Short news from Empa acitivities all over the world

On the road

Jun 26, 2023 | EMPA NEWSROOM
Raise a glass to science

The global science festival Pint of Science will take place from May 13 to 15. During the festival, scientists visit selected bars and cafés and present their research to a wide audience. What started in the United Kingdom in 2013, has grown to include over 400 cities in 25 countries – including Switzerland. The St. Gallen edition of Pint of Science is being organized this year for the second time in a row by researchers from Empa and the Cantonal Hospital of St. Gallen. Speakers will come from Empa, but also from industry and universities in and around St. Gallen. The topics and venues can be found on the festival website:

Technology Briefing: Recovering CO2

If we want to achieve our ambitious climate goals, we must not only curb greenhouse gas emissions, but also "recover" the CO2 that has already been emitted from the atmosphere. At this year's Technology Briefing on the topic of Mining the Atmosphere, Empa researchers will use the latest research results and various practical examples to show how we can extract atmospheric CO2 as a raw material and utilize in in cycles – and at the same time create an entirely new economic system – before the bound greenhouse gas will eventually be deposited in final sinks. The development of CO2-based, value-adding materials and processes will promote and foster the transition from a CO2-emitting to a CO2-binding society. The event will be held in German.

Further information on the program and registration can be found here:

Empa at WEF
Nathalie Casas presents the new Empa research initiative Mining the Atmosphere. Image: Empa

On the occasion of the World Economic Forum (WEF), the six institutions of the ETH Domain presented highlights from their current research to around 50 high-ranking guests from politics, research and business at the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) in Davos. Among the Empa representatives were Mateusz Wyrzykowski, co-head of Empa's Research Focus Area Built Environment, and Nathalie Casas, head of the Energy, Mobility and Environment department. Guests included Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, National Council President Eric Nussbaumer, State Secretary Martina Hirayama and the President of the European Research Council (ERC), Maria Leptin, as well as numerous rectors of Swiss universities.

Empa at Swissbau 2024
Empa Deputy Director Peter Richner gave a presentation about CO2-negative building materials.

Empa participated at Swissbau 2024 with its NEST research and innovation building. Switzerland's largest trade fair for construction and real estate took place in Basel from January 16 to 19. Experts from Empa and its partners gave keynote lectures and practical talks on sustainable building and innovation in the construction industry and welcomed visitors to the institute's exhibition booth. All presentations are available online:

Empa meets Japan
Empa Director Tanja Zimmermann speaks at the opening of the new Swissnex site in Osaka, Japan. Image: Swissnex

Empa Director Tanja Zimmermann traveled to Japan in October for the opening of the new Swissnex site in Japan. Swissnex, an initiative of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) in collaboration with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), connects Switzerland with players in education, research and innovation around the world. Zimmermann also attended the Science and Technology in Society (STS) Forum and visited Empa's "sister institute", the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) in Kyoto, with which Empa maintains a close partnership.

Home - Swissnex in Japan


A visit from the Federal Palace
Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin and Empa Director Tanja Zimmermann. Image: Empa

Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), visited the Empa, Eawag and WSL research institutes on 6 November. At Empa, he got updated about the latest developments and research results in the fields of sustainable mobility, new materials as CO2 sinks, Additive Manufacturing (AM) and innovative coating technologies and exchanged views with Empa Director Tanja Zimmermann, Deputy Director Peter Richner and Directorate member Lorenz Herrmann, who heads the Department Advanced Materials and Surfaces.

Startseite Internet WBF (


Polish-Swiss Innovation Day on sustainable construction
Peter Richner gave a talk about sustainable construction at the Polish-Swiss Innovation Day. Photo: Empa

On 4 October, the 8th Polish-Swiss Innovation Day took place in Warsaw, this year on the topic of sustainable buildings. At the conference, Empa's Deputy Director Peter Richner gave a guest lecture at the Warsaw University of Technology, in which he talked about the decarbonization of buildings and the need to reuse building materials, and presented Empa's research and innovation building NEST.

Polish-Swiss Innovation Day 2023 (

Swiss Battery Days
At the Swiss Battery Days, young researchers and innovative companies from Switzerland network with the big names in international battery research and development.

The Swiss Battery Days, organized this year by PSI, Empa and the Swiss Battery Association iBAT, bring together battery researchers and industry experts. What began as a small event five years ago attracted around 150 participants from all over Europe from 18 to 20 September. The first two days were dedicated to science, with both renowned researchers and young Swiss scientists presenting their work on batteries. The subsequent Industry Day, which was organized with Swissmem, the Swiss Association of the Tech Industry, served to network innovative Swiss companies with battery giants from abroad, including LG, Freyer and Innolith. "Batteries are becoming increasingly important for Swiss industry. Swiss companies are supplying major manufacturers with innovative technologies," says Corsin Battaglia, Head of Empa's Materials for Energy Conversion laboratory, Vice-Chairman of the conference and Vice-President of the Swiss Battery Association iBAT. "At Empa, we are therefore conducting more and more joint research projects with companies to help them achieve new breakthroughs in this market."

