Research experience

2019 - present
Post-doctoral researcher
Max-Planck-Institut für Eisenforschung (MPIE), Germany

In my current role I focus on establishing FAIR data principles in TEM research community by developing standardized metadata representations and processing pipelines. This also involves contributing to open source software projects in the TEM community by contributing advanced data analysis routines. I involved in projects related to the properties of grain boundaries, phase transformations in high entropy alloys, the structure of high entropy carbide, and measuring residual strain in silicon. I mentor Ph.D. students particularly on topics related to data analysis, and I support the research group by maintaining a dokuWiki, an eLabFTW instance, and by managing our collective code base on Gitlab.

2015 - 2019
Ph.D. Researcher
University of Antwerp and SCK-CEN, Belgium

My research focused on the effects of radiation on Ti-stabilized stainless steel, and the role of nano-sized TiC precipitates in inhibiting deleterious material degradation. The work mainly involved nanoscale characterization with TEM and APT. I mentored two successful master thesis students. I performed experiments at and collaborated with researchers from the University of Michigan, the University of California, Berkeley and the Center for Advanced Energy Studies in Idaho Falls through NSUF-RTE funding. I also created a utility to help TEM operators tilt their crystalline sample to the correct diffraction conditions and implemented a basic cluster dynamics code. The project was funded through a scholarship awarded by the Belgian Nuclear Research Center (SCK-CEN). I became an avid python programmer, user of the scientific python stack, and amateur data scientist who participated in a hackaton.

2014 (August)
Research assistant
Warsaw University of Technology, Poland

I designed and conducted heat treatments to create nanobainitic microstructures in a Polish steel alloy. I employed thermodynamic/kinetic modelling, dilatometry, LOM, TEM, tensile testing, hardness testing, Charpy-V testing, to compare the microstructure and properties to a quenched and tempered treatment.


2015 - 2019
Doctor of Science: Physics (Ph.D.)
University of Antwerp, Belgium
Grade: Felicitations of the jury (Summa cum laude)
Master of Science, Materials Engineering
KU Leuven, Belgium and KTH, Sweden
Grade: Magna cum laude

Took part in a dual-degree exchange program with KTH in Stockholm.

Bachelor of Science, Materials/Chemical Technology
KU Leuven, Belgium
Grade: Cum laude
International Baccalaureate (IB)
American School of Warsaw (High school), Poland
Grade: 39 point total, 7, 7, 7 for HL Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry

Peer-reviewed articles

N. Cautaerts, E. F. Rauch, J. Jeong, G. Dehm, C. Liebscher, Investigation of the orientation relationship between nano-sized G-phase precipitates and austenite with scanning nano-beam electron diffraction using a pixelated detector, submitted to Scripta Materialia, preprint available on arXiv:2102.11363

J. Jeong, N. Cautaerts, G. Dehm, C. H. Liebscher, Automated crystal orientation mapping with sub-degree angular resolution using precession electron diffraction assisted 4D scanning transmission electron microscopy, submitted to Microscopy and Microanalysis, preprint available on arXiv:2102.09711.

T. Wangle, N. Peeters, N. Cautaerts, T. Delloye, T. Cardinaels, J. Vleugels, M. Verwerft, Two-step alkaline thorium dioxide precipitation A low waste method for highly sinterable ThO2, J. Nucl. Mater. (2021) 152984. doi:10.1016/j.jnucmat.2021.152984.

N. Cautaerts, R. Delville, E. Stergar, J. Pakarinen, M. Verwerft, Y. Yang, C. Hofer, R. Schnitzer, S. Lamm, P. Felfer, D. Schryvers, The role of Ti and TiC nanoprecipitates in radiation resistant austenitic steel: A nanoscale study, Acta Materialia 197 (2020) 184-197. doi:10.1016/j.actamat.2020.07.022.

E. Charalampopoulou, N. Cautaerts, T. Van der Donck, D. Schryvers, K. Lambrinou, R. Delville, Orientation relationship of the austenite-to-ferrite transformation in austenitic stainless steels due to dissolution corrosion in contact with liquid Pb-Bi eutectic, Scripta Materialia 167 (2019) 66–70. doi:10.1016/j.scriptamat.2019.03.035

N. Cautaerts, R. Delville, D. Schryvers, ALPHABETA: a dedicated open-source tool for calculating TEM stage tilt angles, Journal of Microscopy 273 (2018) 189–198. doi:10.1111/jmi.12774.

N. Cautaerts, R. Delville, E.Stergar, D. Schryvers, M. Verwerft, Characterization of (Ti,Mo,Cr)C nanoprecipitates in an austenitic stainless steel on the atomic scale, Acta Materialia 164 (2018) 90–98. doi:10.1016/J.ACTAMAT.2018.10.018.

N. Cautaerts, R. Delville, E.Stergar, D.Schryvers, M. Verwerft, Tailoring the Ti-C Nanoprecipitate Population and Microstructure of Titanium Stabilized Austenitic Steels, Journal of Nuclear Materials 507 (2018) 177–187. doi:10.1016/j.jnucmat.2018.04.041.

N. Cautaerts, R. Delville, W. Dietz, M. Verwerft, Thermal creep properties of Ti- stabilized DIN1.4970 (15-15Ti) austenitic stainless steel pressurized cladding tubes, Journal of Nuclear materials 493 (2017) 154–167. doi:10.1016/j.jnucmat.2017.06.013.


