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July 20th 2018

The Veni laureates will conduct research on a variety of subjects, such as the formation of galaxies in clusters, the prevention of toxic substances in recycled products, the connections between love and sex in youths' intimate relationships, the development of materials that adapt to variations in their environment for the use in soft robots, and how ankle and knee injuries in sports can be prevented by 'motor learning'. The Veni is awarded by NWO every year.

More information
News release NWO
Veni laureate Said Rodriquez about his research
Veni laureate Bas Overvelde (in Dutch) about his research

The complete list of awarded grants contains the names of all the laureates, as well as brief summaries of their research projects (in Dutch and English).

Laureates in physics:

Super quality pictures through a tiny endoscope
Dr. Liubov Amitonova , VU - Biophotonics & Medical Imaging
Optical microscopy is a basic tool for biological research, but light scattering restricts imaging deep inside living organisms. Researchers will use advanced technology of light control in combination with unique fiber probes to create new optical methods for deep-tissue imaging with an unparalleled quality.

What conditions should a unified theory of Quantum Gravity satisfy?
Dr. Alexandre Belin, UvA– Theoretical Physics
Quantum mechanics and general relativity are two fundamental building blocks in our understanding of physics. Merging them is one of the greatest challenges of modern physics. Using the holographic duality, the researcher proposes a systematic study to identify the criteria a unified theory of quantum gravity must satisfy.

Heating and cooling at the nanoscale
Dr. Simon Boehme, VU – Department of Physics and Astronomy
Tiny chunks of semiconductor material (semiconductor “nanocrystals”) may enable cheaper and more efficient devices. To enable commercialization of e.g. nanocrystal solar cells, LEDs, or thermoelectric devices, the applicant will study thermal processes at the nanoscale via laser spectroscopy. Thereby he contributes to the development of urgently needed thermal management strategies.

The magnetic brain: Alzheimer’s disease seen through iron
Dr. Lucia Bossoni, LUMC, Radiology Department – Biophysics
Abnormal accumulation of iron is found in the brains of patients suffering from several different neurodegenerative diseases, but its potential toxicity is still not understood. This research uses a new multidisciplinary approach to detect and characterize different forms of iron, also leading to new in vivo methods of visualization.

Identification, Isolation and Analysis of Single Cancer Stem Cells
Dr. Miao-Ping Chien, EUR – Biophysics
To understand the molecular mechanisms driving oncogenesis it is imperative to study individual cells. I will create and use optical and chemical methods for the identification, isolation and analysis of single cancer stem cells, and investigate their role in the formation, progression and therapeutic resistance of tumors.

Precision physics with heavy quarks: from colliders to the cosmos
Dr. Rhorry Gauld, Nikhef - Theory group
The high energy collisions at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) provide an ideal environment for performing studies of heavy quark production. The LHC data will be used to improve the predictions of heavy production in our atmosphere, which occur as ultra-high energy cosmic neutrinos bombard the Earth.

How do flowers get their colours –and to what end?
Dr. Casper van der Kooi, RUG – Wiskunde en Natuurwetenschappen
This project will chart the optics of colourful flowers of plants with very diverse ecologies. The optical and evolutionary analyses will explain how pollinators and plant physiology drove flower colour evolution.

New platform for topological quantum computing
Dr. Chuan Li, UT - Institute of Nanotechnology
To achieve next generation computing with topological quantum bits, people need to first realize the essential elements – Majorana fermions, then demonstrate their non-trivial statistics. In this VENI project, researchers from the University of Twente will use novel semimetallic superconductors to build a new platform for Majorana states.

Stretching the lifespan of blood clots for effective wound healing
Dr. Cristina Martinez-Torres, AMOLF - Physics
When we cut our skin, the wound is rapidly sealed by a blood clot withstanding mechanical deformations until the injury heals and vanishing shortly after. Interestingly, clots that are deformed last longer than those who are not. The researchers will study why the stretched clots are more resistant to disappear.

Novel highly transparent metal oxides to enable 25% conversion efficiency for industrially viable silicon solar cells
Dr. ir. Jimmy Melskens, TUE Department of Applied Physics
Revolutionary approaches are needed to further increase the conversion efficiency of future industrial silicon solar cells. Therefore, highly transparent metal oxides will be developed as contact materials in this project to enable the successful extraction of charges from the silicon while avoiding significant electrical and optical losses.

Integrating mechanical metamaterials in soft robots
Dr. ir. Bas Overvelde, AMOLF, Amsterdam
Mechanical metamaterials have properties arising from the shape of their microstructure, rather than chemical composition. In this project an actuated metamaterial is developed with reprogrammable behavior, which will be embedded in a new generation of versatile soft robots.

Photonic transport through complex nonlinear systems: using noise to transmit a signal
Dr. Said Rodriguez, UU - Nanomaterial Science
The transfer of energy and information across complex technological systems is typically degraded by noise. This research will investigate the opposite case where noise enhances the transport of light across complex systems, and provides functionality that is not easily obtained in noiseless systems, such as unidirectional flow.

Black hole horizons and the quark-gluon plasma
Dr. Wilke van der Schee, UU - Physics
Collisions of lead nuclei at the LHC accelerator result in the formation of quark-gluon plasma. Because of the strong force between these particles, this plasma has surprisingly strong similarities with the horizon of a black hole. This research models the plasma dynamics by forming a corresponding black hole.

Quantum bits in space and time
Dr. Michael Walter, UvA – Institute for Theoretical Physics and Korteweg-de Vries Institute for Mathematics
Physicists have recently discovered clues that space and time are held together by quantum entanglement, the mysterious resource that powers quantum computers. The researcher will develop theoretical tools to subject these ideas to stringent tests and shed new light on the fabric of space-time.