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News overview 2020


New discovery brings analogue spintronic devices closer
Posted on:17 December 2020

The observation of nonlinearity in electron spin-related processes in graphene makes it easier to transport, manipulate and detect spins, as well as spin-to-charge conversion.This brings spintronics to the point where regular electronics was after the introduction of the first transistors.

Experiment to test quantum gravity just got a bit less complicated
Posted on:08 December 2020

Is gravity a quantum phenomenon? Together with colleagues from the UK, Anupam Mazumdar, a physicist from the University of Groningen, proposed an experiment that could settle the issue. In a new paper, which has a third-year Bachelor’s student as the first author, Mazumdar presents a way to reduce background noise to make this experiment more manageable.

AI reduces computational time required to study fate of molecules exposed to light
Posted on:01 December 2020

Theoretical studies of the dynamics of photoinduced processes require numerous electronic structure calculations, which are computationally expensive. Scientists from the University of Groningen developed machine learning-based algorithms, which reduce these computations significantly.


Combining incipient ferroelectrics and graphene leads to new insights into memristive devices
Posted on:20 November 2020

Scientists are working on new materials to create neuromorphic computers, with a design based on the human brain. Materials scientists from the University of Groningen analysed the behaviour of strontium titanium oxide, a platform material for this type of application, and used the 2D material graphene to probe it

Dual brake on transport protein prevents cells from exploding
Posted on:18 November 2020

A high concentration of salt or sugar in the environment will dehydrate microorganisms and stop them from growing.  Scientists from the University of Groningen elucidated the structure of a transport protein OpuA, that imports glycine betaine to counter this.

Turning heat into power with efficient organic thermoelectric material
Posted on:11 November 2020

Thermoelectric materials can turn a temperature difference into electricity. Organic thermoelectric materials could be used to power wearable electronics or sensors; however, the power output is still very low. An international team led by Jan Anton Koster, Professor of Semiconductor Physics at the University of Groningen, has now produced an n-type organic semiconductor with superior properties that brings these applications a big step closer.

RNA structures of coronavirus reveal potential drug targets
Posted on:10 November 2020

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus RNA genome structure was studied in detail by researchers from the University of Groningen, the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw, and Leiden University. The RNA structures are potential targets for the development of drugs against the virus.


Infrared light antenna powers molecular motor
Posted on:28 October 2020

Chemists at the University of Groningen designed a rotary molecular motor that is efficiently powered by near-infrared light, through adding an antenna to the motor molecule. The design and functionality were presented in the journal Science Advances on 28 October.

When going in circles helps you stay put: how spin-orbit coupling leads to stable spins in color centers in materials
Posted on:27 October 2020

When going in circles helps you stay put: how spin-orbit coupling leads to stable spins in color centers in materials

Gut bacteria could be responsible for side effect of Parkinson’s drug
Posted on:20 October 2020

Bacteria in the small intestine can deaminate levodopa, the main drug that is used to treat Parkinson’s disease. Bacterial processing of the unabsorbed fractions of the drug results in a metabolite that reduces gut motility.


Spin City: Spot de evolutie van spinnen
Posted on:30 September 2020

Science LinX gaat met scholieren en andere geïnteresseerden onderzoeken hoe spinnen zich aanpassen aan het leven in de stad.

Science LinX op Eindhoven Maker Faire
Posted on:29 September 2020

Op 26 en 27 september was er in het Klokgebouw in Eindhoven weer een Maker Faire. Ook Science LinX was van de partij, met de bouw-opstelling GEN.ERATE.

Why disordered light-harvesting systems produce ordered outcomes
Posted on:29 September 2020

A team of physicists and biophysicists from the University of Groningen discovered that individual light-harvesting nanotubes with disordered molecular structures still transport light energy in the same way. By combining spectroscopy, molecular dynamics simulations and theoretical physics, they discovered how disorder at the molecular level is effectively averaged out at the microscopic scale.

Nieuwe lesmodule beschikbaar
Posted on:29 September 2020

Science LinX heeft in samenwerking met docenten van het Leeuwarder Lyceum en Lindenborg en de Provincie Friesland de lesmodule 'Voedselwebstructuren in agrarische landschappen' ontwikkeld, over verlies van biodiversiteit in agrarische landschappen door intensief landbouwgebruik. De module is nu beschikbaar voor scholen.

