ERC Consolidator Grants awarded to Eva von Contzen and Dr. Oliver Höhn at the University of Freiburg

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Eva von Contzen and Oliver Höhn have each received a Consolidator Grant from the
Eva von Contzen and Oliver Höhn have each received a Consolidator Grant from the ERC. Photos: private/University of Freiburg
European Research Council funds research projects on retellings in English literature and high-efficiency solar cells

The English literature scholar Eva von Contzen and physicist Dr. Oliver Höhn from the University of Freiburg have each received a Consolidator Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). The European Union is t funding their research projects on the narrative form of "retelling" and on highly efficient tandem solar cells. The awards are among the most prestigious prizes for scientists in the EU. The funding runs for five years and amounts to two million euros each, with Höhn receiving an additional 700,000 euros for a large device. The ERC is funding 308 of the 2,000 applications submitted across Europe this year.

Eva von Contzen: "Retelling and Repetition"

"Retellings," i.e. retellings of ancient or medieval material such as The Iliad and Beowulf, are currently experiencing a boom in English-language literature. In her project "Retelling and Repetition: Towards a Literary History of Derivation" (DERIVATE), Eva von Contzen is investigating this trend by placing contemporary texts in a dialogue with writing practices of the pre-modern era, particularly the Middle Ages. "The funding enables me and my team to research a much-neglected area of literary history, and at the same time to reflect on questions of the literary canon. In other words, to define what ’good’ literature is," says von Contzen. In the Middle Ages, a different concept of originality applied than today: good literature was literature that drew on existing themes and texts, which were retold in new and different ways. Modern concepts of literature, on the other hand, focus primarily on originality and privilege the new and the not-yet told. "I would like to counter this with an alternative paradigm of literary history, namely that of a history of derivation, of what has already existed."

Eva von Contzen is an English literature scholar with a research focus on medieval literature, historical narrative research and literary theory. She was a junior professor from 2017 to 2023 and has been Professor of English Literature at the University of Freiburg since October 2023, where she is currently also Director of the Medieval Centre. In 2017, von Contzen received an ERC Starting Grant for her project "Lists in Literature and Culture" on enumerations and lists in literary texts.

Oliver Höhn: "Photonic metasurfaces"

The energy revolution requires the massive use of photovoltaic cells, which in turn require large quantities of resources. It is already becoming apparent that these are only available in limited quantities. Oliver Höhn’s project "Photonic metasurfaces for resource-efficient ultrathin high efficiency tandem solar cells" (PHASE) aims to create a deep physical understanding of metasurfaces for ultrathin tandem solar cells, in which the resource-intensive semiconductor part is ten times thinner than before. As a result, ten times less semiconductor material is required than for similar existing cells. Higher efficiencies can only be achieved with tandem solar cells, which consist of two or more sub-cells. However, existing tandem technologies are based on relatively thick absorber layers. In order to reduce their resource requirements, Höhn and his team are developing advanced light trapping techniques such as nanophotonic metasurfaces. "With this project, we will prove that this approach can effectively support the urgently needed energy revolution," says Höhn.

Oliver Höhn is a physicist whose project is based at the Institute for Sustainable Technical Systems (INATECH) at the University of Freiburg. Höhn also works at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg, where he has headed the "III-V Semiconductor Technology" group since 2022. His research focusses on III-V multi-junction solar cells, the optical modelling and realisation of microand nanostructured surfaces and the optical modelling of high-efficiency solar cells.