Crystal Growth Prize 2018

Dr. Paul Smeets wins the KNCV Piet Bennema Crystal Growth Prize 2018

During the annual meeting on 3 October 2018, the KNCV Piet Bennema Crystal Growth Prize 2018 was awarded to Dr. Paul JM Smeets.

NVKG chairman Hans te Nijenhuis presented the prize. Due to his stay in the United States, Paul Smeets witnessed the presentation via a Skype connection, which consisted of a certificate and a sum of €1000. An honorable mention was awarded to the two other nominated candidates, Simon Hageman and Wester de Poel.

The jury, consisting of Dr. P. Verwer, dr. HJM Kramer and chairman Prof. dr. T. Leyssens, states in her report: “Dr. Smeets completed his dissertation, Towards Understanding Pathway Complexity in Calcium Carbonate Mineralization, completed at Eindhoven University of Technology on March 9, 2016, under the supervision of Prof. dr. Nico Summerdijk. In his research, the candidate has focused on the early crystallization stages of calcium carbonate. For his research, the candidate has used several in situ techniques, such as transmission electron microscopy and fluid atomic force microscopy to study the nucleation and growth of calcium carbonate online. This thesis investigates crystal growth at a fundamental level which is challenging in itself. Dr. Smeets’ work provides a contemporary view of the kinetics of crystal growth and shows how classical concepts from physical chemistry often suffice to describe the crystal growth of calcium carbonate. His approach and fresh vision has led to an impressive list of publications, with publications in Nature Materials, Advanced Functional Materials, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA, … To summarize it in a striking way: If you rank his publications, the Angewandte paper dangles at the back of the publication list, where this would be more than a highlight for an average PhD student. This list of publications may be impressive, but what particularly convinced the committee was the fact that the candidate was not afraid to confirm and defend his results, even if they contradicted the work of more experienced researchers. As a young researcher, this requires not only a certain knowledge and endurance, but also and above all a lot of courage. Moreover, the candidate has developed an excellent international network during his doctoral studies, supported by his collaboration with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkely, USA) and the University of Warwick (UK). Dr. Paul Smeets has participated in over 15 international conferences/workshops, giving oral presentations at 9 of these, the highlight being his oral presentation at a Gordon Research Conference in crystal growing, demonstrating how his reputation in the crystal growing community is already established. Finally, we would also like to say that the candidate has helped train young researchers and students during his doctoral studies. For these reasons, the assessment committee unanimously decided to award Dr. Paul JM

After the presentation, Paul Smeets’ supervisor, Prof. Dr. Nico Sommerdijk, gave a presentation on the results of the PhD research that led to the award of the prize.

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