Dear colleagues,

As we enjoyed the first sunny days of spring, we were also delighted to receive some excellent news.

Daniel Riedel, who was a doctoral student at the SNI PhD School until the end of 2017 and is now a postdoc in Richard Warburton’s group in the Department of Physics at the University of Basel, was presented with the Quantum Future Award from Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Center for Integrated Quantum Science and Technology (IQST). Soon afterwards, the European Research Council approved my application for an Advanced Grant, which carries funding of 2.9 million Swiss francs. This will enable us to investigate the special physical properties of van der Waals heterostructures in detail. We are entering completely uncharted territory with our research in this area, and I am very much looking forward to the challenges it presents.

With regard to the Nano Argovia projects that began in early 2018, the level of knowledge has already advanced significantly, to the extent that specific ideas have now emerged for industrial applications. In this edition of “SNI update”, we describe the first of these new Argovia projects, which are being carried out this year in collaboration with companies from Northwestern Switzerland.

We also report on numerous events that were held in the first quarter of the year. Our doctoral students came together for their annual Winter School and also visited the Technopark Aargau. We organized a Nano-Tech Apéro in Brugg and invited people to enjoy a nano-themed afternoon at the Oris cinema in Liestal in honor of our vice director, Christoph Gerber.

Then, as part of the recent SNI/Biozentrum Lecture, we had the honor of welcoming Jacques Dubochet to give a talk about his research, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize last year. Together with our former SNI colleagues Ueli Aebi and Andreas Engel, more than 300 visitors enjoyed a fascinating afternoon with Jacques Dubochet looking at all aspects of cryo-electron microscopy. It always gives us great pleasure to find out what students have go on to do after studying nanosciences. Our portrait for this edition is, therefore, of former nanoscience student Natascha Kappeler, who has now returned to Switzerland after many years abroad to lecture at the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW). She also continues to dedicate herself to scientific research with great commitment and enthusiasm.

I hope you enjoy reading our newsletter and have a wonderful spring.

Kind regards

Christian Schönenberger, SNI Director