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March 24th 2017

Beekman: two medical scans in one
Beekman is a gifted researcher, who develops physical models and uses these to improve software of radiodiagnostic equipment. As a result of this, medical scans – such as SPECT and PET – can gain a higher resolution and have fewer artefacts. Beekman has also done research into focusing techniques that allow a very high signal strength to be obtained from specific organs or tumours. According to the jury, Beekman is capable of 'pushing back the boundaries of the technology in several areas at once and can therefore realise impressive products in the highly competitive international field'.

Beekman converts his fundamental discoveries into new measurement instruments as quickly as possible. He already has 13 families of patents to his name and the company he set up, Molecular Imaging Labs (MILabs), now has a multi-million euros turnover. "His activities have therefore had a clear economic impact", says the jury. Furthermore, his research is also directly useful for society. For example, he has produced equipment with which several scans can be carried out at once: a PET and a SPECT scan. Such a combined device results in quicker analyses of a higher quality and is also cheaper than the traditional techniques. It allows different biological processes to be examined at the same time, for example, the quantity of medicine administered and how a tumour responds to this.

The FOM Valorisation Prize aims to encourage the utilisation of knowledge from physics research. The prize worth 250.000 euros is awarded each year to a Dutch researcher (or research group) within the field of physics who has successfully managed to make the results from his or her own research useful for society. Beekman will use the prize to further develop his scanning techniques. "I also want to use the prize money to encourage international collaborations between industry and science", says Beekman.

Lassise: cheaper electron microscope
During his PhD research Eindhoven University of Technology, Lassise investigated how you can use optical cavities to improve electron spectroscopy. In electron microscopy, a beam of electrons is transmitted through the material and after that the energy loss of the electrons is observed. That provides information about the material at an elementary scale. However, as the material at this scale is constantly moving, it is important that the electrons are bundled in packages. Then they arrive at the material at exactly the same moment with the same speed and a sharp image arises. 

Capturing the electron beams in optical cavities allows the electrons to be bundled with high precision. Lassise demonstrated that the electrons all arrived at the material within one femtosecond (10-15 second). Therefore images can be made with a resolution of one femtosecond. In his valorisation chapter, Lassise describes a detailed step-by-step plan to overcome the technical barriers and ultimately realise an end product. "In his description he never loses sight of the reality", says the jury. Lassise also makes a clear connection to FEI, a manufacturer of this type of equipment and with whom a collaboration has now been realised. The new technique is far cheaper than existing technique using femtosecond lasers.

Lassise is now a researcher at the high-tech company ASML. The company uses extreme ultraviolet light to make integrated circuits (lithograhy). "The EUV light is made by firing different lasers at tin drops", says Lassise. "This gives rise to a plasma that transmits light with a wavelength of 13.5 nanometres: extreme UV. But the tin drop explodes as a result of which the tin particles contaminate everything. We are now investigating how we can minimise this contamination."

With the annual FOM Valorisation Chapter Prize worth 5.000 euros, FOM PhDs are encouraged to devote a separate chapter in their theses to valorisation aspects of their PhD research. 

Further information
Beekman's Group: Radiation, detection and medical imaging
Lassise's PhD thesis: Miniaturized RF technology for femtosecond electron microscopy
About the prizes:
About the congress Physics@FOM Veldhoven:

Freek Beekman +31 (0)15 278 65 60.
Adam Lassise