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Team Spotlight: Jaakko Mäkelä - Researcher

Meet Jaakko - Comptek's Researcher who solves tricky challenges in laser facet passivation despite his childhood plan to become an architect. In this article Jaakko shares his enthusiasm for his tasks and science-inspired mindset which stays with him outside the office/lab doors. Read on:)

Describe your area of responsibility at Comptek and your key tasks

I am a researcher, which basically means my task is to find the most suitable ways to implement our Kontrox passivation technology on different customer samples. But I do participate in many other things too - from designing and assembling equipment and setting up the software to performing experiments and doing measurements. Research is always teamwork, but I also enjoy giving my personal input in areas besides my key tasks; for example during the last year I have been more involved in project management.

What area/topic of your research you are currently most enthusiastic about?

Difficult to name just one! Lately, I have done a lot of time-resolved photoluminescence mapping measurements for µLED, and there are plenty of things I’d like to analyze more thoroughly and build models to explain behaviour variations among materials. I am especially curious about the differences between the passivated vs. non-passivated sidewalls! However, the most interesting topic for me now is within III-V laser diode facets; our technology increases the threshold for catastrophic optical mirror damage resulting in higher optical power output. I do have strong know-how in the subject, but it has nevertheless proven a very challenging thing to resolve. We are currently working on the new equipment to facilitate the developments in this area, and I am very enthusiastic about the project!

Has your work been affected by the pandemic? How?

Less than I originally thought it would, actually. I have two kids in the day-care, so even milder flu symptoms require extra caution and I end up working from home a bit more often than normal. Most of my tasks require my physical presence at the lab, but thankfully we got quite good tools for working remotely also. Once I’ve helped a colleague fix a software issue through remote desktop functionality while cooking in my home kitchen.

If you had to quit science for some reason, what would be your alternative career choice?

As a kid, I had a plan to become an architect! I like to build things and make them aesthetically pleasing - be it graphs, sketches, or home renovations. So I could imagine myself working in construction, electric engineering, or maybe even software development. At least these are things I would like to learn more about, and for example, having some programming skills proved quite useful in my current job as well.

Does working with nanoscience affect your way of thinking outside work?

Very interesting question! I believe it has affected my tendency to acquire all available information about the issue before dealing with it – both at work and personal life. What I mean is that as long as you have holes in your fundamentals, trying to resolve a problem is like flipping coins. Nanoscience, as science in general, suggests a more solid approach: you must have the building blocks to form a hypothesis, test it and make sure everything was taken into account before making any conclusions.

Science has taught me that things tend to be much more complex than what they seem once you look closer. This might be the reason I’m not that productive outside work, where life consists of so many things I know so little about:) It’s a bit like Schrödinger’s cat paradox - the cat is 50% alive and 50% dead until you observe it to be one or another :D


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