SWISS BATTERY DAYS 2023 (18-20 September 2023): Welcome · Indico (

Economy and sustainability go hand in hand
Expertise: Empa Director Tanja Zimmermann was among the Empa speakers at the Symposium. Image: Thomas Oehrli

The Swiss Green Economy Symposium was held in Winterthur in early September. The 3-day conference on business and sustainability in Switzerland focused on the topic of "Creating more impact together" and used specific examples to show how cooperation between business, politics, science and NGOs contributes to greater prosperity, protection of the environment and more sustainable coexistence. Empa was a scientific partner at the event. Among the 250 speakers were Empa Director Tanja Zimmermann and Mirko Kovac, head of Empa's Sustainability Robotics lab. Numerous other Empa scientists participated in various innovation forums.

Swiss Green Economy Symposium 2024 · SGES

Let's talk about plastics
Plastic waste: A panel discussion with Empa experts focuses on the environmental impact of plastics. Image: Adobe Stock

The panel discussion "Plastic: Success – at what price?" will take place on Thursday, 26 October, in the Kursaal Engelberg. At the event, organized by Academia Engelberg, Empa researchers Bernd Nowack and Claudia Som from the Technology and Society laboratory will speak about the environmental impact of plastics and what we can do about it. The event is open to the public and free of charge.

Registration by 15 October

Mining the Atmosphere: building in a more sustainable way
CO2 sink: An insulating material made from plant-based raw materials could permanently bind CO2. Image: Jannis Wernery/Empa

Will we build with CO2 in the future? The "RFA Built Environment" seminar on 7 November will showcase a wide range of Empa research activities revolving around the concept of "Mining the Atmosphere", i.e. extracting excess CO2 from the atmosphere and using it as a sustainable resource for the construction industry, for instance. The free event is aimed at stakeholders, practitioners and researchers from the construction, building and infrastructure, energy, environment and sustainability sectors.

Register by 30 October 

Medtech meets cleantech
Lively discussion: Empa Director Tanja Zimmermann (left) in conversation with experts from industry.

Just as in science, interdisciplinarity can enable breakthroughs in business as well, paving the way for innovation. That's why the Innovation Zürich event on 20 April was dedicated to cross-industry innovation, with a special focus on medtech and cleantech. Empa Director Tanja Zimmermann presented Empa's recipe for success in innovation and then discussed the challenges and opportunities of cross-industry innovation with industry representatives.

More information

Biotech violin "mistaken" for master instrument

In a long-term research project, Empa researchers led by Francis Schwarze have developed a process, in which a white rot fungus is induced to break down wood cells in a targeted manner. This produces so-called mycowood with improved acoustic properties. A replica of an antique Guarneri del Gesù violin made of mycowood was now able to compete with other violins in a blind test in front of experts in music, materials science and violin making at the EPFL during the event "musique et matériau". The audience of experts matched the sound of the Empa biotech violin to an antique Gagliano violin from 1774. A commendable mix-up for the biotech violin, thought also Walter Fischli whose foundation funded the Empa research project.

More information about the project here.

Tunnel construction: Success for Swissloop Tunneling
Teamwork in Texas: Swissloop Tunneling technicians preparing for the competition. Photo: Swissloop Tunneling

The student team from Swissloop Tunneling, which is developing its technology at the Empa campus in Dübendorf, has achieved another success: At the Not-A-Boring-Competition in Bastrop, Texas, the team achieved second place on 1 April. In addition, the jury of the competition, which was launched by Tesla founder Elon Musk, awarded the team the innovation prize for the design of its Groundhog Beta drilling machine. Among the five finalists, only the Swiss and the winning team from the Technical University of Munich managed to successfully drill a tunnel with their prototypes. The competition promotes innovative concepts with a view to future Hyperloop systems: high-speed transport in vacuum tubes, which is being worked on worldwide.

More information:

Empa at the Powerfuel Week
Christian Bach at the Powerfuel Conference 2022. Image: Quade & Zurfluh AG, Zürich

A secure energy supply, clean mobility and industrial applications thanks to hydrogen technologies and synfuels: This is the motto of the Powerfuel Week 2023, which will take place from 13 to 21 May at the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne. The event is conference, trade fair and exhibition all in one and aims to communicate and promote innovative technologies at the interface between research, industry and politics. As a member of the advisory board Empa supports the implementation of the Powerfuel Week, among other things, by providing advice and expertise. In addition, Empa researcher Christian Bach, head of Empa's Automotive Powertrain Technologies lab, will speak at the Powerfuel Conference on May 16 about the current state of research on synthetic fuels.

Powerfuel Week 2023 | vom 13. – 21. Mai 2023 in Luzern

Empa visits Lausanne

On 29/30 April, the "Portes ouvertes" will take place at EPFL. Empa, as a research institute of the ETH Domain, will be present at the open lab days in Lausanne with several research topics. In lectures, demonstrators and at exhibition stands, Empa researchers will be showing solar cells of the future, environmentally friendly electronics, Advanced Manufacturing technologies and new approaches to reducing noise pollution from rail and air traffic, among other things.

