Martijn's experience

Name: Martijn Homsma
Master's: Nanotechnology 
Bachelor’s: Applied Physics

'Working on cutting-edge technologies, the technologies of the future: that’s what I want to do.'

"Back when I was exploring Bachelor’s programmes, I was pretty sure that I wanted to study Nanotechnology at the University of Twente. At the Open Days, I saw what this Master’s and the MESA+ Institute had to offer and it really spoke to me. Working on cutting-edge technologies, the technologies of the future: I wanted to do that too. Since there was no obvious Bachelor’s in Nanotechnology, I decided to start my Bachelor’s in Applied Physics and to follow up with the Master’s in Nanotechnology.

Invisible

What’s so special about this field, is that it’s quite invisible, yet it’s everywhere. When I tell people that I study Nanotechnology, they find it vague and they often ask what I can do with it. They don’t realise that the applications of nanotechnology are nearly endless. Special coatings that prevent water from staining your glass shower door are possible due to nanotechnology, OLED tv-screens wouldn’t exist without it and your smartphone would not be the same. Even the inside of a candy bar wrap is covered with a ‘nanocoating’ to prevent the chocolate from sticking.

Nanotechnology is already well established within our society, but the field itself is quite new, with many different projects on the verge of a real breakthrough. In this Master’s, you really get the opportunity to contribute to new solutions and even discover these yourself.

Designing your own nanodevice

For example, in the course Nanotechnology Design Project, we had to design our own nanotechnology-based solution, like a device. My team members and I worked on a micro-supercapacitor that could store energy more efficiently and on a smaller surface. You could also extend this idea to a battery. Eventually, an invention like ours could improve the battery life of smartphones extensively, for example. But you could use these nanoscale energy carriers for other nanodevices as well. For example, a lab-on-a-chip might require electricity to turn on a sensor.

“In this Master’s, you really get to develop your entrepreneurial mindset”
Martijn Homsma

This Master’s makes you think about business opportunities as well. It’s another thing I really like about this Master’s: you really get to develop your entrepreneurial mindset. How can you convince investors of your invention? This is also part of the Design Project, which we had to end with a final business pitch. Eventually, my team members and I joined the UT Challenge as well with our idea for the micro-supercapacitor. We ended up in the finals!

Practical

As you can see, the Master’s is quite practical. You’re not just studying Nanotechnology, you learn how to use it by actually working in the NanoLab. Moreover, you can choose how fundamental you want your research to be. You can focus closely on the actual application, or you can choose to explore new possibilities within the field of Nanotechnology.

“I love experimenting and I hope I can continue to do so”
Martijn Homsma

I, myself, realised that I really like to think of new techniques that you can use in manufacturing a nanodevice. During my studies, I found that you can encounter quite some issues in fabricating a nanostructure because you often cannot see what your fabricating. That’s because the structure and the equipment to view the structure, such as a laser or a little camera, can rarely work together without getting in each other’s way. You could say that it’s like putting stuff in a black box and hoping for something good to come out. There are, however, ways to prevent this from happening, with for instance a protective layer. I am now dedicating my Master’s thesis to finding these kinds of solutions, improving research and development in the future.

I love experimenting and I hope I can continue to do so. Right now, I’m considering following up my Master’s with a PhD. And afterwards? We’ll see. Maybe I can contribute to a great invention and I can start up my own company. I still haven’t let go of the idea of the micro-supercapacitor. Right now, there are still too many unsolved problems, but who knows: I might be able to solve them in the future!

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