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Science at the nanometre scale

In late September, 30 colleagues took part in Connect@ARCNL. ARCNL had put together an excellent programme. For example, the NWO-I colleagues enthusiastically jumped up and down to test whether the vibration-free floor really was vibration-free. And they could have a photo taken with the heat camera to see which part of the face was the warmest and which the coldest.

On Thursday 26 September, colleagues from NWO, the NWO-I office, DIFFER and CWI visited the Connect meeting at ARCNL. Director Joost Frenken, institute manager Marjan Fretz and Petra Rodriguez and Erny Lammers from the communications department warmly welcomed everybody. Superb coffee and a wide range of teas were available. And because the programme also required a bit of exertion, there were delicious pieces of brownie and carrot cake.

Joost Frenken gave the plenary presentation. He explained the history and mission of ARCNL and exactly what sort of research is done there. ARCNL is the acronym for Advanced Research Center for Nanolithography. The research at this institute contributes to the production of even smarter and smaller electronics and computer chips. ARCNL is part of a partnership and works together with University of Amsterdam, VU Amsterdam, ASML, Amsterdam City Council and the province of North Holland.

After this presentation, researchers from different laboratories explained what they were working on. And often with a bit of humour. For example, Randy Meijer, an experienced PhD at ARCNL, told us about his laser setup. Last year, ARCNL moved to the Matrix VII building. Randy was so worried about the transport of the setup that he increasingly identified himself with Gollum from Lord of the Rings. The setup was temporarily his “precioussss”.

To make measurements as stable as possible, one of the setups is located on the most vibration-free location in Amsterdam. That had to be tested of course. There was a lot of jumping around, but the meter did not budge a bit.

During the lunch, colleagues could see various demonstrations. Just like the lab tours, this was also a good moment to interact with the researchers from ARCNL and such moments were valued. One of the participants expressed this as follows in the evaluation: ‘The experiments during the lunch were a fine opportunity for even more interaction. The director also happily took part and was very approachable. That is a real plus point, and so I would certainly encourage this in the future too’.

For example, director Frenken explained the principle and functioning of the lithography machine from ASML. In effect, it is a very complex and extremely expensive photocopying machine, which can rapidly copy a type of mould to areas on a pre-processed slice of silicon. Each area eventually becomes a computer chip. ARCNL research could lead to faster machines and even smaller chips.

About Connect
NWO organises Connect meetings to give employees within NWO the chance to get to know each other and the organisation better. Sometimes these are meetings about a specific subject, and three times a year there is a visit to an NWO institute. NWO colleagues have now had the opportunity to visit AMOLF, CWI, ASTRON, NIOZ and ARCNL. In 2020, there will also be Connect meetings at NSCR and Nikhef.

Newsletter Inside NWO-I, October 2019

Confidental Infomation