Hans Hilgenkamp – LINK

Science funder NWO recently awarded a major research project in new concepts for energy-efficient information technology with approximately ten million euros. UT researcher Prof. dr. ir. Hans Hilgenkamp is the main applicant for the NL-ECO project. With funding from NWO, approximately 2.5 million euros will also be available as co-financing from various participating parties in the consortium.

That digital revolution has brought mankind an awful lot. The widespread use of digital equipment and technologies, such as computers, the Internet and data centers, often make our lives much more efficient and provide opportunities in e.g. medical applications. But these technologies consume energy. The amount of digital information we process and store and the associated energy costs are growing exponentially.

Living laboratory for new technologies

In order to reduce this rapidly increasing energy consumption, NL-ECO wants to develop new materials, technologies and scientific insight for energy-efficient information technology. “We want to be a breeding ground and testing ground for new technologies,” says Hilgenkamp. The consortium of 33 organizations will carry out fundamental research into the digital technologies of the future.

The brain as a source of inspiration

NL-ECO looks to the brain for inspiration for, among other things, these latest technologies: the most energy-efficient computer we know. “The brain is still much better than the latest computers for many applications, such as pattern recognition. Not only in speed, but also in energy consumption,” explains Hilgenkamp. If we can take over from this, self-driving vehicles can drive around much more efficiently in the future.

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Broad Consortium

Regenerating the brain is not the goal in itself, but exploring brain-based ‘neuromorphic’ concepts is one of the possible paths the consortium wants to take. The researchers will also look at other materials and insights to make information technology more sustainable. The aim is to develop different scalable concepts within five years, which the industry can pick up and develop further. The broad consortium consists of 33 organizations in the academic world, social partners and industry.


The research project has received support of more than ten million euros within the research program ‘Research on Routes by Consortia’ under the National Science Agenda (NWA-ORC). The goal of NWA is to make a positive and structural contribution to tomorrow’s global knowledge society, where new knowledge flows easily from researcher to user, and where new questions from practice and society are quickly and naturally incorporated into new research. NWA-ORC gives substance to this by enabling interdisciplinary research and innovation that brings social and scientific breakthroughs within reach.

Prof. Dr. ir. Hans Hilgenkamp is professor of applied physics and nanotechnology at the research cluster NanoElectronic Materials (Faculty of Applied Science, Applied Science). He is also co-director of the Brain Center for the Research Institute for Nanotechnology MESA+ and also associated with the Digital Society Institute at the University of Twente.

Consortium: University of Twente, Radboud University, University of Groningen, TU Eindhoven, TU Delft, Fontys Hogescholen, Saxion Hogeschool, AMOLF, ASTRON, TNO, ASML, IBM Zurich Research Lab, Toyota Motor Europe, Thales, IMEC Leuven, IMEC Eindhoven, Smart Photonics , LioniX International BV, PITC, VSPARTICLE, Surf, TSST, European Space Agency, Green IT Amsterdam, Westerkwartier municipality, Amsterdam Economic Board, HQ Graphene, Örebro University, Uppsala University, Jülich Research Center, Max-Planck Institute for Microstructure Physics, NL Digital and Science LinX.

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