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Dr Henkjan Gersen

Dr Henkjan Gersen

Dr Henkjan Gersen
MSc, PhD(THTwente)

Senior Lecturer

Area of research

Nanoscale Functional Imaging and Spectroscopy

Office 3.43
HH Wills Physics Laboratory,
Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TL
(See a map)

+44 (0) 117 928 8935


My current research focuses on nanoscale functional imaging and spectroscopy to enable investigation of the spatial, temporal and polarization profiles of ultrafast optical excitation fields that maximize spatial resolution, sensitivity and throughput as is needed to achieve further breakthroughs in biology and materials science.

This interest in exploring and actively controlling physical and optical processes at nanometer length scales is what has motivated my research from the start of my career. The underpinning technology in doing so has primarily been scanning probe microscopy as it allows a fundamental and detailed understanding of local physical properties to be obtained without being limited by the wavelength of light. Over the years I have developed an expertise in Near-Field Scanning Optical Microscopy (both collection and excitation mode), Interferometry, UHV-STM, single molecule detection, self-assembly on surfaces, electromagnetism of emitters in layered media, 2D photonic crystals, theoretical modeling of pulse propagation and the use of ultrafast optical techniques.


Dr. Henkjan Gersen joined the Department of Physics at the University of Bristol in November 2006 as a Lecturer to work in the field of experimental nano-optics and was in 2008 promoted to Senior Lecturer. He started his research career in a research group (Prof. Niek van Hulst, Univ. of Twente, NL) that has an impressive track record in the field of single molecule detection and scanning probe microscopy. Dr Gerse made key contributions in the field of scanning probe microscopy in optics, as evidenced by a PhD obtained cum laude (highest honour) and publications in high impact journals (Science, Nature Physics, Nature Photonics and Phys. Rev. Lett).

Dr Gersen initially worked on single molecule detection with excitation mode NSOM, demonstrating that individual photons (from molecules) can be actively redistributed by nearby subwavelength sized metal objects[1]. He then continued at the Centre Suisse d'Electronique et Microtechnique, where he designed and constructed an NSOM to test novel cantilever type probes[2]. In his PhD he subsequently demonstrated a novel non-invasive collection mode NSOM technique to “visualize” optical pulses as they propagate through an optical device with both temporal and spatial resolution[3-5]. This led to the first time-resolved NSOM experiments in photonic crystal waveguides, revealing the propagation of ultraslow light[6] and the first direct measurements of their dispersion diagrams[7].

After his PhD studies HG was awarded a personal Marie Curie fellowship to work with Prof. Besenbacher (Aarhus Univ, Denmark) to study optical processes on molecular scales by combining STM-based approaches with optics[8-10]. HG has already developed considerable experience of managing resources and developing technology, having secured and managed funding for his Marie-Curie fellowship, a BBSRC Technology Development Research Initiative as well as an EPSRC first grant.

[1] H. Gersen, M.F. Garcia-Parajo, L. Novotny, J.A. Veerman, L. Kuipers, and N.F. van hulst, Phys. Rev. Lett. 25, 5312 (2000)

[2] R. Eckert, J.M. Freyland, H. Gersen, H. Heinzelmann, G. Schurmann, W. Noell, U. Staufer, and N.F. De Rooij, Appl. Phys. Lett. 77, 3696 (2000)

[3] M.L.M. Balistreri, H. Gersen, J.P. Korterik, L. Kuipers, and N.F. Van Hulst, Science, 294, 1080 (2001)

[4] H. Gersen, J.P. Korterik, N.F. Van Hulst and L. Kuipers, Phys. Rev. E, 68, 022604 (2003)

[5] H. Gersen, E.M.P.H. Van Dijk, J.P. Korterik, N.F. Van Hulst and L. Kuipers, Phys. Rev. E, 70, 066609 (2004)

[5] H. Gersen, D.J.W. Klunder, J.P. Korterik, A. Driessen, N.F. Van Hulst and L. Kuipers, Opt. Lett. 29, 1291 (2004)

[6] H. Gersen, T.J. Karle, R.J.P. Engelen, W. Bogaerts, J.P. Korterik, N.F. Van Hulst, T. Krauss, and L. Kuipers, Phys. Rev. Lett, 94, 073903 (2005)

[7] H. Gersen, T.J. Karle, R.J.P. Engelen, W. Bogaerts, J.P. Korterik, N.F. Van Hulst, T. Krauss, and L. Kuipers, Phys. Rev. Lett, 94, 123901 (2005)

[8] J.A. Miwa, S. Weigelt, H. Gersen, F. Besenbacher, F. Rosei, and T.R. Linderoth, J. Am. Chem. Soc, 128, 3164 (2006)

[9] H. Gersen, R. Schaub, W. Xu, I. Stensgaard, E. Laegsgaard, T.R. Linderoth., and F. Besenbacher,. Appl. Phys. Lett., 89, 264102 (2006) 

[10] Xu W, Dong MD, Gersen H, et al.  SMALL, 3 p854-858 (2007) 




  • nano-optics
  • optics
  • nanophotonics
  • biophotonics
  • plasmonics
  • scanning probe microscopy
  • single molecule spectroscopy
  • photonic crystals

Selected publications

Read more >

View complete publications list in the University of Bristol publications system


Dr Gersen currently teaches 6 courses:

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