The objectives of a program agreement are not just obtaining state-of-the-art results but also generating knowledge and scientific boundary conditions that are strategic and beneficial for high-tech productive activities.
The erudition needs and speculative studies of Universities are often disconnected from the needs of capital and industry, as well described by the distinction between the “Reign of Technology” and the “Republic of Science” given by Dasgupta and David. It is now urgent to harmonize goals that seem conflicting for generating long term and solid social wealth. The research in the technical areas must be a proper balance between university and industry; they must account for the reduced temporal distance between discoveries and their exploitation, avoiding the mixing of roles in order to obtain tangible benefits to the society that pays the cost of the research.
The diagram of Figure 1 that classifies the research on the axis basic research/development helps in distinguishing between different approaches. On the left side we have the basic activities necessary for giving an answer to fundamental problems. These are normally unfettered and have a weak correlation with the productive world. On the other side we have the product development focused on solving specific and practical problems but with a limited scientific valence. The social return-of-investment of the taxpayer goes from general benefits for the future generations (left side) to advantages for specific realities (right side). If the time and the social impact are accounted for, the kind of research that obtains an optimum social and economical impact must have a wide spectrum, must be rightfully distant from development but must ensure links with the productive world for a proper identification of research topics.
Figure 1 - Research activity classification
The goal of this project, corresponding to the last description, is to generate scientific knowledge and favor proper conditions, even by the contribution of the Analog Microelectronics Research Center (AMRC), capable to generate innovation and development with long-range perspectives.
The research activities focus on key strategic areas that enable future advanced circuit, systems and microsytems. They are: sensors and sensor interfacing, analog conditioning and data conversion (with high performance and/or ultra-low power), integrated transceivers at RF and micro-wave, data storage for microsystems, power acquisition and dc-dc conversion, use of nanotechnologies for future microsystems.
The critical mass of the project and the wide spectrum of the available competences favor also synergy and interdisciplinary activity as required by many future industrial applications.
The expected results are intangible and tangible. The former well constitute the support and the cultural enrichment of a scientific reality that has already demonstrated its capability to properly conjugate science and technology with socio-economical needs.
The tangible results, detailed in the WP and Task descriptions can be classified into the following categories:
- Publications on highly qualified scientific magazines or conference proceedings;
- Results dissemination and transfer of not codified knowledge; and
- Ad-hoc knowledge generation and high-tech training for the transformation of scientific results into socio-economical benefits.
The first category corresponds to conventional objectives of advanced research activities. The other two categories, corresponding to the added value required by program agreements, are attained thanks to accompanying initiatives on training and dissemination done by the AMRC and IUSS.