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Olga Crespo Biel (promotion date: 10 February 2006)

Nanofabrication of two-and three dimensional structures by multivalent supramolecular interactions

Promotion Date: 10 February 2006

Olga Crespo Biel

My thesis describes the versatility of self-assembly and multivalency to create 2D and 3D nanostructures and to apply such protocols in more complex nanofabrication schemes.
The work on the different assemblies on flat surfaces and on nanoparticles demonstrates that it is possible to obtain different architectures by combining the supramolecular specificity and stability of multiple interactions.
The combination of self-assembly (bottom-up) with soft-lithographic techniques, such as microcontact printing and nanoimprint lithography, opens new approaches for the supramolecular patterning of interfaces and also for the construction of well-defined 3D nanostructures.

What was your thesis about?

My thesis describes the versatility of self-assembly and multivalency to create 2D and 3D nanostructures and to apply such protocols in more complex nanofabrication schemes. The work on the different assemblies on flat surfaces and on nanoparticles demonstrates that it is possible to obtain different architectures by combining the supramolecular specificity and stability of multiple interactions. The combination of self-assembly (bottom-up) with soft-lithographic techniques, such as microcontact printing and nanoimprint lithography, opens new approaches for the supramolecular patterning of interfaces and also for the construction of well-defined 3D nanostructures.

Is the combination of bottom up and top down new?

Yes, it is one of the main topics in my thesis. There is a bit more focus on the bottom up technique resulting in 2D structures, but in the combination with the top down technologies you get 3D. The combination of top down and bottom up technologies is a key issue in nanofabrication.

But I left a lot of questions to be answered for the colleagues in my group!

What did you like most about your research?

From a scientific point of view I have learned a lot. I can conduct research by myself, I know how to present my results and put it to paper. That, I think is the main thing that you learn in a PhD, getting your scientific independence, finding your own way.

And on a more personal level, I enjoyed the group that I am in, it is very international. You get to know different cultures, I got new really good friends and in a multidisciplinary group like ours you learn a lot from each other.

But did you have moments of despair?

I would not want to do another PhD. It is very much an up and down thing. There are the good things, but if your experiments do not go into direction you want them to go it is not the happiest time of your life. But it is part of it. Everybody has that kind of frustration at some stage. On the whole I think doing a PhD works as follows: in the first year you find your footing I the group and learn the techniques in the lab necessary for your research. The second year you need some results, and you get panicky if it is not working. The third year is a year of more and extensive experiments that you have to write up in chapters. The last year on the whole is quite busy, finishing of, doing the last experiments. The fourth year is mainly about meeting your deadlines.

What would you like to do next?

I have a job already. It is a research job starting 16 January 2006 at DSM Research.

So you are staying in the Netherlands.

Yes, but I will have to move to Maastricht, which I like. And the conditions at the job are perfect, I can do continuous research in a really big company with a good lab equipped with all the facilities. I shall be working on biomaterials. Completely different from what I have done in my PhD.

You are from Spain?

Yes, from Barcelona. I came here on an Erasmus fellowship, I wanted to go abroad. My university had a collaboration with Twente, so this is were I went. After that I applied with David Reinhoudt and Jurriaan Huskens for a project.

Now I am at the stage that I do miss my country and I would like to go back eventually, but I must say that the conditions in the Netherlands are good, either as a PhD or as an employee.

Looking back I think the Netherlands is a very good place to do a PhD. Besides all the facilities that are at your disposal, you get a firm contract and quite a decent salary.

For the summary of the thesis, click here. (PDF, English)