Four ERC Consolidator Grants to DTU researchers

Thursday 07 Dec 17


Chris Finlay
DTU Space
+45 45 25 97 13


Stephan Sylvest Keller
DTU Nanolab


Kristian Sommer Thygesen
DTU Physics
+45 45 25 31 88


Darko Zibar
Professor, Group Leader
DTU Electro
+45 45 25 38 40

About ERC Consolidator Grants

ERC Consolidator Grants are awarded to outstanding researchers of any nationality and age, with at least seven and up to twelve years of experience after PhD, and a scientific track record showing great promise.

Research must be conducted in a public or private research organization located in one of the EU Member States or Associated Countries.

The funding (maximum of EUR 2 million per grant) is provided for up to five years and mostly covers the employment of researchers and other staff to consolidate the grantees’ teams.

More information.
DTU researchers receive four out of ten Danish Consolidator Grants from the European Research Council (ERC).

329 researchers from all over the world have received EUR 630 million for ground-breaking and high-risk independent research in connection with the awarding of the ERC’s Consolidator Grants. Denmark has received a total of ten of these Consolidator Grants, which is a new record.

Five grants go to University of Copenhagen, one to University of Southern Denmark, and four to DTU. The individual researcher typically receives EUR 2 million for independent research for up to five years.

Senior Scientist Chris Finlay from DTU Space will conduct research into the Earth’s magnetic field, which protects us from the most harmful effects of cosmic radiation. In the past decades, the geomagnetic field has, however, weakened dramatically in the South Atlantic. This means that satellite memory errors predominantly occur in this region. At the moment, researchers are unable to predict the future development of the weak magnetic field in the region.

In his research project, Chris Finlay will use the latest high-resolution magnetic observations—compiled by the ESA’s Swarm satellites—to test whether the weakening of the magnetic field is due to a huge anticyclone in the Earth’s outer core of liquid metal, which might be pushing magnetic flux out of the South Atlantic region. The research will be based on new source separation and data assimilation algorithms which utilise knowledge from space physics and geology showing the detailed structure of the movements of the liquid metal in the Earth’s outer core.

Project: CoreSat – Dynamics of Earth’s core from multi-satellite observations.

Read more about Chris Finlay’s research.


Associate Professor Stephan Sylvest Keller from DTU Nanotech will conduct research into a new approach to harvesting green energy by means of so-called bio-photovoltaic systems (BPVs) in which light is converted into electrical energy by means of photosynthetic bacteria. The demand for compact energy systems for portable devices such as wireless sensors or portable electronics is, in fact, growing rapidly, driven by the increasing importance of the Internet of Things (IoT). Electrochemical systems such as BPVs are promising candidates for sustainable energy conversion. Unfortunately, BPVs still have relatively low efficiency and have not yet been able to deliver the high output required for sensor operation or wireless signal transmission.

In his project, Stephan Sylvest Keller will address these limitations by developing new carbon-based 3D microelectrodes to improve the efficiency of BPVs and combining them with microsupercapacitors, which can temporarily store the harvested energy and provide higher maximum output when needed.

Project: PHOENEEX – Pyrolytic Hierarchical Organic Electrodes for Sustainable Electrochemical Energy Systems

Read more about Stephan Sylvest Keller’s research.


Professor Kristian Sommer Thygesen from DTU Physics will develop quantum mechanical computer simulation methods for quantification and prediction of the electronic and optical properties of complex two-dimensional (2D) materials. The discovery of the new atom-thin 2D materials and the possibility of stacking them in ultra-thin layers in artificial design materials has, in fact, opened up new possibilities of controlling light at atomic scale.

Control of the interaction between light and matter via carefully optimized materials is the key to progress in a number of technologically important areas such as lasers, solar cells, and quantum light sources. Kristian Thygesen will use the developed quantum mechanical simulation methods in combination with supercomputers, material databases, and machine learning to discover new types of 2D materials with superior optical properties for applications in, for example, solar energy and quantum communication technology.

Project: LIMA – Controlling light-matter interactions by quantum designed 2D materials

Read more about Kristian Somme Thygesen’s research


Associate Professor Darko Zibar
from DTU Fotonik will examine a new and radically different approach to creating optical communication systems which can meet future capacity requirements. Optical fibre communication systems constitute the backbone of our communication infrastructure, as they handle more than 99 per cent of the global data traffic. The huge growth in Internet streaming services (Netflix, YouTube and Amazon), the Thing of Things and server farms for cloud services has increased the load on the optical communication infrastructure. And in 2025, it is expected that transmission capacities will be required that are physically impossible to implement by means of the current state-of-the-art optical communication technologies.

Darko Zibar will combine the fields of optical communication, non-linear optics, information theory, and machine learning. The project results will form the basis for a new generation of commercial optical communication systems.

Project: FRECOM – Nonlinear-Distortion Free Communication over the Optical Fibre Channel

Read more about Darko Zibar’s research. 

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