Reusing tableware can reduce waste from online food deliveries
Posted on:25 September 2020

In China, approximately 10 billion online food orders were served to over 400 million customers in 2018. Together with colleagues from China and the UK, Yuli Shan, an environmental scientist at the University of Groningen, found that reusable tableware can substantially reduce packaging waste and life cycle environmental emissions.


Summer science
Posted on:28 August 2020

During the summer, scientific journals continued to publish papers. In this overview we highlight a number of summer papers from FSE staff.

OntdekDag: zingende melkpakken en Gerrit de pissebed
Posted on:27 August 2020

Hoe zou je wereld eruitzien als jij een pissebed bent, of een vlinder? Dat hebben nieuwsgierige kinderen woensdag 12 augustus ontdekt tijdens de OntdekDag op het Suikerterrein.

How sticklebacks dominate perch
Posted on:27 August 2020

Ecologist Britas Klemens Eriksson from the University of Groningen and his colleagues from Stockholm University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden have now shown that stickleback domination moves like a wave through the island archipelagos, changing the ecosystem from predator-dominated to algae-dominated.

A stepping stone for measuring quantum gravity
Posted on:18 August 2020

A group of theoretical physicists, including two physicists from the University of Groningen, have proposed a ‘table-top’ device that could measure gravity waves. Their design could also answer one of the biggest questions in physics: is gravity a quantum phenomenon?

Spider silk inspires new class of functional synthetic polymers
Posted on:12 August 2020

Conducting protein-based material could be used in fuel cells, batteries or act as sensor.

Empty labs and corridors
Posted on:11 August 2020

During the lockdown scientists cannot visit the university. How do they manage to keep on working? PhD student Chris van Ewijk shares his experiences.


Molecular switches regulate gas adsorption on porous polymer
Posted on:07 July 2020

Chemists from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, together with colleagues at the University of Milan (Italy) have created a soft porous aromatic framework containing light-sensitive molecular switches.

Test van lesmodule SUSTAIN afgesloten op scholen
Posted on:01 July 2020

Dit voorjaar zijn 3 en 4 vwo leerlingen van het Leeuwarder Lyceum en De Lindenborg aan de slag geweest met de lesmodule “voedselweb structuren in een agrarisch landschap”. Wegens de Coro-na maatregelen, hebben ze een online variant van de lesmodule gevolgd.


Celebratory opening: ‘Darkness of the Wadden area’
Posted on:25 June 2020

On 21 June, the longest day of the year, the online kick-off of the ‘De Donkerte van het Waddengebied’ (the darkness of the Wadden area) programme took place. The programme aims to allow residents, recreational users and tourists to experience the darkness of the Wadden area.

New model helps to describe defects and errors in quantum computers
Posted on:24 June 2020

A summer internship in Bilbao, Spain, has led to a paper in the prestigious journal Physical Review Letters for Jack Mayo, a Master’s student in Nanoscience at the University of Groningen. He has helped to create a universal model that can predict the number distribution of topological defects in non-equilibrium systems.

'Not enough cycling, colleagues and coffee breaks'
Posted on:23 June 2020

During the lockdown scientists cannot visit the university. How do they manage to keep on working? Melanie König (29) shares her experiences with us.

Overlooked: the role of bacterial viruses in plant health
Posted on:16 June 2020

We know how important bacteria and fungi are for the health of plants. In marine environments and in our own gut, bacteriophages (viruses that infect bacteria) are important in regulating the microbiome. Yet, their effect on bacteria living around the roots of plants has hardly been studied

Simple explanation suffices for conduction in nickelates
Posted on:11 June 2020

Some metal oxides, such as nickelates, have a tuneable resistivity, which makes them an interesting material for adaptable electronics and cognitive computing. Scientists from the University of Groningen have studied how these materials can change their nature from metallic to insulating.


'Nine-to-five jobs are underappreciated'
Posted on:26 May 2020

During the lockdown scientists cannot visit the university. How do they manage to keep on working? Aditya Iyer (33) shares his story with us.

