ERC Synergy Grants for Laserlab Researchers

In 2012, the European Research Council introduced the Synergy Grant, which is intended to enable researchers from different backgrounds and locations to combine their skills and resources in multidisciplinary projects with a maximum funding of 15 million euros for six years.

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The European Research Council (ERC) has announced that the project TOMATTO – “The ultimate time scale in Organic Molecular opto-electronics, the ATTOsecond”, led by Fernando Martín (IMDEA Nanoscience and Universidad Autonoma de Madrid), Mauro Nisoli (Politecnico di Milano) and Nazario Martín (Universidad Complutense de Madrid) has been awarded a Synergy Grant of almost 12 million euros for the next 6 years.

The ultra-fast motion of electrons which is induced by interaction with light is the basis of the conversion of solar energy into electrical energy. It plays a crucial role in fundamental processes in nature such as photosynthesis, the transport of signals in biological molecules, the mechanisms of DNA damage, and many others. The common denominator in all these processes is the absorption of light and the generation of microscopic electric currents. What happens inside the individual molecules immediately after the interaction with light is still a mystery, because light ini-tiates events that evolve on extremely short time scales, of the order of attoseconds.

TOMATTO aims to film the motion of electrons induced by light in molecules, with an unprecedented temporal resolution. The ultimate goal is to design molecular materials with improved opto-electronic properties. To do this, a new attosecond laboratory at the forefront of the in-ternational arena will be built at the Attosecond Research Centre of the Politecnico di Milano, a new supercomputer incorporating the latest advancements in hardware and software developments will be installed at the Computer Centre of the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, and new opto-electronic organic materials, with still unforeseen capabilities, will be synthesised at Complutense University Madrid. Work will be led by a team of experts in laser technologies, the synthesis of new organic materials, and computational methods.


Fernando Martín García


Mauro Nisoli


Nazario Martín León


One of the lucky teams includes MPQ professor Immanuel Bloch, who, together with his distinguished colleagues Peter Zoller (University of Innsbruck), Ehud Altman (Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel) and Jean Dalibard (Collège de France), will use a Synergy Grant of 10 million euros to take the field of quantum technology to the next level.
The highly counterintuitive laws of quantum mechanics govern the microscopic world, as well as the collective behaviour of matter at low temperatures. The unique properties of such ‘quantum matter’ not only allow deeper understanding of the nature of quantum mechanics, but will also lead to revolutionary new quantum technologies. For example, much progress has already been made in the fields of superconductive materials, ultraprecise measurements, and basic quantum computers.
MPQ team
© Christian Groß, MPQ