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Forschungszentrum Jülich
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513 Projects, page 1 of 103
  • Funder: EC Project Code: 101044949
    Overall Budget: 1,999,480 EURFunder Contribution: 1,999,480 EUR

    Replacement of fossil chemicals with biological counterparts has been widely accepted as a vital pursuit to increase the sustainability of our chemical and material industries. Synthetic biology and metabolic engineering enable us to produce a plethora of chemicals with microbes, but the majority of these never make it past the proof-of-principle stage. This is especially the case for drop-in bulk aromatics like styrene or benzene. The main reason for this is that such products are too toxic to ordinary production microbes. In PROSPER I aim to overcome this hurdle and demonstrate the efficient microbial production of hydrophobic aromatic chemicals using solvent-tolerant Pseudomonas. I will engineer this unique extremophile to break the solubility barrier of these chemicals, forming a second phase of product. This second phase provides a virtually endless product sink and it enables extremely simple downstream recovery. The bio-based production of a second phase of such chemicals has thus far never been shown. I believe that this relates to a fundamental problem in biotechnology: production tolerance, i.e., tolerance of the producing organism to the produced product, rather than to an externally added chemical (as it is usually studied). In PROSPER I intend to generate deep mechanistic insights into the processes governing both types of tolerance and to leverage these insights to open up a new field of biotechnological production of hydrophobic compounds. To achieve this, I will develop new methods to analyze intracellular solvent concentrations, build a Pseudomonas chassis with enhanced production tolerance to hydrophobic solvents, and enable production of solvents like styrene, ethylbenzene, and even benzene. I am in a unique position to achieve this goal, with over 15 years of experience in the engineering of Pseudomonas as a workhorse in biotechnology, the study of solvent-tolerance, and the development and application of synthetic biology tools and metho

  • Funder: EC Project Code: 101040341
    Overall Budget: 1,450,930 EURFunder Contribution: 1,450,930 EUR

    With the European Green Deal and its goal to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions in Europe by 2050, the increased use of the subsurface is inevitable. The large-scale exploitation of the subsurface for storage (e.g., gases) and extraction activities (e.g., geothermal energy) will create large scale perturbations which can destabilize the rock and allow leakage of contaminants into groundwater. Therefore, we need a sound understanding of coupled hydro-geochemical processes arising from such activities, as well as tools to predict these impacts reliably. Reactive Transport Modeling (RTM) has so far proven to be the most powerful tool to track the fate of subsurface contaminants from laboratory up to geological timescales. However, the simplistic approaches to describe the gas-water-mineral interactions in RTM do not accurately capture the complex processes in geological environments, as they do not consider relevant processes that take place at the microscopic scale. These processes need to be upscaled (integrated) into RTM. This requires detailed insights into mineral crystallization processes involving gas in confined porous media, particularly (i) coupled mineral dissolution and precipitation with gas generation and (ii) mineral nucleation at the water-gas interface, since both affect the transport properties and mineralogical reactivity of the rock matrix. Genies will integrate cutting-edge lab-on-a-chip, i.e., miniaturized (microfluidic) experiments with advanced, in operando, micro-analytical techniques and an interdisciplinary environment to provide the insights needed for upscaling. This project will provide high-fidelity experimental datasets that will bring new theoretical insights into hydro-geochemical processes involving gases. The resulting extended RTM will allow reliable modeling of the fate of contaminants and consequently reduce uncertainty when assessing the integrity of subsurface storage and extraction systems.

  • Funder: EC Project Code: 101054515
    Overall Budget: 2,085,620 EURFunder Contribution: 2,085,620 EUR

