During the annual MESA+ meeting, three milestones will be celebrated. Thirty years ago Prince Claus of The Netherlands opened the first MESA Lab, the cleanroom facility that is now the High Tech Factory. Twenty years ago, the Centre for Materials Research of the university was added to MESA, resulting in the new name ‘MESA+’. And ten years ago, Crown Prince Willem Alexander, Claus’ son, opened the new MESA+ NanoLab on the campus. The MESA+ meeting, online due to the corona situation, has an attractive programme with speakers like the Nobel Prize laureate Prof Ben Feringa.
“It should be possible to create a large chip and sensor lab on the campus”. Those were the words, in the early 80’s, of Rector Harry van den Kroonenberg, known as the initiator of the ‘entrepreneurial university’. In 1990 the lab was reality, and the official opening was done by Prince Claus, husband of Queen Beatrix. Already before this lab was built, pioneering research was done in the fields of microelectronics and micromechanics. The new MESA Lab opened the way to smaller dimensions, on the way to what we now know as nanotechnology: the technology of millions of millimeters. By the time, the first MESA scientific director Jan Fluitman proudly described a fully equipped chemical lab with all necessary components to manipulate fluids. “And the great thing is, I have it in the palm of my hand.”
From MESA to MESA+
In 2000 the existing Centre for Materials Research (CMO) was added to MESA, strengthening its research potential. A simple ‘plus’ sign, added to the existing name, indicated the growth of critical mass. From that moment on, it was MESA+. The subsequent scientific and business directors of MESA+ had a great influence, not only on nanotechnology in Twente, but on the Dutch national research programme as a whole. This included a strong infrastructure.
This strengthening of the infrastructure led to the third milestone. As part of a large building project on the UT campus, a true eyecatcher was built: the red ‘box’ that would be home to the new MESA+ NanoLab. Even better prepared for smaller dimensions in sensor technology, lab-on-a-chip systems, photonics or quantum computing. Crown Prince Willem Alexander opened the lab by writing a text on his iPad computer, that was simultaneously engraved in a human hair in the lab.
Every individual member of the MESA+ community has his or her own milestones to celebrate: a great publication, a successful lab experiment, a stunning breakthrough. Traditionally, the MESA+ meeting is the ideal platform for sharing these milestones, with poster sessions, presentations, and informal gatherings during the breaks. The online setting of 21 September has limited possibilities for this, but there will be prizes: for the ‘photo contest’ and the ‘Dave Blank outreach award’.
The full programme of this year’s MESA+ meeting can be found here.