Nationaal instituut voor subatomaire fysica


Prestigious ERC Advanced Grant for Nikhef researcher Harry van der Graaf

Harry van der Graaf

Artistic View of a stack of dynodes on top of a pixel chip.

Nikhef news release

Amsterdam, 15 October 2012
 – Dr. Harry van der Graaf, researcher at Nikhef, has been awarded an ERC Advanced Grant by the European Research Council (ERC).  He will receive nearly € 2.5 million for his highly innovative proposal “MEMS-made Electron Emission Membranes ”. 

Harry van der Graaf proposes a radically new and generic type of detector for photons, electrons and energetic charged particles which will not only improve particle detection in fundamental research but also have a direct spin-off effect in applied fields like medical imaging or optical communication.

The core innovation, a stacked set of curved dynodes on top of a pixel chip, in itself is an extremely efficient electron detector. By capping the system with a traditional photocathode, a highly sensitive timed photon counter can be realized, outperforming all existing photon detectors. By capping it with an Electron Emission Membrane, a timed particle tracking detector is realized with a time resolution far superior to current particle detectors.


About the ERC Advanced Grants:

The ERC Advanced Grant is given to exceptional individual researchers to pursue cutting-edge ground-breaking projects that open new directions in their respective research fields or other domains.  Every year a few thousand applications are received by the European Research Council, of which only a few hundred are honoured. 

A second ERC Advanced Grant was awarded to Nikhef researcher Piet Mulders.
(News release Piet Mulders)

About the proposal:

The proposed stacked set of curved dynodes will be created through MicroMechanical Electronic Systems (MEMS) fabrication techniques, and placed on top of a state-of-the-art CMOS pixel chip. 

This core innovation will revolutionize electron detection in solid-state, atomic and molecular physics experiments. 

As a photon detector, it will have picosecond time resolution at low noise, much better than classical photomultipliers. This will have direct impact on the field of medical imaging (PET/CT scanners), optical communication, night-vision equipment and even 3D image recording. 

As a particle detector, it will allow faster and higher-resolution measurements of the trajectories of fast charged particles, essential in modern particle physics experiments. 


More information:

Dr. Harry van der Graaf (Nikhef) – email – phone: 020-5925092

Science Communication Nikhef: Vanessa Mexner – email – phone: 020-5925075