NWO Physics Focusgroups

NWO Physics Focusgroups

An NWO Physics Focusgroup:

  • is a special type of programme for more focus and mass;
  • is led by a renowned researcher;
  • works on a clear scientific objective within a multidisciplinary research theme;
  • usually also has the task of involving other Dutch research groups.

For each focusgroup, the NWO Domain Science (physics) makes substantial financial resources available for personnel and equipment over a period of about ten years. Besides PhDs and postdocs, senior researchers and sometimes technicians can be appointed as well. As the duration of a focus group is limited, the institution where it is located takes over the ongoing responsibilities from NWO at the end of the programme period.

A focusgroup is the most powerful instrument that FOM has to develop innovative research at universities. FOM is using this instrument, for example, to realise major innovations in fundamental energy research. NWO can also set up focus groups at institutes. NWO can therefore establish a focus group, either top-down or bottom up, in competition for the Vrije FOM-programma's, based on an approved proposal from a researcher. The focus group established after the competition must be able to achieve a substantial breakthrough in a physics discipline so that a certain subject or consolidation of strengths acquires a clear form and content and becomes structurally embedded as well.

NWO currently has four focusgroups

Nr. 130 - Next generation organic photovoltaics

Over the next few years this focusgroup will investigate 'plastic' solar cells, which must be ready for large-scale application by 2020. This ambition means that the yield, lifespan and cost price of the solar cells must be considerably improved. The emphasis lies in the development of an entirely new generation of molecular semiconductors that can significantly bridge the differences between the current organic 'plastic' semiconductors and the 'traditional' inorganic semiconductors. If these efforts are successful then spectacular new electronic materials will be developed that will also be very important outside of the field of solar energy. 
The NWO Physics Focusgroup is being led by Prof.dr. Kees Hummelen (University of Groningen) and is running from 2011-2021. It has a multidisciplinary team of six physicists and chemists at the Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials (University of Groningen).

Nr. 131 - Light management in new photovoltaic materials

The central theme of this NWO Physics Focusgroup is 'light management': controlling the capture, conduction, concentration and conversion of light at the nanoscale. The aim is to make solar cells cheaper and more efficient. The integration of special nanostructures in existing semiconductor materials can make the conversion of light into electric current more efficient. Such designs also require far less material, as result of which manufacturing costs can be significantly reduced. New cleanroom techniques are vital for this. The Institute AMOLF has started three new research groups with this programme that will tackle three different themes: (1) ultrathin solar cells based on silicon, (2) 'dye-sensitized' solar cells, in which light is converted into electricity via a dye and an electrolyte and (3) solar cells produced from semiconducting nano-crystals, which can convert the entire colour spectrum of the sun into electricity.
The research of this focusgroup is taking place in collaboration with Utrecht University and ECN. This programme is running from 2011-2019 and is being led by Prof.dr. Albert Polman (AMOLF).

Nr. 132 - High Field Magnet Laboratory: a global player in science in high magnetic fields

The aim of this NWO Physics Focusgroup is to make the unique High Field Magnetic Laboratory (HFML) in Nijmegen accessible to qualified researchers. Unique research can be performed with the very high magnetic fields of the HFML, as under these experimental conditions materials reveal all of their secrets without being changed at all. This programme forms NWO's contribution to the Radboud University Nijmegen-NWO HFML partnership. With this NWO is giving a significant boost to the HFML as a result of which the Netherlands will become a global leader in the science of high magnetic fields and magnet technology.
This programme is running from 2011-2021 and is being led by Prof.dr. Nigel Hussey (Radboud University).

Nr. 133 - Free electron lasers for infrared experiments

The NWO Physics Focusgroup programme 'Free electron lasers for infrared experiments' is carried out within the focusgroup bearing the same name. The aim of the programme is to realise a leading user facility from the free electron laser FELIX and to research the structure and dynamics of complex molecules, ions and clusters in the gaseous state.
Both the programme and the focusgroup are led by focusgroup leader Prof.dr. Wim van der Zande. The programme runs from 2013-2022 and the budget for this period is 9.1 million euros.  

Closed Focusgroup

Nr. 114 Fundamental symmetries and interactions - Trapped Radioactive Isotopes as micro laboratories for fundamental physics

This FOM Focusgroup focuses on the expansion and exploitation of the TRIμP research facility at the KVI in Groningen. TRIμP uses radioactive isotopes with a short half-life that are produced with the help of beams from the AGOR cyclotron. The isotopes are slowed down and captured in traps. There the researchers carry out decay studies that they can use, for example, to test aspects of the Standard Model. The immense precision of TRIμP makes this facility suitable for various atomic physics experiments by researchers from around the world. 

This FOM Focusgroup is running from 2009 to 2013 and is being led by Prof.dr. Klaus Jungmann (University of Groningen).