The aim of the FOM Valorisation Prize is to encourage the utilisation of knowledge from physics research. Each year FOM awards the prize of 250,000 euros to a Dutch researcher (or group of researchers) in physics who has succeeded in making the results from his or her own research useful for society. With the FOM Valorisation Chapter Prize of 5,000 euros, FOM encourages its PhD researchers to dedicate a chapter in their thesis to the valorisation aspects of their doctoral research.
Both prizes will be presented on 19 January 2016 during the congress Physics@FOM Veldhoven.
Jo van den Brand: from fluctuations in space-time to industrial sensors
Jo van den Brand is leader of the FOM programme 'Gravitational physics' and a professor at VU University Amsterdam. His team at FOM Institute Nikhef hopes to detect gravitational waves, i.e. 'ripples' in space-time. For this he uses interferometers with arms several kilometres long: the experiment Virgo in Italy and the LIGO detectors in the United States. These systems are sensitive or the smallest of vibrations. The Nikhef team therefore developed a sensor system that can detect these. Van den Brand translated the system into industrial applications, for example sensors for oil and gas exploration.
"Not only is Van den Brand a renowned scientist with an impressive track record, but he has also demonstrated that he has an eye for the value of his research outside of his own circle," states the jury. "He has demonstrated his entrepreneurship, for example, as co-founder of the company Innoseis, where revolutionary sensor technology is now being developed further."
"Also in his own work environment he knows how to inspire people to find applications outside of their own circles," adds the jury. "We can see this, for example, in the fact that last year his former PhD researcher Mark Beker won the FOM Valorisation Chapter Prize. But other researchers have also focused on valorisation activities under his supervision."
Van den Brand will use the prize for the further development of sensor technology. "We now have sensors with a very high sensitivity and dynamic range in the seismic industry and with this prize money we can further capitalise on this," says Van den Brand.
Gabriele Bulgarini: the future quantum light source
Gabriele Bulgarini gained his doctorate last year from Delft University of Technology. His PhD research focused on the electrical and optical properties of quantum dots – minuscule semiconductors that are only billionths of a metre in size. Quantum dots can be used as artificial light sources because they emit photons. However this also means that quantum dots can serve as building blocks in future systems that encode and transmit quantum information. For this Bulgarini developed a very efficient system based on quantum dots in one-dimensional nanowires.
In the chapter that Bulgarini devoted to valorisation, he concluded that nanowires are now sufficiently developed to form the basis for future quantum communication technology. He showed which obstacles have already been overcome and considered applications such as complete optical quantum computers and quantum cryptography. Bulgarini's work goes further than just the idea. He has joined the spin-off company Single-Quantum to further elaborate his plans.
"Gabriele has clearly given considerable and high-quality thought to the application, description and implementation of quantum technology,” says the jury.