Five Veni grants: from energy storage to artificial neurons

July 16, 2019

The talented young researchers from TU/e receive 250.000 euro each

Five talented TU/e researchers have received a Veni grant worth up to 250,000 euros. This was announced today by the Dutch Research Council (NWO). The winners are Antoni Forner-Cuenca, Lenneke Kuijer, Erik Bekkers, Weiming Yao and Anat Akiva.

They perform research on large-scale energy storage, anticipating on technological developments in the design process, Artificial Intelligence to better analyze blood vessel networks, photonics in artificial neurons and the development of ‘bone-on-a-chip’ to investigate bone formation.

The five winners and TU/e project:


Architected electrodes – from computer to battery 

Antoni Forner-Cuenca (department of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry)

Large-scale energy storage is essential to accelerate the integration of intermittent renewable sources. Electrochemical technologies, such as redox flow batteries, are promising but elevated costs hinder commercialization. Forner-Cuenca will design and synthesize novel electrodes with architected microstructures. These highly organized structures strongly enhance the performance of electrochemical storage systems. He uses a combination of computer simulations and experiments to do so.


Staying on top of smart technologies

Lenneke Kuijer (department of Industrial Design)

The rise of smart technologies has both pros and cons. This research combines sociology and design research to develop a new theory. With this theory, Kuijer would like to better understand the changing role of smart technologies in everyday life. Her reseearch will help smart technology developers to anticipate for future opportunities and risks during the design process.

Context-aware Artificial Intelligence in medical image analysis

Erik Bekkers (department of Mathematics and Computer Science)

The accurate mapping and analysis of patient-specific vascular networks is a complex task that is of great importance in medical diagnostics and surgery planning. Bekkers will enable systems with artificial intelligence to perform this task by equipping them with a sense of continuity, context, and hierarchy.

Light up the brain: accelerating AI research with integrated photonics

Weiming Yao (department of Electrical Engineering)

Artificial intelligence impacts many areas of our modern lives. Neural networks play a key role but computation with electronic hardware is time and energy consuming. Weiming Yao investigates how artificial neurons can be realized in integrated photonics, possibly leading to faster and more efficient hardware for neural computation.

The other way: investigating an alternative mechanism for bone formation

Anat Akiva (department of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry)

Although bone is a vital organ, little is understood on its formation processes. By building “bone on a chip”, Akiva will investigate the bio-chemical processes that control bone mineralization. In particular, she looks at the role of blood plasma in this process. Her research can lead to new bone disease treatments.

About the veni-grants

This year, NWO has awarded a total of 166 Veni’s, an award rate of 14%. With the annual Veni grant, NWO encourages promising young researchers to further develop their research idea during a period of three years. In this way, NWO stimulates curiosity-driven and innovative research.

Media contact

Hilde van Genugten - de Laat
(Science Information Officer)