Awards

# Four Consolidator Grants for LMU

München, 12/01/2017

The European Research Council (ERC) has announced the award of four generously endowed Consolidator Grants to established researchers at LMU.

Proposals submitted by four researchers – Alexander Högele, Olaf Hohm, Konstantinos Panagiotou and Lode Pollet – for projects that will be carried out at LMU have won ERC Consolidator Grants, each of which is worth up to 2 million euros over period of 5 years. Notably, both Alexander Högele and Lode Pollet have previously received ERC Starting Grants from the ERC (see below).This corresponds to a success rate of 40% for LMU submissions, which is significantly higher than the overall figure of approximately 13% for this latest round of awards.

Consolidator Grants are designed to enable excellent young talents to build on their past record for innovative research by providing generous long-term funding for ground-breaking projects in their respective fields. The winning projects are chosen solely on the basis of the scientific record of the applicant and the quality of the project proposed.

**Brief descriptions of each of the successful LMU projects are provided below**:

Innovative nanomaterials exhibit highly unusual chemical and physical properties, which are of great interest for a variety of technological applications. **Alexander Högele** (LMU‘s Faculty of Physics) leads a research group in the field of nanophotonics. Consequently, his work focuses on the development of novel nanomaterials with exceptional optical characteristics. In 2013 he received an ERC Starting Grant for a project that was devoted to the investigation of carbon nanotubes. These materials have a broad range of potential applications in areas such as the realization of eavesdropping-proof quantum communication. With the funding provided by the new ERC Consolidator Grant, Högele will explore the potential uses of “Layered Semiconductors and Hybrid Systems for Quantum Optics and Opto-valleytronics”. The semiconductors referred to in the project’s title are materials made up of ultrathin layers of compounds known as transition-metal dichalcogenides. Like carbon nanotubes, these atomically thin materials are optically active, yet they interact with light in a polarization-selective manner. They can therefore serve as the basis for a novel type of quantum-optical interface where spin- and valley-polarized electrons interact with circularly polarized photons. Such a coupling device would open a route to novel applications in quantum optics and opto-valleytronics.

For more information on Alexander Högele's research, see:

What happened in the initial instants after the Big Bang that gave birth to the Universe? In order to answer this question, cosmologists make use of constraints based on astronomical observations, as well as experimental approaches, and theoretical models and calculations. Dr. **Olaf Hohm**, who is currently at Stony Brook University in New York State and was a Research Associate at the Arnold Sommerfeld Center for Theoretical Physics at LMU from 2011 to 2013, approaches the problem from the perspective of string theory. In a nutshell, string theory hypothesizes that – very roughly speaking – all matter is composed of the minuscule strings, which vibrate like the plucked or bowed strings of a musical instrument. This hypothesis also entails the assumption that the Universe has nine spatial dimensions (six of which are imperceptible because they are compressed together) and one time dimension. In his Consolidator project, entitled “Duality Symmetries, Higher Derivatives, and their Applications in Cosmology”, Hohm plans to develop a computational approach based on string theory that makes it possible to answer questions relating to the very early history of the Universe.

**Konstantinos Panagiotou** Konstantinos Panagiotou is Professor of Applied Mathematics in the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Statistics at LMU, and his particular interests lie in the fields of discrete mathematics and theoretical informatics. He has now received an ERC Consolidator Grant for a project relating to problems in graph theory. In mathematical terms, a graph is a structure which is made up of nodes and the links that connect them. Perhaps not surprisingly, the tenets of graph theory allow one to solve everyday problems in areas such as the dynamics and logistics of networks, be they electrical grids, communication and supply systems, or social networks. In his ERC project on Phase Transitions in Random Constraint Satisfaction Problems, he hopes to elucidate (i) why random discrete structures often undergo phase transitions (where small changes in a given parameter have far-reaching effects on the system as a whole) and (ii) why the random variables in such systems often take values that represent only a small subset of those provided by the underlying statistical distribution. The results promise to open new perspectives in computer science and statistical physics.

For more information on Konstantinos Panagiotou's research, see:

Quantum Simulators are systems of correlated quantum particles with experimentally tunable parameters used to solve otherwise intractable computational problems. They provide a means of investigating fundamental but complex physical processes which are at the heart of various modern technologies. This is the research field of **Lode Pollet**, a Professor of Functional Nanosystems in the Faculty of Physics at the LMU and recipient of an ERC Starting Grant in 2012. The current project “Quantum Simulation of Strongly Correlated Systems”, for which he has been awarded an ERC Consolidator Grant, extends the previous work on quantum simulation. It aims to develop novel numerical approaches to studying strongly-correlated quantum phases for challenging systems typically found in current cold atom physics.

For more information on Lode Pollet's research, see: