AMOLF NanoLab Amsterdam

‘Each sample presents its own challenges’

AMOLF NanoLab Amsterdam  is a facility for materials fabrication and characterization down to the nanometer scale.
Originating from a joint-venture of the FOM-Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics (AMOLF), the University of Amsterdam (UVA) and the Free University of Amsterdam (VU) in 2003, it aims to provide state-of-the art opportunities in nano research, primarily for the scientific community within the greater Amsterdam area. It is one of the partners in NanoLabNL. It act as a regional facility for users from University of Amsterdam, VU University Amsterdam, Utrecht University and a number of external business users.

Go to the website of AMOLF NanoLab Amsterdam


Hans Zeijlemaker, head AMOLF NanoLab Amsterdam 

‘The NanoLab staff produce one-off nanostructures because the equipment you need to make something so small is difficult to use. However, oftentimes for an experiment a series of nanostructures is needed and in such a series each structure is slightly different from the rest. In this instance we train and supervise the PhD students to make the structures themselves. That gives them the chance to get a better feeling for their own sample, how they can improve it, and what its limits are. Things never go right the first time and sometimes it is a struggle to produce the structure required. That is hardly surprising. After all we are pushing back the boundaries of what is possible because we want to do something new that nobody else has done before.’

Taking risks
‘There are about 60 users in the NanoLab. Every three months about twenty people leave and twenty new people come. Our users are not just from AMOLF, ARCNL, and the Amsterdam universities but also from Leiden University, Utrecht University and start-ups. We are not the biggest facility for nanostructures in the Netherlands. However, we are fast and flexible and we are less worried about contaminating our setups. We are here to make groundbreaking research possible and that means taking risks.’

‘Our work is very multifaceted. We make nanostructures for experiments using light and we produce microchips using different lithographic techniques. We can vapor deposit almost all metals and we are trying to improve a highly advanced electron microscope together with its manufacturer FEI. And, if necessary, we can build an entirely new instrument ourselves. Our challenge is to solve a wide range of problems: physical, chemical and technical.’

What I like about my work:
There is always something new happening and you never need to get bored here.

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