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Advent calendar - December 9th - Koen Houtsma

09 December 2021

In the Zernike Institute Advent Calendar, we are presenting 24 short spotlights in December. In these specials, we highlight PhD students, postdocs, and technicians of our research groups - providing a glimpse into their typical day at work. In Episode 9 meet Koen Houtsma.

Koen Houtsma
Koen Houtsma

I am a PhD student working in the Surface Science group of Meike Stöhr.

A typical day in the lab starts by checking the pressure and temperature of the measurement equipment – a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) which is housed inside a vacuum system. When all parameters look good, we can go ahead, prepare sample and cool it down subsequently to measure it with the STM. Measuring is in fact hard work and requires a lot of patience sometimes, as we continuously have to monitor the condition of the scanning probe during the measurements, but it is very rewarding to obtain new and interesting data or observe the internal structure of molecules. Besides, I provide tutorials for a bachelor’s course and supervise a master student. When not measuring, I sometimes stay home to better focus on analyzing my data or writing.


Currently, the main focus of my colleagues and me is the fabrication of surface-adsorbed self-assembled two-dimensional molecular networks and the characterization of these networks’ structural and electronic properties. My research focuses on making such networks on graphene with the aim to tune the electronic properties of the graphene through the adsorbed molecular layer, which should make graphene more suitable for prospective device applications. For instance, by opening a band gap into graphene (through the adsorbed molecular layer), graphene may be used in field-effect devices.

Contact: Koen Houtsma

Last modified:06 December 2021 07.53 a.m.

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