19 Feb Nikhef: a world class research institute, right next door

Entrance to the Nikhef buildingImage: Dorine

Just across the street from our faculty, there is a world class physics institute: Nikhef , the National Institute for Subatomic Physics. We collaborate a lot with Nikhef, and if you’re one of our Physics students this top research institute is your playground! So let´s get to know our neighbour, shall we?

Nikhef in a nutshell
Nikhef is THE place to be in the Netherlands if you’re interested in (astro-)particle physics, both theoretically and experimentally . They have access to state-of-the-art research instruments, ranging from telescopes to find information in space, to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) where protons crash into each other to create the most exotic particles.


picture of the ATLAS detector at Nikhef’s workshop door. Image: Dorine


Research topics at Nikhef
Nikhef focuses on two kinds of physics:

1. Particle Physics: With data from the LHC in Genève, the most powerful particle accelerator ever built, obtained using its detectors ATLAS , ALICE and LHCb, Nikhef studies particles like the famous Higgs bosons, quarks as they existed right after the Big Bang, and antimatter.

2. Astroparticle Physics: With big telescopes and other advanced detectors, Nikhef studies astroparticles, produced by dying stars and other cosmic events:

  • Dark matter: 23% of our universe consists of dark matter, but no one knows what it is.
  • Cosmic Rays: high energy rays with yet unknown sources
  • Neutrinos: particles so small that they have almost no interaction with matter
  • Gravitational Waves: contractions and expansions of space-time, induced by extremely heavy objects like neutron stars and black holes.



Exciting research in action at Nikhef. Image: Dorine


A different world
When walking around at Nikhef, I noticed some differences compared to “life across the street”:

  • For most, the day starts at 10 o’clock (because 9 is just not humane)
  • People actually hold doors for those of the female species
  • The coffee in the entrance hall is free, but also extremely hot
  • During lunch, you sit with your own research group (can you spot the R&D’s? And the theoretical physicist?)

Visiting Nikhef

Even if you’re not a Physics student at our faculty, you can visit Nikhef on one of their open days or arrange a group tour on a Friday. I can highly recommend it! Their workshop is an impressive place to see and their researchers are eager to tell you about their findings.

Have you checked out Nikhef yet? What’s your favourite thing about the institute? Please share your tips in the comments!

WTF dorine

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WTF Dorine

WTF Dorine

GRAPPA master/Beta-Gamma/interested in developments in science/running/traveling/nutrition and health
WTF Dorine

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