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X-ray - Matter Interaction: Exposing the work of Tenure Tracker Igor Makhotkin

In a tenure track, researchers get the chance to prove they are good enough to be appointed to the university’s permanent academic staff. Dr Igor Makhotkin, assistant professor at the XUV Optics Group is currently a year on his way to his goal of becoming a full professor.

“I’ve always been interested in enabling applications from fundamental research”

Research

Dr Igor Makhotkin is on his way to becoming a real UT-veteran. In 2009, he started with his PhD on the application of multilayer mirrors in photolithography at the FOM Institute for FundamentalEnergy Research DIFFER. This was in the group of prof. dr. Fred Bijkerk who also held a position at the University of Twente. Afterward, he stayed at the University of Twente as a postdoctoral researcher. After a one year break as a visiting postdoc at times (a Belgian non-profit R&D and innovation hub), he is now back as an assistant professor in the XUV Optics Group.

The topics of all his research projects have one thing in common: Igor is always looking for the applications of the physics processes of X-ray matter interaction. “Since the start of my academic career as a student at the Moscow Engineering and Physics Institute, I have always been interested in the application of the more fundamental research.”

Igor conducts his research in the fields of X-ray-matter interaction and advanced X-ray metrology. “I want to use X-rays to precisely characterize 3D nanostructures for microelectronics. I want to understand what phenomena I have to take into account to be able to fully characterize the structures. X-ray analysis is the right tool since it doesn’t damage the material when used to take the measurement.”

Education

Igor is already working on getting his university Teaching Qualification, while also trying to extend the education of the UT. “There are a lot of great courses on X-ray techniques available, but in many cases they are too focused on just a few techniques. I’m working on a unified programme where many  X-ray techniques are combined. Instead of becoming an expert on one technique, students get an introduction to all established characterization techniques aimed at their understanding of the physics basics.”

“It is a challenge to find the balance between background knowledge and application. Students need the understand how to select the right technique for their particular problem. Instead of showing them exactly how to perfectly cook one type of steak in one kitchen, I want to teach them the basics and the practice that will allow them to exploit a variety of tools and ingredients.”

Students need a lot of general characterization knowledge to become an expert in the field. “X-ray metrology is a field with frequent collaborations, which makes it a lot of fun. I've worked with lots of very collaborative people in all of Europe, all experts in different techniques. Their willingness to collaborate by sharing their knowledge makes it a lot of fun to work with them: I’m very thankful for that.”

About Igor Makhotkin

Igor A. Makhotkin was born on 28 July 1985in Moscow, Russia. In 2002 he started his education at the Moscow Institute of physics and Engineering (MEPhI) in the faculty of Automatics and Electronics and after his first year, he went to the Faculty of Physics of the HigherPhysics College of the same Institute. After his graduation in 2008, he continued working in the Institute of Crystallography, and in 2009 he started his PhD work at the FOM Institute For Fundamental Energy Research DIFFER. After his promotion in 2013, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the group of Fred Bijkerk, investigating XUV Optics. In 2019 he started as an assistant professor in a tenure track position at the same group to become a full professor at Twente.