Interface Physics


Prof.dr. Joost W.M. Frenken: Short biography


FrenkenJoost Frenken is a Full Professor at the Physics Department (LION) of Leiden University, The Netherlands, where he is head of the Interface Physics Group. Frenken obtained his M.Sc. degree in Physics at the University of Amsterdam in 1982 and his Ph.D. degree in Physics from the University of Utrecht in 1986. His Ph.D. project was carried out at the FOM-Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics (AMOLF) in Amsterdam. From 1986 to 1988, Frenken worked as an Alexander-von-Humboldt Fellow at the Max-Planck-Institut für Strömungsforschung in Göttingen (Germany). After a short stay in 1988 at the IBM, Thomas J. Watson Research Centre in Yorktown Heights (NY, USA), Frenken started his own research group at the FOM-Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics in Amsterdam, first as a C. and C. Huygens Fellow and later as a regular staff member. 


In 1994, Frenken was appointed Extraordinary Professor at Leiden University, and in 1996 he moved to the Kamerlingh Onnes Laboratory in Leiden as a regular (full) Professor. In 2007 he became scientific director of the Dutch, national consortium: Nano-Imaging under Industrial Condtions (NIMIC). In addition, he currently serves as the director of the Dutch NanoNext program 9A on Nano-Inspection and Characterization and of the Dutch FOM-program on Fundamental Aspects of Friction. Frenken is a member of the Netherlands Royal Academy of Sciences (KNAW), serves on a variety of national and international committees and boards, is a past-chairman of the Dutch Association for Crystal Growth (DACG), former president of the Netherlands Vacuum Society (NEVAC), and past-chairman of the Condensed Matter Division of FOM, the Dutch national physics funding agency. In 1985, Frenken won the Nottingham Prize (45th PEC meeting, Milwaukee), in 1996 he was awarded a “Pionier” personal research grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), in 2004 he was the recipient of the Science Prize of IUVSTA (International Union for Vacuum Science, Technique and Applications) ‘for his pioneering work in the development and application of scanning probe microscopy to study various dynamical processes at surfaces’, and in 2007 he received the Jacob Kistemaker-Prijs 2006 (tri-annual, Dutch physics award). In 2010, Frenken received and Advanced Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) and he is the recipient of the 2012 FOM-Valorization Prize (Dutch award for valorization of fundamental research in physics). Frenken is co-applicant of the 10-year NWO-Gravitation program Frontiers of NanoScience (NanoFront), headed by Prof. Cees Dekker (TUD), that was recently awarded to the universities of Delft and Leiden.


Central to the research of Joost Frenken is the fundamental understanding of the dynamic aspects of surfaces and interfaces and their role in relevant, natural or industrial processes under practical conditions. Topics of interest include surface diffusion, crystal growth, surface phase transitions, catalysis, and friction. For tailor-made measurements in each of these areas, Frenken's research group has developed a variety of special-purpose scanning probe microscopes as well as dedicated instrumentation for surface x-ray diffraction.


Frenken has been (co)-initiator of two spin-off companies. Leiden Probe Microscopy BV markets commercialized versions of the research equipment developed in Frenken's research group, with an emphasis on advanced scanning probe and x-ray diffraction instrumentation. Applied NanoLayers BV is a recent spin-off, specialized on the production of high-quality graphene and boron nitride monolayers.