Jan Nijenhuis appointed Knight in the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands

Ground-based astronomy
Opto-mechatronical instruments for Space Based Astronomy
Space and scientific instrumentation
Space-based astronomy
26 April 2023

Jan Nijenhuis Knight has been appointed Knight in the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands. This royal appointment is an acknowledgement of his ground-breaking research in the field of opto-mechatronics. Today, Jan received the decorations that go with this award from Marja van Bijsterveldt, mayor of the city of Delft.

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Jan Nijenhuis

Ground-breaking in opto-mechatronics

Jan Nijenhuis has been working at TNO in opto-mechatronics for over 34 years, a field specialised in the development of ultra-precise mechanisms for optical instruments used in e.g. lithography, telescopes and satellites. Nijenhuis is a specialist in the development of instruments for space and astronomy. He is internationally renowned and appreciated as an expert and pioneer in the field, among others due to his contributions to international symposia over the years and his work for the Dutch Society of Precision Engineering.

Extremely Large Telescope

Only recently, Nijenhuis designed the mechanical support for the primary mirror of the largest telescope in the world, the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT). The ELT is already known as the ‘biggest eye on the sky’. Once finished, it will be the size of a football stadium. From 2027 onwards, it will look further into the universe than any telescope ever before. The primary mirror, measuring 39 metres, consists of 798 individual segments of 1.4 metres, each of which has to maintain its exact shape and position down to 20 millionth of a millimetre. TNO developed the prototype and with success: it landed the Dutch company VDL an order worth millions in series production.

“Jan has made us very proud. On behalf of TNO I congratulate him with this royal honour. It’s a recognition of his important contributions to science and society and the pinnacle of his great career.”

Tjark Tjin-A-Tsoi


Order of the Lion of the Netherlands

The Order of the Lion of the Netherlands was founded in 1815. It is conferred on individuals who have rendered exceptional service to the community, above and beyond what might have been expected of them, for example someone who has done pioneering scientific work of great value to society at large. The key word is always ‘exceptional’, indicating an extraordinary achievement rooted in great talent.

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