Francesca Ferlaino receives ERC Advanced Grant

Francesca Ferlaino, professor at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, and scientific director at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences receives an ERC Advanced Grant, the highest European funding for established scientists in basic research. She will receive up to 2.5 million euros in research funding. For Ferlaino, it is already the third ERC grant after a Starting Grant (2010) and a Consolidator Grant (2016).

The European Research Council (ERC) awards ERC Advanced Grants to established top scientists for their outstanding scientific research. They receive up to 2.5 million euros over a period of five years as funding for their basic research. Today, the ERC announced in Brussels that Francesca Ferlaino will receive this prestigious award.

With the help of ultracold gases, quantum phenomena can be specifically controlled and investigated in the laboratory. Francesca Ferlaino has pioneered the use of a new class of atomic species, rare earth metals, to induce many-body quantum phenomena, which have no counterpart in other systems. Rare-earth metals are the most magnetic elements in the periodic table. Each behaves like an atomic magnet, and “a million of these tiny magnets can create dipolar gases with unique properties”, says the physicist. Together with her team, she demonstrated in 2012 the first Bose-Einstein condensation of erbium and later created Erbium-Dysprosium mixtures. Very recently, her group was able to access quantum phenomena that long-awaited demonstration in laboratories, such as a special minimum in the excitation energy, called after Landau roton, and, simultaneously with two other groups, a novel phase of matter called supersolidity. “Our aim is now to go even further with rare-earth condensates, and using also their internal structure and degrees of freedom”, says Francesca Ferlaino.

In her ERC project, the researcher now aims to push the limits of interaction control using tailored optical potentials and Rydberg excitations, as well as state read-out through the application of quantum-gas-microscopy techniques. “We will harness the multi-valance-electron nature of magnetic lanthanides to create the next generation of quantum simulators, which promises enhanced capabilities otherwise not accessible”, says the awardee.

Click here for the press release.

10 Years Erbium BEC

On the International Women’s Day March 8, 2012 a team led by Francesca Ferlaino created the very first BEC from highly-magnetic erbium atoms in their lab at the University of Innsbruck. Today we celebrate the tenth anniversary of a discovery that marked (along with the first Dy BEC) the beginning of the Lanthanide Era in the field of long-range-interacting ultracold atoms. A curiosity: Innsbruck holds the record as the “condensing city” with its first BEC of Cesium (2002, Grimm’s Group), Strontium (2009, Schreck/Grimm’s Group), and Erbium (2012, Ferlaino’s Group).

Supersolid observation chosen as favourite Phys. Rev. X paper

Image copyright: APS/Alan Stonebraker

The American Physical Society’s high impact journal Physical Review X has chosen its favourite papers for its tenth anniversary. Among those chosen was the first observation of a dipolar supersolid from our group and the simultaneous observation at the University of Stuttgart.

Full article available here: PRX – Ten Years After

Innizer Prize for Francesca Ferlaino

Francesca Ferlaino has been awarded the Cardinal Innitzer Prize for Natural Sciences 2021 last weekend in Vienna for her outstanding achievements in the field of ultracold quantum gases. Her pioneering work with lathanoid atoms has been internationally groundbreaking in this field.

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn awarded 26 scientists with the Cardinal Innitzer Prize at the Archbishop’s Palace in Vienna on Saturday. This year, due to the cancellation of last year’s award ceremony caused by the pandemic, the 2020 and 2021 prizes were awarded together. Named after Vienna Archbishop Cardinal Theodor Innitzer (1875-1955), the science prize is one of the most prestigious awards of its kind in Austria. It has been awarded by the Archdiocese of Vienna since 1962 and is supported by the Federal Ministry of Science, several provinces, as well as banks, insurance companies and the Chamber of Commerce. The list of laureates reads like a “who’s who” of Austrian science.

Francesca Ferlaino was awarded this year’s Cardinal Innitzer Prize for Natural Sciences for her pioneering work with ultracold quantum gases. Her work with lathanoid atoms was particularly highlighted. “As a scientist, you have made a difference when others jump on the bandwagon – nowadays, more and more physicists around the world are working with precisely these atoms. It is therefore no exaggeration to say that Ferlaino has done true pioneering work,” said laudator Ulrike Diebold from TU Wien.