MESA+ University of Twente
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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 Erve

Olaf 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.