Three VILLUM Experiment grants for innovative research

Tuesday 01 Nov 22


Søren Raza
Associate Professor
DTU Physics
+45 26 99 99 14


Nolan Lassaline
DTU Physics


Theodor S. Holstad
DTU Physics

Following an anonymous selection process, the 3 researchers are among 51 researchers this year to receive grants from VILLUM Experiment to test their brave, risk-taking and innovative scientific research ideas.

All three researchers, Associate Professor Søren Raza, Postdoc Nolan Lassaline and Postdoc Theodor Holstad, are from the section NANOMADE at DTU Physics.

Optical metasurfaces

Associate Professor Søren Raza has received 2 Mio. DKK for his project: Materials discovery for optical metasurfaces

The grant will be used to discover and experimentally test new dielectric materials for optical metasurfaces.

Optical metasurfaces are flat optical devices capable of tailoring the flow of light in a desired fashion.

Søren wants to explore a new approach for identifying, fabricating, and experimentally demonstrating the potential of a wide range of new semiconductor nanomaterials.

The aim is to map the landscape of available semiconductor materials from which metasurfaces can be constructed. This would constitute the first experimentally tested optical materials library and set the foundation for next-generation metasurface devices.

“I’m really excited to start this project and very grateful to the VILLUM Foundation for supporting it. For a long time, optical metasurfaces have been constructed using only a handful of different semiconductor materials. The question we seek to answer: are there new and better materials out there waiting to be discovered?” Søren Raza explains.

“With a new approach based on combining high-throughput computational screening with experimental demonstration, we aim to demonstrate the potential of new dielectric materials and thereby build up a materials library for optical metasurfaces”.

Quantum soap bubbles

Postdoc Nolan Lassalin has received 2 Mio. DKK for his project: Quantum soap bubbles in graphene.

The grant will be used to explore new ways of structuring nanomaterials to produce the next generation of atomically thin electronics.

Controlling the flow of electrons through tiny devices, such as computer chips and solar cells, is a central goal of science and engineering.

Nolan is looking to create quantum soap bubbles – smooth electronic potentials with artificially tailored disorder – that result in exotic flow states for electrons in graphene.

The key result will be the realization of a long-held dream of scientists: the ability to experimentally generate smooth potentials for electrons based on mathematical functions, as they are described in theory.

The key impact will be a deeper fundamental understanding of how electrons flow through atomically thin materials, which may provide a new platform for advanced neural networks and quantum information processing.

“I am honoured to receive this grant and extremely grateful for the progressive thinking and unique funding scheme provided by the Velux Foundations here in Denmark”, Nolan says.

"As a scientist, it is very exciting to have the financial support to explore my wildest ideas, providing an opportunity to bring science fiction into reality by playing around at the atomic scale”.

Capturing lightning

Postdoc Theodor Secanell Holstad has received 1.5 Mio. DKK for his project: Capturing lightning in solid-state materials.

Most people are familiar with dielectric breakdown in air - that is, lightning. In this VILLUM Experiment, we will perform direct time-resolved imaging of dielectric breakdown inside of crystalline dielectrics using a newly developed methodology: ultrafast Dark-Field X-ray Microscopy (DFXM) at X-ray Free-Electron Lasers (XFELs).

Tremendous amounts of energy losses in the electric grid could be prevented. This is a particularly important issue today, with soaring electricity prices in Europe and an urgent need for more green intermittent energy in the electric grid.

“With the on-going energy-crisis in Europe, and with the economy moving away from fossil-fuel energy sources and towards ever-increasing integration into an electric grid powered by renewables, research on how to reduce capacitor energy losses is more relevant than ever before” Theodor explains.

This research project aims to investigate how breakdown occurs in crystalline dielectrics by performing real-time ultrafast DFXM imaging, and thereby to aid the green transition by guiding the design of more reliable capacitors with higher breakdown strengths.

Read more about the research in Nano Materials Design

Read more about VILLUM Experiment on the Foundation's website

News and filters

Get updated on news that match your filter.