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European Research Council grant for Jan Lagerwall

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Published on Monday, 30 March 2015

Prof. Dr. Jan Lagerwall, a physicist at the University of Luxembourg, has just been awarded the prestigious “Consolidator Grant” by the European Research Council (ERC). The “ERC Consolidator Grant” is one of the most sought-after competitive research grants in Europe. Lagerwall, a Swedish expert in liquid crystals, will receive altogether around 2 million euros funding from the ERC over the next five years.

“I can still hardly believe it, it’s absolutely fantastic” was Jan Lagerwall’s initial reaction to the good news. The 44-year-old scientist has been working in the Faculty of Science, Technology and Communication’s Physics and Material Science Research Unit at the Limpertsberg Campus since 2014. Lagerwall’s previous posts have included work in Sweden, Germany, the United States as well as South Korea.

Focusing on "Soft Robotics"

Jan Lagerwall wants to use the money from this grant to carry out further research into liquid crystals and related materials. Currently liquid crystals are found in displays in laptops, TV sets and mobile phones, but Lagerwall believes that their potential is far from exhausted: “I’m convinced that they can do far more than we imagine today.“ In particular his ERC Consolidator grant will be channelled into investigating soft artificial “muscles” for new types of robots. Unlike hard industrial robots, these “soft” robots can interact directly with people and therefore provide valuable assistance in everyday situations. Still in its infancy, this discipline, which is known as “Soft Robotics”, is currently seen as a particularly promising area for the future.

After Prof. Dr. Stéphane Bordas, an engineering scientist, Jan Lagerwall is the second scientist from the University of Luxembourg to be awarded a highly prestigious ERC Grant. Only approximately 15% of applications are approved. University President Rainer Klump expressed his satisfaction: “This funding is proof of the excellence of our physics researchers and reaffirms how competitive Luxembourg is as a place for research”.

The European Research Council awards these competitive ERC research grants to support highly promising young scientists, to promote the next generation of innovative top-level researchers and to retain research talent in Europe.

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Read on about the research done in Experimental Soft Matter Physics by Jan Lagerwall and his team.

Photo: Jan Lagerwall, © University of Luxembourg – Michel Brumat