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January 19th 2018

The tenure-trackers could choose a research institution or institute in the Netherlands for their research. A long-term commitment is required from both the candidate and the host institute so that a sustainable investment in computational sciences in the area of energy can be realised. Strict requirements therefore applied to the selection of candidates: they had to have the potential to become professors. If they successfully complete their tenure track-period of five years they will be given a tenured appointment as an assistant professor at the host institute. To give the tenure-track candidates a flying start, a PhD project for a FOM PhD researcher is part of the award. Last year in the first tenure track call, Paola Diomede and Marieke Wolthers were appointed.

About the CSER programme
The programme 'Computational Sciences for Energy Research' (CSER) is a public-private partnership initiative of Shell, NWO and FOM. The aim of the programme is to make a sustainable science-wide investment in computational sciences in the Netherlands. Within the CSER initiative, Shell is funding 75 PhD places in the Netherlands for computational sciences. NWO and FOM are investing in the Dutch knowledge infrastructure via CSER. The tenure-track programme that has a budget of 6.9 million euros is part of that investment, just like the research programmes 'CO2-neutral fuels' and 'Uncertainty reduction in smart energy systems'.

YES! Fellowships Programme
The aim of the FOM programme Young Energy Scientists (YES!) that has run since 2010 is to encourage energy research in the Netherlands. In the programme, researchers spend a maximum period of three years abroad and then return to the Netherlands with the knowledge they have acquired. They are then given a further one year to embed their new knowledge and to lay a foundation for a new line of research and a scientific career in the Netherlands. Besides Richard Stevens and Süleyman Er, Andrea Baldi and Joep Pijpers were FOM YES! Fellows; Jonathan Citrin is currently in his third year.

More about the new CSER tenure-trackers and their research projects
Former FOM YES! Fellow Süleyman Er will start at DIFFER with his project 'Computational design of new hybrid photocatalysts for solar fuel generation'. To pave the way to a future with clean energy we must find sustainable ways of producing transportation fuels. Photocatalysts use sunlight to convert H2O or CO2 into energy-dense chemical fuels. Unfortunately, they cannot yet accommodate large-scale fuel production due to a lack of efficient materials. It is therefore vitally important to develop new materials to generate solar fuels. "With the new FOM-CSER funding, my research group at DIFFER will develop a novel computational approach to speed up the discovery of new semiconducting materials for photocatalysis," explains Er. "My primary aim is the bottom-up rational design of new 2D semiconductors that match to the solar spectrum. Later, I plan to use the best candidate photovoltaic materials in a new photocatalyst design. To achieve these aims, we will work in intense collaboration with various research groups in the Netherlands and the United States."­

Johan Mentink will work at Radboud University with his project 'Towards ultra green datacenters: a multi-scale computational approach to nonequilibrium magnetism', which is based on the idea of influencing the magnetic properties of materials using laser pulses. When successful at a large scale, the process can be extremely useful for certain industrial applications, as shown by a clear interest from the private sector in the candidate's work. "It is a great honour and fantastic recognition of my work to receive this tenure-track position and I very much look forward to explore the enormous potential of fundamental computational science to achieve energy savings in, for example, data centre technology" says an enthusiastic Mentink.

Richard Stevens, also a former FOM YES! Fellow, plans to do research at the University of Twente into large-scale wind farms. Wind turbines on large farms influence each other due to 'wakes' hundred of metres long, a relatively slow and unpredictable turbulent wind flow that develops behind a wind turbine. Turbines in the middle of a wind farm have a relatively low power production and experience higher loads due to these wakes. "For the past few years I have worked on developing detailed computer simulations of wind farms that can predict this flow," says Stevens. "Using these new and advanced numerical techniques on the latest supercomputers I can gain a better understanding of important physical aspects that influence the efficiency of large wind farms. That is necessary for realising scientific breakthroughs."

Shuxia Tao will develop a simulation tool to investigate novel materials for third-generation solar cells. The basic concept is to use the predictive power of the Density Functional Theory (DFT) to determine material and device parameters and then to use these in a semi-classical Monte Carlo method to simulate a complete solar cell. The results of this research will be an important step towards multiscale modelling in solar cells research. With this tenure-track appointment Tao will receive a position at the Center for Computational Energy Research (CCER), a new joint research group of DIFFER and Eindhoven University of Technology. She will collaborate with one of the most prestigious experimental groups in the world in high efficiency nanowire solar cells at Eindhoven University of Technology led by Erik Bakkers. "The synergy between theory and experiment is a superb way of accelerating the development of highly efficient solar cells. I really am looking forward to this opportunity and I cannot wait to start this challenging project," says Tao, with enthusiasm.

More information
For more information please contact:
Johan H. Mentink, Radboud University, +31 24 365 29 03
Richard J.A.M. Stevens, University of Twente, +31 53 489 53 59
Süleyman Er, DIFFER, +31 6 15 25 16 49
Shu Xia Tao, TU Eindhoven, +31 6 11 17 12 11
Maria Sovago, FOM office (for questions about the CSER initiative), +31 30 600 12 73

See also /live/english/research/research-programmes/ipp/cser.pag www.fom.nl/cser.