CERN holds Workshop on Technology Transfer

The World-Wide Web, medical imaging, advanced electronic chip design. These are just a few recent results of fundamental research at the World's leading laboratory for particle physics, CERN*, in Geneva. Although the Laboratory's mission is pure science, the tools of the trade, particle accelerators and detectors, push the bounds of technology to their limits and beyond. The result is practical advances which benefit everyone. On 28-29 November, CERN is hosting a Workshop on technology transfer, to see what can be learned from the examples of the past, and how the mechanisms for getting new ideas from laboratory to marketplace can be refined.

CERN's Director-General, Professor Chris Llewellyn Smith, will be joined by Professor J. Mariano Gago, Portuguese Minister of Science and Technology, Professor J. Routti, Director General of the European Commission Directorate General XII, and 50 invited delegates from European industry and academia for two days of discussions. The immediate aim is to define strategies to reinforce CERN's technology transfer policy.

Basic research is a seedbed for industrial growth and several techniques developed at CERN have now become standard in our modern technological society: one example is vacuum technology. CERN's accelerators demand extremely high vacuum, and since the 1960s the laboratory has been breaking new ground in this field and the stringent performance parameters of CERN's next accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, LHC, will keep CERN at the forefront of ultra-high vacuum technology.

The design and construction of high performance particle accelerators is CERN's forte. The wealth of experience in accelerator technology at CERN has helped Prof. Carlo Rubbia, Nobel Prize for Physics in 1984, to developed exciting applications for high intensity accelerators. European industry is backing his plans to construct a prototype installation which will use accelerator driven technology for incineration of nuclear waste.

CERN's contributions to the development of medical imaging goes back, to the late 1960s when Georges Charpak, Nobel Prize for Physics in 1993, invented the multi-wire proportional chamber for measuring particle tracks. Since 1990 detector developments for LHC are also finding applications in the medical domain. Hybrid pixel detectors, which use the latest techniques in circuit integration, are currently under test as x-ray detectors. Early results from the Medipix collaboration which groups CERN together with British, German, and Italian groups, are promising. Pixel detectors offer a way of making clearer x-ray images, for example in mammographies, with a much lower dose than conventional photographic means.

Everyone these days knows about the Internet and the World-Wide Web, but not everyone knows that the World-Wide Web was invented at CERN. Conceived to give particle physicists easy access to their data wherever they happened to be, the Web has grown into nothing short of a telecommunications revolution. CERN is the hub of a world-wide network of computer-literate scientists who need to keep in touch. Because CERN's users come from institutes with many different computer systems, they needed a system which would not care about differences between computers. The Web was the answer. No matter what kind of computer you have, you can still read a Web page and the Web has now become part of everyday life.

Professor Llewellyn-Smith, Professor Mariano Gago, and Professor Routti will hold a press conference on 28 November at 09.30 at: Hotel Novotel, Genève Aéroport, Route de Meyrin, Ferney-Voltaire, France Tel. 04 50 40 85 23 (see attached map).


1. CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, has its headquarters in Geneva. At present, its Member States are Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Israel, Japan, the Russian Federation, Turkey, the European Commission and Unesco have observer status.

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