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Koen Bastiaans

Koen Bastiaans is our Leiden Institute of Physics' nominee for the C.J. Kok Jury Award 2020.

About Koen's research

Solid materials consist of atomic nuclei and electrons. To understand the properties of the material it is important to know how these particles behave. Understanding and predicting electron behaviour is especially difficult for quantum materials, where electrons notice and influence each other, causing collective quantum behaviour. An example is a superconductivity, where electrons pair up, which results in the disappearance of electrical resistance in the material.

‘I find it amazing that we can use noise as the signal! You can imagine our excitement when all parts of our new microscope came together and for the first time we could see quantum physics nobody had seen before.’

This thesis aims to understand the complex properties of quantum materials, arising from collective electron behaviour. To accomplish this a novel microscope called the ‘scanning tunnelling noise microscope’ was developed. This microscope can not only visualize the atomic and electronic structure of a material; it can also measure current noise, caused by the electrons, giving an insight into their collective behaviour. This is similar to the noise rain makes on a roof. When the rain or the raindrop size changes, the noise changes.

In the thesis, the measured current noise was used to understand whether and how the electrons in the material behave and interact with each other. Noise measurements with the novel microscope lead to new insights into quantum materials.

Koen received the Ehrenfest-Afanassjewa Thesis Award 2020 for his work.

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