Researchers receive ERC starting grants
Jesper Wallentin, an Associate senior lecturer at the Department of Physics was awarded the grant to examine whether nanowires can be used as high-resolution X-ray detectors.
Nanowires are tiny crystals with a diameter of less than one-tenth of a micrometer – compare that to a strand of hair that has a diameter of 50 micrometres.
“We have some initial results that show that we can actually get an electric current from nanowires that are exposed to X-rays. The fact that we can measure a signal in a single nanowire is fascinating”, says Jesper Wallentin.
If real detectors for performing nanoscale X-ray microscopy are developed in the future, perhaps we will be able to make X-ray imaging of the connections between neurons in brain tissue.
For now, the grant will finance one PhD student, one postdoc position and an X-ray lab, among other things.
Korinna Zapp, a researcher at the Department of Astronomy and Theoretical Physics, recreates the conditions that existed for only a few millionths of a second after the Big Bang.
Large Hadron Collider LHC at CERN can create a head-on collision, at almost the speed of light, between heavy lead nuclei containing 208 protons and neutrons. The density in these collisions is so high that protons and neutrons 'melt'. This creates a quark-gluon plasma - resembling our universe very shortly after the Big Bang. In this way the properties of the quark-gluon plasma can be studied in the laboratory. The most important discoveries have been that the quark-gluon plasma behaves like a liquid, and that it attenuates very fast particles passing through it.
“It was a major surprise when scientists discovered that collisions of the small protons in many aspects closely resemble collisions of the large lead nuclei”, explains Korinna Zapp.
The density in proton-proton collisions is so much lower that it is believed to be impossible to create a quark-gluon plasma. Still, proton-proton collisions show signs of formation of liquid and hot matter, but do not attenuate fast particles.
“The question I want to attempt to answer is: do proton-proton collisions create a miniature quark-gluon plasma, or has the data been misinterpreted? Or perhaps nature has something in stock for us that we haven't thought of yet”, concludes Korinna Zapp.