The Experimental Physics specialisation concentrates on the subjects of the different research groups in the Leiden Institute of Physics (LION). Career prospects depend on the choice of courses and the groups where the research projects have been performed.
Research in Biological and Molecular Physics ranges from the study of the structure of (bio)molecules and nano-particles to the physics of life processes. In doing so, the cellular and single-molecule level is reached. The aim is to develop, implement and apply new methods in spectroscopy, microscopy and single-molecule detection. Research facilities include advanced instrumentation for electron paramagnetic resonance, optical spectroscopy, fluorescence (confocal) microscopy, scanning-probe techniques, and optical and magnetic tweezers for single-molecule manipulation.
Research in Quantum Optics and Quantum Information explores the limits of modern optics. These involve topics such as coherence in imaging, (sub-wavelength) semiconductor and metal optics, photons and waves in complex media and photonic crystals, and the generation and application of quantum entanglement in optics and microscopic objects. The experimental setups range from simple and table-top size to state-of-the art at microKelvin temperatures.
Research in Condensed Matter Physics concerns the study of the fundamental properties of solids, on length scales varying from macroscopic down to nanometers. It aims at acquiring understanding by investigating model systems and novel materials, with emphasis on the collective behaviour of dense interacting systems. This can be either from a statistical point of view, as in granular matter, polymers, or atomic motion and reactions at surfaces; or from an electronic and quantum point of view, as in molecular conductance, superconductivity, and magnetism. Among the experimental techniques used are (magneto)transport experiments and scanning probes (STM and AFM), down to (sub-)Kelvin temperatures.
“We regard master’s students as fully-fledged researchers.”
“Physics requires skills which are not so readily available. You have to like solving problems and you have to like Maths. My experience has been that anyone who studies physics soon becomes fascinated by the subject. Almost all bachelor’s graduates take a master’s, and many carry on to take a PhD.
Leiden University has a cast-iron reputation as a research university. Two physics lecturers have received the Spinoza prize, the highest award for science in the Netherlands. Leiden is a member of the League of European Research Universities (LERU).
We regard master’s students as fully-fledged researchers. They have their own working space and play a full part in the business of conducting science. What I enjoy most about my work is when I am working together with students on a research project, in the traditional master/apprentice role. A student comes here to learn about scientific research; I am the coach. This fits well within our teams, which have a maximum of six people.
As a theoretical physicist, I like unravelling problems, but I like it even more when students do it. I see students develop into mature scientists. It fascinates me, and I find it very rewarding. All our lecturers are researchers at heart. We take our students very seriously.”