Three NanoFront PIs awarded with NWO-Vidi grants


NWO has decided to award Vidi grants of 800,000 euros each to NanoFront PIs Luca Giomi, Simon Gröblacher, and Hyun Youk. Vidi is aimed at excellent researchers who have successfully carried out research after obtaining their PhD. They can use the grant over a period of five years to build their own research group and embark on innovative lines of research.

Luca Giomi, Leiden Institute of Physics
From active matter to artificial cells: a mechanical insight into the fabric of life

The goal of the Giomi’s research is to theoretically investigate an artificial cell-like structure to understand how mechanical functionality emerges in living matter. Living cells are capable of astonishing mechanical functionalities. They can deform spontaneously or, in response to environmental stimuli, move in a fluid or on a substrate and generate enough force to split themselves in two, while remaining alive. These unique properties are possible because the building blocks that form the mechanical apparatus of the cell are active: they are able to transform stored or ambient energy into mechanical work. 

But how does functionality emerge from mechanical activity? In order to address this question, Giomi will focus on an artificial cell-like structure consisting of a lipid vesicle enclosing an active liquid crystal that performs the functions of the cytoskeleton. Using this active prototype cell as a model system, he will shed light on the complex mechanical properties that characterize the “fabric of life”.

Simon Gröblacher, Delft University of Technology - Quantum Nanoscience
Mechanical vibrations on a quantum chip

Although mechanical vibrations (phonons) are a promising candidate to store and transmit quantum information, obtaining full quantum control over them remains an elusive goal. By using specially designed optomechanical crystals Groeblacher and his team are trying to overcome these limitations and couple phonons to optical and microwave light particles (photons) on a chip.

Hyun Youk, Delft University of Technology - Bionanoscience
Building life brick-by-brick 

Complex animals arise from simple molecules. How physics allows complex life forms to emerge from simple molecules is a mystery. The researchers will address this question by gluing together molecules and cells, one-by-one, to build living structures.