Prizes and Grants 2013

ERC Consolidator grant

Prof. Davide Iannuzzi
(2.000.000 euro) (November 2013)


Dr. Wouter Roos: Boarding cells by imaging viral nanopirates
In spite of all the immune mechanisms of cells, viruses are highly successful in penetrating cells. Using advanced atomic force and light microscopes the physicists will study this process at the molecular scale. This will ultimately clarify how these viral nanopirates board cells so effectively. (800.000 euro) (May 2013)


Dr. Miroslav Kloz: Observing molecular core of life in action with a laser
By designed ultra-short light pulses (bio-)molecules can be interrogated in a very exhausting way, recording not only their bonding and 3D-structure, but also how this structure changes during (bio)chemical reactions.  (250.000 euro) (July 2013)

TA-COAST subsidy

Dr. Freek Ariese: New analyse methods for micro particles 

Analysis of individual cells by Flow Cytometry (FC) is an established approach for medical diagnosis. So far, the technique has largely relied on the measurement of fluorescently labelled cells. The time has now come to bring particle flow analysis to a next level and a consortium was assembled of three academic partners with complementary expertise (1. medical flow analysis and sorting, 2. laser spectroscopic detection and 3. multidimensional data analysis) and six private partners that will benefit from innovation in particle analysis in 1. Medical, Food, 2. Environment, 3. Drinking water and sewage, 4. Food, 5. Paint, as well as 6. FC instrument manufacturing. The main goals are:

1.            To extend flow analysis to all single cells ranging from blood cells to algae in environmental samples. Even multicellular organisms composed of limited cell numbers can be analysed.

2.            To apply flow analysis to unlabelled man-made artificial particles, such as micro-plastics, by extending the detection arsenal with in-flow Raman spectra, UV induced scatter, as well as off-line identification after sorting.

3.            To analyse and visualise single particles in as many dimensions as can be measured by our new detection methodology, to detect emerging new properties of  cells and/or man-made particles.

4.            To apply FC to a broad range of microparticles in various matrices, and develop a mobile flow analyser for local analysis of e.g. microparticles in the environment or of blood at the bed-side.

(770.000 euro) (September 2013)

ERC Proof of Concept Grant

Prof. Gijs Wuite, Prof. Erwin Peterman and Andrea Candelli
(150.000 euro) (September 2013)


Dr. Jeroen Koelemeij: Time will tell; leads to new physics from a molecular opticalclock
The project proposes to build a novel and versatile molecular clock for which an ultrastable laser is locked to the vibrations of a single ion of molecular hydrogen, H2+. This ion is stored and cooled near absolute zero temperature in an ion trap. One of the goals of the project is to determine at extreme precision the value of the proton-to-electron mass ratio and to search for a possible variation of this fundamental constant of nature. The project targets physics beyond the Standard Model and General Relativity, while the new clock may be used as 'Einstein sensors' for relativistic geodesy. (400.000 euro) (April 2013)

Dr. Wim Vassen: Ultracold helium elevator and interferometer for measuring alpha
The project aims to measure one of the fundamental constants of nature, the fine structure constant alpha, via a measurement of the velocity change of a helium atom, when it absorbs one photon of light. To do this a beam of helium atoms, cooled to a temperature of 0.000001 degree above absolute zero, will be trapped by two counterpropagating laser beams. Quantum physics tells us that the atoms behave as waves at these temperatures and will show interference. From interference patterns a very accurate measurement of alpha is possible. Long-term goal is to use the measured value of alpha to perform the most accurate test of Quantum Electrodynamics. (550.000 euro) (April 2013)

Prof. Kjeld Eikema: Exploring the boundaries of QED with He+"
In this project we will precisely measure the energy structure (ground state) of helium+ ions for the first time, using a unique extreme-ultraviolet frequency comb laser system. The aim is to shed light on a recent and puzzling disagreement in the interpretation of Quantum Electrodynamics (QED) for normal atomic hydrogen, and muonic hydrogen (where the electron in hydrogen is replaced with a 200 times heavier muon). QED is one of the most tested and successful theories in physics. However, if QED is used to explain the energy structure as measured by precision spectroscopy in hydrogen and muonic hydrogen, then this leads to the strange conclusion that the proton size is clearly different in both systems. Because helium+ resembles hydrogen, but with a different nucleus and energy scaling, it will provide vital new input for the QED and proton-size puzzle. (531.000 euro) (April 2013)


Insitute QuantiVision
(1.500.000 euro) (March 2013)

Prof. Roberta Croce: Optimizing light-harvesting with directed evolution" in Meer met minder
(250.000 euro) (September 2013)

European Commission

Biophysics group
2 MEuro for PAPETS In the framework of the European program for Quantum Informatics (STREP) a consortium of 7 European (NL, Germany, UK, Portugal, Italy, Greece, France) research groups (including the VU-Biophysics group) was awarded a grant of 2 MEuro to study quantum effects in biology with a focus on the role of phonons/vibrations in driving fundamental biological processes: the transfer of electronic excitations, electrons, protons (PAPETS). (June 2013)


Wouter Roos en Gijs Wuite:publiek-private samenwerking
(750.00 euro) (Novmeber 2013)

ECHO and STW grant for Marloes Groot
NWO awarded biophysicist Marloes Groot on her spectroscopy and on the imaging research line: Elucidating the role of protein dynamics in the efficiency of biological signal transduction and Optical Bladder Anatomy Mapping and functional Analysis.


Rienk van Grondelle:
• Chinese Academy of Science Fellowships (2013-2014) (30 kEuro)
• Humboldt Feodor Lynen fellowship (2013-2014) (30 kEuro)
• EMBO fellowship for Michal Gwizdala (2013-2015) (130 kEuro)