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Dr Cees van Rijn (1956) has been named professor by special appointment of Microfluidics and Nanotechnology at the Faculty of Science of the University of Amsterdam (UvA). The chair was established on behalf of the Van der Waals Foundation. Van Rijn will combine the professorship by special appointment with his work at Medspray B.V.

Cees van Rijn (photo: Kirsten van Santen)
Cees van Rijn (photo: Kirsten van Santen)

Microfluidics - which focuses on the behaviour of liquids and gases - and nanotechnology are developing rapidly. This is leading to ever increasing miniaturisation, which enables the development of ‘microfluidic devices’. At the same time, developments in soft matter physics and chemistry are enabling the creation of ever more complex architectures from simple building blocks.

The UvA has considerable expertise in the field of food, health and food safety. Combining this knowledge with the latest developments in microsystem technology and nanotechnology offers unique opportunities for innovation. As professor by special appointment, Van Rijn will help to build bridges between technology developed elsewhere and the expertise at the UvA. In his research, he will focus on emulsification, encapsulation, filtration and atomisation, making use of microfluidics devices, which will partly be made using nanotechnology.

The chair is embedded in the Soft Matter research group of the Institute of Physics at the UvA. Van Rijn will also be working closely with other research groups, including multidisciplinary research groups, at the UvA and with industrial partners. Staff at the Institute of Physics have actually already been collaborating with Medspray for some time, and with Van Rijn in particular. In early 2020, this led to the funding of a new ‘Nanotech Sprays’ Industrial Partnership Programme. This collaboration will now be strengthened by the professorship by special appointment.

Van Rijn will also be supervising PhD candidates and Master’s students in their experimental research in the field of microfluidics and nanotechnology, as well as giving lectures in the ‘Hydrodynamics’ course of the Master’s programme in Physics and Astronomy.

About Cees van Rijn

Van Rijn has been working as senior researcher and director of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) at Medspray B.V. since 2012. As IPR Director, he is responsible for the company’s innovation policy. From 2007 to 2017, he was professor by special appointment of MicroSystem and Nano Technology at Wageningen University & Research (WUR). He has set up several nanotechnology companies, including and, and has initiated a range of public-private research projects with the business community. He studied Physics at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and obtained his doctorate at Leiden University.

Van Rijn has published a large number of academic articles in peer-reviewed journals. The work he recently conducted into aerosols – with several collaborators, including UvA physicist Daniel Bonn – made world news. It was partly on the basis of their publication in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine that the World Health Organization (WHO), among others, pointed to the possible role played by aerosols in the transmission of the coronavirus and the importance of good ventilation in public spaces.

In addition, Van Rijn recently published on the physics behind the emanating jets of liquid, often displayed in coffee commercials; the article was highlighted in the journal Physical Review Fluids.