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AMOLF, also known by its full name as FOM Institute AMOLF is one of the three research institutes operated by the Dutch Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter, also known as FOM. The institute is one of the leading research institute in Europe in the field of physics and biological physics. It focuses on two main research themes: nanophotonics and physics of biomolecular systems.
FOM Institute AMOLF


In 1946 the Dutch government established the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM) "to initiate fundamental scientific research in the Netherlands on matter in the general sense, and to support higher education". Accordingly the FOM Laboratory for Mass Spectrography was founded. The institute's name was changed to Laboratory for Mass Separation in 1960, and then to FOM Institute for Atomic and Molecular Physics (AMOLF) in 1966.

The original research goal was to demonstrate the separation of uranium isotopes by electromagnetic separation methods, a topic of great strategic importance after world war II. To reach this goal, a number of novelanalytical instrumentation were developed, starting with the development of mass-spectrometric tools. In 1953 AMOLF was the first European institute to successfully enrich Uranium. Soon after, research on thermal diffusion in gases followed, as did ultracentrifuge concepts, cathode dispersion, excitation of gases by using energetic ions and research on molecular beams. The gas-ultracentrifuge developed at AMOLF (under Jacob Kistemaker) provided a base for the commercial enrichment of Uranium at the today well-known company of URENCO in Almelo.

Structure and organization

Recognized as one of the most prestigious interdisciplinary research institutes in Europe, AMOLF is headed by its director, Prof Albert Polman. Each of the five departments is headed by a tenured director/group leader.


Its main topics of research as of 2007 are nanophotonics, femtophysics, and 'Physics of Life Processes'. It is located at the Science Park Amsterdam and has a total staff of around 175 people; 100 scientists, 50 engineers and 25 support staff.

See also
2010 Elsevier report on citation impact of research institutes worldwide

Atomic physics

Notable figures from AMOLF
Daan Frenkel
Ad Lagendijk
Albert Polman

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