The European Research Council (ERC) announced the winning projects of the 2020 Collaborative Award Program, which aims to solve particularly complex scientific problems. These measures include the IMDEA Nanoscience Program, which aims to analyze the interaction between light and matter, and the CSIC’s study of the impact of cultural artifacts on human thinking, as well as being led by DIPC and the University of the Basque Country. An experiment aimed at exploring the nature of nature. Neutrinos.
In all European Research Council (ERC), This Synergies They are the most competitive, with a success rate of less than 10%.This year, it broke its own record: 440 proposals have been received and selected 34 Together they will get 350 million euros, As ERC reported on Thursday.
This Co-Grant Reward a team composed of two to four outstanding researchers and their teams, who jointly solve extremely complex scientific problems that cannot be solved in other situations, Six-year project For the duration, each person received about ten million euros.
34 co-funding groups Awarded this year They invited 116 principal researchers from 86 universities and research centers in 22 countries/regions in Europe and other parts of the world (such as the United States, Canada, Chile, Japan or Australia).
Spain participated in 7 Among these projects, it is second only to Germany (18), France (13) and the United Kingdom (8). In two of these countries, even though they are coordinated with other European centers, Genome Regulatory Center (GRC): Research on the integration of biochemical and mechanical networks of cell division, and another research on protein organization in cell membranes.
Researchers from University of Barcelona They are also part of the European team, which will analyze the activity of enzymes in human health and sustainable society. Scientists from Europe University of Santiago de Compostela They will manipulate molecular devices on the atomic scale.
Researchers from Spain led three other European projects, second only to Germany (8), France (6) and Switzerland (5).
The Spanish institutions received a total of 11 main investigators, accounting for 9.5% of the total. These figures show the best results of the Spanish physical scientists convened through the Synergy Grant during the European research and innovation program Horizon 2020.
Three projects coordinated by Spain:
Tomato-the interaction of light and matter in seconds
IMDEA Nanoscience (11.7 million euros)
Recreate a studied chemical process with a time resolution of a second. /IMDEA Nanoscience
The purpose of this project is to explore the process that occurs in the interaction between light and organic matter (the so-called molecular organic photoelectron), and the time of this process is unimaginable: Attosecond, Which is one trillionth of a second (10-18 s).
Why is this tiny time scale meaningful? The transfer of photons and light-induced charges in organic matter is a basic process in nature, and the initial process occurs on this scale.An example is Photosynthesis, It is an indispensable substance for living organisms, because it is the first source of oxygen in the atmosphere.
Scientists have been studying how to produce Synthetic material The organic or hybrid nature can replicate photosynthesis and similar electron transfer processes, which may open the way for new devices and applications. However, until now, the development of these technologies has been limited, because their first phase occurs within a billionth of a second, and apart from very small molecules, this time dimension is still hidden.
The project will analyze these unknown initial steps, provide a clear film for electron and charge transport induced by light (visible and ultraviolet) with unprecedented time resolution, and then design molecular materials with improved optoelectronic properties.
For this reason, a consortium composed of two poles has been formed: one in Madrid, led by teachers Fernando Martin (Researcher at IMDEA Nanociencia, Professor of Chemistry and Project Coordinator at the Autonomous University of Madrid) and Nazario Martin (Professor of Chemistry at Complutense University of Madrid, Deputy Director of IMDEA Nanociencia), the other is in Italy, led by Mauro Nisoli from the Politecnico di Milano.
Everyone contributes their own expertise: Nisoli is a laser physicist and a pioneer in the generation and application of ultrashort pulses; Nazario Martín is an organic chemist who is recognized by light An expert in the induction process to synthesize new organic materials. Fernando Martín is a theoretical chemist and a developer of new calculation methods.
Fernando Martín emphasized: “Understanding how light interacts with matter on the scale of one-billionth of a second and how the ultra-fast movement of electrons depends on the molecular structure is an extremely important scientific goal and has opened up new research. field.”
