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National Roadmap: millions for top research facilities

13 April 2018

The NWO executive board has awarded funding to ten proposals in the National Roadmap for Large-Scale Scientific Infrastructure. The total amount granted is 138 million euros. Projects to which UG contributes - ATHENA, K3MNet, NEMI, Ruisdael Observatory and X-omics Initiative (UMCG) will receive millions of funding.

On 12 April, the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Ingrid van Engelshoven, presented the ten roadmap certificates. Funds for the National Roadmap Large-Scale Scientific Infrastructure make it possible to build or modernise top research facilities with an international allure.


The Athena space telescope is ESA's next large mission (2028). Athena will revolutionize our understanding of how the Universe evolved from a near-homogeneous soup of matter to the highly structured Universe that we observe today. In addition, the X-ray space telescope will finally allow us to determine how supermassive black holes form and help shape the Universe. The Netherlands provide key contributions, such as an ultrasensitive X-ray camera annex spectrometer. For the first time, astronomers will have an instrument that can produce sharp 2-D images and simultaneously chart the characteristics of gas as hot as 10 million degrees Kelvin.


KM3NeT will comprise a huge underwater neutrino detector capable of identifying sources of high-energy neutrinos in the universe. These sources will be studied to possibly identify them as the particle accelerators responsible for cosmic rays. The interactions of cosmic rays in the Earth’s atmosphere produce neutrinos that can be used by KM3NeT to study the particle physics of the neutrinos themselves. A temperature sensing array for oceanographic studies and a novel hydrophone array based on a fibreoptic network complement the multi-disciplinary science.


Electron microscopes can magnify an object up to 10 million times. This incredible magnification power is used to study the smallest components of biological and material specimens as well as man-made structures. The Netherlands Electron Microscopy Infrastructure (NEMI) initiative unites the major Dutch electron-microscopy labs and invests in innovation to create optimal conditions for top-level research relevant for science, industry and society.

Ruisdael Observatory

The Earth's atmosphere has structurally changed due to the long-term emissions of greenhouse gasses, air pollution and particulate matter. The Ruisdael Observatory will very accurately measure and model these changes above the Netherlands. A permanent measurement network, mobile sensors and extensive ground stations will provide data about the chemical and physical properties of the atmosphere and its interaction with the Earth's surface. A new computer facility will process the data observed into atmospheric models in real-time. In this way, the Ruisdael Observatory will provide a detailed description of the changes in the local weather, climate and air quality.

X-omics Initiative (UMCG)

The splendour of the chemistry of life lies in its unparalleled complexity. Yet this also poses the biggest challenge for biologists and medics as they try to understand how diseases arise and how these can be detected and treated at an earlier stage. This project combines and improves a number of molecular technologies, thus enabling researchers to better observe complex and dynamic processes in cells and tissues. This project will make top scientific research possible in the fields of cancer, Alzheimer and many other diseases.

Last modified:13 April 2018 3.01 p.m.

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