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Hasselt University
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56 Projects, page 1 of 12
  • Funder: European Commission Project Code: 825581
    Overall Budget: 149,170 EURFunder Contribution: 149,170 EUR

    Ambient air pollution, including black carbon, entails a serious public health risk because of its carcinogenic potential and as climate pollutant. Inhalation of fossil fuel-derived particulate matter (PM) is associated with a wide range of non-pulmonary health effects. Based on the WHO report of 2015 the European health annual costs of air pollution have been estimated to US$ 1.6 trillion. Although recent studies strongly suggest that particle translocation in biological systems is biologically plausible, they do not prove that ambient fossil fuel-derived carbonaceous nanoparticles enter the human systemic circulation in real-life conditions. We developed a novel method to detect carbonaceous nanoparticles in the urine of healthy children. The ERC funded ENVIRONAGE project already made a strong case for promoting urinary carbon detection to practice by demonstrating its usefulness as individual long-term exposure marker. Taking advantage of white-light generation by carbonaceous nanoparticles under femtosecond pulsed laser illumination, we demonstrated the presence of these particles in urine and its relation with the external environmental air pollution (Saenen et al. Am J Respir & Crit Care Med, in press). This pioneering study is of innovative value, as it paved the way for a non-invasive assessment of long-term individual exposure to one of the most toxic air pollutants, black carbon, and will be useful in epidemiological investigations, biomonitoring studies as well as in occupational settings. The aim of the INCALO (INternal black CArbon LOading) project is to promote the output of the ENVIRONAGE project towards a process for facilitation and commercialization of internal markers of exposure to black carbon.

  • Funder: European Commission Project Code: 799609
    Overall Budget: 240,530 EURFunder Contribution: 240,530 EUR

    The investigation of processes that trigger cross-species transmission (‘spillover’) is central to disease ecology and epidemiology. Many infectious diseases in humans and domestic animals have emerged from successful jumps from wildlife hosts. The interactions of coinfecting pathogens within the same host are considered to be important in these spillover processes. However, despite the relevance of coinfections, little is known about the copathogen dynamics in the wild. There is a need for general concepts and theories. “Ecodis” proposes to fill this gap by determining a conceptual framework for effects of copathogens on disease transmission in one of the world’s best studied parasite-songbird systems: the directly-transmitted Mycoplasma gallisepticum bacteria in House Finches. Using methods from disease ecology and human epidemiology, I (Dr. Heylen; the applying experienced researcher) combine experimental and field surveillance data to create models on cross-host infection risks. These innovative models will improve our understanding of the roles of coinfections in mediating pathogen establishment and persistence in novel host species and previously unexposed populations. I will be guided by high-profile scientists, Hens (Hasselt University) and Dobson (Princeton University), and benefit from their extensive networks to develop a set of crucial skills that boost my research profile and expertise in constructing/applying mathematical and theoretical models in disease ecology. Following the ‘One Health’ vision, this multidisciplinary and highly translational project will allow me to develop an international career as disease ecologist, and - in the long-term - to contribute to biodiversity and risk management programs in Europe and beyond.

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  • Funder: European Commission Project Code: 101137675
    Funder Contribution: 150,000 EUR

    Short-wave infrared (SWIR) imaging is a powerful tool to access and visualize the composition of (bio-)materials contact-free and in real time. It can be used for example for in-vivo deep-tissue bio-imaging as well as for the inspection and quality assurance of manufacturing processes, including agriculture, pharmaceutics, chemicals, photovoltaics, wafers, metals and glasses. The global SWIR market is estimated to 213 million USD for 2022 and predicted to increase by 72% until 2028. However, the complex and costly manufacturing of commercial SWIR imaging prohibits consumers and low-end applications from benefiting from its vast application potential. Within ORGUP, we propose organic upconversion devices as an attractive low-cost alternative. They convert the invisible, infrared image into a visible image, being then captured by a low-cost commercial camera or sensor. However, so far, such devices have failed to provide the relevant SWIR sensitivity above 1100nm, i.e. the silicon cut-off. The goal of ORGUP is to develop and showcase for the first time high-quality, organic SWIR imaging with a sensitivity up to 1500nm and an upconversion yield of 30% - at a low cost, while avoiding the use of toxic elements. Two industrially relevant demonstrators will prove reliable and durable mono- and multispectral vision at high resolution and contrast. We will combine in-house, recently developed ultra-low gap organic semiconductors with unique know-how in organic near-infrared opto-electronics and stacked, state-of-the-art organic light emitting diodes. Selectivity for specific SWIR wavelengths will be achieved by embedding the organic stack into optically amplifying and spectrally selective microcavity structures. As research and development of the proposed type of organic upconversion devices is relatively new, yet with confirmed interest of market leaders for optical solutions, we expect to create strategic IP and develop a path to marketing and commercialisation.

  • Funder: European Commission Project Code: 864625
    Overall Budget: 2,369,150 EURFunder Contribution: 2,369,150 EUR

    Thin films comprising a blend of electron donating (D) and electron accepting (A) molecules are ubiquitous in organic electronic devices. At the D-A interfaces, intermolecular charge-transfer (CT) states form, in which an electron is transferred from D to A. Electrical doping (p- and n-type) involves ground-state CT from dopant to host and results in increased conductivities of the host organic semiconductor. Furthermore, the performances of organic solar cells, photodetectors and light emitting diodes depend crucially on D-A interfaces where the CT state is an excited state, mediating between photons and free charge carriers. New applications of intermolecular CT states, such as transparent conductors, artificial synapses, biosensors, organic persistent luminescent materials and low cost narrowband near-infrared sensors have emerged in the past years, and there is clearly potential for additional innovation. However, current progress is hampered by a lack of understanding of the fundamental properties of intermolecular CT states and their decay and dissociation mechanisms. ConTROL aims to fill this knowledge gap and link device performance to molecular parameters of D-A interfaces. Electro-optical properties will be tuned by molecular design and appropriate D-A selection, as well as by weak and strong interactions with the opto-electronic device’s optical cavity. The knowledge generated will not merely result in improved performance of existing organic electronic devices, but new avenues and novel exciting applications of intermolecular CT states will be demonstrated.

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  • Funder: European Commission Project Code: 882794
    Overall Budget: 178,320 EURFunder Contribution: 178,320 EUR

    Organic photo-detecting devices (OPDs) and solar cells (OSCs) both rely on thin films containing blends of electron donors and acceptors, sandwiched between transmissive and reflective electrodes. This project aims to significantly enhance the performance of such devices, by understanding and manipulating resonant optical cavity effects implemented in this simple device architecture. By tuning the cavity resonance wavelength within the optical gap of both donor and acceptor, weak absorption of intermolecular charge transfer (CT) states is significantly enhanced, opening up opportunities to extend the absorption window to longer wavelengths. Using recently reported new non-fullerene acceptors, we will fabricate and characterize wavelength selective resonant cavity enhanced OPDs with high external quantum efficiencies and short response times, operating at longer wavelengths (>1200 nm) than the current state-of-the-art OPDs. To improve OSC performance, we will tune the cavity resonance wavelength to the optical absorption peak wavelength of either the strongly absorbing donor or acceptor. This results in strong light-matter effects causing a redshift of the absorption onset. This approach will be exploited to overcome the rather large voltage losses and optical absorption losses in state-of-the-art OSC devices.

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