Joachim Dzubiella receives ERC Consolidator Grant

Prof. Dr. Joachim Dzubiella

Over the next five years, additional research funding in the amount of 2 million Euros will be available to HZB’s Prof. Dr. Joachim Dzubiella. The theoretical physicist, who teaches at Berlin’s Humboldt University and who also heads an HZB research group, is the latest recipient of a European Research Council Consolidator Grant.

The Consolidator Grant program’s mission is to help support junior researchers who have earned their Ph.D. within the last 7 to 12 years and whose goal it is to embark on an ambitious research project, which builds on their doctoral research.

As a theoretical physicist, Dzubiella is working closely with colleagues whose experimental research is on new kinds of materials. Dzubiella’s own focus is on nanoreactors – something Prof. Dr. Matthias Ballauff’s group is currently working on at the HZB Institute for Soft Matter and Functional Materials. Nanoreactors are essentially miniscule particles suspended inside a liquid and which are useful in a number of settings, specifically for purposes of catalysis. They contain a tiny nucleus consisting of a nanoparticle made of gold or some other noble metal surrounded by a thicker shell of enveloping molecules. This shell is highly sensitive to external parameters, capable of contracting and expanding, and – depending on temperature, salt content, or solvent – able to modify its permeability. The ultimate goal of Dzubiella’s latest research project is to model the most relevant processes that are taking place within these types of nanoreactors.

“One of my colleagues, Dr. Yan Lu, and her team have already generated highly interesting experimental results; however, we’re not yet able to tweak the nanoreactors’ properties,“ says Dzubiella. Which is why he wants to investigate, using theoretical modeling, what it is that actually happens at the level of the nanonucleus and within the shell when they are exposed to changing external parameters. Thanks to his grant, Dzubiella will now be able to add three more postdocs and two more Ph.D.s to his team to help him with this feat. “Once we’re able to better understand what happens, we’ll be able to predict how the catalytic effects of these types of nanoreactors can be precisely steered – through feedback loops, for instance, which will stop the reaction when enough product has become available.“

Says Prof. Dr. Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla, the HZB’s Scientific Director: “Mr. Frederking and I would like to extend our congratulations to Prof. Joachim Dzubiella on his ERC Consolidator Grant. The ERC Consolidator Grant is a nod to Mr. Dzubiella’s tremendous scientific achievement. The ERC Grant will allow him to embark on a very ambitious research project that is highly relevant to our understanding of new material properties. The close interconnectedness between modeling and simulations makes this is a true pioneer project with respect to development of new functional materials.“

“I would like to thank every single one of my colleagues who lent their invaluable support throughout the applications process,“ says Dzubiella. “In preparing for the applications process, I attended a number of informational meetings on ERC Grants. Also, the interview training conducted by the Brussles Helmholtz office was great in that it really helped brace me for the critical final round’s selection interview.“  

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