Professor Hiranya Peiris
Hiranya Peiris, Photo: Serena Nobili/Oskar Klein Centre

In total, the Knut and Alice Wallenberg foundation grants almost 164 million SEK to research projects at Stockholm university. The projects are assessed to be of the highest international level and have the potential to lead to future scientific breakthroughs.


Studies of atomic and molecular collisions offer further clues to the composition of the Milky Way

Professor Henrik Cederquist at Fysikum has received a grant of SEK 37.2 million for the project Probing charge and mass-transfer reactions on the atomic level.

Portrait of Henrik Cederqvist, professor at Fysikum
Henrik Cederqvist, Photo: Niklas Björling

An entirely new technology developed at Stockholm University will be used to conduct experimental studies of quantum-resolved,

charge- and mass-transfer processes in individual atomic and molecular collisions. Results will then be used to drive theory development and with the aid of spectral analysis to determine the composition of the stars in the Milky Way, which in their turn link to the development of the galaxy itself.

The project will utilise the new DESIREE national research infrastructure at Stockholm University. DESIREE facilitates the study of atomic and molecular ions in well-defined quantum state.


Understanding the dynamic Universe

Professor Hiranya Peiris, Director of the Oskar Klein Centre, has received a grant of SEK 37.8 million for the project Understanding the Dynamic Universe.

Scientists now describe our Universe as a place whose mass is dominated by "dark matter" and where galaxies are moving away from each other at ever-increasing speeds propelled by "dark energy". The next frontier for the scientific community will be to use direct observation to unlock the fundamental physical nature of these dark components. 

This project will help Swedish researchers leverage the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) which is currently being constructed. LSST will survey over half the sky in six different colors every few days, producing a motion picture of our Universe. Local researchers will use LSST to focus on three areas. The structure of the universe as probed by the galaxy catalogue, extremely faint galaxies which help in understanding the nature of dark matter, and time-varying phenomena including supernovae, which trace the accelerated expansion and the electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational wave sources.


New methods and tools for the preparation of organofluorines

Professor Kálmán J. Szabó of the Department of Organic Chemistry has received a grant of SEK 29.3 million for the project Organofluorines: anthropogenic small-molecules for life sciences.

Professor Kalman J Szabó
Kálmán J Szabó, Photo: Privat

Organic molecules containing at least one carbon–fluorine bond (C-F) are known as organofluorine compounds or organofluorines. Although fluorine is the thirteenth most abundant element in the Earth's crust, there are only a few reported naturally occurring organofluorines in living organisms. However, 20% of pharmaceuticals and 35% of all agrochemical products on the market are organofluorines. Due to the low levels of naturally occurring organofluorines, the vast majority is anthropogenic, in other words human made.

Known as "the small atom with a big ego”, fluorine’s many attributes (including electronegativity, oxidation potential and solvation energy) make it extremely difficult for synthetic chemists to develop new, selective reactions for the production of organofluorine compounds. In this project, five leading researchers are joining forces to identify new methods for synthesising complex organofluorine compounds that are important in life sciences. This will be achieved through the development of new, safe and stable fluorination reagents and the use of catalytic methods.


High pressure should highlight unique properties in quasicrystals

Professor Ulrich Häussermann of the Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry has received a grant of SEK 28.1 million for the project Functional Quasicrystals? – Harnessing the complexity of aperiodic intermetallic compounds.

The project is focused on fundamental research in the field of quasicrystals and complex alloys. The goal of the researchers is that

Professor Ulrich Häussermann
Ulrich Häussermann, Photo: Private

the project will lead to the discovery of new metallic materials with unexpected magnetic and electronic properties, as well as an understanding of and control over their formation. This widens the horizon for entirely new applications, for example in data and energy storage. The project will also lead to the development of new infrastructure that enables measurements at extremely low temperatures and high pressures.

Quasicrystals are primarily formed through the combination of various metals and are characterised by well-defined atomic clusters. Unlike in conventional crystals, atoms in quasicrystals exhibit more than one repetition distance (quasiperiodicity) which gives rise to so called forbiddencrystallographic symmetries. Their discovery – which was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2011 – implied a paradigm shift in science that altered our fundamental view on order in matter and redefined the very concept of crystal. 

The central idea of the project is the utilization of new methods of synthesis and measurements, which will employ high pressures on the order of several 10 000 atm, in order to uncover the unique properties of quasicrystals that are believed to be linked to their distinctive atom arrangements.


Answering questions on the birth of mitochondrial ribosomes

Dr Alexey Amunts at the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics and SciLifeLab has received a grant of SEK 31,5 million for the project The Birth of the Mitochondrial Ribosome.

Alexey Amunts
Alexey Amunts, Photo: Neil Grant

Mitochondrial ribosomes are complex multi-component machineries orchestrating synthesis of proteins, which generate cellular energy, based on the instructions encoded in the genetic material in mitochondria.

The birth of the mitochondrial ribosome itself is a result of a really complex biological synthesis processes, but how exactly all the structural compounds are assembled together into a multifunctional nano-unit capable of reading the genetic information and translate it to bioenergetic functions is not understood. 

The project aims to investigate this central question by employing the recent developments in molecular visualization. This is expected not only to provide a roadmap of how ribosome comes to be in mitochondria and give answer to fundamental questions. But it may also affect future development of treatments for the types of cancer that are dependent on mitochondria to grow. If we are able to target these specific cancer cells by preventing new mitochondrial ribosomes from being created, this could become a new, effective, weapon in battling cancer.