The prestigious “Valorization Award 2014” of the Dutch FOM Foundation will be awarded to top scientists Prof Dave Blank and Prof Guus Rijnders of UT’s MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology. “They successfully build bridges between various scientific disciplines, between science and business and between science and society”, according to the jury. The award, involving 250,000 euros, will be handed out during the annual Physics@FOM conference in Veldhoven, January 2015.
Blank and Rijnders together belong to the scientific top in the field of highly controlled preparation of ultra-thin layers. Their research builds bridges between physics, chemistry, materials science and thus is of decisive importance to nanotechnology. The layers are made using a technique called Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD), one atomic layer at a time. Thanks to the so-called RHEED-technique developed by Blank and Rijnders, the growth of the layers can be monitored precisely. This has led to a whole range of new materials with unique properties, like high temperature superconductors, magnetic layers, transparent conductors and piezo materials with superior properties. “Both scientists do not only have an impressive list of publications, they also have a keen eye on the economic and societal value of their research”, the jury says.
Two successful spin-off companies illustrate this: Twente Solid State Technologies and SolMateS. The first company is a major supplier of PLD equipment to scientific research groups worldwide, the second has an industrial focus, with new types of sensors.
Blank and Rijnders both show society involvement as well. They give numerous lectures about nanotechnology. Each year, they organize a special University Tent –‘Universitent’- at the ‘Zwarte Cross’ festival in The Netherlands. Science lectures for a broad audience, experiments and music are combined here. Because of their cooperative effort, it is not more than logical that Blank and Rijnders receive the award together, the jury says. Rijnders about this choice: “We are good friends and we’ve always worked as a duo in a highly complementary way.”
The FOM Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter is the main research funding organization in The Netherlands, for fundamental physics research. With the FOM Valorisatie Prijs, the organization stimulates valorization efforts in physics. The prize winners get 250,000 euros. Blank and Rijnders want to use this for the development of new research tools and to speed up the development of new materials and sensors.
More information about the Inorganic Materials Science Group of Dave Blank and Guus Rijnders: www.utwente.nl/tnw/ims