Awarded Projects of Sixth ANR-NRF Joint Grant Call

The sixth ANR-NRF Joint Grant Call was launched in September 2019. The call focused on (i) Materials, nanotechnologies, nanosystems, (ii) Information Communication Science Technologies including Quantum Technologies and Artificial Intelligence, and (iii) Applications of digital technologies to health, sustainable mobility and sustainable cities. 55 full proposals were received when the call closed in May 2020.

Following evaluation by a joint panel from ANR and NRF, the following projects were awarded.

1.     Synergistic Effect between Nanostructured Catalysts and Ultrasound: Application in Biomass Conversion to Specialty Chemicals (SonoNanoCat) by Assistant Professor Liu Wen from Nanyang Technological University

Sonochemistry is emerging as an alternative technology in sustainable chemistry. When performed in the vicinity of a catalyst, sonochemistry can be significantly more selective than the conventional method of inception cavitation. The SonoNanoCat project will develop and apply nanostructured catalysts with high lattice oxygen mobility for the selective oxidation of polyfunctional substrates to relevant chemicals with important industrial and societal impacts. Studying the nano-interfaces between the sonocatalysts-cavitation agents and the cavitation bubbles will gain important insights about the reaction mechanisms.

2.     Security Evaluation of Lightweight Encryption using new Cryptanalysis Techniques (SELECT) by Associate Professor Thomas Peyrin from Nanyang Technological University

In the last decades, we have seen a large deployment of smart devices and contact-less smart cards, with applications to the Internet of Things and smart cities. These devices have strong security requirements as they communicate sensitive data, but they have very low resources available: constrained computing capabilities and limited energy. This led to security disasters with the use of weak homemade cryptography such as KeeLoq or MIFARE.  More recently, the academic cryptography community has come up with dedicated lightweight designs such as PRESENT or SKINNY, and the NIST is currently organizing a competition to select the next worldwide standards. This project will perform a wide security evaluation of the designs submitted to/chosen by the NIST competition, and of lightweight cryptographic algorithms in general. It will use latest cryptanalysis advances, but also propose new attacks; both classical and physical.

3.     Hybrid Ion-Traps for Quantum Computing: Embedded-Glass Ion-Trap on Si Interposer for Large Scale Integration (HIT) by Professor Tan Chuan Seng from Nanyang Technological University

Quantum information processing holds the promise to improve classical techniques taking advantage of the unique properties (e.g. entanglement) of quantum bits. Laser cooled trapped ions are an ideal system for the realization of such an idea. This project aims to develop hybrid ion-traps (HIT), which will combine the use of a glass substrate (ideal for trapping) with a silicon interposer substrate (for laser beam steering and electronic connections). The envisioned embedding technology of the glass interposer into the Si substrate is such that HIT will be compatible with through-silicon-vias (TSV) and with mass production. HIT will allow the implementation of photonic integrated circuits for ion addressing and readout. This will open the way to new trap designs (arrays and/or annular traps), contributing to large scale development of quantum computing.

4.     High Performance Microelectrochemical Actuators based on 2D MXenes (MEACT) by Professor Lee Pooi See from Nanyang Technological University

Microelectrochemical actuators are attractive for artificial intelligence due to the dynamic tunable interactions for human-machine interface. In order to achieve high performance electro-mechanical transductive actuator using electrochemical driving force, high ion storage of electrodes play an important role. However, current electrochemical actuators suffer from low energy transduction efficiency (typically lower than 1%). This project will develop functionalized two-dimensional MXene nanomaterials as the conductive electrode for electrochemical actuator.

5.     Rational Design of Halide Perovskite-Based Quantum Dots for Photonic Applications (DesperQD) by Assistant Professor Martial Duchamp from Nanyang Technological University

Colloidal perovskites have attracted attention for potential use in solid-state lighting and single photon emitters. Halide perovskite quantum dots (QDs) offer a cheap and scalable material option for such applications due to their high defect tolerance and high luminescence quantum yield. Despite the huge variety of halide perovskite available, only a few are used in their colloidal form, which can be explained by the difficulty to stabilize QDs with a low surface defect concentration using these materials. This project will use atomistic simulations to optimize halide perovskite QDs complexes stabilized with capping molecules. The crucial link between the atomic structure and the optical properties will be established at the single quantum dot level using correlative optical and structural techniques.

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