Technology Offers

Protecting intellectual property is of paramount importance to Empa. As a result, we register new research results for property rights early on and offer them to interested industrial partners for commercial usage. We make this possible by developing new discoveries together and marketing them successfully as innovative products. The following patent-pending technologies offer you a taste of Empa’s extremely diverse technology portfolio. Interested in one of our technological services or working with Empa? We look forward to hearing from you! You will find some initial information on our various cooperative models online. You will find other technological services, including those offered by other Swiss research institutions, at swiTTlist (Swiss Technology Transfer Association).
Ultrafast photo-electron and photo-ion spectroscopy utilize detectors based on different electron multipliers. These detectors have some important limitations such as fast-signal distortion (low-pass filtering), mutually exclusive positive or negative modes, dead times, requirement of triggering and more. A new high-pass induction detector, based on a hollow-cored toroidal coil, was developed that overcomes the above-mentioned limitations.
Phononic crystals (PCs) address the need to attenuate sound and vibration while providing stiff and lightweight mechanical structures. Commonly used viscoelastic dampers often add substantial weight and are typically characterized by low stiffness. The PCs developed by Empa are novel in their ability to stop low frequency waves while offering a favourable combination of low density and high stiffness.
Owing to its advantageous rheological and mechanical properties, microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) would be a favourable compound for use in novel materials, but for its highly hydrophilic nature. The present invention overcomes this limitation by admixing an oily diluent to the fresh aqueous MFC suspension, and subsequently removing the major part of the water. The use of diluents with a vapour pressure lower than that of water facilitates a reduction of water content to as low as 30 wt%. Such almost water-free MFC can be used as rheologic enhancer in a variety of hydrophobic matrices such as silicone or olive oil. Furthermore, the almost water-free MFC has been found to be immune against the typical drawbacks of MFC drying, such as hornification, and can be readily resuspended in water or further functionalised.

Separation of hydrogen from gas mixtures is an important technical process, that increases the economic and energetic value of the complete process chain, in which it is implemented. Hydrogen permeable membranes such as Pd are already used on a large scale. A simple coating on top of such metallic membranes can improve the permeability by an order of magnitude. In addition to the enhanced functionality, the lifetime of membranes is extended. The coating is also applicable to other hydrogen related devices, which depend on gas-solid interactions (e.g. sensors and catalysts).
An artificial fruit with integrated temperature sensors is designed to match the cooling behaviour of real fruit by using a biomimetic approach. Thereby, the thermal history of fresh produce can be monitored throughout the cold chain in a more realistic way than currently possible.
Until now, in additive manufacturing (AM), field quality control has been diligently based on temperature or high resolution imaging of the process zone. For this, various sensors such as pyrometers, photo diodes and matrix CCD detectors were involved. We propose an innovative approach for monitoring the quality of the additive manufacturing process online by means of acoustic emission (AE), detected by fiber optical sensors.

The invention offers an enhanced and simplified method for the healing of stress-induced cracks in bitumen-based road pavements. Magnetic nanoparticles embedded in the bituminous pavement material serve as heating agents, remotely excited with an electromagnetic field; as the nano-magnets heat up, they locally melt the bitumen and reduce its viscosity, such that small cracks from loss of cohesion and adhesion of pavement components are healed.
Dielectric elastomer actuators (DEA) are stretchable capacitors that consist of a thin elastomeric film sandwiched between two compliant electrodes. When a voltage is applied, an electrostatic force is acting on the film, which is compressed. Since elastomers conserve their volume upon deformation, the film is elongated perpendicular to the applied electric field. This process is reversible; the polymer relaxes back to its original form after removal of the field.
This invention relates to an energy-efficient, low-temperature (< 450°C) growth process for CdTe solar cells and modules in substrate configuration, which employs a novel method for p-type doping of the absorber. The invention uses only industrially relevant processes, is easily scalable and has proven to yield devices with electronic properties comparable to the world record devices grown in the conventional device configuration but at the same time enabling lower manufacturing costs.

A simple, non-vacuum, low-cost, eco-friendly and easily up-scalable aqueous chemical deposition method for aluminium doped zinc oxide (AZO) transparent conductive thin films is presented. The new deposition process requires only minimum equipment and instrumental investments.
We introduce an absorption mask which significantly improves the performance of multi-pass cells for laser absorption spectroscopy. The patented mask is a simple inset for state of the art multi-pass cells. It is designed to allow the propagation of the main optical beam within the cell, while effectively blocking unwanted stray light. Fringes caused by interference of the stray light and the main beam are suppressed, revealing the undisturbed absorption spectrum. Thereby, the absorption mask strongly improves the sensitivity of trace gas analysis by laser absorption spectroscopy.
The invention consists of a hydraulic actuation method for gas exchange valves. The main advantage, compared to existing systems, is the ability to recuperate a large part of the valve’s kinetic energy which results in a low overall dissipation.

This invention proposes a new heat storage material based on calcium sulfoaluminate cement (CSA) providing a high amount of ettringite. In a fully reversible process – loading by dehydration and recovering by water addition – this innovative cementitious material allows long-term, loss-free heat storage.
A nanocomposite thin film coating has been developed and patented that is optically transparent in the visible range and has hardness values of up to 30 gigapascals (GPa). The coating is deposited by a vacuum process in such a way that the stress levels remains below one GPa. The material is prepared at 200 °C by magnetron sputtering without any harmful materials and can withstand temperatures up to 1000 °C for two hours without alteration.
The invention addresses the application of ceramic foams as converter substrates for the after-treatment of motor vehicle exhaust gases. Such systems increase the efficiency of the catalytic converter itself, improve the evaporation and mixing of added reactants (e.g. urea) and optimize the loading and regeneration of downstream particle filters.

Preservation of wood materials in outdoor applications against decay through fungi and other microorganisms is preferably both persistent and eco-friendly. This invention enables the use of a simple, non-toxic and widespread chemical – iodine – as the antimicrobial agent. By enzymatic modification of the wood surface iodine is bound and stabilised against leaching.
The invention consists of an electrohydraulic actuation method for variable lift control and individual timing for gas exchange valves of reciprocating engines. Its main advantages are a low activation energy demand as well as an intelligent hydraulic system layout. This enables the control of the valve movements by simple hydraulic elements without the need for sophisticated feedback control action.
The Swiss Technology Transfer Association is the association of technology transfer professionals who are active in the transfer of technology from institutes of public research and education, university hospitals, and other not-for-profit research organizations to the private sector. It was founded in October 2003 and has grown to include a large number of members from all of Switzerland.