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September 22nd 2017


From galaxies far far away!

In a paper to be published in Science on 22 September, the Pierre Auger Collaboration reports observational evidence demonstrating that cosmic rays with energies a million times greater than that of the protons accelerated in the Large Hadron Collider come from much further away than from our own Galaxy.

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Innovative physics research receives over 2 million euros

The board of NWO's Domain Science (ENW) has granted funding for five proposals in the NWO Physics Projectruimte, a granting instrument for small-scale projects that propose innovative fundamental physics research that has a scientific, industrial or social urgency.

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Julia Cramer wins the NWO Minerva Prize for 2017

Julia Cramer is the winner of NWO's Minerva Prize for 2017. Cramer will receive the prize for her research in the field of quantum science and technology. Once every two years, the NWO Domain Science (ENW) awards the Minerva Prize for the best physics publication by a female researcher. The committee was very impressed by the quality of an article that appeared in Nature Communications in 2016, of which Cramer was the lead author. In that article, she and her co-authors showed that it is possible to protect certain quantum states against errors. Cramer will be awarded the prize during the annual Physics@Veldhoven conference in January.

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'Nano-hashtags' could provide definite proof of Majorana particles

In Nature today an international team of researchers from TU Eindhoven, QuTech, TU Delft and the University of California – Santa Barbara presents an advanced quantum chip that will be able to provide definitive proof of the mysterious Majorana particles. These particles, first demonstrated in 2012, are their own antiparticle at one and the same time. The chip, which comprises ultrathin networks of nanowires in the shape of 'hashtags', has all the qualities to allow Majorana particles to exchange places. This feature is regarded as the smoking gun for proving their existence and is a crucial step towards their use as a building block for future quantum computers. 

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Newest solar cells underperform in cloudy countries

To determine how efficient new solar cells convert sunlight into electricity, small sample cells are tested under ideal conditions. However, the reported efficiency is not very representative of the actual annual yield when the cells are placed onto a rooftop and exposed to the Dutch weather. In a recent article in ACS Energy Letters, AMOLF researchers present a model that predicts how the next generation of solar cells will perform under realistic conditions.

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Atomically thin layers bring spintronics closer to applications

University of Groningen scientists led by Spinoza laureate and physics professor Bart van Wees have created a graphene-based device, in which electron spins can be injected and detected with unprecedented efficiency. The result is a hundredfold increase of the spin signal, big enough to be used in real life applications, such as new spin transistors and spin-based logic. The research is part of the European Union’s EUR 1 billion Graphene Flagship, and the results were published in Nature Communications on 15 August 2017.

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Nanoparticles give solar panels a green color

Researchers from AMOLF, the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and the Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) have developed a technology to create efficient bright green colored solar panels. Arrays of silicon nanoparticles integrated in the front module glass of a silicon heterojunction solar cell scatter a narrow band of the solar spectrum and create a green appearance for a wide range of angles. The remainder of the solar spectrum is efficiently coupled into the solar cell. The current generated by the solar panel is only reduced by 10%. The realization of efficient colorful solar panels is an important step for the integration of solar panels into the built environment and landscape. The new design was published online on August 15, 2017, in the journal Applied Physics Letters.

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Metal cloud to protect fusion reactor walls

A thin vapour cloud in front of a liquid metal may be the solution to protecting the reactor walls of future fusion power plants to the extreme heat fluxes encountered. In Nature Communications, PhD candidate Stein van Eden and colleagues at DIFFER and Ghent University presents measurements of a vapour cloud catching and redistributing the energy from the incoming plasma in the reactor. The work indicates that liquid metal walls are a promising concept for future fusion reactors like DEMO.

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Improving understanding of the quantum world with quantum dots

Quantum behaviour plays a crucial role in novel and emergent material properties, such as superconductivity and magnetism. Unfortunately, it is still impossible to calculate the underlying quantum behaviour, let alone fully understand it. Scientists of QuTech, the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience in Delft and TNO, in collaboration with the ETH Zurich and the University of Maryland, have now succeeded in building an 'artificial material' that mimics this type of quantum behaviour on a small scale. In doing so, they have laid the foundations for new insights and potential applications. Their work is published today in Nature.

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VIRGO joins LIGO for the 'Observation Run 2' (O2) data-taking period

Tuesday 1 August 2017, the VIRGO detector based in Europe has officially joined 'Observation Run 2' (O2) and is now taking data alongside the American-based twin LIGO detectors. This major step forward for the VIRGO Collaboration is the outcome of a multi-year upgrade program, whose primary goal was to significantly improve the detector performance in terms of sensitivity. "The last months have been spent on commissioning VIRGO, and this went very well. We are eager to start our first science run, joining LIGO at this exciting time for our field" says Jo van den Brand of Nikhef and VU University Amsterdam, the spokesperson of the VIRGO collaboration.

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