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In the last round in its current form, NWO has allocated a total of EUR 10 million to five new Physics Vrije Programma’s. UvA physicists have been very successful in this round, being involved in three out of the five awarded proposals.

Each of the successful programmes is a collaboration involving multiple research universities and institutions, and will last longer than five years. The awarded programmes span a range of topics from particle physics and dark matter to gravitational wave physics and the physics of ultracold atoms, ions and molecules.

The Hidden Universe of Weakly Interacting Particles

The programme 'The Hidden Universe of Weakly Interacting Particles' is a collaboration between the University of Amsterdam, Nikhef, Radboud University, Leiden University and Utrecht University. The applicants for the programme include Prof. Paul de Jong (main applicant) and Prof. Patrick Decowski  of the UvA Institute of Physics and Nikhef.

The programme will investigate the properties of the most elusive particles in our universe – neutrinos and dark matter – by means of the experiments KM3NeT, XENONnT and SHiP combined with theoretical modelling.

Gravitational Waves: A New Road to Fundamental Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology

What is the nature and structure of some of the most astonishing objects in the universe like black holes and neutron stars and what can those tell us? The first revolutionary direct detections of gravitational waves having been achieved, now is the moment to embark upon this exciting journey of discovery.

A collaboration between Nikhef, the University of Amsterdam, Utrecht University, Radboud University, the University of Groningen, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Maastricht University and Eindhoven University of Technology will conduct this programme titled 'Gravitational Waves: A New Road to Fundamental Physics, Astrophysics and Cosmology'. The programme's main applicant is Prof. Frank Linde of Nikhef and the UvA Institute of Physics.

Atomic Quantum Simulators 2.0: Taming Long-range Interactions

Researchers in this programme will cool atoms, ions and molecules to a near-zero temperature, where quantum mechanics reigns. Using these particles like LEGO blocks, they will assemble artificial quantum materials in order to induce behaviours that go beyond currently used materials. The knowledge gained will contribute to both chemistry and materials science.

The main applicant for this programme is Prof. Florian Schreck of the UvA Institute of Physics. The collaboration consists of partners from  the University of Amsterdam, Radboud University, Utrecht University and Eindhoven University of Technology.

Vrije Programma's

In the Vrije Programma's of NWO Physics, physicists from different Dutch knowledge institutions join forces in specific areas of research in which Dutch physics excels internationally and for which there is a manifest scientific and/or societal interest. The new research programmes should provide an essential understanding of recently discovered phenomena and, in some cases, insight into new technologies as well. With its Vrije Programma's funding instrument, NWO Physics has had two objectives: to achieve the highest possible quality in physics research in the Netherlands and to focus on scientific topics by bundling research activities. The five NWO Physics Vrije Programma’s that were awarded in this round will be the last ones to benefit from this funding instrument as the Vrije Programma's will be replaced by the new open competitions ENW-KLEIN and ENW-GROOT.