See Overview 2002

Olaf van 't Erve (promotion date: 17 May 2002)

Device properties of the spin-valve transistor and the magnetic tunnel transistor

Promotion date: 17 May 2002

Olaf van 't ErveOlaf van ‘t Erve conducted his research at the research group Systems and Materials for Information Storage, one of the participating groups in the MESA+ institute. In the following interview we ask him about his experiences at MESA+.

What was the subject of your PhD-research?

I studied two devices which are based on spin electronics. This is a fully new field of research. Since the 1950’s transistors are based on the principle of electric charge. However, electrons have also a magnetic properties which may be of use. MESA+ used these properties and invented the spin-valve transistor and magnetic tunnel transistor. These are unique devices that combine semiconductors with magnetic materials, which are normally not compatible.

What was your motivation for becoming a PhD-student?

The most important reason is that I want to work abroad and I think it is easier to find a job abroad if you have finished a PhD after your masters. Additional reasons are the nice atmosphere in Twente.

How did you like your research?

I enjoyed it very much. The combination of electrical engineering and applied physics in the research appealed to me as an electrical engineer. I like to learn new things. Moreover, I had the opportunity to meet new people, for instances on summer schools and conferences. I also went to America for few months to conduct research at IBM. That was a very nice experience. Furthermore, I am happy that I finished the writing of my dissertation manuscript.

One of the special things of MESA+ are the available facilities. They are very impressive, a fact that is also acknowledged by many guests. I conducted some guided tours for guests at the clean room and everybody was impressed!

How was the working atmosphere?

Very good. I worked in a nice group of people who were very focussed. We often went for a drink at the end of the week. Last week I was with some colleagues on a sailboat in the harbor of Amsterdam during “Koninginnedag”. That was very nice!

What are your future plans?

I have got a job at the Naval Research Lab in Washington D.C. It is a postdoc position for two years. I wanted to work in a non-academic institute or a company, because I was already familiar with the academic world.