News Release

ERC Starting Grant for Dr. Giacomo Valtolina

Grant and Award Announcement

Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society

Dr. Giacomo Valtolina

image: Dr. Giacomo Valtolina view more 

Credit: © privat

Dr. Giacomo Valtolina, a physicist  from the small town of Cornate d'Adda near Milan, has been granted a prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant of €1.5 million. Dr. Valtolina's exceptional research project, "LIght for controlling Reactive Interactions in COld molecules - LIRICO," aims to revolutionize our understanding of ultracold chemistry and the behavior of molecules at temperatures close to absolute zero.

Dr. Valtolina' pursued his doctoral studies at the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa in collaboration with LENS - Florence, under the guidance of Prof. Massimo Inguscio and Dr. Giacomo Roati.

Currently, Dr. Valtolina serves as the Research Group Leader of the "Molecular Quantum Matter group" in the Department of Molecular Physics at the Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft in Berlin. His leadership in this role underscores his commitment to advancing the frontiers of scientific discovery.

His research focuses on the cutting-edge field of using lasers to cool gases of atoms and molecules to temperatures less than a millionth of a degree above absolute zero. At these ultracold temperatures, the effects of quantum statistics become paramount, leading to the emergence of novel phases of matter, including Bose-Einstein Condensates (BECs). While BECs of ultracold atoms are already well-established in laboratories worldwide, Dr. Valtolina's work seeks to achieve similar control with molecular quantum gases, unlocking a vast realm of scientific possibilities. Molecules possess intricate internal structures that offer applications beyond the reach of atomic systems.

However, a unique challenge arises when working with molecules: their propensity for chemical reactions hinders efficient cooling to the onset of BEC. Dr. Valtolina's research addresses this challenge head-on, with the overarching goal of developing innovative techniques for controlling ultracold chemistry and realizing a molecular BEC.

Within his research group, Dr. Valtolina is spearheading the development of a pioneering experiment for probing and controlling the microscopic aspects of ultracold chemical reactions. His team is particularly interested in exploring the complex polyatomic molecules that form during collisions of ultracold diatomics and play a pivotal role in chemical reactions. To accomplish this, they plan to harness the power of light and its interactions with matter, ultimately bringing ultracold chemistry under precise control and achieving a molecular BEC.

Commenting on this remarkable achievement, Dr. Valtolina stated, "I am deeply honored to receive the ERC Starting Grant, which will enable us to advance the frontiers of ultracold chemistry. By gaining unprecedented control over molecular quantum gases, we aim to explore uncharted scientific territories and contribute to groundbreaking discoveries."

The European Research Council, established by the European Union in 2007, is a premier funding organization for excellent frontier research across Europe. The ERC supports creative researchers of all nationalities and ages, facilitating pioneering projects that push the boundaries of knowledge.

"It is part of our mission to give early-career talent the independence to pursue ambitious curiosity-driven research that can shape our future. Congratulations to all winners and good luck on your path to discovery." - ERC President Professor Maria Leptin

In a highly competitive field with 2,696 proposals, Dr. Giacomo Valtolina's success rate of securing the ERC Starting Grant reflects the caliber and significance of his research. The overall success rate was 14.8%.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.