Hnerik Ström and particle
​Henrik Ström and a solitary particle moving in a complex geometry (a porous material).​

Henrik Ström receives prestigious funding from the Swedish Research Council

​"The Swedish Research Council's funding provides very good conditions in terms of freedom to conduct planned research, which gives greater flexibility and better opportunities to carry out real curiosity-driven research compared to many other forms of funding," says Henrik Ström, professor at the Division of Fluid Dynamics, when it was announced that he is one of the 33 researchers at Chalmers who are awarded research grants from the Swedish Research Council.
In total, the Swedish Research Council distributes SEK 2.3 billion to research projects in natural and technical sciences (2021 - 2025) and medicine and health (2021 - 2026). Of these project grants, SEK 123 million go to a total of 33 researchers at Chalmers.
One of the researchers who receives the Swedish Research Council grant this year is Henrik Ström, professor at the Department of Fluid Dynamics. With the research project "Migration, mixing and modulation in reactive Brownian systems of arbitrary geometric complexity", he receives a total of 3.8 million.

Congratulations, Henrik! How does this feel? Was it expected?
“It’s a fantastic feeling! The competition for the Swedish Research Council grants is extremely fierce, and so I really wasn’t expecting this.” 

What’s your research project about?
“The project is based on computer simulations studying systems where small reactive particles move in complex geometries. These can be sensors, for example, where you want to be able to detect as quickly as possible whether a certain type of particle is present in a liquid. Such a particle could be, for example, a metallic nanoparticle, a bacterium, a DNA molecule or some form of aggregate.”

Why is it important to study this?
“Today we have limited knowledge of how the simultaneous presence of different types of particles affects what happens in these systems. For example, particles of different shapes and sizes can either entrain other particles or block the path of other particles as they themselves move in the liquid. If you want to make sensors that are super-fast, it would be fantastic to be able to increase the speed with which the particles you want to detect reach the sensor surface. If you want to make sensors that are robust, you may instead want to be able to avoid certain particles coming close to the sensor surface at all. It’s also easy to see that there could be applications where you want to achieve both effects at the same time - fast, selective detection of certain particles with minimal risk of fouling of other particles. The research project will therefore be based on my previous research in the field and try to clarify how things work when mixtures of small reactive particles move near surfaces.”

What do you think was the key factor that made you receive the Swedish Research Council funding?
“I think I managed to convince the panel that the scientific issues I raised in my application have broad implications for a wide range of applications and at the same time really pin-points something in the multiphase flow area where our knowledge today is relatively limited. There are many different coupled processes at play, and in recent years I’ve established collaborations both nationally and internationally, with both theorists and experimentalists, which allows me to take my own research further by using synergies with many different other competencies.”

What does this funding mean to you and your research? What will you be able to accomplish that you perhaps wouldn’t have the means to do without it? 
“I will be able to employ a PhD student, which is tricky to do with many other types of financing. Applied research involves companies and they don’t typically want to wait four to five years to see results, and several other research funders have a maximum cap for what they pay out, which in practice means that they don’t fund PhD students. Funding from the Swedish Research Council also gives me the opportunity to have a stable base of basic research in my project portfolio, which gives depth to the applied research I conduct in parallel. Last but not least, the Swedish Research Council's funding provides very good conditions in terms of freedom to conduct planned research, which gives greater flexibility and better opportunities to carry out real curiosity-driven research compared to many other forms of funding."

Thank you and congratulations, Henrik!

Text: Lovisa Håkansson

Page manager Published: Wed 10 Nov 2021.