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05-02-2018 | ©NASA/JPL-Caltech

TRAPPIST-1: findings show exoplanets made of rock and water

In 2016, a team of researchers led by EU-funded astronomer Michaël Gillon at the University of Liège, Belgium, discovered three temperate Earth-sized planets orbiting TRAPPIST-1, an ultra-cool dwarf star just 40 light years from Earth. A few months later, Gillon surprised the world with the discovery of a whole planetary system made of a total of seven planets around this star. A set of new studies reveals today the nature and composition of the planets, shedding light on their potential habitability.

11-01-2018 | Artist's impression of PicSat in orbit around the Earth. PicSat rendering © Lesia / Observatoire de Paris; Background image T. Pesquet ESA / NASA

Tiny, but not afraid of the big

If you raise your eyes to the sky, you won't see it but you might sense it passing by. On 12 January just before sunrise in Europe, PicSat, a cube satellite as big as a shoebox and barely as heavy as a brick, will be launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India. Supported with a grant from the European Research Council, it is the first nanosatellite to embark on one of the greatest space adventures: exploring, from afar, an exoplanet.

03-08-2017 | Portrait ©B. Eymann - Académie des sciences

Always on call: how does the immune system perform?

Our immune system recognizes and fights infections in a constantly changing environment, where new pathogenic threats emerge. At the crossroad between physics and biology, Prof. Aleksandra Walczak investigates the fascinating process that allows the immune system to be always ready to adapt and evolve to face new dangers.

31-07-2017 | Illustration © Frank Noé and Thomas Splettstößer, SCIstyle.com

Secrets of protein interactions unveiled

How do proteins trigger complex signal processing tasks, such as neurotransmission, in cells? Thanks to the development of innovative molecular simulation techniques, this ERC-funded project has brought new insights into the transmission of messages inside and between cells.

31-05-2017 | Supermassive black holes with masses of about a billion times that of the sun existed by about 12.8 billion years ago. Photo @istockphoto.com

EARLY BLACK HOLES MAY HAVE GROWN IN FITS AND SPURTS

A team of female scientists, including ERC grantee Dr Raffaella Schneider from Sapienza University in Italy found how black holes appeared and grew in the early universe. The lead author of the study was Edwige Pezzulli, a PhD student member of Dr Schneider's ERC-funded team.

Supermassive black holes with masses of about a billion times that of the sun existed by about 12.8 billion years ago.

11-05-2017 | Portrait © Jan-Olof Yxell | Illustration: Conducting silk fibre on a washing line © Jason Ryan & Anja

High Energy Fashion

“The internet of things” is said to be the next big frontier for technology firms. A variety of small devices are always on and always connected. These devices permeate our lives at an ever increasing rate, bringing with them a demand for new and innovative mobile energy sources. One of the most promising candidates is thermoelectric power; a technology that would allow us to harvest one of the most ubiquitous energy sources available to us, our body heat.

04-05-2017 | Portrait: © QuTech | Illustration: Laser setup. Lasers are used to control and readout the electron in the defect center in diamond. The electron serves as an interface between nuclear spins and photons.© Klapstuk Studio

Critical challenges in quantum applications

After the birth of quantum mechanics in the early 20th century, this branch of physics evolved from being primarily the conceptual framework for the description of subatomic particle phenomena to providing inspiration for new technological applications. New hybrid architecture of quantum systems is now being developed in order to foster the implementation of cutting-edge quantum technologies.

02-05-2017 | © picture

Chemical reactions step by step

Chemical reactions are at the core of industrial processes. They are provoked to produce new molecules that will confer the desired properties to products from medicine, to cleaning agents or to fuel. With ERC funding, Prof. Jana Roithova has developed a powerful instrument for chemical analysis that could, in the long run, bring completely new ideas or design for chemical production processes.

31-03-2017 | © picture

Two-dimensional materials for a multi-dimensional future

Prof. Nicolosi received a BSc with honors in Chemistry from the University of Catania, Italy, and Ph.D. in Physics from Trinity College Dublin. Today she is Professor of Nanomaterials & Advanced Microscopy at the School of Chemistry, Trinity College Dublin, and principal investigator at the Centers for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices (CRANN) and for Advanced Materials and BioEngineering (AMBER). Her interdisciplinary research focuses on low-dimensional nanomaterials, including graphene. She received three top-up ERC Proof of Concept grants to commercialize her findings.

Originally published in March 2017 as part of the multimedia campaign "ERC - 10 years – 10 portraits."

28-03-2017 | © picture

Nano-motors that open giga-opportunities

Ben Feringa is a Professor in Organic Chemistry at the University of Groningen and the pioneer of rotary molecular motors, the smallest machines in the world of the size of individual molecules.

In 2016, Prof Feringa was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on synthetic chemistry, leading to the design and synthesis of novel molecules and nanomaterials, with machine-like functions. These molecular nanomachines can respond to stimuli from their environment, be employed in the self-assembly of nanostructures or regulate DNA transcription, with potential applications in the medical field and targeted treatments.

Originally published in March 2017 as part of the multimedia campaign "ERC - 10 years – 10 portraits."