Personal Marie Curie grant for three TU/e researchers

TU/e Cursor 1 March 2017

Three TU/e researchers have been awarded a personal ‘Marie Curie grant’ from the European subsidy program Horizon 2020. The grant is worth nearly 166,000 euros per person for two years. The projects concern the development of semi-conductive plastic, the formation of magnetite and the self-assembly of supramolecular building blocks.

Officially, the grants are classified as Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (SKCA) by Horizon 2020, the European Commission’s current subsidy program. Each grant, an Individual Fellowship, amounts to nearly 166,000 euros for two years. This is comparable in size with the Dutch Veni subsidies from NWO, which come to 250,000 euros for three years. The three winning TU/e research projects are summarized below.

Grasping the interaction of proteins
Dr. Miguel Aleman Garcia (supervisor: prof.dr.ir. Luc Brunsveld) – BMT
This project focuses on the building of complex supramolecular structures. Miguel Aleman Garcia will be combining self-building disc-shaped molecules into long wires with the goal of binding proteins and pieces of DNA and RNA onto them. In this way, he wants to influence the behavior and activation of specific proteins. The objective is to expose the complex interaction between proteins in our cells in the hope, for instance, of gaining more insight into the origin of diseases.

Forming magnetite on video
Dr. Joe Patterson (supervisor: prof.dr. Nico Sommerdijk) – CE
Magnetite – the most magnetic material that occurs naturally on Earth – is formed by certain bacteria in a process known as biomineralization. Joe Patterson will be simulating this process and recording it with a state-of-the-art microscopy technique, Liquid Phase Electron Microscopy. This will enable the formation of magnetite to be precisely monitored at nanoscale in real-time using video. The project could help improving the production processes of artificial magnetite, which is used for various applications like water purification, biomedicines and data storage.

Semiconducting plastic
Dr. Mengmeng Li (supervisor: prof.dr.ir. René Janssen) – CE
Semiconductors made of plastic are cheap and easy to produce, and are therefore highly promising as an application in solar cells and transistors, among other things. However, the yield is not yet up to the level of current commercial semiconductor materials, like silicon. Mengmeng Li hopes to find out more about the mechanism of charge transport in such types of plastic in order to boost their performance.