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June 19th 2018


Physicists catch light in the eye of the storm

Stillness rules the eye of a hurricane; without a hurricane no eye, and without an eye no hurricane. In a similar manner, physicists of research institute AMOLF, the University of Amsterdam and the University of Texas at Austin, have captured light in the eye of an optical vortex. "The light could move in any direction but does not do so," says researcher Hugo Doeleman. The research will be published on 4 June in the top journal Nature Photonics.

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From sea urchin skeleton to solar cell

Researchers at AMOLF have found a way of making calcium carbonate structures, such as a sea urchin skeleton, suitable for use in electronics. They do this by modifying the composition of the material so that it becomes a semiconductor without losing its shape. This could lead to more efficient and stable solar cells. This research was published in the journal Nature Chemistry on 4 June 2018.

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XENON1T probes deeper into Dark Matter WIMPs

Results from XENON1T, the world’s largest and most sensitive detector dedicated to a direct search for Dark Matter in the form of Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs), are reported on 28 May 2018 by  spokesperson Elena Aprile of Columbia University, in a seminar at the hosting laboratory, the INFN Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso (LNGS), in Italy.

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NWO Utrecht to relocate in 2019

On Wednesday 9 May, the NWO executive board signed a new lease contract for a different building for NWO Utrecht. The relocation will take place at the start of 2019: a location with more workplaces, also for flex workers from The Hague, a large and more professional meeting centre and a sustainable design. The building, named Nova Zemla, is located on the Winthontlaan 2 in Utrecht, a stone's throw away from the A12 and close to the fast tram stop.

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Space telescope SPICA to final selection round

Infrared space telescope SPICA has advanced to the final selection round for a medium class mission (M5) of the European Space Agency ESA. The SPICA consortium and ESA will now fully work out the proposal, which was submitted under SRON leadership in close collaboration with Japan (JAXA). If the mission is picked out of the final three candidates, expected in 2021, SPICA will map the origin and evolution of galaxies, from ten billion years ago until now. Astronomers will also use the telescope to study the conditions required for the birth of planetary systems similar to our own Solar System.

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A Microscopic Roundabout for Light

AMOLF develops a magnet-free optical circulator
Circulators are important components in communication technology. Their unique way of routing light usually requires centimeter-sized magnets, which are difficult to miniaturize for use on optical chips. Researchers at AMOLF and the University of Texas have circumvented this problem with a vibrating glass ring that interacts with light. They thus created a microscale circulator that directionally routes light on an optical chip without using magnets. The researchers publish their work in Nature Communications on 4 May 2018.

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NWO institutes are proud of awards: substantial grants for Free Electron Laser HFML-FELIX, neutrino telescope KM3NeT and space telescope Athena

On 12 April, the NWO executive board awarded funding to a total of 10 proposals in the National Roadmap for Large-Scale Scientific Infrastructure, which total € 138 million. Minister for Education, Culture and Science Ingrid van Engelshoven presented the ten roadmap certificates at the Science Park in Utrecht. Two of the proposals awarded funding will be realised by the NWO institutes Nikhef, NIOZ and SRON. In addition, the Free Electron Laser HFML-FELIX, a collaboration between Radboud University and NWO-I, has been awarded a grant. Funds from the National Roadmap for Large-Scale Scientific Infrastructure make it possible to build or modernise top research facilities with an international allure.

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New method predicts evolution

As evolution is driven by chance, predicting it seems impossible. Nevertheless, scientists from AMOLF in Amsterdam and the ESPCI in Paris have succeeded in making predictions about the evolution of a set of genes in E. coli. When and how genes mutate remains random, but it did appear predictable which gene is more likely to evolve first, or if evolutionary deadlock arises. The results have been published on 13 April in the journal Nature Communications.

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