Lorentz Center - Physics with Industry from 19 Nov 2012 through 23 Nov 2012
  Current Workshop  |   Overview   Back  |   Home   |   Search   |     

    Physics with Industry
    from 19 Nov 2012 through 23 Nov 2012

Final report Physics with Industry 2011 for the Lorentz Center

The third workshop Physics with Industry was organized in 2012 by the Foundation FOM and Technology Foundation STW at the Lorentz Center at Leiden, the Netherlands.


Fifty-nine scientists participated in the workshop 2012, ranging from PhD students to professors. These physicists (and researchers from related disciplines) spent a week working in groups on five industrial problems, which were selected by a programme committee from proposals put forward by industry. Following an introduction to the various problems by the companies on Monday, the participants worked on the problems in groups for the rest of the week. On the last day, the groups presented their findings to the companies. Some groups performed real experiments at the laboratories of Leiden University.


Besides the scientific outcomes, the workshop also resulted in new public private contacts that may lead to future collaborations and even one patent was filed. Participants were mostly driven by the shear pleasure of applying their physics knowledge to new problems, the desire to enrich their scientific network and the interest in gaining hands-on experience with industrial R&D processes. Companies benefited from the scientific input they received and participating in the workshop enlarged their academic network.


The five industrial problems discussed during the week were collected via an open call for proposals in spring 2012. A programme committee selected the five 'best problems' for the workshop. The selection criteria used by the committee were:

  • it must be possible to solve the problems (or a major solution must be within reach) within one week and physics can make a clear contribution to the solution;
  • it should be an urgent problem;
  • the company should be willing to share detailed information.

The committee selected problems from the companies Janssen Precision Engineering, MicroDish, NXP, PamGene en Shell. Two large companies and three SME's.


The proceedings are available via the FOM website. Below is a summary of the five cases.


Janssen Precision Engineering; Cryogenic compatible displacement sensor

The state of the art experiments in low temperature physics require sophisticated instrumentation capable of displacement sensing with high precision and cryogenic environment compatibility. The present report discusses two such designs- μPOT design and OptoGroove design. The former is an all electrical method of position detection which is essentially a miniaturization of the classical potentiometer concept. The design involves measuring the voltage of a sliding probe on a conducting wire, which varies linearly with the position of the probe. The OptoGroove design, on the other hand, is essentially a digital optical encoder. An optical fiber is directed at a side surface of the actuating screw. The side surface has been laser engraved with a series of equally spaced parallel grooves. Time domain reflectometry allows counting the number of grooves during the motion of actuating screw, which in turn translates to the linear displacement. Both of the above techniques seem to be robust over a large temperature variation.


MicroDish; Can physics tell the difference between a dead and living microorganism?

In this work different techniques are explored to assess the viability of (bacterial) cells on the MicroDish culture chip. The culture chip is composed of thousands of miniature wells on a porous aluminium oxide layer. The viability of microorganisms is tested by looking at cell growth in the wells using electrical and optical techniques. For the electrical side, a simple setup was investigated where the filling of a well can be detected by attaching electrodes to the top of the well and measuring a change in resistance. Also, more sophisticated electrical techniques, such as finer nano-grids and impedance measurements of cells in suspension were explored. For the optical side, an overview was made of various microscopy techniques. A simple white light interferometer can in principle measure the change of the depth of wells on the MicroDish culture chip, thereby measuring growth of biomass. An experiment was conducted with a Mirau interferometer which showed that it is a potentially feasible method for the fast, cheap, and automated detection of bacterial cell growth. More sophisticated optical techniques may still be a possibility to detect the viability of cells.


NXP Semiconductors; Electrical sensing and actuating of LED wavelength

The light output of light emitting diodes (LEDs) in terms of flux and wavelength varies because of the fabrication process, which is undesirable for most applications. Currently, the LEDs are binned into different wavelength categories prior to being sold. Firstly, this is an expensive and logistically complicated procedure. Secondly, the peak wavelength of the LEDs is influenced by temperature, operating conditions, and aging making binning alone insufficient. It would be useful to have an automated CMOS-integrated process which identifies the optical properties in terms of flux and wavelength of the LEDs. In that case the LED driver can adjust the driving conditions to shift wavelengths to desired values, or even give active feedback on the LED to maintain the desired performance.

Here we discuss how to implement such a wavelength and flux sensing device on the electronic driver chip of the LED without any prior knowledge about its exact optical properties. In particular, we present two possible routes that might be promising for implementation. In the first method the signal is detected optically, which can be precise enough but it requires part of the LED light to fall onto the sensor. In the second method, all the sensing is performed electrically, which is appealing because it always works regardless of the sensor’s environment, i.e. its relative position with respect to the LED. In addition to providing two working solutions, we quantitatively show that the small package available for a device in a CMOS chip precludes many optical filtering solutions.


PamGene; PamFreezer: a solution to enable frozen biopsy logistics

Tissue samples that are taken during a biopsy need to be snap-frozen in order to preserve their properties and use the tissue for contemporary molecular biology technologies that may improve the treatment of the patient. There is currently a lack of (safe) methodologies or devices for snap-freezing tissue. Furthermore, there is a lack of knowledge on the optimal cooling rate, which depends on the type of tissue and is important to know in order to avoid damage to the cells.

This report comments on the biological background of the acceptable cooling rates and also describes a design for a new biopsy snap-freezing device. The suggested device fulfils the requirements for use inside a hospital environment. The device consists of a cooling unit and a base station. The copper cooling unit can be pre-cooled on the base station until used. After biopsy, the tissue sample inside a cryovial can be deposited into the cooling unit and is then cooled down at rates between 1-10 K/sec, which is within the biologically safe range for several tissue types. The cooling unit may then be transported for several hours while keeping the tissue sample below 193 K.


Shell; The physics of water and wax in the pores of a working Gas-to-Liquids catalyst

The so-called Fischer-Tropsch catalysis allows to convert natural gas into liquid products and

is the underlying mechanism of commercially used “Gas-to-Liquids” plants. The actual reaction takes place in millimetre sized porous pellets in which active metallic particles are dispersed as catalysts. Due to the reaction the pores of the pellets will become filled with the reaction products (“wax” and water), but it is uncertain if the fluid in the pores can be understood as a single liquid phase, a liquid-gas mixture, or multiple continuous phases. The answer to this question is important for a thorough understanding of the transport processes inside the reactor and can be utilized to improve its efficiency. In this project, a theoretical analysis of the behaviour inside the pores is performed. It is concluded that a liquid water phase might well exist next to the wax phase. However, the analysis is based on very limited experimental data of unknown quality. Therefore, we propose a number of possible experiments to validate the theoretical concepts.