University of

Background and justification of the project

TU/e is a research university. At the department of Electrical Engineering/Applied physics the drive towards Research Based Education (RBE) results in the desire to enable students to access high-end lab equipment and to participate in setup their own research projects.

Typically, these experimental setups are expensive and only one/few of these setups can be made available to students for very limited amounts of time. Expanding the number of setups to a large number is not feasible for the departments. Furthermore, because of the current COVID crisis and the coming post-COVID situation will magnify the spatial and access constraints even more, while the demand for access to experimental teaching is increasing. Also, the laboratory space is typically limited, such that only small numbers of students can be present at the same time. With this project we aim to explore how to enable students to have more access to high-end experimental setups with the purpose to enhance their experimental skills.

The low number of experimental setups and the limited space in high-end labs strongly reduce the time that students get to learn about  state-of-the-art experimental  techniques. Typically, experimental training only happens during the bachelor end-project, internship and/or graduation project and then only for a specific setup that is the topic of the specific project. While lectures and theory exercises are nowadays available to students 24/7, this is not the case for the experimental part of the teaching, especially not for experiments with high-end expensive equipment.

To enable many students to learn about and experiment with these setups, we want to explore the concept of “Hybrid labs” (HL). In a hybrid lab, students will spend part of their time in the on-campus lab and part of their time they will work on their experiments remotely. Ideally, experiments can be done 24/7. While sharing of timeslots for experiments is very typical for large scale experimental setups like, e.g., free electron beam lasers, it is much less used for setups that are owned by specific research groups at universities. 

We see the “Terahertz systems” course as an excellent example to implement the TU/e education Strategy 2030. The objective of this education innovation project is to evolve the current course by implementing a hybrid lab teaching. In this way we enhance the current inter-disciplinary course in such a way that the students come into close contact with state-of-the-art research topics, get trained in high-end experimental labs, and follow an individual learning trajectory to get the most out of the time they invest into this course, get to work on challenges with the flexibility of remote and/or/combined campus hybrid-lab learning. Therefore, we aim to change the Terahertz systems course in the following aspects:

Objectives and expected outcomes

A THz time-domain spectrometer (THz TDS) is made available and is used for experiments with a series of mixtures of different alcohols and lactose pellets, and a list of questions that the students need to address will be made available to the student teams in the first lecture. Also, a practicum is given to introduce the students to the experimental set-up and make sure students learn to use correctly and safely the expensive equipment. The THz TDS setup was originally planned for the edition 2021.

Because of the need to provide a comprehensive and complete training in THz systems, a Terahertz continuous wave (THz  CW) setup has been added to the course. This second set-up next to the pedagogical function of providing access to both the techniques in time-domain (THz  TDS) and in frequency domain (THz CW) also increases capabilities to give access to more students, this is needed both on view of the size of the course and occupancy of labs due to COVID-19 rules.

Major deliverables of the course are a comparative analysis of the measurements with both setups, a critical review of the advantages and disadvantages of these experimental techniques for the proposed challenge, a numerical/simulation analysis of the system response and a design of an integrated spectrometer for THz spectroscopy.

The broad range of activities that need to the performed during the course will lead to different learning trajectories, e.g., while some students will focus on the first setup, others will focus on the second, others on the simulations of systems’ response, and others on the simulations of integrated circuits in both electronics and photonics for THz spectroscopy.

Learning goals:

The aim is to expand the experimental experience students can gain by expanding access to/involvement in experiments through HL with partial remote-execution of experiments.

Experiments will be conducted by groups of students taking different roles, with some working remote (experiment design, monitoring, data analysis) and some in the lab (experiment operation) with real-time online collaboration during the experiment setup and initial operation phase. 

Once an experiment is operational, part of the execution and data collection can be conducted remotely, increasing usage time of the setups.

By completing the proposed innovation project, we will have implemented a course with a complete HL learning environment.

Results and learnings

This project is still ongoing.

For more information, please contact:

Marion K. Matters-Kammerer
Flux 7.098
+31 40 247 2666
Full Professor
Idelfonso Tafur Monroy
Flux 0.155
+31 642 795 018
Assistant Professor
Simon Rommel
Full Professor
Jaime Gomez Rivas
Flux 2.082
+31 40 247 2669