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Advent calendar - December 10th - Sytze de Graaf

10 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 10 meet Sytze de Graaf, who is defending his thesis today at 11 am.

Sytze de Graaf
Sytze de Graaf

Slowly turning the magnification knob and then suddenly seeing a beautiful repeating pattern appear: the atomic structure of materials. It is a spectacular moment to see the building blocks of the universe that I wish everybody could once experience. I’m still so happy that I was the lucky one doing exactly that nearly every day with the institute’s new powerful electron microscope during my PhD research in the Nanostructured Materials and Interfaces group.

It was my job to push this microscope beyond the limit for materials science research. This is definitely not a simple push-of-the-button as you may think, but in fact an interesting and challenging balance of science, advanced electron optics technology, craftsmanship and fingerspitzengefühl. Frankly, this balancing act worked out pretty well. As we have revealed light atoms and their dynamics in 2D materials that were practically invisible with conventional technology. And we demonstrated this ultimate sensitivity by imaging the lightest of all elements, hydrogen, in titanium.

Recently, after finishing my PhD, I’ve moved to industry as a materials specialist for NTS Norma. Here I’m involved in materials research to push the limits of ultra-precise manufacturing processes of practically all engineering materials for our clients in the semiconductor, analytical and life science industry.

Contact: Sytze de Graaf

Last modified:07 December 2021 10.16 a.m.

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