Spinoza Prize for TU/e professor René Janssen

University Professor René Janssen will be awarded a Spinoza Prize by NWO amounting to 2.5 million euro. This news was announced this afternoon during Bessensap, an annual event at which representatives from science and the press come together. The Spinoza Prize, which has been awarded every year since 1995, is the highest Dutch scientific distinction. After Rutger van Santen (1997) and Bert Meijer (2001), Jansen is the third professor from TU/e upon whom this honor is conferred.

René Janssen is an expert in the field of plastic solar cells and electronics. The University Professor’s research group, Molecular Materials and Nanosystems (M2N), forms a bridge between the Departments of Applied Physics and Chemical Engineering and Chemistry, which enables him to combine the expertise of both disciplines.

In a first reaction Janssen calls the Spinoza Prize “a magnificent recognition of the achievements that all the people in our group have jointly realized”. The prize will allow him to recruit new staff, without the need to compete for financing. “This will give me the freedom to start something on Monday morning which I have come up with on Sunday evening, so to speak.” Janssen expects that he will devote a portion of the money to his main line of research: plastic solar cells. In addition, he wants to invest in his research into the production of solar fuel cells, and into solar cells on the basis of the mineral perovskite.

The jury specifically commends the unique manner in which Janssen and his group succeed in combining fundamental research with technical applications. According to the jury report, plastic solar cells “have developed, thanks to his research into new materials and new technologies, from a scientific novelty to a potential energy source of the future”.

The Spinoza Prize is –of course– not the first honor to be conferred upon Janssen. Indeed, even in 1999 he was awarded the Pioneer Prize by NWO-CW (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research) and the year after that the Speurwerkprijs (Research Prize) by the KIVI-NIRIA association of engineers. In 2011 Janssen was elected as a member of the KNAW (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) and two years ago he was appointed University Professor of TU/e. In the same year he also received a prestigious Advanced Grant (of 2.5 million euro) from the European Research Council.

On Monday September 14, 2015, the festive presentation of the NWO Spinoza Prizes will take place at the Nieuwe Kerk in The Hague. Then the laureates will receive their prizes and present their research and plans for the coming years. Since 1995, NWO has awarded three or four Spinoza Prizes every year.

Next week you can read more about Spinoza laureate Janssen in the paper edition of Cursor. Tonight (Friday June 12) René Janssen can be heard on Radio 5 in the program De Kennis van Nu (today’s knowledge), between 22.00 and 23.00 hours.

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