For the next six years, their project “Diamond Quantum devices and biology” (BioQ) will be supported with 10.3 million Euro. Synergy Grants have been issued for the first time in 2012 and represent the most highly endowed funding instrument of the ERC.
As their most important objective, the scientists and their teams want to develop novel imaging and sensing technologies in order to visualize structures and structural changes of single molecules in biological systems. The new technologies will be used to understand quantum features of biology as well as to create novel quantum devices. Colour-centers in nano-diamonds will make those insights possible.
“The award proves the University of Ulm’s excellence in research. The funding enables us to further develop the trend-setting quantum-microscopy for the research of biological processes. We want to set standards and create an internationally leading center in this field”, says Professor Karl Joachim Ebeling, President of the University of Ulm. Professor Martin Plenio, speaker of the BioQ project, is also pleased with the success: “The generous award by the ERC gives us the opportunity to conduct exciting high-risk research.”
BioQ meets all those requirements: The scientists plan to develop new sensing-technologies at the interdisciplinary frontier between physics, chemistry and biology. As highly sensitive quantum sensors, nano-diamonds will make structures and functions of single bio-molecules visible. Molecular processes in living cells will be observable down to the quantum level and with atomic resolution. The new insights that this will bring to molecular scale processes in biology may have a wide-ranging impact. Applications might even include progress in drug-design.
Another focus of the group is on quantum biology: In this currently emerging field of research, scientists investigate the effects of quantum mechanics on biological processes in humans, animals and plants. Quantum effects might indeed be essential ingredients for understanding the high efficiency of photosynthesis, the mechanisms underlying the olfactory sense or the avian compass. These are just a few examples of biological phenomena for which the BioQ- team will aim to understand the complex interplay between different factors such as quantum dynamics and thermal fluctuations.
In a third project line, the BioQ-project plans to bring together the ability of biological systems for self-assembly and the opportunities for controlled quantum dynamics offered by nano-diamonds to develop sensors and quantum-nanomaterials. Their functions will benefit from quantum-effects. These novel devices are expected to work at room temperature and under warm, wet and noisy conditions – an extraordinary challenge. Beyond sensing, a field of application for such devices could be the realization of quantum simulators that would enable the exploration of complex quantum phenomena.
The objectives of BioQ are ambitious; the scientist’s reputation is excellent: “We are a really interdisciplinary group and each team must make their contribution to lead the project to success. Only as a team, we can achieve our aims”, says Martin Plenio. The director of the University of Ulm’s Institute of Theoretical Physics is a worldwide leading scientist in quantum information theory. Furthermore, with his colleague Professor Susana Huelga, Plenio has conducted fundamental research in the field of quantum effects in biological systems. The physicist holds a prestigious Alexander von Humboldt-professorship at the University of Ulm.
Professor Fedor Jelezko, director of the Institute of Quantum Optics, makes the control of single atomic scale systems in solid state environments possible. Coherent control techniques similar to nuclear magnetic resonance are combined with ultrasensitive optical detection of single atoms. The focus of his pioneering work is on extremely pure, artificially produced diamonds. Jelezko’s research is essential for highly precise sensors and new imaging-technologies.Professor Tanja Weil heads the institute of Organic Chemistry III and enriches BioQ with her knowledge of individually designed biological macromolecules and their interplay with cells. “How do nanomaterials such as nanodiamonds interact with cells? And how can they be transported to a target-area and linked to biological structures?” are further important research questions of Tanja Weil.
The intended founding of an institute of Quantum microscopy will further establish BioQ’s research foci at the University of Ulm.
Set up in 2007 by the European Union, the ERC aims to stimulate scientific excellence in Europe by encouraging competition for funding between the very best, creative researchers of any nationality and age. Since its launch, the ERC has funded over 2 500 researchers and their frontier research projects across Europe. The ERC operates according to an "investigator-driven", or "bottom-up", approach, allowing researchers to identify new opportunities in all fields of research (Physical Sciences and Engineering, Life Sciences, and Social Sciences and Humanities). It has also become a benchmark of the competitiveness of national research systems and complements existing funding schemes at national and European levels.
The ERC, which is the newest component of the EU's Seventh Research Framework Programme, has a total budget of €7.5 billion from 2007 to 2013. Last year, the European Commission proposed a substantial increase in the ERC's budget for 2014 to 2020 under the new framework programme ('Horizon 2020').Further information:
Willi Baur | idw
Lasagni awarded with Materials Science and Technology Prize 2017
09.10.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Werkstoff- und Strahltechnik IWS
Eduard Arzt receives highest award from German Materials Society
21.09.2017 | INM - Leibniz-Institut für Neue Materialien gGmbH
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research