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Main research projects in Telecommunications and Microelectronics

Engineers who seek to improve medical diagnoses

Descripcion de la imagen
The lines of research consist in bioengineering, microsystems, industrial electronic and telecommunications electronic. FOTO: Manuel Castells
10/03/06 17:10 Mª Pilar Huarte

The new infrastructure permits fundamental progress in research in biology and medicine via tools such as computers and microsystems. Instead of using "in vivo" or "in vitro" experimental methods, we are moving towards a biology "in silico" (alluding to the silicon which is used in the production of computer chips).

The CEIT, in close collaboration with the Center for Applied Medical Research (CIMA) of the University of Navarra, has a line of research in bioinformatics which involves providing a scientific interpretation to biological information processed by computer. In addition, it seeks to develop techniques for advance diagnosis of diseases, as well as possible therapeutic targets. Currently, the work of the researchers is focused on the study of a type of hepatitis which degrades into cirrhosis and liver cancer, as well as on the search for early markers of lung cancer.

Another line of research consists in the design of cochlear implants. Javier Gracia, leader of a team which brings together engineers and doctors from the CEIT, the CIMA and the University Hospital, explained that this interdisciplinary collaboration has permitted the University of Navarra to perform clinical trials of "a new solution based on a flat electrode guide, which can be implanted in the patient in a minimally invasive way." In this way, by means of micro- and nano-technologies, "we avoid the use of implants with intracochlear electrodes, which have been used up to now, and which cause the total loss of the remaining natural auditory functions."

Finally, within the same area, the CEIT is performing research on a new system of biodiagnostics for detection of and response to chemotherapy in colorectal cancer. "This is a system for performing analyses rapidly, selectively and with a high sensitivity," emphasized Javier Gracia.

Lower cost and consumption in digital radio receivers

The Technological Campus of the University of Navarra has been collaborating for more than a decade with one of the most advanced research centers in Europe, the Fraunhofer Institute of Erlangen (Germany), which was the creator of the popular MP3 encoding system. "Thanks to the relationship between the two centers, we have today joint teams which are dedicated to the development of digital radio receivers with a dual characteristic: they are cheaper and consume less energy," stated Andrés García Alonso, director of this line of research.

Dr. Alonso, director of the Department of Telecommunications of the CEIT, added that his group is also involved in the development of the DRM System (Digital Radio Mundiale), "which will be a substitute for broadcasts in the AM frequencies." For this purpose, the new center has one of the most innovative models in Spain of the prototype platform APTIX, which permits the testing of the correct function of digital circuits prior to their manufacture.

Transmission of Information at Higher Speeds

In addition, at the Technological Campus of the University of Navarra researchers are involved in the design of communications systems which are characterized both by high velocity of transmission and large storage capacity. Headed by Pedro Crespo, one of the members of the team that patented ADSL, the Communications Systems Group studies the limits of digital compression in systems such as cellular telephone systems, digital television, broadband transmission via physical media, multiband magnetic storage, etc.

For example, one of the objectives consists in "developing the required technology so that, by means of a single receiver in a household, video and television may be wirelessly transmitted to the entire house," according to Pedro Crespo.

This expert spent 14 years at Bell Laboratories, in the U.S., where he performed research that led to the ADSL patents. "Now, at the University of Navarra, my team is trying to obtain the same technology that we developed back then, but without requiring cables."

Transmisión de información a mayor velocidad

Asimismo, desde el Campus Tecnológico de la Universidad de Navarra se trabaja en el diseño de sistemas de comunicación con las mejores prestaciones posibles, en velocidad de transmisión y capacidad de almacenamiento. Liderado por Pedro Crespo, uno de los miembros del equipo que patentó el ADSL, el Grupo de Sistemas de Comunicación estudia los límites de la compresión digital en sistemas como comunicaciones móviles celulares, televisión digital, transmisión de banda ancha por canales de soporte físico, almacenamiento magnético multipista, etc.  

Por ejemplo, uno de los objetivos consiste en "desarrollar la tecnología necesaria para, a través de un solo punto de recepción en un domicilio, poder emitir señal de video y televisión de forma inalámbrica a toda una casa", indicó Pedro Crespo. 

Este experto pasó 14 años en los laboratorios Bell, en EE. UU., donde desarrolló los trabajos que dieron lugar a las patentes de ADSL. "Ahora, en la Universidad de Navarra, mi equipo está tratando de conseguir la misma tecnología que desarrollamos entonces, pero sin que sean necesarios los cables".