    On 4/7/2021 the Fermilab announced the result of a two decade long investigation to determine the magnetic moment of the muon. By tradition, data-driven theoretical methods have been used for 50 years to calculate this magnetic moment. But, interestingly, in the last 20 years growing discrepancies were noted between theoretical and experimental findings. In the literature, the result obtained by using the data-driven method is called the “consensus value" - and it is 4.2 sigma away from the combined experimental result. This 4.2-sigma discrepancy was interpreted by many physicists as a sign for new physics with a new and unknown force - and hundreds of papers appeared in the last few months to explain the 4.2-sigma tension by some form of new physics. For theoreticians this is an extremely exciting situation because even better experimental results are expected in the next 1 to 5 years, which might further increase the tension between experiment and theory. I propose a completely different and much more fundamental theoretical approach: lattice Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD). Within this new approach I can reach better accuracies than those of the traditional approach. Furthermore, my innovative approach uses far less experimental inputs, reducing the effects of uncertainties associated with input. The objective of the present application is to show unambiguously that either (a) there is no new force, that the experimental results are actually in agreement with the Standard Model of particle physics or (b) confirm the existence of new physics with a high confidence level. To that end a very large-scale lattice Quantum Chromodynamics approach will be applied using supercomputers to yield the muon's magnetic moment with the unprecedented precision of 10(up-10) level of accuracy. The success of this project will open a new window for high precision lattice Quantum Chromodynamics and put a final word on the two decade old mystery around the muon's magnetic moment.

  • Funder: EC Project Code: 757563
    Overall Budget: 1,482,670 EURFunder Contribution: 1,482,670 EUR

    Phages, viruses that prey on bacteria, are the most abundant and diverse inhabitants of the Earth. Temperate bacteriophages are able to integrate into the host genome and maintain as prophages a long-term association with their host. Illustrated by the development of mutually beneficial traits, this close interaction between host and virus has significantly shaped bacterial evolution. However, the immense genetic resources of phage genomes still remain almost unexplored. For the transition to a sustainable bioeconomy, we strongly depend on microbes as hosts for the production of value-added compounds. PRO_PHAGE will exploit recent advances in next-generation sequencing (NGS), single-cell analysis, and high-throughput (HT) phenotyping to evaluate the impact of phage elements on host fitness and to use this knowledge for the improvement of future metabolic engineering approaches. By combining an explorative approach with subsequent molecular analysis of selected targets, PRO_PHAGE will deliver novel insights into this genetic resource and will reveal the risks and potential for metabolic engineering by pursuing four major objectives. 1) Based on a comprehensive bioinformatic analysis, the impact of phage elements will be studied by HT phenotyping of selected strains. 2) The regulatory interaction of phage and host will be analysed by focusing on host-encoded xenogeneic silencing proteins and their role in the integration of foreign DNA. 3) The spontaneous activation of phage elements will be studied at the genomic scale to decipher molecular triggers and their impact on host gene expression. For this purpose, a novel workflow combining fluorescence-activated cell sorting and NGS will be developed, which will be broadly applicable for studying microbial population dynamics at unprecedented resolution. 4) Finally, the insights obtained will be benchmarked for metabolic engineering approaches in order to generate robust and flexible chassis strains for industrial product

  • Funder: EC Project Code: 681405
    Overall Budget: 1,994,880 EURFunder Contribution: 1,994,880 EUR

    Nano-spin-orbitronics is an emerging and fast growing field that aims at combining three degrees of freedom − spin, charge and spin-orbit interaction − to explore new nanotechnologies stemming from fundamental physics. New magnetic phases of matter are investigated using, in particular, atomic design to tailor beneficial physical properties down to the atomic level. Storage, transport and manipulation of magnetic information within a small set of atoms does not only require a fundamental understanding of their ground-state properties from the perspective of quantum mechanics, but crucially also their dynamical excited states. We propose to go beyond the state of the art by investigating from first-principles the dynamical properties of chiral spin textures in nanostructures from 2-dimensions to 0-dimension with these nanostructures being deposited on different substrates where spin-orbit interaction plays a major role. Understanding their response to external dynamical fields (electric/magnetic) or currents will impact on the burgeoning field of nano-spin-orbitronics. Indeed, to achieve efficient manipulation of nano-sized functional spin textures, it is imperative to exploit and understand their resonant motion, analogous to the role of ferromagnetic resonance in spintronics. A magnetic skyrmion is an example of a spin-swirling texture characterized by a topological number that will be explored. This spin state has huge potential in nanotechnologies thanks to the low spin currents needed to manipulate it. Based on time-dependent density functional theory and many-body perturbation theory, our innovative scheme will deliver a paradigm shift with respect to existing theoretical methodologies and will provide a fundamental understanding of: (i) the occurrence of chiral spin textures in reduced dimensions, (ii) their dynamical spin-excitation spectra and the coupling of the different excitation degrees of freedom and (iii) their impact on the electronic structure.

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