Julian Bos: We are just as smart and handsome here as we are at MIT

News | December 6, 2019

With top-class facilities, he tested his self-developed flexible piezoelectric nanofiber sensors at MIT in Boston last summer. To find out whether they can contribute to the energy transition. Renewable energy is the common thread in Julian Bos's study. His project, financed by FB Oranjewoud and Innovatiecluster Drachten, stood out. The result is a scientific publication. On Thursday 28 November, he presented his findings during the ICD Learning Day at Philips in Drachten.


In a short video, Julian shows how a seal follows the exact same route that an object swam a few seconds earlier. He is fascinated by it, because the vibrating whiskers appear to be able to register minute water movements. That is immediately the core of Julians' own research with flexible piezoelectric nanofiber sensors, which generate currents with the smallest vibrations in the water. Julian explains how he designs and eventually makes his own flexible sensors. He shows that his sensors produce electricity by the waves of the water. “The stronger the wave, the more electricity the sensor produces, in peaks of up to 2 Volts. That is comparable to the charging voltage of a cell battery.


But what is piezoelectricity? The piezoelectric effect is the phenomenon that crystals of certain materials produce an electric voltage under the influence of pressure, for example by bending. You would think there are countless applications for that, right? Julian is not there yet. "Perhaps you can think of applications that use small amounts of energy and where it is difficult to replace batteries, for example in the middle of the sea." He sees another possibility for applications, for example flagpoles. "The cord on a flagpole moves continuously, in combination with these sensors you could generate energy." Pulling the sensor through the water at a certain speed also produces energy. Or securing sensors in the sea or a river in environments with fast currents that produce vortices behind obstacles. The more speed, the more current. The sensors are also easy to make, non-toxic and can be used anywhere in air and water.”


Someone in the audience asks whether we can learn anything from research at MIT in the Northern Netherlands. ,,There is no sixes mentality there'', Julian answers without hesitation. “Everyone at MIT works until they have the best outcome, including evenings and weekends. With our 9 to 5 mentality, we can learn something from that.” According to Julian, the financing of the studies plays an important role in this. ,,You need money for your studies and if you get money you also want to show that you can perform. After all, you don't get your scholarship for nothing."

Besides a great experience and a nice research, his time at MIT brought him into contact with influential people. ,,Of course that looks good on my CV, but what's even better is that I learned that you can achieve something with hard work.'' So we can achieve that too? “Students here aren't dumber than those at MIT, but the level is higher there. Not everyone can handle that. Students here are just as smart, so that's not the issue."

Julian's study trip was made possible in part by FB Oranjewoud