Generating images of ice and water on aircraft wings

Juliana Padilha Leitzke | Foto: aau/Müller

Juliana Padilha Leitzke came to Klagenfurt from Brazil in order to write her doctoral thesis and to contribute to reducing the risk of undetected hazardous ice on aircraft wings. She expects to complete her doctoral thesis shortly.

Tomography is a familiar concept from the field of medicine: It provides images of the inside of our bodies, which can be helpful in the identification of diseases. However, tomography can also be of assistance in the context of generating images of material surfaces. Most recently, the FFG-funded project ICELIFT focuses on determining the precise formation of ice on aircraft wings in preparation for tackling it with targeted heating measures. Juliana Padilha Leitzke, a PhD researcher in Hubert Zangl’s team at the Institute of Smart Systems Technologies, has spent the past three years on developing this technology further. She explains her work: “To generate an image, we use not just one frequency, but several. Because the electrical properties for solid and liquid phases in the material differ across the frequencies, they help us to characterise the materials, providing us with more information.” The technology can also be used for other applications, for instance in the detection of breast cancer. The end result of the three-year development period is now available in the form of a system that can recognise the transition from water to ice. Both hardware and software are more or less ready for use, with the latter playing an important role in the image generation process.

Juliana Padilha Leitzke, who has German, Portuguese, and Italian roots, came to Klagenfurt from Brazil three years ago. She hopes to complete her research and her doctoral thesis early in 2019 and is likely to move on to pastures new after that. That it was this particular project that brought her to Klagenfurt was serendipitous in her view: Her initial intention was to pursue a degree in the field of “Aviation”, but her hometown offered no such programme. She chose Electrical Engineering instead, completing her Bachelor’s and her Master’s degree, and then wanted to go out into the big, wide world to “expand the personal horizon”. The academic who supervised her Master’s thesis was well connected in the German speaking countries and drew her attention to the recruitment advert published by the University of Klagenfurt.

The work that took place in the lab and in the wind tunnel involved testing sensors on a model of a wing segment reproduced in original size. Within the scope of the project, the partners also conducted tests on aircrafts in authentic settings. In terms of content, the work matched the theme of her Master’s thesis very well. When we ask the native Brazilian, who was used to very different dimensions in relation to urban life until she moved here, about her initial impressions of Klagenfurt, she tells us: “Right from the start, I liked the lower volumes of traffic and the fact that it is significantly less noisy than it is at home. I enjoyed that very much.”

“Time will show what the future has in store”, Juliana Padilha Leitzke looks forward to the months ahead with curiosity and open-mindedness. “I want to improve technologies and see my work in completed final products that make it onto the market”, she adds. Her next challenge lies in finding an environment that motivates her to give her best on a daily basis, and where she can apply the expertise she has gained so far in the course of her academic career.


A few words with … Juliana Padilha Leitzke

What would you be doing now, if you had not become a scientist?
I have always enjoyed drawing, so maybe I would have been an artist or a designer.

Do your parents understand what it is you are working on?
Yes, I believe they have a good idea of what I do.

What is the first thing you do when you arrive at the office in the morning?
I quickly check the news, my e-mails and my notes.

Do you have proper holidays? Without thinking about your work?
Yes, I believe it is important to have holidays and really disconnect from work for some days.

What makes you furious?

What calms you down?

Who do you regard as the greatest scientist in history, and why?
It is hard to choose only one since so many people contributed to science and everyone develops their work on top of the knowledge that was already there. However, if I had to name one I would choose James Clerk Maxwell for putting together the foundations of electromagnetism.

What are you afraid of?
Not accomplishing my goals.

What are you looking forward to?
Right now, I am looking forward to finishing my thesis.

Studying Technology at the Universität Klagenfurt

Research and teaching excellence is what sets Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt’s technology programmes apart. Established in 2007, the Faculty of Technical Sciences prides itself on its exceptional student-supervisor relationships, which facilitate continuous, profitable exchange between tutors and students at all levels. Our technology programmes, which have a large practical component and focus on our key strengths (e.g. Informatics, Information Technology and Technical Mathematics), open up a world of opportunities for our students. And if you decide to take a Joint or Double Degree, you can also gain new experience overseas by taking a semester abroad or attending a summer school. More

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Source: AAU TEWI