Abstract submission for the XIX B-MRS Meeting + IUMRS ICEM is now open.

logo 19 encontroAbstract submission for the XIX B-MRS Meeting + IUMRS ICEM 2020 is open until April 1st. This international event will be held in Foz do Iguaçu (Brazil) from August 30 to September 3, 2020. Authors must submit their abstracts within one of the 29 thematic symposia of the meeting.

Registration is also open and has promotional values for early registration until July 15th. The registration fee includes three lunches at the event venue, the Rafain Palace Hotel & Conventions, in addition to all coffee breaks and the welcome cocktail.

Thematic symposia

The symposia cover a wide range of research topics, from design and synthesis of the most diverse materials to applications in areas such as energy, health, electronics, photonics, environment and industry, including methods for materials processing and characterization. The symposia also comprehend issues such as the regulation of products based on nanotechnology, aiming at their safe use.

In addition, there will be a symposium dedicated to teaching and outreach in Materials Science and Engineering, and a symposium organized by the B-MRS University Chapters on entrepreneurship and technological innovation in the field

The symposia are organized by teams of researchers from Brazil and several other countries (Argentina, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, UK and USA) .

About the event

The event covers the 19th edition of the annual meeting of the Brazilian Materials Research Society (SBPMat/B-MRS) and the 17th edition of the international conference on electronic materials, organized every two years by the International Union of Materials Research Societies (IUMRS).

The event is aimed at researchers (professionals and students) and teachers from all areas of knowledge working on topics related to materials, their properties and applications.

The venue is the Rafain Palace Hotel & Conventions, located in Foz do Iguaçu, a Brazilian city close to the border with Argentina and Paraguay, with extensive tourist infrastructure, which serves as a base for visits to the Iguazu Falls and others attractions of the surroundings.

The organizing committee of the event is formed by professors Gustavo Martini Dalpian (UFABC) in general coordination, Carlos Cesar Bof Bufon (LNNANO) in program coordination and Flavio Leandro de Souza (UFABC) as general secretary. In the international committee, the event has scientists from America, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

The symposia oral and poster sessions will form the main axis of the event together with the plenary lectures, which will feature internationally renowned scientists, such as Alex Zunger (University of Colorado Boulder, USA), Hideo Hosono (Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan) , John Rogers (Northwestern University, USA), Luisa Torsi (Università degli Studi di Bari “A. Moro”, Italy) and Tao Deng (Shanghai Jiaotong University, China). Two Brazilian scientists, also of international prominence, will give plenary lectures and will receive distinctions by B-MRS: Cid Bartolomeu de Araújo (Federal University of Pernambuco) will be honored through the traditional Joaquim da Costa Ribeiro Memorial Lecture, while Edson Leite (Federal University of São Carlos and Brazilian Nanotechnology National Laboratory (LNNano) will give the José Arana Varela Lecture, a distinction that B-MRS begins to grant this year.

In addition, the event will feature the Opening Cocktail, the Conference Party, and the Students Awards Ceremony, which will include the Bernhard Gross Award (B-MRS distinction for the best oral and best poster of each symposium presented by an undergraduate or graduate student) and the ACS Publications Prize (prize from the American Chemical Society’s publisher to the five best oral and five best poster among the finalists of the Bernhard Gross Award). To apply for the awards, authors must submit an extended abstract after receiving notification of acceptance of the work, which will take place between the months of May and June. More information on how to participate in the award can be found on the event website (“abstract submission”).

Exhibitors, sponsorship and support

Following the tradition of the B-MRS Meeting, the event will have an area for exhibitors. In addition to the booths, the organization offers other types of participation to sponsors and supporters. Companies and other organizations wishing to give visibility to their products and services within the material community can still contact Alexandre by e-mail comercial@sbpmat.org.br. The deadline for closing sponsorships ends on March 31 .

Instructions for preparing and submitting abstracts, list of symposia, registration and other information can be found on the B-MRS Meeting + IUMRS ICEM website: www.sbpmat.org.br/19encontro/.

Cataratas do Iguaçu. By Martin St-Amant (S23678) - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3946052
Cataratas do Iguaçu. By Martin St-Amant (S23678) – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3946052

B-MRS Newsletter. Year 7, issue 1.


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Newsletter of the
Brazilian Materials
Research Society

Year 7, issue 1. February 7, 2020.

B-MRS News

Swearing in of the new B-MRS board. The members of the new B-MRS Executive Board, chaired by Professor Mônica Cotta, will take office on February 14 in a ceremony open to the public, which will be held in the auditorium of the Physics Institute Gleb Wataghin (Unicamp). Know more.

Featured Paper

A Brazilian scientific team made an important contribution to the development of solid electrolytes for lithium-ion batteries, which are safer than liquid or gel electrolytes that are currently widely used. The researchers have developed a polymer-based material that surpasses all those reported so far in some parameters related to conductivity, which can generate fast-charging batteries. The work was recently published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters. Know more.


Featured Scientists

Oxides for better and cheaper electronics. Ceramics obtained from polymers that catalyze the conversion of CO2 into methane. A material that enables the use of ethanol in fuel cells. Fibers obtained from an Amazonian plant for bulletproof vests. Learn more about the doctoral dissertations that were awarded the Brazilian Capes Theses Award, and get to know their authors Miguel Boratto, Heloísa de Macedo, Bernardo Sarruf and Fábio Braga. Here.


