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Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2015-ETN | Award Amount: 3.87M | Year: 2015

All visual information is broadcasted by an intra-retinal pathway formed by a group of neurons called bipolar cells. They collect photoreceptor signals in the outer retina and relay the signals to the inner retinal neurons. This transfer of visual information is far from passive: Each of the at least 10 bipolar cell types transforms the photoreceptor signals in a unique and highly specific way. As a result, the bipolar cell output signals form the first elementary operations from which the neural circuits of the inner retina compose a feature-oriented description of the visual world. Reflecting the partitioning of visual information into parallel channels, the retinal layer in which bipolar cell axon terminals meet their synaptic partners, is highly organized: This so-called inner plexiform layer effectively serves as the retinas switch board: The input is provided by the different bipolar cell channels, while the output is carried by an even larger number of channels, represented by ganglion cells that form the optic nerve. Each of the ~20 ganglion cell types composes its feature-extracting circuits from a specific set of bipolar cell input it receives. Owing to its regular structure and ease of experimental access, the retina is amongst the best understood self-standing neuronal networks in neuroscience. Indeed, recent advances hold the exciting promise that an in-depth understanding of the bipolar cells an entire class of neurons and their role in the first critical steps of visual processing is within reach. Our proposal aims to train young researchers in world-leading research labs towards completing this goal. We will accomplish this by exposing the students to a host of cutting-edge techniques and a broad spectrum of research approaches within the training network from imaging at synaptic resolution, transgenetics and retina degeneration models to the application of retinal circuit principles for signal processing in artificial vision chips.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-ITN-ETN | Phase: MSCA-ITN-2014-ETN | Award Amount: 2.86M | Year: 2015

AWESOME network aims to educate eleven young researchers in the wind power operation and maintenance (O&M) field by constructing a sustainable training network gathering the whole innovation value chain. The main EU actors in the field of wind O&M have worked together, under the umbrella of the European Wind Energy Academy (EAWE), in order to design a training program coping with the principal R&D challenges related to wind O&M while tackling the shortage of highly-skilled professionals on this area that has been foreseen by the European Commission, the wind energy industrial sector and the academia. The overall AWESOME research programme tackles the main research challenges in the wind O&M field identified by the European wind academic and industrial community: (1) to develop better O&M planning methodologies of wind farms for maximizing its revenue, (2) to optimise the maintenance of wind turbines by prognosis of component failures and (3) to develop new and better cost-effective strategies for Wind Energy O&M. These main goals have been divided into eleven specific objectives, which will be assigned to the fellows, for them to focus their R&D project, PhD Thesis and professional career. The established training plan answers the challenges identified by the SET Plan Education Roadmap. Personal Development Career Plans will be tuned up for every fellow, being their accomplishment controlled by a Personal Supervisory Team. The training plan includes intra-network activities, as well as network-wide initiatives. The secondments at partner organizations and between beneficiaries are a key attribute of the training programme. Each fellow will be exposed to three different research environments from both, academic and industrial spheres. All the network activities will be developed in accordance with the established in the Ethical Codes and Standards for research careers development, looking therefore for talent, excellence and opportunity equality.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENV.2013.6.2-2 | Award Amount: 16.30M | Year: 2013

SOLUTIONS will deliver a conceptual framework for the evidence-based development of environmental and water policies. This will integrate innovative chemical and effect-based monitoring tools with a full set of exposure, effect and risk models and assessment options. Uniquely, SOLUTIONS taps (i) expertise of leading European scientists of major FP6/FP7 projects on chemicals in the water cycle, (ii) access to the infrastructure necessary to investigate the large basins of Danube and Rhine as well as relevant Mediterranean basins as case studies, and (iii) innovative approaches for stakeholder dialogue and support. In particular, International River Commissions, EC working groups and water works associations will be directly supported with consistent guidance for the early detection, identification, prioritization, and abatement of chemicals in the water cycle. A user-friendly tool providing access to a set of predictive models will support stakeholders to improve management decisions, benefiting from the wealth of data generated from monitoring and chemical registration. SOLUTIONS will give a specific focus on concepts and tools for the impact and risk assessment of complex mixtures of emerging pollutants, their metabolites and transformation products. Analytical and effect-based screening tools will be applied together with ecological assessment tools for the identification of toxicants and their impacts. Beyond state-of-the-art monitoring and management tools will be elaborated allowing risk identification for aquatic ecosystems and human health. The SOLUTIONS approach will provide transparent and evidence-based lists of River Basin Specific Pollutants for the case study basins and support the review of the list of WFD priority pollutants.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-RISE | Phase: MSCA-RISE-2014 | Award Amount: 967.50K | Year: 2015

