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Frank Everts (promotion date: 28 January 2011)

Characterization of nanometre-scale patterns on Cu(001) and Ag(001) by means of optical spectroscopy and high-resolution electron diffraction

Promotion date: 28. January 2011

Promotor: Prof. dr. ir. B. Poelsema

Assistant promotor: Dr. ir. H. Wormeester

The subject of research is the self-organization of nanopatterns on metal substrates induced by ion bombardment and deposition. Both an optical technique as well as electron diffraction to study these patterns, were used.

With the optical probe the creation of these patterns was monitored, which is something new to the field. Usually the patterns are studied with electron diffraction. However, this can only be done after creation because of the invasive nature.

With this in-situ optical spectroscopy, it is possible to follow the evolution of the properties of nanostructures in real-time. The process is controllable in such a way that the desired properties can be tailored.

What was your motivation for becoming a PhD student?

There were several reasons for that. After my master project I got very much interested in the subject of self-organization. When I got an offer to do a PhD-project in the same field as my master track, it was the perfect opportunity for me to figure out if research is the thing I really like to do best. The idea of focusing on developing myself instead of the profit of a company, was very appealing to me at that time as well.

Has it been a theoretical oriented, or a more applied investigation?

My project was a very nice mixture of doing experiments and applying some theoretical models to it. A lot of my time I was busy in the lab, getting a homebuilt ultrahigh vacuum setup to work. It gave a thrill when I obtained, after weeks of lab work, experimental data that fitted very nicely with the developed model.

However applied, it still was fundamental research. Of course there is an application in mind, but the experiments performed are not directly linked to that. I expected that it would be closer to the application stage.

How did you personally experience your PhD-investigation?

To work in an academic environment is very inspiring. It’s very nice to have the freedom to spent time to figure out every minor detail.

I learnt a lot, not only physics wise, also with teaching tasks, giving talks at conferences and managing my own project. This was the hardest part. During the last year there were quite some difficult moments to get everything experimentally done in time. Looking back at it now, it was very worthwhile.

How did you like conducting the investigation?

I like to work in the lab a lot, getting things to work. Nevertheless, bad luck with equipment is part of the job.

How did you like the working atmosphere?

In our group, the atmosphere was very good, I might say. Especially with the people working on similar projects, I could always discuss the things that mattered. We helped each other out when needed, not only professionally also socially. We even formed our own group band in which I played the guitar.

What did you find remarkable during your PhD-period?

The only surprise to me was that performing experimental research means that you work for weeks to get things running and then the measurement themselves are done in just a few days. All the data I used in my thesis, the actual measurements, lasted only three months I believe.

What plans for the future do you have?

I'm already working at ASML in the development & engineering department for more than half a year now. After my PhD-project, I realized I like to do something much more closely connected to the actual applications. Here at ASML I work on a high-tech machine, which is very inspiring