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This summer, The NWO Domain Board Science approved 21 grant applications in the Open Competition Domain Science-XL programme (ENW-XL). Together, the projects have been granted about 60 million euros. Four of the projects involve IoP physicists.

Curiosity-driven, fundamental research is necessary for innovations that make society economically successful and socially resilient. The ENW XL-grant gives researchers the opportunity and freedom to start, strengthen or expand excellent, challenging and innovative lines of research.

Quantum tools for searches for new laws of physics in atoms and molecules

The known laws of physics such as those of quantum mechanics and Einstein’s theory of relativity have proven to be very successful. At the same time, science is faced with mysterious observations that point to the existence of (yet undiscovered) higher laws of physics, including possible new particles and forces of nature. A consortium of researchers of VU and UvA will deploy quantum technology for extremely precise investigations of single atoms and molecules, for which very accurate theoretical predictions exist. In this way, both the known and the unknown laws of physics will be explored, and with far greater precision than before.

Among others, this consortium led by Jeroen Koelemeij (VU), involves UvA-IoP physicists Rene Gerritsma and Arghavan Safavi-Naini.

Using cold molecules to search for fundamental asymmetry

By performing an extremely sensitive measurement on a slow and cold molecular beam, researchers will put the Standard Model of particle physics to the test. This is needed because the model fails to explain how we (and all the matter around us) have emerged from the Big Bang. There is a good chance that we find a first sign of asymmetry reflected in the properties of a fundamental point particle: the electron.

Jordy de Vries (UvA-IoP) is one of the researchers involved in this project, led by Steven Hoekstra (RUG and Nikhef).

Two projects led by UvA scientists

Two other awarded programs led by UvA researchers are described in more detail in separate news items: