FAU researchers to receive millions in funding from Brussels

Erlangen receives two international research awards

With a prestigious award and funding amounting to 1.9 million euros, Prof. Dr. Peter Wasserscheid from the Department of Chemical Reaction Engineering at the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) has reason to be pleased. The chemist belongs to the small group of outstanding researchers to be awarded an “Advanced Investigators Grant” from the European Research Council (ERC). Prof. Dr. Vahid Sandoghdar also belongs to this group of honoured researchers. In 2011, the physicist, who is currently still working at ETH Zürich, will move to the Max-Planck Institute in Erlangen and also lecture and research as an Alexander-von-Humboldt Professor at FAU. His scientific research is set to receive 1.9 million euros in funding from the ERC over the next five years.

“Advanced Grants awarded by the ERC are reserved exclusively for groundbreaking research projects deemed of excellence. For this reason, the funding is a tremendous mark of success for FAU in the face of the international competition and an honour for the Engineering of Advanced Materials Cluster of Excellence”, of which Professor Wasserscheid is a member, as the scientific environment is an import criterion in the assessment”, commented Prof. Dr. Karl-Dieter Grüske, rector of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. “We are also very proud of the fact that we can attract a researcher of Professor Sandoghdar’s calibre to Erlangen. I would very much like to congratulate both researchers and their teams.”

Prof. Dr. Peter Wasserscheid (Photo: FAU/Erich Malter)

Prof. Dr. Peter Wasserscheid (Photo: FAU/Erich Malter)

The basis for new energy carriers

Prof. Dr. Peter Wasserscheid’s project will receive 1.9 million euros in funding from the European Union over the next five years. In his project, Wasserscheid and his team are researching reaction accelerators known as catalysts. These are substances that speed up chemical reactions, but remain chemically unchanged at the end of the reaction. The researchers’ aim is to modify catalysts which are already used today by using a thin liquid salt film that produces, for example, fewer by-products during the reaction, or catalysts which can be used for longer periods of time without reducing their effectiveness.

The Erlangen chemical engineers particularly want to focus on dehydrogenation reactions – reactions in which organic molecules release hydrogen. These reactions traditionally play an important role in crude oil processing. However, the method could become increasingly important for power engineering in the future as it enables hydrogen enrichment in organic molecules and the element’s subsequent controlled release – as such it also facilitates the storing of energy which can be made available again at a desired time and place, as required.

Profile: Prof. Dr. Peter Wasserscheid

Peter Wasserscheid’s scientific interest lies in ionic liquids, a substance class with promising properties for innovative and diverse applications. Professor Wasserscheid has been in charge of the Department of Chemical Reaction Engineering at the University of Erlangen since 2003 and has received numerous awards for his scientific research. In 2006 he was awarded the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz Prize, the highest endowed research award in Germany.

Making the weakest light sources visible

Prof. Dr. Vahid Sandoghdar (Photo: privat)

Prof. Dr. Vahid Sandoghdar (Photo: privat)

Prof. Dr. Vahid Sandoghdar’s project will receive around 1.9 million euros in funding over the next five years. The researchers involved in Sandoghdar’s project hope to detect individual ions in a crystal using light for the first time. It has been possible to collect and reproduce individual atoms, molecules and semiconductor quantum dots using optical methods for over two decades. Until now it has only been possible to study ions individually using purpose-built high vacuum traps. This has not yet been possible with ions in crystals because the particles normally shine only very slightly. Sandoghdar and his team want to take on this challenge. The researchers have the benefit of their many years of experience using sensitive measuring techniques on nano particles and molecules.

Ions in solids are interesting for a range of technological applications. By having access to individual particles researchers hope to learn more about their properties. Ions could also be the key to a new system of quantum optical measuring – a basis element of quantum information processing.

Profile: Prof. Dr. Vahid Sandoghdar

Vahid Sandoghdar is one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of nano-optics. In 2011 he will take up his post as one of the directors of the Max-Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Erlangen and at the same time lecture and research as an Alexander -von-Humboldt Professor at FAU. The Humboldt Professor has been awarded around 5 million euros from the highest endowed international research award in Germany.

For further information for the media:

Prof. Dr. Peter Wasserscheid
Tel.: 09131/85-27420

Prof. Dr. Vahid Sandoghdar
Tel.: +41 44 633 4621

uni | media service | research No. 34/2010 of 9.12.2010

Addition information