Why opt for the Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science?

The Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science provides excellent facilities and an environment for ambitious research, teaching and training programs at various levels ranging from advanced Bachelor and Master to PhD students and postdocs. The programs have a truly interdisciplinary character, in which chemists and physicists have collaborated closely since 1989, and they are recognized for their excellent record and strong ties with industry. Below we briefly summarize the opportunities on different levels. 

Master programme Nanomaterials: Chemistry & Physics

The Master programme Nanomaterials: Chemistry & Physics is directly linked to the activities in the Debye Institute. The programme aims to provide graduate students with a solid background in the theory of Nanomaterials Science and to develop the experimental skills necessary to perform highlevel research. The programme (120 ECTS) consists of a part devoted to courses (25%), internship (25%) and a thesis research project (50%), which is carried out in one of the research groups of the Institute or (in part) in one of the partner groups outside the Institute. The combined talents and expertise of physicists and chemists are the key to success in the field of nanomaterials science, which is the focus of this programme. Inspiring challenges in this area of science include:

  • the synthesis of functional units and their manipulation to form novel and ‘artificial’ solids;
  • the study of fundamental self assembly processes in (nano)structured systems and the development of theory and models to explain these phenomena; 
  • the elucidation of structure-property relations; 
  • materials engineering and the application of materials in improved and novel devices;
  • photon physics in nanostructured materials.

There is a wide range of courses for the students to choose from. In practice, during their thesis project, most students become part of one of the research groups in the Debye Institute, and many contribute to scientific publications. At the moment approximately 80 students participate in the master programme. The Master’s programme in Chemistry and Physics is an excellent starting point for a career as a researcher in a multidisciplinary environment. More than half the graduates go on to do their PhD research in the Netherlands or abroad. And because you can also carry out your work experience in industry, the programme offers you an excellent opportunity to explore possibilities for an industrial career.

Opportunities for other students

Performing a research project is a compulsory part of the Bachelor programme of Utrecht University at the final part of every academic year. While for the first- and second-year the projects are relatively short and are mostly aimed on getting students acquainted with the research work in different groups, the third-year bachelor students spend about 3 months (15 ECTS) to perform an independent study under supervision of a PhD student, a postdoc or a faculty. Every year many Bachelor students join the groups within the Debye Institute.
Also students of other Masters’ programmes such as Science & Education and Science & Business Management perform their thesis research projects within the Debye Institute. Usually these projects are shorter (30 ECTS) than those of the Master programme Nanomaterials: Chemistry & Physics (60 ECTS).

The last but not least group of students regularly joining the Debye Institute for Materials Science are the students from outside Utrecht, who come to perform their internship at UU. This provides the students an opportunity to learn more about top research topics, which are investigated within the Institute. There are a number of exchange programmes with other universities, which can support students’ visits to Utrecht.

PhD Students

The institute welcomes Dutch and international students to enroll in a PhD programme, which takes a maximum of 4 years and aims on the highest level of education and research training. Each student has a well defined individual research programme, which is part of the research programme of the group. Interactions with other members of the department are an essential part of all research projects and are further stimulated during combined work discussions. The PhD training programme includes specialized courses on presentation skills, project planning, English writing and project management. Visits to (inter-)national conferences and collaborations of exchange visits with international partners are a regular ingredient of a PhD programme at the institute. In addition, all PhD students follow the bi-annual Spring School on one of the research themes of the Institute, which is organized by staff members of the Institute, and the DO!days, a bi-annual informative and social meeting, organized by a representative student committee. The institute contains approximately 100 PhD students.

Post Docs

The institute employs some 40 post doctoral fellows, who typically make a transition from running an individual research project (as PhD students) towards running (a part of) a group. At the institute post docs carry out a well defined project with many opportunities for acquiring a more independent research attitude.

Scientific guests

The institute welcomes a large number of guests from all over the world, visiting the institute for periods ranging from a few days to a year (sabbatical)