Andreas Heinz, Kirsten Kraiberg Knudsen and Mikael Käll.
​Andreas Heinz, Kirsten Kraiberg Knudsen and Mikael Käll gets SEK 96 millions from Knut and Alice Wallenbergs Foundation. ​ ​​​​
​Photo: Anna-Lena Lundgren och Markus Marcetic/Young Academy of Sweden​

Large grants enable new cutting-edge research

​Three research groups at Chalmers University of Technology will receive SEK 96 million from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. It enables major basic research efforts on violent collisions between neutron stars, the origin of cosmic dust and its fate, and the light sources of the future that can be created with the help of lasers and artificial surfaces that are thinner than a light wavelength.​
With this year's call, Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation has during the years 2011–2020 granted funding for 218 basic research projects totaling SEK 6.8 billion. These are the three projects that will start at Chalmers.

"Creation of heavy elements in neutron-star mergers"

Andreas Heinz.Violent collisions of neutron stars are believed to be the origin of, for example, gold and platinum. Now, subatomic physicists at Chalmers will explore how such heavy elements are formed, to understand how the laws of subatomic physics influence the collision of neutron stars. Recent breakthroughs in astronomical observations, especially the detection of gravitational waves, together with advances in instrumentation for subatomic physics experiments offer unique research opportunities.  

“We will be able to understand how nuclear fission impacts the creation of heavy elements in the collision of neutron stars. I am thrilled to be a part of this endeavor and grateful to the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation for making this research possible,” says Andreas Heinz, Associate Professor at the Department of Physics at Chalmers. 

The research project has been granted SEK 29,600,000 for five years. The project is led by Andreas Heinz, associate professor at the Department of Physics at Chalmers. Professor Thomas Nilsson and doctor Håkan T. Johansson, both from the same department, are also participating in the project.

”The Origin and Fate of Dust in our Universe”

Kirsten Kraiberg Knudsen.Cosmic dust grains are microscopic particles that affect virtually every process in the Universe, from the formation of planets and stars to black holes and entire galaxies. Without dust, our solar system would not have formed. But where do the dust grains come from, and how do they develop?  Four researchers at Chalmers and University of Gothenburg will try to answer this in a joint project.

"The fact that we can combine our special competencies in this project means that we can cross subject boundaries to deal with a very fundamental question in astronomy, namely what is the origin and fate of dust in the universe", says Kirsten Kraiberg Knudsen at the Department of Space, Earth and Environment at Chalmers.

The five-year long project is granted SEK 27,700,000. Kirsten Kraiberg Knudsen, who is an associate professor of extragalactic astronomy, is the Principal Investigator and the work will be carried out in collaboration with colleagues professor Wouter Vlemmings and professor Susanne Aalto at Chalmers, and professor Gunnar Nyman, at the University of Gothenburg.

”Metasurface-Emitting Lasers: Tomorrows Light Sources for Applied Photonics”

Mikael Käll.The light sources of the future can be created with the help of lasers and artificial surfaces – meta surfaces – thinner than a wavelength of light. Optics research is facing a revolutionary development, where vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) are becoming the laser of choice for a rapidly increasing number of applications. 

“By combining world-leading expertise on VCSEL and nanophotonics research, we take on the challenge of merging the fields of semiconductor laser technology and flat optics based on 2D nanophotonic metasurfaces to realize monolithic metasurface emitting lasers (MELs). We believe that this new miniaturized light source will be powerful, versatile, compact, cost- and energy-efficient,” says professor Mikael Käll at the Department of Physics.

The research project has been granted SEK 38,100,000 over five years. Professor Mikael Käll is the Principal Investigator and the work will be carried out in collaboration with professor Åsa Haglund, professor Anders Larsson, associate professor Philippe Tassin and associate professor Ruggero Verre. 


Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation 

... is the largest private funder of scientific research in Sweden, and one of the largest in Europe. The Foundation’s aim is to benefit Sweden by supporting Swedish basic research and education, primarily in medicine, technology and the natural sciences. This is achieved by awarding grants to excellent researchers and projects.
More than SEK 29 billion in grants has been awarded since the Foundation was established, with annual funding of around SEK 2,0 billion in recent years.

Text: Anita Fors, Mia Halleröd Palmgren and Christian Löwhagen
Photo: Anna-Lena Lundgren and Markus Marcetic/ Young Academy of Sweden​

Published: Wed 30 Sep 2020.