My expertise lies in magnetostatics on the micro- and nanoscale. As a PhD student and postdoc, I worked mainly in the area of magnetic data storage, moving from tape recording to magnetic force microscopy, magnetic patterned media and probe storage. When the magnetic recording industry left Europe entirely, I changed my research field towards magnetostatics in combination with fluids. I currently address two main fields.
Magnetism in life sciences
Magnetism combines well with organisms, since magnetic fields penetrate in most aqueous solutions and hardly interact with bio-chemical processes. Magnetic fields can for instance be used to apply forces and torques (using either magnetic particles or non-magnetic particles in magnetic fluids), to heat magnetic particles by induction or to detect their presence. My research team combines magnetic fields with microfluidic systems to study fundamental behavior of magnetic particles in solutions, or non-magnetic particles in magnetic solutions and to apply this in life sciences. Of special interest are magneto-tactic bacteria, which are self-propelling and can be controlled without having to apply large magnetic field gradients. We study manipulation of individual magneto-tactic bacteria inside micro-fluidic systems as model systems for future self-propelled medical micro-robots.
Magnetically assisted three-dimensional self-assembly
As mind-blowing as the achievements of lithography based micro-fabrication may be, the techniques remain essentially two-dimensional. In MEMS, this severely limits our design capabilities, especially for out-of-plane structures. In micro-electronics and data storage we will hit a fundamental limit on miniaturisation when the size of bits or electric connections reaches atomic dimensions. The only way forward is towards the third dimension, and in my opinion three-dimensional self-assembly is the only viable option on the long term. In self-assembly, the properties of the individual particles determine the final structure of the assembly. In my team, we use magnetism to tailor the interacting forces between particles, using either magnetic particles or non-magnetic particles in magnetic fluids. We transfer fundamental knowledge obtained at the millimeter scale to the micro- and nano-domain, and are especially interested in particles with low symmetry.