Prof. Dr. Michael Kues mit renommiertem Förderpreis des Europäischen Forschungsrates ausgezeichnet

Prof. Dr. Michael Kues awarded with the prestigious European Research Council Starting Grant

© Sonja Smalian/PhoenixD

Michael Kues’ research project on the development of photonic frequency-based quantum co-processors, will receive funding of up to 1.5 million euros over a period of five years.

Prof. Dr. Michael Kues and the staff of the Hannover Center for Optical Technologies and the PhoenixD Cluster of Excellence at Leibniz University Hannover (LUH) are delighted: The 36-year-old physicist has been awarded an ERC Starting Grant by the European Research Council (ERC).

With this funding the ERC supports excellent young scientists at the beginning of an independent career so that they can focus on their research and establish themselves. Kues' research project will receive up to 1.5 million euros over the next five years.

Strict selection process

The application procedure is hard. In a two-stage selection process, scientists from the respective disciplines evaluate the submitted project proposals. Applications are open to young scientists who completed their doctorate two to seven years ago. The visionary nature of the research questions and the excellent achievements of the applicants to date are critical selection criteria. Last year, only 13.1 per cent of the submitted applications were able to convince the jury and received funding. Due to the strict selection process, the Starting Grant is highly regarded among researchers and is considered a knighthood of the European scientific community.

More than 3.200 applicants

In this year's 13th round, 3,272 research projects from all over Europe competed with each other. "I am excited that my application convinced the selection committee. This award is an important building block for my scientific career," says Prof. Dr. Michael Kues, member of the PhoenixD Cluster of Excellence. "The funding allows me to further expand my research focus on the development and application of photonic quantum technologies", says Kues.

Research project on the development of quantum co-processors

With his research project on "Intelligent photonic frequency-based quantum circuits (QFreC)" Prof. Dr. Michael Kues wants to expand the possibilities of machine learning. Currently, computers use machine learning methods to solve complex tasks. These tasks include, for example, the recognition of patterns to optimize investment strategies in financial trading, to steer self-propelled cars or to improve medical diagnoses. However, the computing power required for these tasks pushes the existing computational resources to their limits, which restrains their wide application and further development.

At this point, Kues' research project QFreC comes in. The physicist wants to use quantum photonic circuits for machine learning and investigate how this combination can increase computing power and save resources. "With the development of new, powerful photonic circuits, controllable, large-scale quantum resources will be generated that can be used to accelerate machine learning. At the same time, the use of photonic technology has the potential to minimize energy consumption," says Kues.

Joined LUH in 2019

Michael Kues joined Leibniz University Hannover in spring 2019. He holds a position at the Hannover Centre for Optical Technologies (HOT). He is researching the development of photonic quantum technologies using micro- and nanophotonics in the PhoenixD Cluster of Excellence.

Before moving to Hannover, the 36-year-old was an assistant professor at Aarhus University and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Glasgow. Before this, he headed the "Nonlinear integrated quantum optics" research group at the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique - Centre Énergie Matériaux et Télécommunications in Montréal (Canada) for four years. He completed his studies and his doctorate in physics at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster. For the new research project QFreC, Kues will advertise four positions for research assistants (PhD and postdoc positions).

Three scientists of LUH received ERC Starting Grants

Besides Michael Kues, two other professors from Leibniz University Hannover (LUH) also received an ERC Starting Grant: Prof. Matthias Müller (Institute of Control Engineering, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science) and Prof. Stefan Schreieder (Institute of Algebraic Geometry, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics). Read the complete LUH press release (in German) here.