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uni'wissen 02-2013_ENG

Prof. Dr. Leo Reindl studied technical physics at the Technical University of Munich. After graduation, he established a research unit on radio sensor tech- nology at Siemens AG while completing his PhD at the Vienna University of Technology, Austria. In 1999 he accepted a profes- sorship at the Technical University of Clausthal. Since 2003 he has served as a professor at the De- partment of Microsystems Engineering of the Univer- sity of Freiburg, where he conducts interdisciplinary research with industrial ap- plications. In particular, his research interests include energy conversion in mi- cro-generators, energy- efficient radio sensor networks for monitoring critical infrastructure, the localization of robots, and technology for locating bur- ied persons. He has partici- pated in the development of 35 patents and is the au- thor or coauthor of more than 150 scientific publica- tions. Photo: private Further Reading Reindl, L.: Funkauslesbare Sensoren. In: Tränkler, H.-R./Reindl, L. (Eds.): Sensortech- nik. Handbuch für Praxis und Wissenschaft. Berlin (in press). Freunek, M./Müller, M./Ungan, T./Walker, W./ Reindl, L. (2009): New physical model for thermoelectric generators. In: Journal of Electronic Materials 38/7, pp. 1214–1220. Hamp, Q./Reindl, L./Kleiner, A. (2011): Lessons learned from German research for USAR. In: 2011 IEEE International Symposium on Safety, Security, and Rescue Robotics (SSRR 2011), pp. 26–31. receives no sun reduces the performance of the entire system. The technology detects this dip in performance and shuts down the module re- sponsible for it automatically, allowing all of the other modules to continue functioning optimally. In addition, the targeted shutting down of defec- tive modules makes it easier to service the mod- ules and increases the safety of the system in the case of lightning or fires: When the entire system is shut down centrally, the technology short-circuits each of the modules, thus remov- ing all electric tension remaining in them after the system is shut down. Firefighters can extin- guish the fires and be certain that there is no electricity flowing through the system. Radio Saves Lives Wireless communication and regulation is a field of research with great potential for applica- tions in industry – not just because it can make systems safer and more efficient, but also be- cause it can show where something is currently located. For the localization of objects, Reindl is developing radio systems that optimize the flow of materials and goods in industrial production. In addition, this technology can also save lives: In collaboration with the university, Reindl has de- veloped a system that can determine the precise location of a mobile phone – for instance after an earthquake. Since more than 70 percent of all persons buried during an earthquake are carry- ing a phone with them, rescue teams can find out where to look for them. However, the localization disrupts the normal operation of a mobile tele- communications network and can therefore only be used in the event of a catastrophe. Reindl is extending this research to develop systems that can prevent impending disasters in run-down structures. In many places in Germany the public infrastructure is in disrepair, but the government does not have enough money to fix it. Should a bridge be closed? Can a dam still withstand the pressure being put on it? “Every- where where the safety of a structure is in doubt but needs to be guaranteed, we can use radio sensors to obtain information about its current state. This allows us to determine whether the structure can continue to be used or not,” says Reindl, who is conducting research on sensors for monitoring bridges in collaboration with the German Federal Road Research Institute. The sensors can measure a variety of variables: the slightest movement by means of GPS, micro- cracks, temperature, or moisture – depending on what is relevant for the continued serviceability of the structure in question. The sensors send out a warning signal when the danger becomes too great, thus allowing civil engineers to keep the structures in use for as long as possible be- fore replacing them. Thanks to the measure- ments taken by the wireless radio sensors, decision-makers are now no longer clueless when it comes to ensuring public infrastructure remains safe. At the bridge over the Neckar in Weitlingen in the rural district of Freudenstadt, Leo Reindl is developing a network of self-sufficient radio sensor nodes to monitor the state of the bridge. A master node sends the data to a server to be analyzed and visualized. Photo: Karl Gotsch 19