ERC awards TU Delft researchers

The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded two million euros to two TU Delft researchers.

Angelo Simone and Maarten van Ham were among the top scientists to be given a grant during the ERC Consolidator Grant Competition.

At a time when research funding is difficult to come by, the ERC awarded nearly €575 million worth of grants to 312 mid-career scientists across the European Research Area. With a maximum of two million per project, these grants are meant to support outstanding, independent researchers with seven to twelve years of post-PhD experience, enabling them to establish their own investigative teams and to pursue innovative research in their respective fields.

As Professor of Urban Renewal at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Van Ham was awarded an ERC grant for his research on socio-spatial inequality, deprived neighborhoods and neighborhood effects. Entitled ‘DEPRIVEDHOODS’ this groundbreaking project investigates the complex relationship between socio-economic inequality, poverty and neighborhoods. Employing an integrated and international approach, Van Ham makes use of longitudinal data from Sweden, Estonia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom to analyze neighborhood effects.

At the same time, Simone’s research interests lie in the area of computational mechanics of materials. As an assistant professor at the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Simone aims to explore a new type of battery, which could significantly reduce the weight and size of our portable electronic devices. By combining the structural function of a mobile device’s housing with its energy source, this so-called “structural battery” will allow manufacturers to radically alter the appearance of consumer electronics.

“I feel honored and privileged,” Simone says, when asked how he felt about receiving the ERC grant. “With a success rate of just 8.5%, the competition was fierce.” Nevertheless, the Italian is convinced that the grant arrived at precisely the right moment. “[The funding] allows me to develop my own research team and gives me the freedom to pursue curiosity-driven research without any industrial obligation.”

Be that as it may, Simone admits that the societal benefits of his research will not be immediately tangible. Still, the overall impact of his project will significantly influence the research and development of battery materials. “Our laptops and mobile phones could become much lighter thanks to structural batteries,” Simone says. “Little is known about the overall reliability of this concept,” – a critical issue he is keen to explore. 

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