NWO grants 4.4 million euros to innovative research in the Physics Projectruimte

20 December 2018

The board of NWO Domain Science (ENW) has granted funding for ten proposals in the Physics Projectruimte, a granting instrument for small-scale projects that propose innovative fundamental physics research that has a scientific, industrial or social urgency. In this last phase of the Physics Projectruimte 85 applications were assessed by NWO.

The following ten proposals were granted funding (in alphabetical order by author):

Prof. Dr. J. Aarts (Universiteit Leiden)
Spin texture Josephson junctions
A Josephson junction is a weak electrical link connecting two superconductors which allows the fabrication of components for superconducting electronics. We will study a fully novel implementation of magnetic weak links, which can add a different level of control over the supercurrent through the switching of the magnetization direction.

Dr. V.V. Cheianov (Universiteit Leiden)
Slow as light, fast as a snail
Sometimes the only way to quickly get where you need to go is to be really slow. Or so says the theory of adiabaticity - a concept behind certain strategies of quantum computational speedup. This project aims to get to the heart of this concept and lift the veil on how slow you have to be to be really fast.

Dr. L.M.C. Janssen (TU Eindhoven)
Aging of active materials
Just like humans, synthetic materials can behave differently as they become older. This leads to long-term problems such as metal fatigue and concrete shrinkage. The proposed research will investigate the aging process in so-called active materials—a new class of life-like matter that may ultimately lead to material rejuvenation.

Prof. dr. A. Kirilyuk & Prof. dr. A.V. Kimel (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen)
Infrared light for low-energy data storage.
New approaches to the information technology will be developed, based on light-induced switching of magnetic bits, and light itself controlled by these bits. This will result in millions of times lower energy consumption as compared to currently used electronics.

Dr. S.M. Nissanke (Universiteit van Amsterdam)
Seeing and Hearing the Violent Universe
Gravitational waves - ripples in the fabric of spacetime - and electromagnetic light can finally be detected from pairs of neutron stars and black holes merging. We will use them to measure the fundamental physics of extreme states of matter in Neutron stars - the most dense objects in the Universe - and to search for new, exotic compact stars.

Prof. dr. R.H.H.G. van Roij (Universiteit Utrecht)
Iontronics driven by peristaltic pumps and periodic potentials
Iontronics is the research field in which ions such as Na+ en Ca2+ dissolved in water or blood conduct electric currents. The researchers will theoretically predict how ion fluxes can be driven optimally through smart nano-channel geometries in order to make portable artificial kidneys, to desalinate sea water cheaply, and to harvest more blue energy from river- and seawater.

Dr. W. Vassen (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
Nuclear size puzzles
To help solving the proton size puzzle, “Nuclear size puzzles” aims to apply laser spectroscopy on ultracold helium atoms to investigate whether, like in hydrogen, also a discrepancy exists between nuclear radius measurements in helium, with two electrons orbiting the nucleus, and the muonic helium ion, where a muon orbits the nucleus.

Dr. ir. M. Veldhorst & Dr. G. Scappucci (TU Delft) 
Macroscopic entanglement between spins in germanium

This research will focus on qubits in germanium. The researchers combine superconductivity and quantum dots, individually front-runners in the race to a quantum computer, and together potentially the key towards scalability. The goal is to demonstrate the fundamental step of long-range entanglement between spins on a semiconductor chip.

Dr. ir. P.J. de Visser (SRON)
Measuring the colour of each photon with a superconducting detector
A camera in which each pixel can count individual photons and resolve their colour is a dream instrument for many applications, such as searching for extra-terrestrial life, biophysical fluorescence experiments and wavefront sensors. In this project we investigate what physics limits the efficiency and energy-resolution and we realise this detector.

Prof. dr. S. Woutersen & Prof. dr. D Bonn (Universiteit van Amsterdam)
New Light on Supercooled Water
According to many theorists, the strange properties of water are the result of the existence of two liquid forms of deeply supercooled water, but so far this controversial idea has not been proven directly. We will try to  experimentally observe the two liquid forms, and discover how they differ from each other.

About the Physics Projectruimte

The Physics Projectruimte is one of the funding instruments that NWO has for supporting physics research. Until 1 May 2018, researchers could continuously submit proposals to the Physics Projectruimte. The funding instrument has now been closed.

In August 2018, the NWO Domain Science has opened a new domain-wide ‘Open Competition’ where physicists can submit their ideas for curiosity-driven fundamental research. Within the ‘Open Competition’ there are two instruments: one for small-scale projects and investments (OC Domain Science - KLEIN) and one for large-scale projects (OC Domain Science - GROOT).


For more information about the Physics Projectruimte, please contact Marieke van Santen, projectruimte-natuurkunde@nwo.nl, 070 349 44 33.

For more information about the NWO Open Competition Domain Science-KLEIN, please contact Margot Snel, enw-klein@nwo.nl, 070 344 07 58.

Source: NWO