Seven NWO Vidi grants awarded to Amsterdam Science Park researchers

Seven scientists from Amsterdam Science Park will each receive an €800,000 Vidi grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), to develop their own innovative line of research and set up a dedicated research group. This round, NWO allocated grants to 87 of the 572 eligible research proposals submitted.

Grant allocations

Dr Mehdi Habibi (Institute of Physics): Crumpled membranes have surprisingly useful properties
One of the methods used to develop materials with special characteristics (meta-materials) is an 'origami technique' which involves the clever folding-up of thin layers of material. But even crumpled or wadded layers can have unexpected properties, with uses in a range of applications. Habibi will first analyse the fundamental properties of crumpled layers, before using them to create a meta-material.

Dr Tiddo Mooibroek (Van 't Hoff Institute for Molecular Sciences): Supramolecular catalysts for the one-pot selective synthesis of carbohydrate derivatives
Creating the kinds of sugar molecules required for research into processes such as infection and cancer is laborious and costly. Mooibroek intends to manufacture catalysts that will make the process significantly easier and less expensive.

Dr Katja Peijnenburg (Naturalis & Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics): The fate of sea butterflies in acidic waters
Sea butterflies, sea angels and sea elephants are special groups of snails that have adapted to life in the open ocean. However, oceans are now changing faster than ever, becoming warmer and more acidic. Peijnenburg will study whether these spectacular snails will be able to adapt, and whether they may lose their shells. Her project will be based at Naturalis.

Yves Rezus (Biomolecular Photonics/AMOLF): How to keep a healthy shape
Prion diseases, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob and mad-cow disease, are dangerous neurodegenerative disorders caused by the misfolding and aggregation of the protein PrP. This protein causes a deadly chain reaction in the brain because, when it misfolds, it stimulates the misfolding and aggregation of healthy copies of PrP. We will use advanced laser-spectroscopic techniques to study the molecular mechanism underlying these diseases. Understanding this mechanism is important as it will provide an insight into possible treatments.

Erik Garnett (Nanoscale Solar Cells/AMOLF) NanoBricks: Building monocrystalline optoelectronics from welded nanocubes
In order to reach a high conversion efficiency, solar cells must be made from perfect crystals with a specific shape.  Today, this is typically accomplished by starting with a large crystal and cutting it into the preferred form, which wastes material and damages the surface. The NanoBricks program will take an entirely different approach, building up perfect crystals with the desired shape by assembling and welding together nanocubes.

Dr. Sebastiano Bernuzzi (Binnenkort werkzaam bij de zwaartekrachtsgolven onderzoeksgroep van Nikhef): Spacetime Symphony for Two Neutron Stars 
Neutron stars collisions are among the Universe's most energetic phenomena. Such events are uniquely identified by the tiny gravitational-waves emitted at acoustic frequencies. To enable future observations, researchers will calculate the gravitational-wave symphony by solving Einstein's spacetime equations using supercomputers.   

Dr. T.A. Tristan du Pree (ATLAS/Nikhef): Higgs van Z tot A
In 2012 werd het Higgs-boson ontdekt, aan de LHC versneller van CERN. In  dit onderzoek dat in het ATLAS-experiment zal plaatsvinden, zullen fysici Higgs-bosonen gebruiken om met precisie-metingen de eigenschappen te bestuderen, om andere scalar-deeltjes te zoeken, en om een licht proberen te werpen op donkere materie – een nieuwe stap in de deeltjesfysica.