blije mensen
High five for Vici winners from TU Delft. (Photo: Pxhere)

NWO awarded 34 Vici grants of up to EUR 1.5 million to senior researchers for their own programmes. Five of them came from TU Delft. These are the winners.

Lees in het Nederlands

Complex currents
Who: Dr Valeria Garbin from the Faculty of Applied Sciences (AS)
What: To study and describe complex flows. These include different phases of simultaneous flows (solid, liquid, and gaseous) over interfaces and along soft materials. This knowledge will help scale up new more sustainable chemistry from laboratory to industrial reactor scale.
Application title: Go with the Flow - Understanding the flow physics of innovative multiphase reactors.
Reaction: “It is an honour to receive this grant. This will allow my group to combine our expertise in fluid dynamics with multiphase reactions and explore a new research direction in sustainable chemical conversion.”

Macro quantum state
Who: Prof. Simon Gröblacher from the Faculty of Applied Sciences (AS)
What: Gröblachter wants to explore the limits of quantum mechanics, which works brilliantly at the nanometre scale, but how far can you stretch it? Gröblacher wants to couple a quantum system (the spin of a single atom) to a mechanical oscillator to create quantum states at the macroscopic scale.
Application title: Controlling Mechanical Motion via Individual Spins.
Reaction: “This allows my group to establish a new research direction in which we will use a two-level quantum system to create complex quantum states from mechanical vibrations.”

Attached to electronics
Who: Professor Ruth Mugge from the Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering( IDE)
What: Mugge wants users to keep their mobiles and other consumer electronics longer. Accelerated replacement leads to wasted raw materials and a larger waste stream. She wants to study how devices can be designed in such a way that people become more attached to them and do not replace them prematurely.
Application title: Slowing down premature obsolescence: keeping the value of consumer electronics high by design.

Understanding catalysis
Professor Atsushi Urakawa (Applied Sciences, AS)
What: Urakawa will conduct in-depth studies of catalysis. Catalysis facilitates chemical conversions. Many sustainable and circular processes depend on active catalysts. He is developing analytical tools to capture catalytic activity under operational conditions. New knowledge on reaction mechanisms and compound exchange should contribute to a more rational design of catalytic processes and their commercialisation. So far, practical experience has significantly guided the development of catalysts, preventing drastic innovations. He sees applications in the transition to more sustainable use and production of chemicals and fuels.
Application title: Operando description of catalytic activity from the reactor-scale gradients
Reaction: “The Vici grant will help me develop fundamental research tools to learn to understand and describe catalytic reactions precisely.”

Quantum internet
Professor Stephanie Wehner, QuTech
What: The quantum internet that TU Delft researchers are working on promises a secure connection because entanglement prevents eavesdropping. "But we currently lack the knowledge to programme and control these new networks," notes Prof. Stephanie Wehner. That gap between hardware and usable software applications must first be bridged. This project will develop the first machine language that can make the quantum Internet programmable so that soon anyone can develop software
Application title:  Bridging the gap: from quantum hardware to a universally programmable Quantum Internet.
Reaction: “I am very excited about receiving the Vici grant, which will allow my group and me to lay the foundations for quantum network architectures.”

Veni, Vidi
Vici is one of the largest person-centred scientific grants in the Netherlands for senior researchers. Last week, 34 Vici grants were awarded, five of which went to TU Delft, the highest number among Dutch universities. There were 266 applications representing a success rate of 13%. The M/F ratio worked out favourably for the men at 18 versus 16, but the success rate was higher for the women (16% versus 11%).

Along with the Veni and Vidi grants, the Vici funding is part of the NWO Talent Programme and comprises the science domains of Exact and Natural Sciences (Stephanie Wehner and Simon Gröblacher), Engineering and Applied Sciences (Valeria Garbin and Atsushi Urakawa), Social Sciences and Humanities (Ruth Mugge), and Care Research and Medical Sciences.

Vici is awarded to senior researchers who have demonstrated their ability to successfully develop their own innovative line of research and in doing so, have mentored young researchers. The Vici grant also enables researchers to further develop their research group, often in anticipation of a structural professorship position, should they not already have a professorship.