Professor Frank Ellinger, recipient of this year’s Vodafone Innovation Award, is a microchip expert from the Technical University of Dresden. The jury selected him, first and foremost, for his pioneering achievements in the field of high frequency circuit design. His innovations have made it possible to develop faster, more energy-efficient and more inexpensive chips for mobile and fixed network communications.
Vodafone Awards go to Frank Ellinger and Mario Goldenbaum
This year’s awards for outstanding research achievements in the field of mobile communications went to Professor Frank Ellinger and Dr Mario Goldenbaum.
Dr Mario Goldenbaum (left) and Professor Frank Ellinger received awards in 2016 (Photo: Vodafone Institute)
Hannes Ametsreiter, CEO of Vodafone Germany commented, “Professor Ellinger has made an enormous contribution to the development of more efficient microchips. Almost all of the next generation digital technologies will profit from his work. He has also been doing great things as Head of the 5G Lab in Dresden. Vodafone is one of the founding sponsors of the 5G lab, and we’re incredibly proud to be supporting this excellent and successful research project.”
The Minister President of Saxony, Stanislaw Tillich, added, “Professor Ellinger and the TU Dresden are the people to contact if you want faster circuits that save energy and improve performance.“
Ellinger believes that the high and continuously increasing energy consumption associated with digitalisation is a key challenge. He said, “Many of today’s IT systems are just about as inefficient as a building with all the radiators turned up high, where the temperature is regulated by opening and closing the windows.“
Professor Ellinger has developed various approaches to reducing power consumption. Conventional systems are often simply optimised for maximum performance, even though maximum performance is only ever needed over short periods of time. As a result, they continue to consume a lot of energy even when data rates are low.
Professor Ellinger has conducted research into technologies that make it possible to control bandwidth and the associated power consumption in circuits without impairing the signal. This makes massive energy savings possible, because energy consumption is substantially reduced in periods of low data rates.
The basis for 5G, the Internet of Things and connected driving
Ellinger‘s findings provide the basis for the development of future technologies such as 5G mobile communications, the Internet of Things and connected driving.
As initiator and coordinator of large-scale collaborative research projects such as ‘FflexCom‘, ‘ADDAPT‘ and ‘FAST‘, Ellinger is a world-leading expert in the field of circuit technology. He and his teams have been setting world records on a regular basis for more than 15 years now. One example is a 200 GHz amplifier that delivers a factor 50x amplification but only consumes 18 mW of power. The high frequencies make it possible to provide multiple users with very high data rates.
Ellinger’s team also developed the world’s first active data receiver that is entirely integrated in plastic foil and doesn’t need any silicon chips. This development could be the starting point for a mechanically flexible mobile phone that is integrated in clothing.
Mario Goldenbaum receives the Incentive Award for data transmission efficiency
This year’s Science and Engineering Incentive Award was presented to Dr Mario Goldenbaum for the development of a process for efficient data transmission. His technology makes it possible for several transmitters to communicate simultaneously with the same receiver and still deliver satisfactory results. It is more efficient, faster and saves more energy than all other technologies currently in use.
To develop the new technology, Goldenbaum fundamentally called conventional methods of interference avoidance into question. In his process, not all of the transmitted information is decoded on the receiving side, just one function. This is possible if the radio interface is interpreted as an analogue computer so that the receiver can receive the relevant information at the same time. It renders the conventional and time-intensive internet protocol (a pre-defined data transmission sequence) unnecessary.
Goldenbaum’s findings are likely to play a key role in the development of next generation technologies. For example, his technology could be used in smart grids, connected driving applications, for efficient fire protection at large-scale enterprises and in agriculture.
Goldenbaum has been conducting research at Princeton University since 2015. His doctoral thesis is entitled: “Computation of Real-Valued Functions Over the Channel in Wireless Sensor Networks”.
Award winners and well-wishers (left to right): Frank Ellinger, Hannes Ametsreiter (CEO Vodafone Germany), Norbert Barthle (Parliamentary Secretary of State to the German Minister for Transport and Digital Infrastructure) and Mario Goldenbaum (Photo: Vodafone Institute)
First Innovation Award presented in 1997
The Vodafone Research Foundation initiated its Innovation Award in 1997. The Vodafone Institute for Society and Communication hosts an annual event where tribute is paid to leading researchers for their outstanding achievements in the field of communications technology. The award comes with EUR 25,000 in prize money that is contributed by the Vodafone Research Foundation.
Two Incentive Awards are generally also presented, each with EUR 5,000 in prize money, to young researchers.