Nieke Roos
12 December 2019

The European Research Council (ERC) has announced the winners of its latest Consolidator Grant competition. Among the 301 lucky scientists and scholars are Raphael Jungers from KU Leuven, Clement Merckling from Imec, Mariëlle Stoelinga from University of Twente, Koen Vandewal from University of Hasselt and Stefan Witte from the Advanced Research Center for Nanolithography. Funding for these researchers, part of the Horizon 2020 program, is worth a total of 600 million euros. This support enables the new grantees to strengthen their own research lines.

UT Marielle Stoelinga
Mariëlle Stoelinga was awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant for her project “Caesar: integrating safety and cybersecurity through stochastic model checking”. Credit: University of Twente

In her project entitled “Caesar: integrating safety and cybersecurity through stochastic model checking”, UT professor Stoelinga aims to develop a new and superior model for making improved and integrated assessments that take both safety and security risks into account. It could be applied, for instance, to the Internet of Things, as well as emerging technologies such as drones or self-driving cars. KU Leuven’s Jungers was selected for his project “Learning to control”, in which he’s going to look at smart and data-driven formal methods for cyber-physical systems control.

Imec Clement Merckling
Clement Merckling is looking to open the path to ‘stable’ quantum devices.

Imec’s Meckling has been awarded a Consolidator Grant for working out his project called “Notice”. The ground-breaking idea of this project is the research of novel oxides and experimental realization of topological interfaces to generate Majorana fermions that will lead to fault-tolerant qubits devices – building blocks of the next-generation quantum computers. These “Majorana qubits” are expected to be immune to decoherence – a phenomenon that induces the loss of quantum information. UHasselt’s Vandewal’s project is to investigate charge-transfer states for high-performance organic electronics.

ARCNL Stefan Witte
Stefan Witte aims to make 3D images with a resolution well beyond what optical microscopes can achieve. Credit: ARCNL

In the project entitled “Seeing the invisible: light-based 3D imaging of opaque nanostructures”, ARCNL group leader Witte will use the ERC Consolidator Grant to develop new imaging methods that will enable high-resolution imaging of nanostructures. These form the basis of the ICs found in modern electronic devices such as smartphones, but as they become smaller and more complex, accurate characterization of their structure and function becomes challenging. Using soft-X-ray radiation, as well as acoustic waves, produced by ultrafast laser pulses, Witte aims to make 3D images with a resolution well beyond what optical microscopes can achieve, even for structures that are completely opaque to visible light.


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The ERC Consolidator Grants are awarded to outstanding researchers of any nationality and age, with at least seven and up to twelve years of experience after PhD and a scientific track record showing great promise. Research must be conducted in a public or private research organization located in one of the EU member states or associated countries. The funding, averaging to 2 million euros per grant, is provided for up to five years and mostly covers the employment of researchers and other staff to consolidate the grantees’ teams.