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Marcelo Ackermann new Chair of the XUV Focus Group

The Faculty of Science and Technology has appointed Marcelo Ackermann as the new Chair of the XUV Optics Industrial Focus Group. The appointment as a full professor is per 1 September 2020. Fred Bijkerk will remain at his post until January to show Marcelo the ropes. Marcelo will assume full responsibility as of January 2021, when Fred retires.

In 2012, a number of leading industrial and academic partners signed a contract that leads to the launch of a new initiative under the Top-Priority Sectors policy: the establishment of the XUV Optics Industrial Focus Group at the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology. This unique initiative is not just about doing fundamental research, but also about its use in high-tech applications for the industry. The group has been led from day one by Professor Fred Bijkerk, who relocated with the group to the University of Twente in 2013. 

From Nieuwegein to Twente

It was Fred’s idea to move to Twente. “My group used to be based in Nieuwegein,” he says. “When we heard about plans for a new building in Twente, it made us think about the structure and future of our group. We decided the best option for the continuation of our research into thin films was to move to Twente. This is a great place with good facilities and lots of space. The University of Twente and our group were a good match right from the start.”

Recognition and appreciation

XUV works according to a formula that is not standard at the University. “Our inspiration comes from high-tech optical applications of thin films,” Fred says. “These industrial applications require fundamental physical insights. To this end, we have built close relationships with a number of industrial parties and this cooperation has grown even stronger in recent years. It’s great to see how many spin-offs have resulted from our research. It really makes us proud!” Fred is pleased with the results of the past years. “In 2012 we signed up until the end of 2020. The fact that the contract is being extended is well-received recognition and appreciation of our work!”

Entrepreneurial approach

The focus in the coming months will be to familiarise the new Chair with the group. “The relationships we have with industrial parties are complicated and will require a careful introduction of my successor. After this phase is completed, I hope to leave one important legacy: an entrepreneurial approach to science. This means a researcher must not be satisfied with only a published article, but must actively seek to understand the questions of the high-tech industry. These questions form a real inspiration for our research and it takes a special kind of entrepreneurial spirit to address them.”  

Marcelo Ackermann: from ASML to XUV

The Faculty of Science and Technology will be welcoming Marcelo Ackermann as new XUV professor as of 1 September. Ackermann is currently Group Lead and function owner of EUV Development and Engineering at ASML. Although there has been no direct cooperation between Ackermann and XUV, he is very familiar with the group’s activities. “I do not have direct contact with XUV in my current position at ASML, but I know the group very well: almost everything I have done so far in my career has some common ground with the work of XUV. For example, I worked on multilayer mirrors for X-ray telescopes for ESA. The mould for these mirrors was made by Carl Zeiss and measured at PTB in Berlin, right next to the lab where the EUV mirrors were measured. Both Zeiss and PTB are currently partners of XUV. I also worked on multilayer optical coatings and materials for EUV mirrors for the company SCHOTT. I’ve pretty much been involved with everything that XUV does, but without ever having worked directly with them.”

Appealing combination

The transfer from the industry to a focus group may not seem obvious to everyone, but it was not completely unexpected. “When it was announced that Fred’s position was to become available, three people I know well suggested I should consider applying. XUV is an exceptional group: it is not only purely academic but also has a strong focus on the industry and specialises in multilayer mirrors. That combination really appeals to me. As I said, it’s a field I’ve become very closely acquainted with over the course of my career. Another advantage is that I live only 1.5 km from the university campus, so I am familiar with both the group and the university.”

A challenge

“Agreements have been reached with the industry on the themes we need to develop and what we need to deliver in the future. Fred has made an important contribution to this work and made the group a success. I hope to build on his work together with the group. For example, a major challenge at the moment is extending the service life of the coating used in machines. The coating works excellently when new and it is still good enough for ASML’s customers, but it degrades under the influence of chemical interactions and EUV light. So one of our challenges is to prolong the life of the coating in the machines.”

World leader

“Everything the group has done and achieved to date has been a great success. They are a world leader in their field. Fred has really built up a strong group. In addition to the multilayer coatings, my main contribution and added value will be in the field of surface chemistry, and the strong connection I have with the industry. Of course, we will continue to do our utmost to meet the industry’s needs in terms of fundamental knowledge so they can make big strides and future-proof their operations.”

There are also clear ambitions, and Marcelo has given thought to what he wants to achieve personally. “I will do my best to acquire more projects with industrial parties. We have cooperated with many companies, but they are not yet XUV partners. I also want to strengthen academic ties with other research groups in the Netherlands who work on surface chemistry and EUV lithography, and I want to create stronger partnerships with academic groups in other fields.”