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The project selected will receive 2.5 million euros EU funding and run for five years (late 2016-2021).
UPV/EHU Professor Ángel Rubio, leader of the Nano-bio Spectroscopy Group and Director of the Theory Department of the Max Plank Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter at Hamburg, has received, for the second time running, one of the prestigious ERC Advanced Grants, awarded by the European Research Council. The project selected, Quantum Spectroscopy: exploring new states of matter out of equilibrium, will receive 2.5 million euros EU funding and run for five years (late 2016-2021).
The project aims to develop a new theoretical formalism that allows quantum nature of photons to be treated in situations that dramatically alter the properties of materials and molecules and may induce new collective behaviour of matter unknown as yet. Like this “we intend to control and alter the chemical reactions in complex systems (materials, biomolecules, nanostructures) and open the door to discovering new states of matter”, explains Ángel Rubio. “It is a completely basic research project, with very ambitious goals, that have an extensive scope and impact in different areas of knowledge, not only in physics, chemistry, biology and materials science but also in quantum information and computing”, he adds. In fact, the final purpose is “to formulate a theoretical framework that can bring us closer to distinguishing and identifying new states of matter, characterising their properties and addressing their possible applications. We want to open a window onto our knowledge of matter”.
These prestigious grants from the European Research Council are only awarded to the most prominent European scientists and the most cutting-edge projects, capable of responding to new and momentous challenges at the frontiers of knowledge. The funding awarded at this edition of the ERC Advanced Grants, for a total of 647 million euros, will enable researchers to devote themselves to developing their most promising ideas and move forward highly innovative research that might potentially have an impact on science itself, and on society. On this occasion, 1,953 proposals were presented, of which only 277, a little over 14%, were approved.
“The basic idea of the project is to treat the entire system of particles and photons as a quantum fluid (through what is known as quantum electrodynamics theory (QED). In this, the particles are represented by a charge current and the photons by a classical electromagnetic field that acts on the current in a very complex manner. The advantage of this reformulation of the coupled electron-photon problem is that it allows for approximations that treat photons and particles on an equal footing. In this way, we can come up with new simulation techniques that do not neglect the photons while still being simple enough to be practical and applicable to the exploration of new and fascinating states of matter”, the researcher explains.
Professor Rubio received his first ERC Advanced Grant (which concluded in late March this year) in 2011, for a basic research project linked to modelling, characterisation and design of new materials for energy applications, using nanostructures and biomolecules.