Three Aachen Researchers Receive ERC Starting Grants


Professor Hendrik Bluhm, Chair of Quantum Technology at RWTH Aachen, Dr. Andreas Walther from the DWI Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials, and Dr. Rafael Kramann from University Hospital Aachen have been awarded prestigious European Research Council Starting Grants.


The researchers succeeded in a competitive two-stage selection process and will now receive project funding in the amount of approximately 1.5 million Euros each over a period of five years.

  Hendrik Bluhm Copyright: © Krupp Stiftung

Professor Hendrik Bluhm

The use of quantum mechanical effects for data processing purposes represents a fundamental paradigm change. It offers a wide range of applications, such as highly efficient data processing and tap-proof data transmission. The central idea is to replace classical bits with quantum bits, qubits for short, as basic elements in computer technology.

To facilitate the transmission of quantum data over large distances and enable the interconnection of future quantum computers, it is desirable to transfer the state of stationary qubits to photons. These could subsequently be transmitted via fiber optic cables.

Professor Bluhm’s ERC project seeks to achieve this for semiconductor qubits. These quantum elements have a strong potential for application due to their compatibility with semiconductor technology. Research on optical coupling, however, is still lacking.

Hendrik Bluhm studied physics at the University of Freiburg and completed his doctorate at Stanford University. Subsequently, he worked at Harvard University as a postdoc. In March 2011, he was appointed Chair of Quantum Technology at RWTH Aachen University.

  Andreas Walther Copyright: © Phatcharin Tha-in

Dr. Andreas Walther

Dr. Andreas Walther conducts research on intelligent nanostructures at the DWI Leibniz Institute of Interactive Materials. Typically, when researchers seek to develop a material with a certain functionality, they start by optimizing the structure and composition of the material in question. In his ERC project, Dr. Walther goes one step further by investigating the possibility of temporal control over material structures.

As Walther explains, “For a human body to function, it relies on the interplay of a vast number of molecular components. It is decisive that individual components are newly generated, change, or dissolve over time. I want to develop materials that behave in a similar way by following a certain program over time.” There is a wide range of potential applications for such a material, including temporary data storage, biosensors, or carrier materials for medical substances.

Andreas Walther received his doctorate from the University of Bayreuth, where he was part of Professor Axel Müller’s working group, focusing on the synthesis of soft polymer systems. As a postdoc, he took on positions at Helsinki University of Technology and Aalto University, Finland. Since 2011, he has been heading the research group "Static and Dynamic Self-Assemblies for Bioinspired Materials" at the DWI Leibniz Institute of Interactive Materials.

  Rafael Kramann Copyright: © Harvard University

Dr. Rafael Kramann

The EU-supported project “Targeting perivascular myofibroblast progenitors to treat cardiac fibrosis and heart failure in chronic kidney disease,“ Cure CKDHeart for short, sets out to investigate pathophysiological processes in the heart of patients with chronic renal insufficiency, seeking to identify treatment targets on those cells that cause scarring of the heart.

In a second step, Dr. Rafael Kramann and his team seek to develop targeted treatments that are able to reduce or even stop such fibrosis processes. The aim of the ERC project is to achieve a better understanding of pathophysiology, to prevent sudden cardiac death with the help of new treatment methods, and to reduce chronic cardiac insufficiency in patients suffering from chronic renal insufficiency.

Dr. Kramann is head of a working group at the Department of Renal and Hypertensive Disorders, Rheumatological and Immunological Diseases at University Hospital Aachen.


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