Els Koffeman is conducting research into the detection of elementary particles. As a professor at the UvA she will focus on measuring neutrinos from space that pass through the Earth. Very occasionally, these neutrinos interact with atoms in the Earth’s crust. When that happens in the seabed, the charged particle formed in this reaction leaves behind a light trail in the seawater. This allows neutrinos to be detected, and allows the characteristics which we still don’t know much about (such as mass hierarchy) and the origin of high-energy neutrinos to be determined. To this end, Koffeman’s goal is to create a network of light-sensitive detectors on the floor of the Mediterranean Sea. This is a huge international project called Km3NeT, of which Koffeman is the international technical coordinator. In addition to neutrino detection, at the National Institute for Subatomic Physics (Nikhef) Koffeman is responsible for a research and development study into methods of spectral x-ray detection for industrial and medical applications.
Koffeman has worked as a senior researcher at Nikhef since 1999. Since 2006, she has also been a professor by special appointment of Instrumentation in High-Energy Physics at the UvA. She is the Chair of the Instrumentation Panel of the European Committee for Future Accelerators (ECFA). In addition, she is an honorary member of the Netherlands’ Physical Society (NNV) and a member of the boards of both the Physics Foundation and the Society for the Promotion of Physics, Medicine and Surgery (GNGH) at the UvA.