Skip to content
Main menu hidden.
Published: 2024-01-24

ERC Starting Grant to physics researcher for innovative data storage

NEWS Nicolò Maccaferri, a physicist at Umeå University, has been awarded a €2 million grant by the European Research Council for fundamental research that could change the way we store and process information. “We will use light to create and manipulate magnetism in materials in ways that no one has done before,” he says.

Currently, data storage relies heavily on hard drives, which primarily use magnetism. This method is effective because we have learnt how to utilize the static magnetic properties of the materials.

Nicolò Maccaferri's research focuses on controlling and manipulating magnetism. Using ultra-short light pulses that influence the electrons inside materials, he aims to provide them with entirely new properties that make data storage much more efficient and energy-saving than today.

This could radically change everything we know about how we process information

“We will be able to create a kind of hard drives which work like a ‘time machine’ where data can be written and read not only at a specific position in space, but also in time, thus creating what I call ‘spatio-temporal bits’ of memory. This could radically change everything we know about how we process information”, he says.

By manipulating electrons on very short time scales, the energy can be utilized before it dissipates as useless heat.

In today's society, where the management of information is critical, particularly with the rise of artificial intelligence, the need for innovative solutions is paramount. Nicolò Maccaferri was recently honored by the European Research Council with an ERC Starting Grant of €2 million over five years, allowing him to expand his research. He has also been named a Wallenberg Academy Fellow in Technology, another prestigious appointment in the scientific community.

“Receiving recognition from both the ERC and KAW is truly fantastic. They are both stamps of excellence, recognized not only within our field and by the reviewers of the applications, but also by people outside the field, like the panel members who interviewed me. It means that they understand and appreciate the vision we have and believe it’s possible to realize it in our lab. Securing both ERC and Wallenberg underscores that what we do is at the forefront of our field,” says Nicolò Maccaferri.

Read a longer report on Nicolò Macceferri and his research

About the ERC Starting Grant

The ERC Starting Grant is a research funding awarded by the European Research Council (ERC). It is designed to support promising young researchers at the beginning of their careers who wish to establish their own research team or program.

Applications are evaluated by a panel of international experts. The assessment is based on the scientific excellence of the research and the researcher's potential.

For more information, please contact:

Nicolò Maccaferri
Assistant professor