15 December 2016 2 ERC Consolidator Grants for ICFO Group Leaders

Professors Gerasimos Konstantatos and Frank Koppens granted ERC Consolidator Grants for young research leaders. On December 13th, the ERC announced the awarding of its Consolidator Grants to 314 top researchers in Europe. The funding, worth a total of €605 million, will give researchers a chance to have far-reaching impact on science and beyond. The grants fall under the Excellent Science pillar of Horizon 2020, the EU´s research and innovation programme.

In this call, two ICFO Group Leaders have been successful in their grant proposals. ICREA Professors at ICFO Gerasimos Konstantatos and Frank Koppens have both been awarded Consolidator Grants for their projects HEINSOL and TOPONANOP respectively.

Prof Konstantatos´ project, HEINSOL, aims to develop the first highly efficient, robust solution processed solar cell platform based on environmentally friendly, Earth abundant materials. To achieve this, HEINSOL undertakes a hierarchical approach to tailor the opto-electronic properties of inorganic NCs, starting from the control of composition and their properties at the atomic level and following up with further tailoring their optoelectronic properties via interactions at the supra-nanocrystalline level. The final goal is to introduce a new architectural platform for solution processed solar cells that will truly expand the material availability for the Photovoltaic Industry.

Prof. Koppens´ TOPONANOP project, its vision is to exploit the extraordinary topological properties of novel quantum materials in order to control light at the nanoscale in a radically new way. One of the main objectives is to generate non-reciprocal nanoscale optical fields (plasmons) that propagate in only one direction and implement topologically protected plasmons such that they move around defects and corners. At the same time, visualizing and controlling electromagnetic excitations will be used as a tool to unravel extraordinary phenomena in exotic quantum materials. Topological nano-photonics is a new paradigm for novel quantum materials and will enable novel future applications in miniaturized photonic isolators, diodes and logic circuits and could lead to completely new concepts for communication systems, optical transistors and optical information processing.

For this call, the ERC has evaluated 2,274 research proposals, out of which 13.8% have been selected for funding. As Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, states ‘In 2016 the demand for this type of ERC funding increased again. It testifies to the need for more funding for curiosity-driven research in Europe. The grantees who succeeded in this tough competition will enjoy full freedom and flexibility, important characteristics of ERC grants, to contribute to major advances in science.’