Funding tomorrow’s research

image: Left to right. Correlated quantum materials and solid-state quantum systems: Zhanybek Alpichshev, Andrew Higginbotham, Georgios Katsaros (© Ferrigato), Kimberly Modic, Maksym Serbyn. SPyCoDE: Thomas A. Henzinger (© Rigaud), Eleftherios Kokoris-Kogia, Krzysztof Pietrzak. Meiosis: Beatriz Vicoso.
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Credit: ©ISTA

Collaboration is essential to successful research and requires adequate funding. This is why the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) has awarded four Special Research Programs (SFB) for a total of nearly 15 million euros over the next four years. Nine group leaders from the Austrian Institute of Science and Technology (ISTA) and their teams join three of these science projects that cover a wide range of topics in quantum physics, molecular biology and computer science. The objective of this program is to strengthen local research networks and enable new multidisciplinary collaborations.

The research program “Correlated quantum materials and solid-state quantum systems” brings together two subfields of quantum physics: exotic forms of correlated quantum matter and quantum devices. From ISTA, the groups led by Zhanybek Alpichev, Andrew Higginbotham, Georgios Katsaros, Kimberley Modic, and Maxime Serbyn participate in this project. The program also includes researchers from TU Wien and German partners who have not yet been chosen by the DFG. “The future of quantum computing requires the discovery of topological properties in new materials, such as spin liquids or superconductors. Our approach is multifaceted, combining nano-fabrication of next-generation quantum materials with extremely high magnetic fields to uncover these exotic properties, explains Kimberly Modic. This research could help develop new devices and possible applications for quantum computers – see this dossier on quantum computers for more information on ISTA’s research on this topic.

The “SPyCoDE” project aims to create the technological foundations of security and privacy by design for IT infrastructure, as required by the EU GDPR. Researchers – among them Thomas A. Henzinger, Eleftherios Kokoris-Kogia, and Krzysztof Pietrzak from ISTA and other partners from TU Wien, TU Graz, Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt and the University of Vienna – aim to provide companies with the tools to achieve these goals by combining state-of-the-art results of cryptography and mathematical logic. “This SFB project provides much-needed focus and funding for the development of future-proof technologies that will not only enable secure information processing, but also strengthen the Austrian research community,” said Thomas A. Henzinger, Participating Scientist. and President of ISTA.

In the “Meiosis” project, the ISTA scientist Beatrice Vicoso will collaborate with researchers from Max Perutz Labs/University of Vienna, IMBA and JKU Linz to answer open questions about meiosis. It is the process by which cells with two sets of chromosomes produce haploid gametes – cells for sexual propagation. Characteristic of sexual reproduction, meiosis can be modified or completely lost in asexually reproducing organisms. How exactly this happens at the molecular level and what genetic pathways are involved is largely unknown and will be studied by the Vicoso (ISTA) and Dammermann (Max Perutz Labs) groups.

The fourth SFB project is called “Computational Electric Machine Laboratory” and focuses on optimizing electric machines – for example the motors of electric vehicles – using new simulation techniques. With this, participating researchers from TU Graz, JKU Linz and TU Darmstadt contribute to achieving international climate goals by creating the machines of tomorrow.

Media contact:

Marcus Feigl

[email protected]

+43 664 8832 6393


The Institute of Science and Technology (ISTA) is a doctoral research institution located in Klosterneuburg, 18 km from the center of Vienna, Austria. Inaugurated in 2009, the Institute is dedicated to fundamental research in the natural sciences and mathematics. ISTA employs faculty on a tenure-track system, postdoctoral fellows and doctoral students. Although dedicated to the principle of curiosity-driven research, the Institute owns the rights to all scientific discoveries and is committed to promoting their use. ISTA’s first president is Thomas A. Henzinger, a leading computer scientist and former professor at the University of California, Berkeley, USA, and EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland. The ISTA Doctoral School offers fully-funded doctoral positions to highly qualified candidates with bachelor’s or master’s degrees in biology, neuroscience, mathematics, computer science, physics and related fields.

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