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Physicist Hugo Doeleman (AMOLF, UvA-IoP) is the winner of the Physics Thesis Prize 2019. Doeleman will receive the prize during the annual physics congress Physics@Veldhoven, which will take place on 21 and 22 January 2020.

Hugo Doeleman (centre) during his PhD defense. Image: Lisa de Bruin.

Doeleman wrote the best physics thesis of 2019: “Hybrid Resonators for Light Trapping and Emission Control”. The jury of the NWO Physics Thesis Prize were full of praise for the thesis in which he describes new combinations of nano- and microstructures that can retain and concentrate light. Doeleman obtained his doctorate from the University of Amsterdam.

Cum laude

Dr. Hugo Doeleman (1989) carried out his PhD research at NWO institute AMOLF in collaboration with the University of Amsterdam, under the supervision of Prof. Femius Koenderink and his co-supervisors Prof. Ewold Verhagen and Dr. Robert Spreeuw. On 18 January 2019, he obtained his doctorate cum laude from the University of Amsterdam.

Doeleman will receive the prize during the annual physics congress Physics@Veldhoven, which will take place on 21 and 22 January 2020. The prize consists of a cash sum of 10,000 euros and a statuette. For the general public, Doeleman writes blogs on the Dutch science website Kennislink. He started working as a postdoctoral researcher at the ETH in Zurich several months ago.

Thesis

Doeleman investigated new combinations of nano- and microstructures that can capture light. Nano-antennae can strongly concentrate light, whereas micro-optical cavities can capture the light for a long time. Doeleman has demonstrated that a combination of a metal nano-antenna in a micro-optical cavity can be made that combines the beneficial properties of both resonators. The idea for this combination had been suggested before, but Doeleman was the first to demonstrate a hybridised system that outperforms the nano-antenna and micro-optical cavity. This breakthrough changes the idea that it would be impossible to retain light while simultaneously concentrating it. In particular, the use of the different methods to produce these hybrid resonators is an original approach to the problem. Doeleman made smart use of the theoretical approach to the research so that he could ultimately also demonstrate experimentally that both properties can be combined. His thesis offers more than just this breakthrough, as he also challenged two other paradigms in optics.

According to the jury, the thesis is well-written. The results are clearly described in separate chapters of which several were previously published in renowned journals; one of the articles was also chosen as cover story. The thesis is a well-produced, coherent document in which the separate studies are seamlessly connected. Each chapter also reads well as an independent article with a clear introduction, results section, and discussion.

Physics prizes

The NWO Physics Thesis Prize is intended for the best physics thesis from the past year (1 April 2018 - 31 March 2019). It is one of the four NWO prizes within physics in addition to the NWO Physics Valorisation Prize, the NWO Physics Valorisation Chapter Prize, and the NWO Minerva Prize. Doeleman will be one of the last winners of the prize: the awarding of the physics prizes will be discontinued because NWO Domain Science is currently revising its prizes policy.