N. Cautaerts, Nanoscale study of ageing and irradiation induced precipitates in the DIN 1.4970 alloy (Ph.D. Thesis, supervisor: D. Schryvers), University of Antwerp, 2019, Download link

N. Cautaerts, Optimizing Cu-Ti-Sn-Ni brazing alloys for application in diamond wire saws (Master Thesis, supervisor: J. Vleugels), KU Leuven, 2015

Thesis supervision

A. Youssef, Influence of testing conditions and thermomechanical treatments on tensile properties of the MYRRHA cladding steel DIN 1.4970, FH Aachen, 2018, Download link

R. Wuyts, Influence of thermo-mechanical treatments on recrystallization behaviour in the MYRRHA cladding material DIN 1.4970, KU Leuven, 2017, Download link.


  • Teach basics of TEM in SURMAT, Online, August 2021
  • Teach python data visualisation and image processing, Online, April 2021
  • Stanford's Code in place section leader teaching python programming, Online, April 2021
  • Lecture on the basics of radiation materials science for MPIE colleagues, Online, April 2021
  • TEM demonstrator for TEM course, H.H.U. Düsseldorf, January 2021
  • TEM demonstrator for EMAT summer school, Antwerp, June 2019
  • Daily supervision and instrument training for various interns and master students from 2015 to 2019

Research stays/visits

March 2019
Atom probe tomography experiments at FAU Erlangen, Germany, in collaboration with Prof. P. Felfer.
October 2017
Nanoindentation experiments at the University of California, Berkeley, USA, in collaboration with Prof. P. Hosemann
October 2017
Focused ion beam and atom probe tomography experiments at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES) in Idaho Falls, USA
April 2017
Ion irradiation experiments at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, USA

Conference contributions

Invited talks
  • Effect of ion irradiation on austenitic stainless steel at low temperatures, MS&IA, 2018, Warsaw, Poland
  • eLabFTW for materials science and microscopy, eLabFTW users meeting at university Clausthal, 2021, Online
  • Approaches to FAIR transmission electron microscopy data, BiGmax Workshop, 2021, online
  • Using eLabFTW for materials science, FOSDEM, 2021, online
  • Pushing TEM data analysis beyond the limits of proprietary software, EMC, 2020, online
  • Pushing TEM data analysis beyond the limits of proprietary software, MSE, 2020, online
  • The influence of prior heat treatment on the microstructural evolution of Ti-stabilized austenitic steel under ion irradiation, EMRS Fall Meeting, 2019, Warsaw, Poland
  • Effect of ion irradiation on austenitic stainless steel at low tempera- tures, IMC19, 2018, Sydney, Australia
  • TEMtilt (ALPHABETA): a tool for calculating tilt angles on a double-tilt stage, IMC19, 2018, Sydney, Australia
  • Relationship between microstructure and mechanical properties of heat treated 15-15Ti austenitic stainless steel for nuclear fuel cladding applications, EUROMAT, 2017, Thessaloniki, Greece
  • Microstructural evolution of cold worked DIN 1.4970 (X10 CrNiMoTiB 15 15) steel after heat treatments at 600 and 800 °C, NuMat, 2016, Montpellier, France
  • TEM data, metadata and the sample description problem, BiGmax workshop, 2020, online
  • The role of Ti and TiC in Ti-stabilized austenitic steel under ion irradiation, IAMNano, 2019, Düsseldorf, Germany


  • Finalist Belgian Nuclear Society, Young generation paper contest (2020)
  • Finalist Belgian Nuclear Society, Young generation paper contest (2018)
  • Best poster at Lead-Bismuth summer school (2016)

Grants and scholarships

  • Ph.D. scholarship from SCK-CEN on the topic: Investigation of the influence of thermo-mechanical treatments on microstructure and mechanical properties of Ti stabilized 15Cr-15Ni austenitic stainless steel, 2015
  • NSUF-RTE grant on the topic: Low temperature Fe-ion irradiation of 15-15Ti steel in different thermo-mechanical states, 2017, proposal no. 864
  • NSUF-RTE grant on the topic: Characterization of ion irradiated 15-15Ti steel by APT, 2017, proposal no. 930
  • NSUF-RTE grant on the topic: Hardness profiling of ion irradiated 15-15Ti cladding steel using CSM nano-indentation, 2017, proposal no. 1023

Reviewing activities

  • Nuclear Science User Facilities (NSUF) rapid-turnaround (RTE)
  • Journal of Materials Engineering and Performance
  • Acta Crystallographica Section B
  • Engineering Computations
  • Journal of Microscopy

Memberships and committees

  • Belgian Nuclear Society member
  • Organizing member of software taskforce at MPIE

Coding projects


ALPHABETA is a tool for calculating TEM stage tilt angles necessary for setting up certain diffracting conditions on a crystalline specimen.
TEMMETA is a library to facilitate common TEM data manipulation operations.
A tool for converting TVIPS-camera 4D-STEM data into other formats such as the ASTAR blo and Hyperspy .hspy formats.
A command line tool for printing QR code stickers for eLabFTW database entries. Ideal for digitally managing physical samples.
A python wrapper around the C++ match-series code for joint non-rigid-registration of images


Hyperspy is an open source n-dimensional data analysis and visualization toolbox focused on spectral data such as EDX and EELS. I fixed some bugs and added features to the Velox EMD reader.
Pyxem is a hyperspy extension focused on 4D-STEM and PED data analysis. I contributed additions to the way diffraction patterns are calculated and how orientation mapping data is indexed.