2023: A Year of Research Successes at TU Graz

At Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) in 2023, important discoveries were made, new insights gained and exciting information gleaned. An end-of-year review.

TU Graz in Space

In 2013, the small satellite TUGSAT-1 was Austria’s first satellite in space. It was built at TU Graz and has been observing the earth from low earth orbit ever since. In 2023, it celebrated its 10th birthday in space and exceeded all expectations. The CubeSat was originally designed for a flight time of just two years, but is still working perfectly even after five times the mission duration. PRETTY (Passive Reflectometry and Dosimetry), a new satellite mission of TU Graz, was launched from the spaceport in French Guiana in autumn. The satellite, which is the size of a milk carton, will carry out climate observations and measure changes in ice and sea levels. The mission furthest away from our home planet is the JUICE mission, in which Roland Lammegger from the Institute of Experimental Physics participates together with a scalar magnetometer. The mission is already on its way to Jupiter’s icy moons, where it will search for liquid water beneath the icy surfaces of the moons Ganymede, Callisto and Europa. Satellites in Earth orbit are not only exposed to the harsh conditions of space and all kinds of oncoming traffic, but also to space weather. In order to prolong their lives, researchers at TU Graz and their colleagues at the University of Graz have developed the SODA (Satellite Orbit DecAy) forecasting service, which is designed to predict solar storms and their effects. An entire season of the science podcast "Talk Science to Me" was also dedicated to space research (all interviews in German):

Water Shortage and Melting Glaciers

They have not launched their own satellite mission, but the team at the Institute of Geodesy at TU Graz uses existing satellite data to make statements about the Earth’s gravitational field. A comprehensive data analysis in the context of the EU Global Gravity-based Groundwater Product project showed that there has been a persistent severe drought in Central Europe since 2018 and that vast quantities of groundwater are simply not available. Also using satellite data, a multinational research team with the participation of TU Graz was able to establish that the actual ice mass loss of numerous glaciers in the Himalayas had previously been significantly underestimated. A collection of TU Graz dossiers in 2023 was also dedicated to the topic of "Flooded and dried out". Read all articles on the topic of water here.

Ultrafast Physics

Physicist Marcus Ossiander moved from Harvard to TU Graz in 2023, bringing with him a concept for revolutionary meta-optics for microscopes with extremely high spatial and temporal resolution, which was successfully tested at TU Graz last year. Security for Computer Systems Even 2023 was not without newly discovered security vulnerabilities in computer systems. Together with colleagues from the Helmholtz Centre for Information Security, researchers at TU Graz discovered the CacheWarp attack, which reveals data on virtual machines with AMD processors to attackers, and Collide+Power , where data can be stolen by analysing energy consumption.

Making data transfers more secure is the goal of Maria Eichelseder and her team. After a long selection process, the crypto algorithm "Ascon", which they developed, was named the international standard for lightweight cryptography by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2023. Bacteria, Enzymes and the Microbiome Researchers at TU Graz have decoded the function of a protein found in bacteria whose enzymatic activity is activated by blue light. For the first time, a team from the Institute of Environmental Biotechnology at TU Graz has been able to prove that fruit and vegetables have a positive effect on the diversity of bacteria in the human gut. A team led by Bernd Nidetzky also focussed on microorganisms in the human gut in the Austrian Science Fund-financed CATALOX project together with researchers from the University of Graz and the Medical University of Graz. They decoded enzyme scissors of intestinal microbes that breaks down plant secondary metabolite and makes them available to humans. Energy Technology Sonja Wogrin, head of the Institute of Electricity Economics and Energy Innovation, received an ERC Starting Grant in 2023 with which she wants to use innovative data aggregation to decarbonise electricity systems. Researchers in the RailCharge project have developed a new concept for a combination of electric car and train. They transfer the charging process to the rails and allow the vehicle to be charged comfortably during a long train journey on the car train and arrive at the destination with a fully charged battery. In recent years, a research team at TU Graz has attracted attention with innovative electricity storage systems that utilise conventional vanillin. The concept has now been developed further and is to be moulded into an all-round sustainable battery with the help of artificial intelligence. The summer issue of the research magazine TU Graz research was dedicated to the new Energetic Research Center, which brings together energy technology-focused research at TU Graz. Accolades Alexander Bergmann from the Institute of Electrical Measurement and Sensor Systems was honoured with the Nikola Tesla Medal in 2023 as the most successful inventor at TU Graz over the past two years. He gained twelve patents over the period from 2018 to 2022. As in previous years, the Styrian Science Slam went to TU Graz again in 2023. Daniel Herbst and Martin Fürnschuß from the Institute of Electrical Power Systems impressed the audience with their explanation of residual current circuit breakers. Fabio Blaschke from the Institute of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Technology, on the other hand, prevailed at TU Graz’s Falling Walls Lab with his research into storing hydrogen in iron pellets. Would you like to receive all research news from TU Graz directly to your mobile phone or inbox in 2024? If you do, subscribe to our or the TU Graz research monthly e-mail newsletter.