk State University produces the best GaAs material in the world, and DESY has the know-how to develop and apply appropriate detectors.

In the field Information and Data Science a cooperation between the Kurchatov Institute Moscow and DESY will develop a powerful data processing platform, which, among other things, is to be used on the recently opened European XFEL X-ray laser. Here, the latest machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence methods will be applied. The platform will provide a tool for scientists to analyze the complex measurement data from X-ray lasers or cryo-electron microscopes quickly – processes that currently take months or even longer. The main advantage of this innovative platform is that it forms a complete processing pipeline from the experiment to the reconstructed 3D structure. This allows large amounts of data from X-ray laser scattering experiments that are currently possible to be efficiently evaluated.

Scientists from a Helmholtz Center and a Russian partner respectively are involved in the selected research projects. “We are pleased that DESY was successful with two new German-Russian research groups already,” says DESY director Helmut Dosch. “That is an impressive record of our scientific excellence in these areas. And it illustrates our excellent and long-standing cooperation with Russian partners.”

The "Helmholtz-RSF Joint Research Groups" builds on a partnership between the Helmholtz Association and the Russian Science Foundation. "The mission of the Helmholtz Association is to find solutions for the major and pressing issues facing society, science, and the economy. International cooperation is an essential element in achieving this", says Helmholtz President Otmar D. Wiestler. "Russia is an important partner for us in scientific cooperation."

Apart from the two groups with DESY participation, projects for personalised cancer therapy, for a observation data portal in astrophysics, for localised cancer treatment with bioresorbable magnesium alloys, and for a novel ultrasound detector for brain activity were successful. Participating Helmholtz institutes are the German Cancer Research Center DKFZ, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology KIT, Helmholtz Center Geesthacht HZG, and Helmholtz Center Munich HMGU.

A total of three calls for proposals are planned within the framework of the “Helmholtz-RSF Joint Research Groups" program. Six bilateral projects will be selected during each round respectively. The second call for proposals is already open. The application deadline is November 30, 2017, and comprises the two topics of "Climate Research" and "Energy Storage and Grid Integration". Finally, the last call for proposals in 2019 is to comprise the topics of "Materials and Emerging Technologies" and the "Structure and Dynamics of Matter".

Further information on the Helmholtz-RSF Joint Research Groups