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Ruhr University Bochum
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216 Projects, page 1 of 44
  • Funder: EC Project Code: 788380
    Overall Budget: 2,498,680 EURFunder Contribution: 2,498,680 EUR

    The discontinuous mosaic of soil compositions on the Earth’s changeable surface intermittently requires the adaptation of plants as crucial mediators for ecosystems with the inorganic lithosphere harbouring all nutrient, but also toxic minerals. Only few gene variants have been implicated in local soil adaptation. There is a general lack of information about their relation with soil composition in the field, the manner in which such adaptations function and evolve, and why they arise in some taxa but never in others. To answer these questions, we will take advantage of the repeated evolution and the unusually large phenotypic ranges for multiple edaphic traits in Arabidopsis halleri. This species has undergone uniquely divergent natural selection for increased hyperaccumulation in leaves of the toxic metals zinc and cadmium as well as metal hypertolerance on ordinary soils, and for enhanced hypertolerance involving attenuated metal hyperaccumulation on heavy metal-contaminated soils. Capitalizing on the most comprehensive collection ever established of a wild extremophile, and with a pioneering approach recording critical field data for each genotype, we will conduct large-scale genome resequencing and identify multi-trait multi-gene associations, complemented by genetic linkage mapping based on crosses. Local edaphic adaptation causal variants will be placed into the context of metal homeostasis network architecture and plasticity using transcriptomics, and we will comparatively evaluate mutation rates in A. halleri under ecologically relevant edaphic conditions. Implementing state-of-the-art genome-enabled and novel phenotyping methodologies in this wild and biologically complex species will require continuous pioneering developments. Our work will deliver novel fundamental insights into local adaptation in plants and identify large-effect gene variants with potential for applications in environmental restoration, biotechnology and crop breeding.

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  • Funder: EC Project Code: 259218
  • Funder: EC Project Code: 101040811
    Overall Budget: 1,499,540 EURFunder Contribution: 1,499,540 EUR

    When electrons in a solid interact strongly, they can form novel states of matter with fascinating technological possibilities and intriguing intellectual challenges. They might realize the macroscopic quantum state with dissipationless transport – superconductivity – or spontaneously lose spherical symmetry – an electronic nematic state. Surprisingly, more and more nematic superconductors, combining both, have recently been discovered. Such observations suggest a fundamental link between nematicity and superconductivity that is not yet understood. Progress is hindered by an acute lack of systematic data on the nematicity-superconductivity interaction, due to the absence of routine high-resolution probes of nematicity that are applicable in the superconducting state. Accurately determining lattice distortions and elastic moduli would be suitable, but the corresponding classic techniques are not possible or practical for many novel materials. To relieve this scarcity of knowledge, I propose to establish a novel “distortiometry” approach based on measuring a material’s elastic response to anisotropic stress. Taking full advantage of established capacitance dilatometry and recent advances in strain-tuning techniques, the approach will be at the center of a specialized program based on distortions to get a grasp of nematic superconductivity. Having confirmed the new method’s versatility, resolution and reliability, I will study several platform materials where nematicity and superconductivity interact in the context of quantum criticality, investigate novel topological materials whose superconductivity appears to be nematic itself, and explore new nematic superconductors. Thus, I will gain new insights into mechanisms of unconventional superconductivity and its multiple degrees of freedom. My new widely applicable techniques will be a powerful addition to the arsenal of experimental solid state physics and material science.

  • Funder: EC Project Code: 949724
    Overall Budget: 1,498,900 EURFunder Contribution: 1,498,900 EUR

    Transition metal based nanoparticles (NPs) are envisioned as viable alternatives to the scarce precious metal based catalysts used today for renewable energy conversion. Yet, probing their intrinsic activity to establish property-activity relations and so to smartly design superior catalysts, is impeded by two limitations of existing electrocatalytic techniques. First, the integral assessment of ensembles of non-identical NPs prohibits the identification of intrinsic activity differences. Second, the unknown effects of additives required analyzing the activity of often poorly conductive transition metal oxides, e.g. during the oxygen evolution reaction (OER), prohibit the access to quantitative data and comparable benchmarks. Very recently, we have proposed single NP electrochemistry to overcome both limitations. We demonstrated that the electrocatalytic OER response of individual CoFe2O4 NPs can be assessed in the absence of additives. However, we have not been able to extract property-activity relations, as NP characterization was limited to ex situ data. The groundbreaking strategy of this work is to combine intrinsic activity and physical property measurements of individual NPs. Physical characterization will comprise different online and ex situ methods to gain comprehensive property information. Numerical simulations will allow us to extract quantitative kinetic data from the electrochemical studies, allowing us to provide quantitative benchmarks of intrinsic catalyst performance. Cycling of NPs in a microfluidic platform will enable degradation studies and systematic modification “on the fly”. Moving towards application conditions, catalyst-support interactions will be studied by stepwise immobilization of catalysts on substrates. As a result of revealing intrinsic property-activity relations in electrocatalysis and of elucidating catalyst-support interactions, we will gain the understanding urgently needed to disruptively change electrocatalyst devolopment.

  • Funder: EC Project Code: 725519
    Overall Budget: 1,998,720 EURFunder Contribution: 1,998,720 EUR

    The objective of this proposal is to create a new framework to enable understanding of the complexities in the dynamics of cultural encounter and religious transfer in pre-modern Eastern Central Asia—the vast area extending from the Taklamakan desert to Northeast China. This region was the crossroads of ancient civilisations. Its uniqueness was determined by complex dynamics of religious and cultural exchanges gravitating around an ancient communication artery, known as the Silk Road. Buddhism was one major factor in this exchange; its transfer predetermined the transfer of adjacent aspects of culture. The religious exchange involved a variety of cultures and civilisations, which were modified and shaped by their adoption of Buddhism. This process overrode the ethnic and linguistic boundaries of the Buddhist universe. One specific aspect of this process was the rise of the local forms of Buddhism. This project intends to investigate such Buddhist localisations between the 6th–14th centuries. I will create a new trans-regional and trans-cultural vision of the religious transfer in Eastern Central Asian history and will reconstruct this Buddhist network with its entities and relations. It will incorporate the fascinating, but as yet under-researched field of Eastern Central Asian Buddhism into a broader research agenda of Comparative Religious Studies. It will establish a new research approach by bringing together many research fields and agendas (such as Philology, Art History, Archaeology, Religious Studies) into one synthesising narrative based on a unique perspective, in which, religious exchange in Eastern Central Asia will be analysed as a dynamic network emerging in its spatial and temporal aspects. For the first time the multi-layered relationships between the trans-regional Buddhist traditions (Chinese, Indian, Tibetan) and those based on local Buddhist cultures (Khotanese, Uyghur, Tangut, Kitan) will be explored in a systematic way.

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