The project Design and Fabrication of Functional Surfaces with Controllable Wettability, Adhesion and Reflectivity (FabSurfWAR) focuses on the staff exchange between the partners of EU and Asia, and the development of key enabling techniques of designing and generating micro/nano surface topology with better control of bacterial growth, adhesion, friction and other tribological properties for potential applications from surgical tools, biomedical devices, to turbine blades and agricultural machines. It meets the objectives and requirements of the Marie Skodowska-Curie Actions: Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE), by establishing multiple bridges between European and Asian institutions. The ultimate goal of FabSurfWar is to set up a long-term international and inter-sector collaboration consortium through research and innovation staff exchanges between nine world-recognised institutions in the cutting-edge research area of micro/nano surface engineering with promising applications in scientific and engineering sectors. The synergistic methodologies achieved by FabsurfWAR will serve as the building blocks of the micro/nano functional surface design, fabrication, measurement, characterisation and scale up application, and thus enhance the leading position of the consortium for the scientific and technological progresses in functional surfaces and potential applications. This project is divided into six inter-related work packages: (1) Setup of knowledge base and road mapping; (2) Surface metrology and modelling; (3) Fabrication and characterisation of functional surfaces; (4) Functional surface devices and applications; (5) Dissemination and exploitation, and (6) Project management. The work packages integrate all activities that will lead to the accomplishment of all the project objectives within 48 months.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: MSCA-RISE | Phase: MSCA-RISE-2016 | Award Amount: 1.75M | Year: 2017

Cancer is considered as the second leading cause of death worldwide. It is important to develop methodologies that improve understanding of the disease condition and progression. Over the past few years, single cell biology has been performed using micro/nano robotics for exploration of the nanomechanical and electrophysiological properties of cells. However, most of the research so far has been empirical and the understanding of the mechanisms and thus possible for cancer therapy are limited. Therefore, a systematic approach to address this challenge using advanced micro/robotics techniques is timely and important to a wide range of the technologies where micro/nano manipulation and measurement are in demand. The proposed Micro/nano robotics for single cancer cells (MNR4SCell) project focuses on the staff exchange between the 8 world recognised institutions of EU and China, and the share of knowledge and ideas, and further the development of the leading edge technologies for the design, modelling, and control of micro/nano robotics and their applications in single cancer cell measurement, characterisation, manipulation, and surgery. This project meets the objectives and requirements of the Marie Skodowska-Curie Actions: Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE). The ultimate goal of MNR4SCell is to establish long-term international and multidisciplinary research collaboration between Europe and China in the challenging field of micro/nano robotics for single cancer cells in the characterisation, diagnosis and targeted therapy. The synergistic approach and knowledge established by MNR4SCell will serve as the building blocks of the micro/nano robotics and biomedical applications, and thus keep the consortiums leading position in the world for potential major scientific and technological breakthroughs in nanotechnology and cancer therapy.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENERGY.2013.2.3.1 | Award Amount: 9.20M | Year: 2013

The motivation for the AVATAR project lies in the fact that upscaling wind turbine designs towards 10-20 MW requires radical innovations to make this feasible. Many of these innovationshave a strong aerodynamic component and can be considered as unconventional from an aerodynamic point of view. As such the analysis of the resulting rotor designs falls outside the validated range of applicability of the current state of the art computational aerodynamic tools. The overall objective of the AVATAR project is then to evaluate, validate and improve aerodynamic and aero-elastic tools to ensure applicability for large wind turbines. The capability of these models to produce valid load calculations at all modeling complexity levels needs to be demonstrated. This leads to a number of secondary objectives related to the assessment and evaluation of such designs eventually culminating in new design guidelines. In the AVATAR workplan aerodynamic models are developed and calibrated for all aspects which play a role in the design of large wind turbines. Thereto the entire chain of aerodynamic modelling is mobilized ranging from computational efficient engineering tools to very advanced high fidelity but computationally expensive tools. The development of new comprehensive models is based on a philosophy in which the high fidelity tools feed results towards the lower complexity tools where furthermore (wind tunnel and field) measurements are used to validate and improve the models. The capabilities of the resulting tools are demonstrated on a large scale rotor with and without flow control devices. The project is carried out by an absolute world class consortium since it consists of a selected group of participants from the subprogram aerodynamics of EERA Joint Program Wind (European Energy Research Alliance) in which all leading institutes on the field of aerodynamics participate, complimented with two leading industrial partners.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: ERC-SG | Phase: ERC-SG-PE10 | Award Amount: 1.49M | Year: 2014

