Nikhef researcher Auke Pieter Colijn appointed professor at the UvA

24 August 2022

Nikhef researcher Dr Auke Pieter Colijn has been appointed professor of physics at the University of Amsterdam. Colijn will hold the chair for Experimental Techniques in Astroparticle Physics.

This was announced by the UvA. Colijn, one of the driving forces at Nikhef in the XENON project that searches for dark matter, was an extraordinary professor in Utrecht from 2016-2021.

At the UvA, he was already a senior lecturer, and over the years taught almost all physics courses in the bachelor’s program in the first year. Now he will do the same for the second year. He is enthusiastic about the broad STEM program at the UvA, where he hopes to get students excited about majoring in physics and astronomy.

Dark matter

Colijn’s research focuses on the physics of elementary particles in the universe. Dark matter has his special interest. Dark matter does exert gravity, but it is unclear what it consists of. There is an estimated five times as much dark matter as ordinary matter.

Colijn is technical coordinator of the XENONnT project, an experiment deep underground near Gran Sasso in Italy. There, he attempts to discover which particles could form dark matter using a detector full of liquid xenon. At Nikhef, he co-leads the cryolab where detection techniques with xenon are developed.

Particle collisions

Colijn received his PhD from the University of Amsterdam in 1999 for research into the lifetime of the tau-lepton using particle collisions in the LEP accelerator at CERN. Subsequently, he worked as a postdoc at Fermilab in the USA, and at the ATLAS experiment at CERN near the LHC accelerator, among other things.

As a professor at the UvA, Colijn will focus in particular on the development and construction of the next generation of dark matter detectors, which will be an order of magnitude more sensitive than the current experiments. In addition, he will explore the possibility of detecting neutrinos that were emitted one second after the Big Bang.

(Source: UvA press release)