‘We often have to deal with extremes: very cold, very hot, very small, very fast, very high voltage…’

Duncan Verheijde, head Electronics Engineering group

‘If there is something that has the word ‘very’ in front of it, then things get interesting. Here we seek the boundaries of what is physically possible. So we often have to deal with extremes: very cold, very hot, very small, very fast, very high voltage… The electronics we supply must remain stable under all of these conditions. That makes the work challenging. And on top of that we cover the entire breadth of the discipline.’

From simple to unique
‘We get people popping in for a cable or with some other everyday problem. But, we also make circuits for extremely refined, complex setups that are unique in the world. For example, a scanning tunneling microscope with a glass tip that accurately follows the relief of a surface to the nearest nanometer. Or a detector that registers the movements of a single protein that is held in place by optical tweezers.’

Communication
‘For this job getting on with people is almost as important as technical expertise. Each conversation is unique because you are always talking about a different experiment, with a different person, who in turn has a different background. You sometimes need to ask a lot of questions before it becomes clear what they want. Or you need to channel their expectations carefully. Often different interests need to be weighed. You must be good at communicating. Then you usually find a solution while you are talking.’

What I like about my work:
The people here get on with each other in such a relaxed manner. It is like being in a big family. As quality is more important than speed there are fewer tensions than there are in a commercial company.