Institute in the Spotlight

Department of Applied Physics at the Eindhoven University of Technology

The Department of Applied Physics at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) has three research clusters: Functional Materials, Plasma Physics and Radiation Technology, and Transport Physics. The 12 groups in the department are embedded in one of those three research clusters.

Functional Materials

This research cluster aims at theoretical as well as experimental development and exploration of materials with novel physical characteristics, applying these fundamental properties in engineering artificial, mostly nanoscale, device structures relevant for future use in, particularly, the field of information and communication technology.

The four main groups in this cluster encompass a wide spectrum of research on III/V semiconductors, magnetic/metallic and oxidic (layered) materials, polymers and hybrid systems as well as on single organic molecules and layered structures made from these. In each program a chain-of-knowledge approach is pursued, in order to control the complete technological sequence from growth, manipulation and modification and on to device implementation.

The program on magnetic nano-engineering is devoted to spintronics, i.e. the spin-dependent transport properties and dynamics of magnetic nanosystems.  The research on photonics and semiconductor nanophysics focuses on the study of optical and electrical phenomena in nanostructures of epitaxial III/V semiconductors. The opto-electronic properties of molecular materials are investigated for application in organic electronic devices. The program on theory of polymers and soft matter focuses on the understanding of microstructure, dynamics and properties in complex organic materials and in biological soft materials. The research on medical diagnostics focuses on nanotechnologies for biophysical studies which have potential to be applied in integrated medical biosensors.

Plasma Physics and Radiation Technology

In this cluster two main lines of research are being pursued. The first line encompasses the study of excitation, transport, kinetics and non-equilibrium phenomena associated with the plasma state and the plasma-surface interface. These are important in plasma processing and in the generation of light by plasmas. The processing involves deposition and etching of new materials (solar cells), as well as cleaning of waste fluids and gases. Light generation by plasma sources is being studied over the range from infrared to extreme ultraviolet.

The second line of research addresses a range of plasma phenomena in the physics of ultra-high-brightness electron beams. Here one is dealing with plasmas in extreme conditions – high density, high power density, short lived, fully ionized – which form an essential ingredient in the search for acceleration and light generation in compact structures. The long-term goal is the development of a compact accelerator for driving various schemes to generate extreme ultraviolet radiation, ultimately including a free-electron laser.

The cluster also comprises activities on ultra-cold plasmas, nanostructure fabrication and quantum gases; these are incorporated in this cluster because of their close ties with laser instrumentation and diagnostics.

Research Cluster Transport Physics

Research in this cluster focuses on a number of sub-areas of the wider field of fluid dynamics and heat transfer, pursuing a combination of experimental, technological, theoretical and computational studies.

One line of research concerns fundamental aspects of turbulence and vortex dynamics, with emphasis on anisotropy imposed by background rotation and density stratification. A second sub-area comprises mesoscopic transport phenomena – in particular micro- and nanofluidics, soft condensed matter. A third research line focusses on transport in permeable media like in thin films on substrates and in building materials. The study of these topics is relevant for a variety of industrial situations as well as biological systems.

The research activities also include a study of some basic aspects of atmospheric physics, in particular the fundamental transport mechanisms in large-scale atmospheric flow systems (such as the polar vortices) and their relation to the chemical composition of the atmosphere. This work is intrinsically linked with the work on turbulence and vortex dynamics