Boundless mind

At Amsterdam Science Park, we believe knowledge has no borders. That’s why you’ll find cutting-edge institutes, top-class facilities and business incubators in one convenient location. You’ll meet motivated students, innovative researchers, talented scientists and adventurous entrepreneurs – all in an environment where it’s easy to work together. Cross-disciplinary initiatives and holistic thinking flourish. Ground-breaking research projects become successful spin-offs. That’s the strength of Amsterdam Science Park: connecting boundless minds.

Annemarie Berkhout

Annemarie Berkhout researches nanoscale light-matter interactions at AMOLF, the institute for fundamental physics research at Amsterdam Science Park.

“My research area is really fascinating. It concerns the interaction of light and matter at the nanoscale, and how that interaction can be enhanced. At the nanoscale, things are so small that you can’t see them with the naked eye or even a light microscope – you need a special tool called a scanning electron microscope. Light exhibits some really remarkable behaviours at the nanoscale. The goal of our research is to harness this and to make nanostructures that are able to trap light particles, called photons, in a smart way. By increasing the interaction between photons and such a nanostructure, it should be possible, for example, to make a detector sensitive enough to detect even single molecules. Nanoscience is really intriguing: you have so much control over something that you can’t see. In fact, you can make almost any shape at the nanoscale using the laws of physics and chemistry."

“Being based at Amsterdam Science Park means that there are many organisations that can support you”

"When I first came to AMOLF, as an undergraduate, I was immediately impressed by the people: everyone is so deeply driven and passionate about what they do. The building, which is very light and well organised, is inspiring, too. The advantage of doing a PhD at AMOLF, as opposed to a university, is that you’re not expected to teach – although I do assist my professor with one class – so you have more time for your own research."

“Another huge benefit of being a researcher at AMOLF is that it houses the Amsterdam NanoCenter, which is a state-of-the-art facility used by AMOLF, UvA, VU and others. It has all the equipment you need to make all kinds of nanostructures, from particles to thin films. There are also three scanning electron microscopes so you can see what you’ve fabricated, and there’s a cleanroom, too. There are ten researchers in my research group and four work on my specific project."

“A huge benefit of being a researcher at AMOLF is that it houses the Amsterdam NanoCenter”

“The research I do is quite fundamental, but our findings could have a major impact in the future. One application we have in mind is in information technology. If we can trap photons very efficiently, for any desired amount time, and release them at will, we could create photonic computer chips. By using photons instead of the electrons that are currently used, computation can be done much faster, while using less energy. Another possible application of our research is in cryptography. The best encryption of data requires that information is stored in the tiniest information carrier: a single photon. One day our nanostructures will operate using single photons, bringing secured information transfer within reach. Although currently dreams, these are very exciting prospects, and I really want to remain in this field in the coming years. I’m curious to see what I can achieve during my PhD studies."

“I started my PhD in January this year. Previously, I did my Bachelor’s and Master’s degree at the University of Amsterdam, on the other side of the park. I finished off both with a research internship at AMOLF. I've always felt at home at this institute, so I am very happy to be able to pursue a PhD here in my field of interest."

“Light exhibits some really remarkable behaviour at the nanoscale”

 “Being based at Amsterdam Science Park means that there are many organisations that can support you. For my master’s research, I worked on a novel fabrication method for nanoscale electrodes – and now we’re patenting that research with the help of Innovation Exhange Amsterdam (IXA) here at the park. I have to admit though that when I first came here it felt a bit like being on the edge of the city. Then Polder and Amsterdam University College arrived, and we got a supermarket, so it has become much more livable since then. It really feels like more of a community now. One thing I think we still need here is a bookshop. We do have a very good sports centre though. Once a week after work I play squash before I go home – it’s the perfect way to relax after a long day.”