Vicky Philipsen - 2018 SPIE Women in Optics Planner
Country of Birth: Belgium
As young girl I was intrigued by the stars and planets. It was the decade when Space Shuttle missions were reported regularly in the news, the first Belgian astronaut was launched into space, and Star Trek was a popular television series.
Being good in math, I decided to study Physics. There I learned about astronomical spectroscopy or how light emission and absorption - effects at atomic scale - can give insight into origin of space.
At the physics department of KU Leuven an experimental setup investigating sputtering mechanisms of metals allowed me to explore laser spectroscopy. The tunable laser system, which could produce wavelengths from ultraviolet over the whole visible range into the infrared, attracted me into the study of light-matter interactions. The drive to observe, to question, to explain made me become a PhD in Physics, a real scientist! Now I'm a researcher in advanced lithography for nanoelectronics, leading projects on understanding next-generation lithography challenges.
My research involves both experimental work - in cleanroom, using scanners operating at wavelengths of 193nm and 13.5nm - and simulation/programming work. This balance between hands-on verification and fundamental understanding keeps this research fascinating. Moreover, the dynamic environment of imec as a research institute with people collaborating from different backgrounds is appealing and develops also the essential networking skills.
In my study and professional career I was led by light, by understanding the matter, by growing my knowledge, which brought me to interesting insights, places and people. Next to the knowledge part, it is advisable to think early on about your possible career path and communicate it to your peers and managers as they are your facilitators. Most of all, be passionate about your research and outperform, not only when executing your work, but also when presenting and promoting your work.