Innovative physics receives NWO funding

The NWO Science domain has granted funding for eight proposals in the NWO Natuurkunde Projectruimte, for a total sum of 3,5 million euros. Three out of the eight proposals are from VU physicists.

05/16/2017 | 3:28 PM

The following VU proposals were granted funding:

Juan Rojo: Nuclear Parton Distributions from LHC Data
Building upon extensive expertise in the determination of proton structure, this project uses machine learning methods to achieve a state-of-the-art determination of nuclear parton distribution functions from proton-lead collisions at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The goal is to gain more insight into cold nuclear matter and provide essential input for the heavy ion program of the LHC.

Wim Vassen: Probing new physics with ultracold helium atoms
With atom interferometry, with Helium atoms cooled to Bose-Einstein condensation, this project aims to test the theory of Quantum Electrodynamics (QED) at its limits in search for physics beyond the Standard Model. The experiments should yield a fivefold accuracy improvement of the dimensionless fine structure constant ╬▒, which is important or testing the Standard Model.

Erwin Peterman and Gijs Wuite: Pump up the volume: unravelling intrinsically disordered regions of the protein BRCA2 with Acoustic Force Spectroscopy 
The VU physicists, together with Claire Wyman (Erasmus Medical Centre), combine in this project state-of-the-art expertise in protein chemistry at Erasmus MC with Acoustic Force Spectroscopy developed at the VU, to unravel how (un)folding and conformational changes in the protein product of breast cancer gene BRCA2 affect its interaction with other proteins.

NWO Natuurkunde Projectruimte is a granting instrument for small scale projects that propose fundamental physics research that is innovative and has a scientific, industrial or social urgency.

Atomic Force Spectroscopy

(A) Schematic of Acoustic Force Spectroscopy. Left: optical layout; right: flow cell equipped with piezo element that acts as a resonator for ultrasound waves. (B) Left: photograph of an actual resonator / flow cell. Quarter (US) shown for size comparison. Right: bright-field microscope view of many surface-tethered microspheres actuated by acoustic forces. (C) Cartoon of the proposed experiment: the unfolding of a single BRCA2 protein (thick black curve) by acoustic forces (grey arrow).