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Wouter Rensen (promotion date: 17 May 2002)

Tuning Fork Tunes: exploring new scanning probe techniques

Promotion date: 17 May 2002

Wouter Rensen

Wouter Rensen conducted his PhD research at the research group Optical Techniques, one of the participating groups in the MESA+ institute, and the company TM-Microscopes in the United States. In the following interview we ask Wouter Rensen about his research project and his experiences at MESA+ and the United States.

What was the subject of your PhD research?

I developed a near-field optical microscope for biological applications that uses a tip to scan a surface. Using this technology, a much higher resolution (50-100 nm) can be obtained than with conventional optical microscopes (300-400 nm). This tip also moves perpendicular to the sample surface to keep the tip close to the surface. By doing this we can observe ‘heights and valleys’ of the surface. The microscope also works in liquid. This is important because it enables scientists to study biological relevant samples in more detail.

Why did you choose for this PhD-research?

I studied applied physics at this university and during my internship at Topometrix in Silicon Valley I was already working on some components of this technology. After I finished my study I was offered a job in Silicon Valley, which was very appealing. However, I enjoyed doing research so I also wanted to conduct a PhD-research. Fortunately, I could combine both jobs. In this way I could do research and experience the dynamics of international business at the same time!

How did you experience working in Silicon Valley and MESA+?

About one third of my PhD I was in the US, the other part here at MESA+. Especially during the first years I traveled a lot. I have been to Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. In the US I was not only doing research, but I also worked on the production of fibers in a clean room if necessary and negotiated about the conditions of a project. I enjoyed this wide range of activities. One of the things that I found striking of MESA+ is the excellent infrastructure. MESA+ has really excellent facilities. I don’t think that everybody is aware of that.

The working atmosphere at MESA+ and at the company in the US was more or less the same. At both locations there are young people who are enthusiastic about their work. There is a very informal atmosphere and colleagues also meet outside working hours. That is very nice.

What are your current plans?

At the moment I am looking for a new job. I am looking for an innovative company and I want to work in the field of both research and commerce.