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Inspired by the country’s cloudy weather, an Irish researcher has developed a new way to increase the efficiency of solar panels – even in the event of overcast skies. With a grant from the European Research Council (ERC), the disruptive technology has increased the viability of effective solar energy collection in northern Europe. The potential of this innovation could be huge given Europe’s growing demand for cost-effective and sustainable energy solutions.
A European bioengineer has pushed the boundaries of cell manipulation by pioneering a new, droplet-based method of study. His innovation, allowing for the highly detailed observation of cells, has resulted in the launch of a spin-off company as well as further research into cell cultures. Fuelled by a European Research Council (ERC) grant, the technology promises to open doors to new applications in pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and medical research.
The human brain is outstanding among mammalian brains, containing around 100 billion neurons (more than the number of stars in the Milky Way) and over 100 trillion connections between them. Yet, when it comes to making decisions, this impressive organ does not prevent us from making errors – even avoidable ones.
Spacecraft follow the same tendency as our computers to become continuously smaller, but more connected. In his ERC grant “NetSat”, Klaus Schilling, from the Zentrum für Telematik in Würzburg, studies control strategies for small pico-satellites in formation, in order to achieve the best performance through their cooperation.
Applied theatre tells a story not for the purposes of entertainment but for social, economic, political or therapeutic reasons. Prof. Matthias Warstat, funded by the ERC, wants to know more about the growth and impact of this form of theatre across the world.
Will spacecraft follow a similar evolution to computers? While information processing in the last century was performed by large mainframe computers, today, networked smart phones dominate the market. In spacecraft engineering a similar paradigm shift is apparent: from traditional single, large, and multifunctional satellites towards groups of very small satellites that cooperate together. Professor Klaus Schilling, in his ERC project “NetSat”, addresses crucial challenges to enable small satellite formations to self-organise. This offers innovative application perspectives in areas like Earth observation, science exploration or telecommunications.
Understanding complex structures means separating irrelevant information to get to something simpler and easier to understand. When you look at something from a distance – although you don’t see all the details, you can still describe what you see. ERC grantee Balázs Szegedy has developed several mathematical tools for providing a compressed yet useful view of complex structures.
Funded by the ERC, Prof. Anna Wienhard studies several new geometric forms that have been discovered over the past 20 years. These structures are closely related to the generalisation of Teichmüller space, which describes how the surface of a pretzel can be endowed with the geometry of an Escher painting.
In the highlands of Asia, an area spanning the mountain regions between the Pamirs and the eastern Himalayas, livelihoods are shaped as much by remoteness as by connectivity. With ERC funding, Dr Martin Saxer intends to shed new light on these areas at the edge of nation-states yet in the centre of geopolitical concerns.
Emulsions play a key role both in natural and industrial processes, as they allow the combination of two liquids that do not normally mix and make the blend stable. Yet, when materials solidify or freeze, the complex interactions that take place and affect the final microstructure of the solidified components, are still poorly understood. ERC grantee Sylvain Deville and his team at CNRS have showed that it is possible to use an optical imaging technique to study the freezing of emulsions while the process takes place, a novel method presented in the prestigious journal Science.