More information:

Distinguished visitors from Korea
Empa Directorate member Pierangelo Gröning welcomes Jong-Ho Lee at Empa. Image: Empa

The Korean Minister of Science and ICT, Jong-Ho Lee, visited Empa in January 2023, accompanied by representatives from his ministry and from various Korean research institutions. Empa Directorate member Pierangelo Gröning welcomed the delegation and spoke with the guests about the potential of novel materials and increased cooperation between Switzerland and Korea. The visit also included lab tours, for example at the Laboratory for Joining Technologies and Corrosion led by Lars Jeurgens.

In the political arena
Exchange: Peter Richner in conversation with outgoing Energy Minister and Federal Councilor Simonetta Sommaruga. Image: Empa

In late September, the parliamentary groups of the Federal Parliament went on their annual excursions and visited various corners of Switzerland. Together with party president Gerhard Pfister and parliamentary group president Philipp Matthias Bregy, the "Mitte" parliamentarians were shown the latest innovations in materials research and advanced manufacturing by Empa Director Tanja Zimmermann in Thun. Meanwhile, the Social Democratic parliamentary group excursion took the members of the National Council and the Council of States, accompanied by outgoing Federal Councilor Simonetta Sommaruga, to the Innovation Park in Dübendorf. At the invitation of ETH Zurich, they discussed the challenges of energy supply there – with them: Empa Deputy Director Peter Richner and the teams from move, the Empa spin-off viboo and Empa's Materials and Technology Center of Robotics.

Prominent visit to the digital twins
Empa researcher René Rossi, St. Gallen Government Council member Beat Tinner, Roland Ledergerber, President of the Board of Directors of Innovationspark Ost, President of the Swiss Confederation Ignazio Cassis, St. Gallen Government Council member Marc Mächler, St. Gallen Mayor Maria Pappa, Paola Cassis, Empa Director Tanja Zimmermann, Hans Ebinger, CEO Innovationspark Ost. Image: Empa

Big crowd at the OLMA in St. Gallen: Federal President Ignazio Cassis visited the joint stand of Empa and Innovationspark Ost with a large entourage to find out about ongoing research. In one project, researchers from the participating institutions showed how food waste can be reduced with sensors and computer simulations – using digital fruit twins. In addition, the scientists demonstrated a chest strap for long-term monitoring of cardiovascular patients. It was validated with physicians in the sleep laboratory of the Cantonal Hospital in St. Gallen; the Empa spin-off Nahtlos AG will market it in future. In addition to the Federal President and his wife, the members of the St. Gallen Government Council Beat Tinner and Marc Mächler, St. Gallen Mayor Maria Pappa and other political players were present, as well as Empa Director Tanja Zimmermann and Roland Ledergerber, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Innovationspark Ost.

OLMA: Mobility on new paths
Many questions, many answers – and a chance to win: Curious guests could test their knowledge with a quiz with attractive prizes. Image: Empa

How will we be refueling our cars in 20 years from now? And what kind of cars will it be? In times when the secure supply of crude oil, gas and fuels is in question, the joint stand of Empa, the Avenergy Suisse association, representing importers of liquid fuels, and the company Osterwalder St. Gallen AG was the focus of the public's interest. Fully electric cars and vehicles with a fuel cell drive attracted curious glances – and descriptive information about the production and environmental benefits of hydrogen as a fuel encouraged visitors to ask numerous questions of the experts present.

Further information:

Wood credit cards made in Uri
Bank cards made from native wood species are hardened using a patented process.

In July 2022, Swiss Wood Solutions AG, a spin-off of Empa and ETH Zurich, moved to Altdorf in the canton of Uri. There, the young company and its ten employees will start producing sustainable credit cards made of wood. "Swiss Wood Cards" are made from veneers of local woods such as maple, curly maple, cherry, oak, spruce and many others. Each card is unique with personalized laser engraving or color printing and functions like any other traditional credit card. The location was chosen in favor of the canton of Uri in April 2022 after evaluating several sites.

Green Economy - how does that work?
Peter Richner discusses with Andreas Kuhlmann from the German Energy Agency (dena). Image: Thomas Oehrli

For the tenth time, the Swiss Green Economy Symposium in Winterthur brought together experts from industry, research and politics to promote dialog, innovation and practical implementation – this year with a focus on circular economy. At a panel discussion on the future of energy, Peter Richner, Deputy Director of Empa, indicated that regarding the impending energy crisis, behavioral changes will have the greatest impact in the short term. He also pointed out that many of the solutions developed by Empa for a decarbonized energy system now have a better chance of being implemented, and gave an outlook on future research priorities at Empa: solutions that are CO2-negative, i.e. that lead to a reduction in the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. Kurt Bisang from the Federal Office of Energy (SFOE), Alexander Keberle from economiesuisse, Andreas Kuhlmann from the German Energy Agency GmbH and Gerd Scheller from Siemens Switzerland and swisscleantech participated in the discussion.


Editor / Media contact
Dr. Michael Hagmann
Phone +41 58 765 4592

Follow us