6 October 2014

Prof. Kobus Kuipers appointed Professor with a Specialised Remit in Nanophotonics

The Executive Board has appointed Prof. Kobus Kuipers to the position of Professor with a Specialised Remit in Nanophotonics at the Department of Physics & Astronomy’s Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science. Kuipers is also head of the Center for Nanophotonics at the FOM Institute AMOLF. His appointment reinforces Utrecht University’s research into smart materials. Research into nanophotonics may provide more perspective on faster and more energy-efficient Internet traffic, more efficient photovoltaic cells and better sensors for biomolecules.

Prof. Kobus Kuipers (47) is one of the leading international researchers in the field of building nanostructures that can be used to manipulate light. “A photonic crystal is a bit like a house of mirrors for light particles, in that it allows us to do crazy stuff with light”, he explains. “For example, they help us make light actually go slower than the ‘speed of light’. Slower light interacts more with its surroundings, and that can result in interesting applications. To me, that’s the fun part of the field: fundamental research on the one hand, and applied science on the other.”

Energy-efficient Internet

One of the applications is to make Internet traffic faster and more energy efficient. “You can transmit an amazing amount of information through glass fibres using light, without having to expend a lot of energy. The irritating thing is that when the light comes to a junction, it has to be read out and transmitted electronically. These electronic switches are slow and consume a lot of energy. Nanophotonic structures are faster and use less energy, and they may eventually be able to replace these switches.”

Common ground with the Debye Institute

Kuipers sees considerable common ground between his work and that of his fellow researchers at Utrecht University’s Debye Institute. “I would love for all of us to be able to create smarter interactions with more degrees of physical freedom. That would enable us to increase the entire range of materials to metamaterials, with ingenious combinations of electronic and optical characteristics that do not occur in nature.”

ERC Advanced Grant

Kuipers studied Physics at the University of Amsterdam and earned his PhD. for research he conducted at AMOLF. From there, he received appointments at Cambridge and Birmingham before moving to Twente University in 1997. In 2003, he received a VICI subsidy that allowed him to begin his own research group at AMOLF. He continued working part-time as a professor at Twente University. In 2013, he was awarded a prestigious ERC Advanced Grant. Kuipers is also a Fellow of the Optical Society of America (OSA).

More information

Monica van der Garde, m.vandergarde@uu.nl, +31 (0) 6 13 66 14 38.