He added: “In particular, we foresee important applications in the research of light guiding processes in various natural and man-made structures, from biologically interesting systems to advanced materials with new functions.”
XSCAPE-Material Thought (10 million Euros)
Advanced Council for Scientific Research (CSIC)
Stonehenge megalithic monument in England. /Trigger
The purpose of the program is to study how the creation of humanized objects, tools and environments can help shape mind Humans: see how Cultural relics They affect the cognitive process.
“We want to know whether the material structure we build is likely to change our way of thinking and attention, so that people’s understanding of changes in material forms in history enables us to understand the emergence and evolution of thought and reason. The project leader explained Say, Boado, CSIC researcher and director of the Santiago de Compostela Heritage Institute (Incipit).
In response, a multidisciplinary team of experts in archaeology, visual science, and cognitive philosophy will seek to use a methodology that combines 41 case studies to test hypotheses of cognitive change based on substance. Optic neuroscience And in Computer model It can simulate the interaction of different individuals in specific situations.
“We intend to conduct the largest active visual perception experiment ever conducted under natural and social conditions; provide the key to understanding the basic principles of guiding cognitive changes based on materiality and the material world; and propose the first comprehensive framework to Understand the powerful system, but not yet fully understood, that humans can make objects through the framework, and at the same time allow us to generate ideas and make us “highlight another participant of CSIC, Luis M. Martínez Otero, From the Institute of Neuroscience of Alicante (hybrid center of CSIC and Miguel Hernández University).
Researcher Andy Clark from the Department of Informatics and Philosophy at the University of Sussex in the UK and Johannes Müller from the Institute of Prehistory and Aboriginal Archaeology at Keele University (Smith University) also participated Up the project. It will last until 2027 and will be developed through field work and experiments in different archaeological contexts from different societies in Europe, India, Africa and South America.
NEXT-BOLD-Find the properties of neutrinos
DIPC and University of the Basque Country (9.3 million euros)
Artist’s depiction of a new type of fluorescent molecule that can decipher the nature of neutrinos. /DIPC
It is an unprecedented experiment to discover the properties of neutrinos by detecting the light emitted by barium atoms.The project was awarded Juan José Gómez Cadenas, Ikerbasque researcher at Donostia International Physics Center (DIPC), Fernando Corsio, Professor of Chemistry at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), Director of Science at Iqbasque, and Professor Roxanne Guenette of Harvard University.
NEXT-BOLD aims to discover Neutrino Is its own antiparticle, so it can answer the question about Origin of the universeIf the same amount of matter and antimatter were eliminated in the first place, why is the former now dominant?
One possible mechanism points to the existence of heavy neutrinos, which are antiparticles themselves and can therefore be decomposed into matter and antimatter. This can be proved by observing a rare nuclear process. Neutrino-free double beta decay, This may occur in some rare isotopes, such as xenon 136.
This Experiment nextLed by Gómez Cadenas, in the underground laboratory in Canfranc, they use high-pressure gas chambers to look for these disintegrations. So far, he has focused on observing the signal emitted by two electrons, which leads to this rare decay, but it is very weak and may be confused with background noise due to the ubiquitous natural radioactivity.
However, if in addition to observing these two electrons, Barium ionIt is also one of the decay products of xenon. It will seek a clear signal and prove through experiments that neutrinos are their own antiparticles.
The challenge in the experiment to determine the barium atom was not considered impossible until recently.However, in the recent collaboration between Cossio and Gómez Cadenas, the magazine published naturalIt has been shown that it is possible to trap barium atoms with molecules that can form supramolecular complexes with barium molecules and provide a clear signal when this happens.
Researchers will design, develop and manufacture a new generation of NEXT detector based on fluorescent molecular indicators and advanced microscope technology, which has the ability to observe barium ions. This experiment will have great potential to discover whether neutrinos are actually their own antiparticles.