It is by far the highest endowed research funding in Austria: The "Clusters of Excellence", funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF, enables large-scale scientific projects at top international level in which at least three research institutions are involved.
The result of this call for proposals was announced on 13 March 2023: One of these "Clusters of Excellence" will be led by Prof. Günther Rupprechter at TU Wien - this major project, which involves several research groups at TU Wien, is about the development of new materials for a climate-friendly energy transition. The initial duration is 5 years, the total costs of the project amount to approx. 35 million euros during this period, approx. 20 million euros will flow in funding. TU Wien will contribute about 15 million euros, which corresponds to 40%. TU Wien is also involved in two other Clusters of Excellence - thus TU Wien has a share in all three clusters funded by the FWF in the natural sciences, while the remaining two are in the social sciences and humanities.
"The FWF's Clusters of Excellence will certainly shape the Austrian research landscape," says Prof. Johannes Fröhlich, Vice Rector for Research and Innovation at TU Wien. "The highly endowed funding enables world-class research in particularly promising areas. We are very pleased that TU Vienna was so successful in this call for proposals."
Materials for the energy transition
There are many ways to avoid CO2 emissions in the future: For example, one can store renewable energy by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. In addition, CO2 can also be converted into other substances - for example into alcohols or e-fuels.
In the Cluster of Excellence "Materials for Energy Conversion and Storage (MECS)", two innovative ways to convert energy are employed: Electrocatalysis and Photocatalysis. Electrocatalysis uses electricity from wind power plants and photovoltaics to electrochemically convert water and CO2 into hydrogen, synthetic fuels and fine chemicals. Photocatalysis, on the other hand, uses sunlight directly for chemical conversions.
"In order for the energy transition to succeed, however, we need innovative new materials," explains Prof. Rupprechter. "In order to develop such customised nanocatalysts, we first need to understand exactly which chemical and physical processes take place at the atomic level on surfaces and interfaces."
This goal can only be achieved if the best minds from different institutions and disciplines work together to develop disruptive new solutions. Both state-of-the-art experimental and theoretical methods are continuously being developed with regard to these complex issues. Therefore, the Cluster of Excellence unites numerous research teams from chemistry and physics and their multidisciplinary expertise. TU Wien’s partners in the Cluster of Excellence are the University of Vienna, the University of Innsbruck and IST Austria.
Quanta and microbes
Another Cluster of Excellence in which the TU Wien is involved is entitled "Quantum Science Austria". This is about quantum technologies that have the potential to trigger far-reaching technological innovations - here Prof. Jörg Schmiedmayer from the Atomic Institute of TU Wien is a member of the Board of Directors.
TU Wien also plays a role in the "Microbiomes Drive Planetary Health" cluster, where the understanding of microorganisms and their interactions is to be deepened. Prof. Bernhard Lendl from the Institute of Chemical Technologies and Analytics represents TU Wien on the Board of Directors of this major project.
Prof. Günther Rupprechter
Institute of Materials Chemistry
+43 1 58801 165100