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Advent calendar - December 22nd - Mart Salverda

22 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 22 meet Mart Salverda.

Mart Salverda
Mart Salverda

I am working as research technician in the Quantum Interactions and Structural Dynamics group.

The foundation was laid some time ago, when I was still a PhD student in the Nanostructures of Functional Oxides group working on neuromorphic materials (actually, I still am…). During my research, apart from the research itself I was always interested in how all the equipment worked. I often explored how we could use all of our equipment (including the old dusty machines hidden in a cabinet) to get even better data or to perform new measurement techniques. And not only for my own project, but for anyone who I could help with it. Being useful to other people has been a strong motivator for me and is probably one of the reasons why my own thesis isn’t finished yet… (but I am working on it!). Anyway, seeing how instrumental the technicians of the group are, how they get to solve problems every day and how they can be close to science and scientists without having to go through the whole academic career path, made me decide to become one myself! Especially at the Zernike Institute, where I’ve felt at home very much all these years. Fortunately for me, there was an opening in the Quantum Interactions and Structural Dynamics group, and they have given me the opportunity to be one!

In the QISD group we make ions, then transport them through vacuum systems and finally measure the interactions of these ions with other entities (e.g. materials, particles, photons). That is the common factor of the group. Within QISD there are two main research lines: ionic and photonic interactions.

For ion interactions research we operate the unique ZERNIKELEIF ion-beam facility. Now we focus on the interactions of tin ions, the ions that generate the light inside the lithography machine of ASML, with whom we work closely within ARCNL. Several PhD and master students in our group are working on one experiment at a time. As technician I must make sure that the experiment can run, otherwise all of them have little/nothing to do! This can be quite stressful when some expensive equipment on which all of their experiments rely suddenly decides to stop working. But the gratitude after solving the problem is very rewarding!

For energetic-photon and ion interactions, a dedicated mobile mass-spectrometry has been developed. The setup and a small entourage of professors, postdocs, and students (and hopefully me at some point) often travel to accelerators, synchrotrons, and light sources across Europe. Because of this, the dynamic is very different: the setup can only be prepared and tested in our lab but has to do its job in a far-away place during a very short time.

Working as technician in this group is rather project-based. Once the design and construction of one experiment is finished, the students can start their experiments and I start working on the next experiment or setup that should be operational in a month, in a year or before the next beamtime. Never a dull moment!

Contact: Mart Salverda

Last modified:16 December 2021 5.03 p.m.

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