The Earths oceans absorb about 11 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) each year, about 25% of all anthropogenic CO2. The oceans are huge reservoirs of CO2, and a better understanding on how the oceans absorb CO2 is critical for predicting climate change. The sea-surface microlayer (SML), the aqueous boundary layer between the ocean and atmosphere, plays an important role in the exchange of gases between the ocean and atmosphere. The effects of the SML on air-sea gas exchange have been widely ignored by past and current research efforts due to uncertainties to what extent the SML covers the oceans. However, we recently reported the ubiquitous coverage of the oceans with SML, which pushes the SML into a new and wider context that is relevant to many ocean and climate sciences. I propose experiments at multiple scales, i.e. in laboratory tanks, wind wave tunnel, mesocosm and during a long-term field study. I propose a systematic field study measuring air-sea CO2 fluxes and mapping chemical, biological and physical properties of the SML. With the experiments on smaller scales, such measurements will allow for the first time (i) to define new parameters controlling gas fluxes, (ii) to quantify short-time and seasonal variability, (iii) to define global proxies for the effects of the SML, and (iv) to develop and apply a new parameterization for the correction of global CO2 flux data. For the first time, biogeochemical processes relevant to carbon cycling are investigated on the oceans surface at an interfacial level. Furthermore, I aim to reconstruct the natural composition of the SML in a wind-wave tunnel to study its ability to modify the oceans surface at well-defined wind regimes. The results from the proposed studies can form the basis for an improvement of current assessments of CO2 fluxes, and oceanic uptake rates. A better understanding in the oceanic uptake of atmospheric CO2 is critical in predicting climate trends and establishing policies.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: ERC-STG | Phase: ERC-StG-2015 | Award Amount: 1.50M | Year: 2016

The prevalence of hearing impairment amongst the elderly is a stunning 33%, while the younger generation is sensitive to noise-induced hearing loss through increasingly loud urban life and lifestyle. Yet, hearing impairment is inadequately diagnosed and treated because we fail to understand how the components that constitute a hearing loss impact robust speech encoding. A recent and ground-breaking discovery in animal physiology demonstrated the existence of a noise-induced hearing deficit -cochlear neuropathy- that coexists with the well-studied cochlear gain loss deficit known to degrade the audibility of sound. Cochlear neuropathy is thought to impact robust encoding of the audible portions of speech and occurs before standard hearing screening methods indicate problems, implying that a large group of noise-exposed people with self-reported hearing problems is currently not screened, nor treated. To design effective hearing restoration strategies, it is crucial to understand how cochlear neuropathy interacts with other hearing deficits to affect robust speech encoding in every-day listening conditions. Through an interdisciplinary approach, RobSpear targets hearing deficits along the ascending stages of the auditory pathway to revolutionize how hearing impairment is diagnosed and treated. RobSpear can yield immense reductions of health care costs through effective treatment of currently misdiagnosed patients and studies the impact of noise-induced hearing deficits on our society. To achieve this, RobSpear: (i) Builds a hearing profile that, based on a computational model of the auditory periphery, develops physiological measures that differentially diagnose hearing deficits in listeners with mixtures of deficits. (ii) Designs individually tailored speech enhancement algorithms that work in adverse conditions and target perceptually relevant speech features, using an unprecedented validation approach that combines novel psychoacoustic and physiological metrics.

Borchert H.,Carl von Ossietzky University
Energy and Environmental Science | Year: 2010

Semiconductor nanoparticles are promising for use as electron acceptors in polymer-based bulk heterojunction solar cells. Potential advantages over fullerene derivates that are widely used in organic photovoltaics are tuneable absorption properties and the possibility to use elongated nanoparticles for more efficient electron transport. Despite these advantages, efficiencies obtained with hybrid polymer/nanoparticle solar cells are still below those of state-of-the-art polymer/fullerene solar cells. This Perspective summarises the achievements in the field of hybrid solar cells, compares the knowledge on elementary processes in hybrid and organic systems and points out the most recent trends in research. The design of the polymer nanoparticle/interface by the choice of capping ligands and development of appropriate surface treatments for the nanoparticles plays an important role, and recent progress opens new perspectives for the future improvement of hybrid solar cells. © 2010 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Kluner T.,Carl von Ossietzky University
Progress in Surface Science | Year: 2010

Photodesorption of small molecules from surfaces is one of the most fundamental processes in surface photochemistry. Despite its apparent simplicity, a microscopic understanding beyond a qualitative picture still poses a true challenge for theory. While the dynamics of nuclear motion can be treated on various levels of sophistication, all approaches suffer from the lack of sufficiently accurate potential energy surfaces, in particular for electronically excited states involved in the desorption scenario. In the last decade, a systematic and accurate methodology has been developed which allows a reliable calculation of accurate ground and excited state potential energy surfaces (PES) for different adsorbate-substrate systems. These potential energy surfaces serve as a prerequisite for subsequent quantum dynamical wave packet calculations, which allow for a direct simulation of experimentally observable quantities such as quantum state resolved velocity distributions. In the first part of this review, we will focus on scalar properties of desorbing diatomic molecules from insulating surfaces, where we also present a recently developed strategy of obtaining accurate potential energy surfaces using quantum chemical approaches. In general, diatomic molecules on large band gap materials such as oxide surfaces are studied which allows the use of sufficiently large cluster models and accurate ab initio methods beyond density functional theory (DFT). In the second part, we will focus on the vectorial aspects of the dynamics of nuclear motion and present simulations of experimentally accessible observables such as velocity distributions, Doppler profiles and alignment parameters. For each system, the microscopic mechanism of photodesorption is elucidated. We will demonstrate that the driving force of surface photochemistry is strongly dependent on details of the electronic structure of the adsorbate-substrate systems. This implies that great caution is advisable if experimental results are interpreted using empirical or semi-empirical models. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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