Along with teaching, Wolfgang Gruber conducts research on floating motor bearings at the Institute of Electrical Drives and Power Electronics.
What is your area of research?
Wolfgang Gruber: I conduct research in the field of electronic drive technology, particularly in the field of magnetic bearing technology. We use magnetic fields to not only generate torques that can drive motors, but also the supporting, contactless forces needed to support the motor, meaning levitation.
Why did you choose to come to the JKU?
Wolfgang Gruber: As I completed my Diploma degree studies, doctorate, and post-doc in Mechatronics here at the JKU, I feel very comfortable and at home here.
What do you find fascinating about this area?
Wolfgang Gruber: I am fascinated by magnetic levitation and contact-free bearings. Force action without any visible contact is very un-intuitive. As Joanne K. Rowling wrote in the first Harry Potter book: "One of a wizard’s most rudimentary skills is levitation or the ability to make objects fly."
Why is this research even necessary, meaning how will it improve our lives?
Wolfgang Gruber: Magnetically levitated systems are very durable, facilitating high speeds and high purity. In addition to various industrial applications, these systems can be used in medical technology as heart support pumps or artificial hearts. These days, there is little difference as to whether a patient gets an artificial heart or a human donor heart.
Why should students take your classes?
Wolfgang Gruber: I enjoy teaching and working together with students. You can see this by the way we interact. I also involve students in my research wherever I can (particularly as part of a final theses).
What are you currently working on?
Wolfgang Gruber: Currently there are a number of magnetic bearing projects in progress that are designed to reach very high speeds (up to 300,000 rpm). Applications include lubricant-free refrigeration compressors and air compressors (required, for example, to supply fuel cells).
What are your hobbies?
Wolfgang Gruber: I enjoy playing soccer and I love science fiction. Naturally family time (especially vacations and trips) is also a great hobby of mine.
What else do you want to do or achieve in your life?
Wolfgang Gruber: On a personal level, I simply wish to continue helping and supporting my children (6 and 13 years old) through life. Watching them start a family of their own would make me happy. Professionally, one of my goals is to launch something that does not yet exist, such as a no-bearing, no-sensor motor (that does not require position sensors).