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7 March 2017

‘Vici’ grants for Marieke Huisman and Alexander Brinkman

Two Twente researchers have won a Vici grant - worth €1.5 million each - from the NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research): Professor Marieke Huisman and Professor Alexander Brinkman.

Marieke Huisman (CTIT) is Professor of Software Reliability. She is developing new techniques to ensure that increasingly complex software stays reliable. Alexander Brinkman (MESA+) is Professor of Quantum Transport in Matter. He will be conducting research into the magnetism of electrons: could their charge be used as the basis for energy-efficient electronics?

Reliable software

Professor Marieke Huisman’s Vici grant will enable her to carry out five years of research on enhancing the reliability of software. Making reliable software remains a major challenge. When you write a program, you are actually writing instructions that can be understood by a computer. In the past, these instructions were carried out one after the other. These days, however, it is not unusual for a computer to execute multiple series of instructions simultaneously. This increases the complexity of the process and thus the likelihood of errors or problems. Huisman is working on new techniques that can be used to check complex programming for instructions that will cause errors or conflicts - even before you try to execute the instructions in your production environment. This will allow you to know whether the programming code works perfectly before it is used at its final destination. Marieke Huisman has previously secured other funding, including a Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC).

Magnetic monopoles

Thanks to the Vici grant, Professor Alexander Brinkman will be able to carry out five years of research into magnetic monopoles and their dynamic properties. The electric charge of an electron is the basis of electronic applications. It seems that in addition to this electric charge, there is also a magnetic charge when electrons interact with other particles around them. Brinkman wants to try to detect these ‘magnetic monopoles’ and check whether they could provide the basis for energy-efficient electronics. At present, it is hard to make computer chips that work faster, so the semiconductor industry is looking for alternative technologies. Alexander Brinkman says: ‘I’m delighted by this Vici grant. I was having so many great ideas and I was really looking forward to putting them into practice. But to do that, I needed people, equipment and funding. Now I don’t need to worry about any of that. I can just get started.’ Brinkman has previously received Veni and Vidi grants from the NWO. His group, Quantum Transport in Matter, is part of the University of Twente’s MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology.

Vici grants are part of the NWO’s Veni, Vidi, Vici programme (Julius Caesar: ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’), which provides funds for researchers at different stages of their careers, enabling them to do ground-breaking research. For more information, see the NWO’s press release.