Another BME awardee in Europe’s most prestigious scientific grant competition

Péter Makk, solid-state physics researcher at BME is the second BME awardee in three months in the EU’s ERC grant programme.

The European Research Council’s (ERC) Consolidator Grant is part of the Horizon Europe framework programme. Researchers who have already established their own research teams and have an outstanding track record, with the promise of further world-class results, are eligible for international funding. Commenting on the success of the competition, Tibor Czigány, Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and BME’s Rector, said: “With this latest result, Péter Makk’s research group has confirmed its place among the leading European representatives of the field. It is also a great value that the research that won the grant also builds on the links between BME’s groundbreaking quantum computing and solid-state physics research.”

Péter Makk, Associate Professor at the Department of Physics, Institute of Physics, Faculty of Natural Sciences at Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BME), outlined the objectives of the research, which has been awarded a five-year ERC Consolidator Grant of nearly €2 million: "In recent years, we have witnessed major developments in quantum computing, where the main goal is to create new ultra-fast computers that operate on a radically different principle from today’s computers. However, the biggest challenge in their implementation at the moment is the loss of information in the basic information units, the so-called qubits. To solve this problem, we need materials in which electrons can interact strongly with each other and the qubits they create have an internal, so-called topological protection. Two-dimensional materials with a single-atomic-row structure could play a major role in quantum computing. When layers of graphene or other two-dimensional materials are stacked at a well-defined, “magic” rotation angle, the properties of the resulting material are fundamentally changed: the strong interaction between electrons will determine the behaviour of the material, and new exciting properties such as exotic superconductivity can appear. In the project we are launching, we will develop and apply techniques that are radically new in this field. This research is strongly linked to BME, which has a long tradition of studying electron interactions, as well as magnetic and superconducting materials at both experimental and theoretical levels, and we are continuously integrating this research into the academic programmes of our physics students.”

In 2021, Péter Makk was awarded a grant from the Lendület (Momentum) Programme of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA) to establish the Correlated van der Waals Structures Momentum Research Group. The new grant will also allow for the expansion of the research team and the purchase of state-of-the-art laboratory equipment.

The European Research Council (ERC), set up by the European Union, is the premier European funding organisation for excellent frontier research. The ERC Grant is the most prestigious, highly competitive individual excellence grant scheme in European research funding, available in Starting, Consolidator and Advanced categories, adapted to the researcher’ career path. The ERC provides long-term funding for research plans that have the potential to change the way a discipline conducts research. The only condition for the award of grants is scientific excellence. The ERC Consolidator Grant supports researchers at the upstream stage of their research career, i.e. those with an internationally recognised research track record, their own research team and programme. The aim is that by the end of the ERC period, the Principal Investigator will have strengthened their research team into a leading think tank in the field.

In November 2022, Péter Nagy, researcher at BME’s Faculty of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology was awarded an ERC grant, the ERC Starting Grant, as the only Hungarian awardee in this category. The importance of ERC grants is reflected in the limited number of grants available. Prior to the success of Péter Nagy and Péter Makk, the last time a researcher from BME won a Starting Grant was in 2010 and an Advanced Grant in 2013.


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