Physicists in Marburg fight against Corona

Most recent updates:

  • March, 30th: The Ambu-Bag-Solution can now be operated without external power supply (check the Ambu Bag subsite)
    The CPAP-Solution "CARL" is now available in version 6 (check CPAP subsite)
  • March, 27th: Production of a small batch, in cooperation with a local manufacturer, has started. Details will be provided soon.
  • March, 24th: Our newest CPAP prototype in comparison with the other version (check the CPAP subsite)
  • March, 21st: New CPAP prototype with video showing its operation (check the CPAP subsite)
  • March, 21st: Second prototype for the Ambu Bag solution (check Ambu Bag subsite)

We all hope that the current actions taken by the government and agencies all over the world will be enough to help us getting through the Corona crisis with as few casualties as possible. In particular, we hope that the health systems all over the world will not collapse and be able to provide all neccessary support. As the number of cases increases continuously, it is possible that there will be a shortage of medical equipment. In particular, this will be true for ventilators to support patients with respiratory issues.

Monday morning, March 16th 2020, the research group Semiconductor Photonics has started working on the development of artificial ventilation systems that can be manufactured easily and fast in "The Breathing Project".

In the meantime, our team has grown significantly to a number of more than 30 people with different expertise; several technicians from the university hospital as well as different members from the Department of Physics have joined us. We also use several contacts to physicians and medical technicians to profit from their expertise.

Currently, we are working on different solutions for places with different infrastructure.

Photo by Prof. Martin Koch

Picture: Discussion of first ideas for do-it-yourself ventilation systems on Monday noon.

For places where the neccessary infrastructure is present, we are working on a rather complex and powerful approach: We develop a component for CPAP machines, so that they can be used as ventilators in intensive care units. Such machines are widely used and available e.g. in Europe since they are used to treat the sleep apnoa: approximately two million units are in use in German households. This is a smart idea from Tuesday afternoon which was brought up by two technicians from the Sleeping Lab of the Marburg hospital.

The extended CPAP-systems will not be as powerful as modern, commercial ventilation systems. Hence, they will probably be too weak for really severe cases of COVID 19. For such cases, commercial, professional ventilation systems will be neccessary. Yet, once the patient has somewhat recovered after a few days, the patient may no longer need the commercial ventilation system. In that case, he/she can probably be treated using our extended CPAP units, allowing that the commercial ones are then used for new patients in worse condition.

For places without such a CPAP infrastructure, we chose a different approach: We develop ventilation systems based on so-called "Ambu-Bags" that are cheap and available in large quantities.

We are currently working on the improvement of the units and try to fulfill the specifications defined by the medical experts.

This website will keep the public posted about "The Breathing Project" on a daily basis.

It is our goal to make our results accessible for everyone and to publish our material so that everyone can use it all over the world.

Please note, that we will not be able provide any kind of warranty or safeguarding certificates. Getting such certificates is a long way and requires a lot of testing and verification. This will not be achieved for our units. If these units are to be used in the cases of emergency, it has to be done in the responsibility of the respective medical personal.

The project is supported by the Hessen Ministry for Higher Education, Research, and the Arts as well as the Rotary Club Marburg.


Prof. Dr. Martin Koch