The CRS4 - Center for Advanced Studies, Research and Development in Sardinia - outlines the balance of the results of the activities of the 2020-2023 triennium. The Center pursues excellence on three major themes, artificial intelligence, management of large amounts of data, high-performance computing and quantum computing, closely connected to scientific research and technological development. These themes apply to the information society, energy and the environment, biosciences, aerospace, visual computing, computational infrastructure and projects for smart cities.
During the three-year period, among the numerous results achieved, the following stand out: 93 contracts signed relating to projects and services for a total value of over 17 million euros; the hiring of 16 temporary researchers and technologists, on a permanent basis; the establishment of an advisory committee (Advisory Board) composed of 10 nationally and internationally renowned experts to provide assistance and advice to the management of the research center; the implementation of an internal plan for gender equality and the first competition for the promotion of talented young women in science.
The performance of its computing center, thanks to an investment of 4.5 million euros, has been doubled, reaching today a power of 4.3 PetaFlops and a storage space of 6.3 PetaBytes, while, with an investment of 1 million euros, the infrastructure of the Next Generation Sequencing Core platform has been implemented, being the first in Italy to be equipped with a latest generation Illumina NovaSeq X Plus genomic sequencer, whose cutting-edge technology guarantees better performance than the machines currently in use in other regions, thus allowing CRS4 to produce sequencing data (up to 120Tb per month) human, animal and plant, at a higher speed and at reduced costs.
The Ubiquitous Digital Platform (UbiDP) trademark has also been filed, relating to the digital operating platform that facilitates the management of dynamics within cities, territorial logistics and emergency situations. The platform supports decisions made by mayors, law enforcement, firefighters and civil protection for the management of territories, urban planning and interventions in emergency situations such as floods and fires. It can also be used to manage traffic, parking and the flow of people during large events.
CRS4 is involved in several projects, among the most important are the one for the recognition of RNA markers of asbestos-induced lung cancer and the one for the production of artifacts that exploit materials found on the Martian soil to allow the construction of structures on the red planet.
The Center is increasingly involved in activities related to aerospace, a line of research introduced in 2021, which include the use of geographic information systems and intelligent technologies. A patent has also been filed for a human space exploration system that uses locally available resources such as atmospheric carbon dioxide, Martian soil and astronaut urine for the cultivation of algae as food for astronauts on mission. This activity is linked to active participation in two masters funded by the Sardinia Region for training experts in aerospace engineering and ‘aware’ safety.
In the three-year period, CRS4 also committed itself to scientific dissemination activities for the promotion of STEM disciplines in schools, which involved over 2000 children from elementary and kindergarten schools in Sardinia, as well as participation in events such as the Dubai Expo where innovative algal cultivation techniques were presented, even in the absence of gravity, which could be used on future missions for deep space exploration.
The Center is a founding member of the National Center for Supercomputing, Big Data and Quantum Computing, which will receive funding to create an infrastructure to support the country’s strategic sectors.
All this was made possible thanks to the reorganization of research activities as a whole, so that they were more streamlined and cutting-edge, thanks to the identification of specific scientific and technological areas for each sector, the implementation of offices for scientific dissemination, marketing, document dematerialization and higher studies. Finally, thanks to the successes of the team dealing with quantum computing, a further research activity introduced in December 2020, it was possible to pass conventional tests by emulating a 30 qbit quantum computer and to file a trademark for a software supporting quantum codes.
Christian Solinas, President of the Sardinia Region: "The report on the last three years of CRS4's work demonstrates Sardinia's ability to assert itself internationally in the fields of research and high technology at the service of people. This centrality is part of a constantly evolving global context, which the Centre for Research, Development and Advanced Studies has demonstrated its ability to intercept thanks to its constant commitment, declined in the various projects that have characterised its activities since 2020 with important merits and awards in the fields of energy, the environment, agriculture, geophysics and artificial intelligence. A great deal of work has been done in terms of scientific and technological development at regional, national and international level, making Sardinia a leading player in the world".
Giacomo Cao, Sole Administrator of CRS4: "I am proud of the results achieved during my term of office to date. Other significant goals are on the horizon, such as the possible acquisition of a particularly high-performance quantum computer".