Aaike van Vugt


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Aaike Van Vugt | Nanotech
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Global Grand Challenges

From our earliest ages, mankind has always strived to improve materials, by combining, manipulating and creating new ones. We now need another material era, with even better materials. Aaike van Vugt will explain how digitization of the manufacturing process enables us to create the best performing nanomaterials.

Topics & Presentations

  • What is Nanotechnology?
  • Improve and change products and processes

Nanotechnology is always 5 years away from disrupting material research and our daily lives. Traveling around the globe and speaking with more than 1000 researchers gave Aaike a good overview what is happening in the field of material research and enables him to predict what really will happen in the near future. There are two major fields in material research that will be covered in this talk: biotech and nanotech.


Nature has been evolving over millions of years into a very complex system. Biotech refers to the latest tools in the field of synthetic biology that enables humans to understand this evolution and how to manipulate these complex systems. The complexity associated to biological systems makes it difficult to make the step from research to applying it in real live. Still the future potential is enormous.


The evolution of humanity is defined by the way we are able to modify materials. We started in the stone age evolved into the copper age and are now in the middle of the silicon age where powerful computer chips are dominating our lives. Understanding this evolution and the latest development in fundamental material research gives some insights into the near future. When can we drive 1000 miles in electric cars and when will we convert CO2 into useful products closing the Carbon Cycle.

  • From scarcity to abundance
  • Future scenario’s

At the moment we are in the middle of the energy transition where we are moving from an economy fuelled by fossil fuels to one fuelled by renewable energy. The increased production of windmills and solar cells are putting an enormous pressure on our natural resources. If the Netherlands wants to install enough windmills to achieve their sustainability goals it requires 3% of the global production of neodymium, which is completely unrealistic. All major economies are putting access to critical resources high on the agenda. China is producing a broad range of materials and is putting limits on the expert. Many wars have been started to maintain access to fossil fuels, will the same happen with neodymium? And how can nanotechnology provide solutions by developing alternatives?

  • Sensors, electronics, cables, solar panels etc.
  • Internet of Things
  • What does this mean for our Global Grand Challenges

Nanoparticles are the building blocks of the high-tech products of tomorrow. At the moment they are applied in research to improve almost all physical products you can think of. What is the promise of nanoparticles and how are they used in applications like sensor, electronics, batteries and solar cells. The reason why nanoparticles and the development of next generation high-tech products are so important is that they could have a huge impact on a lot of the Global Grand Challenges. As an example, Iron nanoparticles can be used to cure cancer, purify drinking water and make solar cells more efficient.


Aaike van Vugt has a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from the Delft University of Technology. He is the co-founder of VSParticle, aiming to help research and industry in the production of inorganic nanoparticles with the goal to help researchers in the fundamental development of new products like batteries, catalyst, electronics, or nano-medicines.