European Research CouncilERC Starting Grants for Two Early-Career Researchers from Heidelberg

Press Release No. 6/2022
19 January 2022

European Research Council funds projects in experimental physics and computational chemistry

Two outstanding Heidelberg-based early-career researchers – Junior Professor Dr Lauriane Chomaz and Dr Ganna Gryn’ova – have each been awarded an ERC Starting Grant, which is a high amount of funding from the European Research Council (ERC). Prof. Chomaz, an experimental physicist at Heidelberg University, will receive approximately 1.5 million euros for her research work on two-dimensional dipolar quantum gases. The ERC will likewise endow Dr Gryn’ova with around 1.5 million euros for a project on the design and modelling of functional organic materials. The computational chemist from the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) also does research at the Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing (IWR) of Ruperto Carola. The funding has been granted for a period of five years.

Lauriane Chomaz’s research project to be funded with the ERC Starting Grant is called “Two-dimensional Dipolar Quantum Gases: Fluctuations and Orders” (2DDip). In it, she addresses the question of how matter orders itself under extreme conditions – in two-dimensional space and in the presence of competing long-range and short-range atomic interactions – and how the resultant order changes under the effect of quantum and thermal fluctuations. With the assistance of an innovative experimental apparatus, the scientist will, for the first time, generate ultra-cold quantum gases from dysprosium atoms in an effective two-dimensional space. Dysprosium is a rare earth and exhibits the highest magnetic moment of all natural stable chemical elements. By examining different states of these magnetic gases, Prof. Chomaz wants to gain new insights into hitherto unexplored, exotic states of matter, their respective orders, ordering mechanisms, and their fluctuations. The physicist hopes that her research will help to answer open questions on two-dimensional ordering in the presence of long-range atomic interactions, and to open up new research avenues.

After graduating in quantum physics, Lauriane Chomaz gained her doctorate in 2014 with a study of Bose gases in reduced dimensions at the École normale supérieure in Paris (France). She then continued her research as a post-doc at the University of Innsbruck (Austria). For that she received a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship from the European Commission and was admitted to the Elise Richter Programme of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). In 2021 she joined Heidelberg University as a tenure-track professor. Prof. Chomaz is part of the STRUCTURES Cluster of Excellence with her newly formed “Quantum Fluids” research group at the Institute for Physics. She is also a member of Heidelberg University’s Collaborative Research Centre 1225 “Isolated Quantum systems and Universality under extreme conditions” (ISOQUANT).

Junior Professor Dr Lauriane Chomaz

Novel functional organic materials are the focus of the ERC-funded project “PATTERNCHEM” led by Dr Gryn’ova. To explore and advance these promising materials, the scientist and her team use state-of-the-art methods from computational and theoretical chemistry and materials science. So far Dr Gryn’ova’s “Computational Carbon Chemistry” group have laid the foundations for accurate and efficient simulations of two-dimensional organic materials and their interactions with small molecular targets. Building on that, Dr Gryn’ova will use the ERC grant to evaluate the topological fingerprints of promising materials such as graphene derivatives, covalent organic frameworks and hyperbranched polymers. In this way, she aims to open up new ways of optimising organic functional materials for diverse scientific and industrial applications, e.g. for “green” catalysis or pharmacotherapy.

Ganna Gryn’ova studied chemistry at the Oles Honchar Dnipro National University (Ukraine) and earned her doctorate in 2014 in the field of computational chemistry at the Australian National University in Canberra. After that, she took up a post-doctoral fellowship at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland). Among other awards, Dr Gryn’ova received a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship from the European Commission (2016) and in 2021 joined the Elisabeth-Schiemann-Kolleg of the Max Planck Society. The scientist is junior group leader of the “Computational Carbon Chemistry” research group at HITS and IWR. She is also involved in research at the Collaborative Research Centre 1249 “N-Heteropolycycles as Functional Materials”, which is based at the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry of Heidelberg University.

With the ERC Starting Grant the European Research Council supports outstanding early-career researchers from all disciplines who wish to set up their own research groups and conduct ground-breaking research.

Dr Ganna Gryn’ova, junior group leader at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies and the Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing of Heidelberg University.