NWO to allocate 10 million for promising research in physics

Five new NWO Physics Vrije Programma’s are set to start

20 December 2018

On 13 December, NWO allocated a total of EUR 10 million to five new Physics Vrije Programma’s. Each of these programmes is a collaboration involving multiple research universities and institutions, and each will last longer than five years. A total of 37 new PhD students and postdocs will be hired to carry out the research.

The five programmes, all of which are set to start soon, are presented in alphabetical order in the summary below.

Quantum Acoustics
Main applicant: Dr S. Gröblacher, Delft University of Technology
Collaborating institutions: Delft University of Technology, University of Twente, Leiden University, Eindhoven University of Technology, AMOLF

While quantum mechanics governs the physics of atoms, the macroscopic world is usually described classically. This programme will investigate the quantum properties of sound waves in solids, involving billions of atoms and propagating over macroscopic distances. Besides its fundamental character, the research will open up new avenues for quantum information processing.

The Hidden Universe of Weakly Interacting Particles
Main applicant: Prof. P.J. de Jong, University of Amsterdam
Collaborating institutions: University of Amsterdam, Nikhef, Radboud University, Leiden University, Utrecht University

This programme will investigate the properties of the most elusive particles in our universe – neutrinos and dark matter – by means of the experiments KM3NeT, XENONnT and SHiP combined with theoretical modelling.

Gravitational Waves: A New Road to Fundamental Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology
Main applicant: Prof. F.L. Linde, Nikhef
Collaborating institutions: Nikhef, University of Amsterdam, Utrecht University, Radboud University, University of Groningen, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Maastricht University, Eindhoven University of Technology

What is the nature and structure of some of the most astonishing objects in the universe like black holes and neutron stars and what can those tell us? The first revolutionary direct detections of gravitational waves having been achieved, now is the moment to embark upon this exciting journey of discovery.

Atomic Quantum Simulators 2.0:- Taming Long-range Interactions
Main applicant: Prof. F. Schreck (University of Amsterdam)
Collaborating institutions: University of Amsterdam, Radboud University, Utrecht University, Eindhoven University of Technology

Researchers in this programme will cool atoms, ions and molecules to a near-zero temperature, where quantum mechanics reigns. Using these particles like LEGO blocks, they will assemble artificial quantum materials in order to induce behaviours that go beyond currently used materials. The knowledge gained will contribute to both chemistry and materials science.

Chirality-induced Spin Selectivity in Electron Transport
Main applicant: Prof. H.S.J. van der Zant, Delft University of Technology
Collaborating institutions: Delft University of Technology, Leiden University

This programme will explore a fundamentally new approach to electronics based on the transport of electron spins rather than charges. By means of a fundamental study of spin transport in molecules with a helical structure, the researchers will derive design rules for the construction of more efficient spin-based electronic devices.

About NWO Physics’ Vrije Programma's

In the Vrije Programma's of NWO Physics, physicists from different Dutch knowledge institutions join forces in specific areas of research in which Dutch physics excels internationally and for which there is a manifest scientific and/or societal interest. The new research programmes should provide an essential understanding of recently discovered phenomena and, in some cases, insight into new technologies as well. With its Vrije Programma's funding instrument, NWO Physics has had two objectives: to achieve the highest possible quality in physics research in the Netherlands and to focus on scientific topics by bundling research activities.

NWO Physics’ Vrije Programma’s are the product of ideas that researchers have developed and submitted in the form of a programme application. The submitted applications all compete with each other for the available funding, and the evaluating committee reviews them with an eye to their clear objective, focus, cohesion and added value (compared to individual small-scale projects). Naturally, the scientific quality of the proposed research must also be completely convincing. The five NWO Physics Vrije Programma’s described above will be the last ones to benefit from this funding instrument.

Open Competition across the NWO Domain of Science

As from 1 August 2018, NWO Domain Science (ENW) has established a new open competition for funding for curiosity-driven, non-programmed fundamental research relevant to ENW. The open competition concerns two domain-wide funding instruments: one for small-scale projects and investments (OC ENW - KLEIN) and one for large-scale projects (OC ENW - GROOT). This new open competition will replace a number of older funding instruments including NWO Physics’ Vrije Programma’s.

For more information

Please contact Peter Spijker: +31(0)30 600 1228, p.spijker@nwo.nl.

Source: NWO