ERC Advanced Grants for Delft/QN PI Yuli Nazarov and LION PI Alexey Boyarsky


By: TUDelft/TNW and LION/EA

Two Casimir PI's, Delft PI Yuli Nazarov and Leiden PI Alexey Boyarsky, each have been awarded an ERC Advanced Grant.

Yuli Nazarov of the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience (Applied Sciences) will receive an ERC Advanced Grant of €1.5 million for his research proposal on HITSUPERJU (Higher-dimensional topological solids realized with multi-terminal superconducting junctions). 
His project focuses on topological materials: materials that exhibit the properties of conductors and insulators simultaneously in certain states. Topological materials were only discovered relatively recently, and they have since become a hot topic in the world of solid-state physics. These exotic materials are fundamentally interesting and also hold promise for concrete applications (such as a quantum computer based on Majorana fermions). However, they are very difficult to prepare and control. Yet some properties of topological materials can be closely simulated using a multi-terminal superconducting junction. Nazarov will put together a team of theorists to investigate this and formulate concrete suggestions for experiments and applications.

Leiden physicist Alexey Boyarsky has been awarded an ERC Advanced Grant to research an extension of the standard model of particle physics. He shares the grant with research groups from Lausanne and Copenhagen. Boyarsky and his colleagues from the Technical University of Lausanne and the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen aim to create an extension of the so-called standard model of particle physics, which in its current form is inconsistent with some observations in the Universe, like the presence of dark matter or the large dominance of matter over antimatter.

One of the peculiar features of the standard model is that it only contains left-handed neutrinos. This is an important aspect, because these lightweight particles played a major role in the evolution of the Universe during the period right after the Big Bang. The international collaboration now wants to investigate an extension with right-handed neutrinos.

The team will make predictions about the signatures that scientists might see in their data obtained from both particle accelerators and telescopes directed at far away galaxies. If those signatures would indeed be visible, it means the confirmation of the team’s proposal. In that case, the problems that physicists have with the standard model are solved.

Aside from making theoretical models, Boyarsky will analyze observational telescope data himself as well. He needs to be patient, though, for any confirmation from particle accelerators, as his recently endorsed SHiP experiment won’t start until 2020.