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NUANCE: Nanoscale Characterization Experimental Center

Paul Smeets, PhD

Paul Smeets, PhD

Paul Smeets, PhD

NUANCE TEM/FIB Manager / Research Assistant Professor

Office: Tech, #AG96


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Personal Statement

 Paul is a Research Assistant Professor in the Materials Science and Engineering department, and as TEM and FIB Facility Manager in the Electron Probe Instrumentation Center (EPIC), he oversees operations in the TEM/FIB facilities.

He provides technical expertise, training and inspiration to individuals from a broad variety of research fields to become skilled electron microscopists using state-of-the-art equipment, and is available to assist the academic and industrial community to acquire high quality data for their specific research needs. Moreover, he has (co-)organized and participated in multiple outreach events such as conference meetings, workshops, (tech) talks, and tours for the broader research community.

Having 15+ years of research and TEM experience within different parts of the world, he is passionate about using advanced electron microscopy as a primary tool for the characterization of hybrid composite materials and unraveling crystal nucleation and growth phenomena.

Research Objectives and Approach

Paul’s research objective and area of expertise can be broadly categorized as unraveling the physicochemical interactions and structure-property relationships in (natural) hybrid materials, with emphasis on nano- and atomic-scale advanced electron microscopy characterization. His specific interests are in the characterization and formation of biominerals, complex mineralized tissues created by organisms under physiological conditions with exquisite control over mineral composition and morphology across multiple length scales, such as tooth enamel, nacre, coral, and bone. Since these are materials that are especially sensitive to electrons, Paul is also interested in the development and application of low-dose electron microscopy methods to mitigate beam-sample interactions.

He has expertise in advanced electron materials characterization ranging from soft to hard using:

  • (Aberration-corrected) High-Resolution (S)TEM, scanning diffraction, EDS and EELS, albeit under cryogenic conditions
  • Focused Ion Beam (FIB) sample preparation (for TEM, Atom Probe Tomography, etc.) and related 2D/3D FIB characterization from the micro- to nanoscale

Educational & Research Background

Current Research Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering / NUANCE TEM & FIB Manager (Northwestern University, USA)
2019-2022  Research Associate / NUANCE TEM & FIB Manager, Materials Science and Engineering (Northwestern University, USA) 
2016-2019  Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Materials Science and Engineering (Northwestern University, USA) 
2011-2016  PhD Molecular Systems and Materials Chemistry, (Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands) 
2008-2011  M.Sc. Chemical Engineering, (Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands) 
2004-2008  B.Sc. Chemical Engineering, (Eindhoven University of Technology, Netherlands)