Chameleon materials: the origin of colour variation in low-dimensional perovskites
Posted on:11 May 2020

Some light-emitting diodes (LEDs) created from perovskite, a class of optoelectronic materials, emit light over a broad wavelength range. Scientists from the University of Groningen have now shown that in some cases, the explanation of why this happens is incorrect.

Transporting energy through a single molecular nanowire
Posted on:08 May 2020

Photosynthetic systems in nature transport energy very efficiently towards a reaction centre, where it is converted into a useful form for the organism. Inspired by Nature, Physicist Richard Hildner from the University of Groningen and his colleagues have investigated energy transport in an artificial system made from nanofibres.

First simulation of a full-sized mitochondrial membrane
Posted on:08 May 2020

Scientists from the University of Groningen have developed a method that combines different resolution levels in a computer simulation of biological membranes. Their algorithm backmaps a large-scale model that includes features, such as membrane curvature, to its corresponding coarse-grained molecular model. This has allowed them to zoom in on toxin-induced membrane budding and to simulate a full-sized mitochondrial lipid membrane. Their approach, which was published in the journal Nature Communications on 8 May, opens the way to whole-cell simulations at a molecular level.


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Transport protein efficiently uses three independent lifts to shuttle the goods
Posted on:21 February 2020

The structure of a transport complex used by bacteria to import aspartate has been mapped in unique detail by University of Groningen scientists. The results reveal that the transporter works very efficiently, which is interesting as a similar transporter is vital for signal transduction between human brain cells.

Pedestrians in Zuidhorn test the computer of the future
Posted on:18 February 2020

On 14 February, researchers from the UG and the Czech Academy of Sciences, in association with the Municipality of Westerkwartier, laid a Piezo tile connected to a prototype of a new low-energy computer close to Zuidhorn railway station.

Modified clay can remove herbicide from water
Posted on:12 February 2020

By creating neatly spaced slits in a clay mineral, University of Groningen Professor of Experimental Solid State Physics Petra Rudolf was able to filter water to remove a toxic herbicide.

First artificial enzyme created with two non-biological groups
Posted on:10 February 2020

Scientists at the University of Groningen turned a non-enzymatic protein into a new, artificial enzyme by adding two abiological catalytic components. This is the first time that an enzyme has been created using two non-biological components to create an active site.

Silver sawtooth creates valley-coherent light for nanophotonics
Posted on:07 February 2020

Scientists at the University of Groningen created a plasmon-exciton hybrid device that is promising for use in integrated nanophotonics (light-based electronics) at room temperature.

Science LinX newsletter March 2020
Posted on:31 January 2020

Science LinX newsletter for March 2020


First view of hydrogen at the metal-to-metal hydride interface
Posted on:31 January 2020

University of Groningen physicists have visualized hydrogen at the titanium/titanium hydride interface using a transmission electron microscope. Using a new technique, they succeeded in visualizing both the metal and the hydrogen atoms in a single image.

Science LinX newsletter February 2020
Posted on:31 January 2020

Science LinX newsletter for February 2020

Waar blijven de robots nou?
Posted on:30 January 2020

RUG-onderzoekers Davide Grosse, Jacolien van Rij en Lambert Schomaker legden het uit aan de hand van recente ontwikkelingen in de Kunstmatige Intelligentie.

Scholen meten fijnstof
Posted on:29 January 2020

Science LinX zal samen met 10 basisscholen in de gemeente Westerkwartier een meetnetwerk opzetten voor het meten van fijnstof in de lucht.

Molecular motors direct the fate of stem cells
Posted on:29 January 2020

Scientists at the University of Groningen and the University Medical Center Groningen used molecular motors to manipulate the protein matrix on which bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells are grown.

New self-assembled monolayer is resistant to air
Posted on:20 January 2020

Organic self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) are very versatile, but also chemically unstable. Exposure of these monolayers to air will lead to oxidation and breakdown within a single day. University of Groningen scientists have now created SAMs using buckyballs functionalized with ‘tails’ of ethylene glycol which remain chemically unchanged for several weeks when exposed to air.

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