KVI-researcher Steven Hoekstra has been rewarded a Vidi-grant of NWO, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. His application was entitled 'A cold trap for dark matter'.
The researchers in the group of Steven Hoekstra will trap and cool molecules in order to use them as an extremely sensitive antenna. Such a nano antenna could even pick up signals of the mysterious 'dark matter'. A comparison of the very sensitive measurements of molecules with the predictions of the Standard Model of Particle Physics will help to shift the boundaries of the fundamental knowledge of our world.
The research group has developed a technique that enables the deceleration and trapping of molecules that are especially well suited to test the Standard Model. Recently the team of Steven Hoekstra, with FOM PhD-students Joost van den Berg, Corine Meinema, Sreekanth Mathavan and master-student Tom Nijbroek, succeeded for the first time in the deceleration of the molecule Strontiumfluoride (SrF). Supported by the Vidi-grant, the researchers will use advanced laser techniques to bring these molecules to temperatures very close to absolute zero. This is critical to exploit the large sensitivity of ultracold molecules in precision measurements. Other exciting applications of these ultracold molecules include ultracold chemistry and the simulation of complex quantum materials.
Vidi gives researchers who have already spent several years doing postdoctoral research the opportunity to develop their own innovative lines of research. The researchers belong to the best ten to twenty percent of their research field. With a Vidi-subsidy they get funds to do research for five years.
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