News from B-MRS Members

– Prof. Felipe de Almeida La Porta (UTFPR), B-MRS member, is co-editor of a Springer book on computational-experimental research on materials and biomolecules. Know more.


– B-MRS regrets the death of Antonio Ricardo Droher Rodrigues, leader of the Engineering Division at LNLS/CNPEM. Ricardo Rodrigues was the technical and scientific leader of the design and construction of the two Brazilian synchrotron light sources: UVX (developed in the 1980s and 1990s) and Sirius (fourth generation source developed since 2009, currently in the testing phase). Rodrigues passed away on January 3, 2020, at the age of 68. B-MRS’s Executive Board expresses its regret at the premature departure of this Brazilian scientist who made great contributions to our community. Know more about Ricardo Rodrigues.

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XIX B-MRS Meeting + IUMRS ICEM 2020
(Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, August 30 – September 3, 2020)

Website: www.sbpmat.org.br/19encontro/

Submissions. Abstract submission is open until April 1st. Guidelines for preparing abstracts are available here.

Symposia. The event comprises 29 thematic symposia. See the list.

Registration. The registration system is open. July 15 is the deadline for early registration (with discount). The fees, which include three lunches, are already on the website. Know more, here.

Exhibitors and sponsors. 12 companies have already confirmed their participation as exhibitors-sponsors of the event. Companies and other organizations interested in participating in the event as exhibitors, sponsors or supporters, can contact Alexandre at comercial@sbpmat.org.br before March 31.

International plenary lectures. Renowned scientists from China, Italy, Japan and USA have already confirmed their presence as speakers at the event. Learn more at the event website.

José Arana Varela Lecture (national plenary lecture). Professor Edson Roberto Leite (LNNano – CNPEM) was chosen by B-MRS to receive this distinction and give a lecture at the event.

Joaquim da Costa Ribeiro Memorial Lecture. The honor goes to Professor Cid Bartolomeu de Araújo (UFPE), who will give the lecture at the event.

Venue. The event will be held at Rafain Palace Hotel and Conventions, located in Foz do Iguaçu (Brazil). Know more.

Accommodations. See accommodation options from the event official travel agency, here.

Joint event. The event brings together the 19th edition of the B-MRS annual meeting and the 17th edition of the International Conference on Electronic Materials organized every two years by the International Union of Materials Research Societies (IUMRS).

Organization. Professor Gustavo Martini Dalpian (UFABC) is the general coordinator, Carlos Cesar Bof Bufon (LNNANO) is the program coordinator and Flavio Leandro de Souza (UFABC) is the general secretary. At the international committee, the event features scientists from America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. Know more.

Reading tips

– Perovskites, superconductors at room temperature and solid-state electrolytes: materials that are worth keeping an eye on in 2020, according to Nature. Know more.

– 2D future: the two-dimensional technologies that scientists from some of the most renowned laboratories in the world are developing, from graphene nanofibers that store combustible hydrogen, to molybdenum disulfide devices that collect the remains of electromagnetic energy from Wi-Fi and cell phones and transform into usable energy. Know more.

– Scientists are surprised to discover that spherical drops of liquid crystal turn into structures of complex and beautiful shapes when the temperature decreases. This discovery generates advances in fundamental science and opens up possibilities for new materials (Nature). Know more.


World Forum for Women in Science – Brazil 2020 + 4th International Conference for Women in Science without Borders: Energy, Water, Health, Agriculture and Environment for Sustainable Development. Rio de Janeiro, RJ (Brazil). February 10 – 14, 2020. Site.

Pan American Ceramics Congress and Ferroelectrics Meeting of Americas (PACC-FMAs 2020). Panama (Panama). July 19 – 23, 2020. Site.

XVIII International Congress on Rheology. Rio de Janeiro, RJ (Brazil). August 2 – 7, 2020. Site.

XIX B-MRS Meeting + 2020 IUMRS ICEM (International Conference on Electronic Materials). Foz do Iguaçu, PR (Brazil). August 30 – September 3, 2020. Site.

11th International Conference of Microwave Materials and their Applications. Aveiro (Portugal). August 30 – September 2, 2020. Site.

XLI Congresso Brasileiro de Aplicações de Vácuo na Indústria e na Ciência. Foz do Iguaçu, PR (Brazil). October 5 – 7, 2020. Site.

5th International Conference of Surfaces, Coatings and NanoStructured Materials – Americas (NANOSMAT-Americas). Foz do Iguaçu, PR (Brazil). October 7 – 10, 2020. Site.

Follow us on social media

You can suggest news, opportunities, events or reading tips in the materials field to be covered by B-MRS Newsletter. Write to comunicacao@sbpmat.org.br.

Featured scientists: Interviews with winners of the Brazilian award for best doctoral theses.

The Capes Thesis Award distinguishes, annually, the best doctoral theses of each area, defended during the precedent year within Brazilian graduate programs. On December 12, 2019, 49 awards and 98 honorable mentions were bestowed by Capes to recently graduated doctors, among  1.142 applications.

Capes is the Brazilian federal government agency under the Ministry of Education, responsible for quality of undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Brazil.

Meet some of the winners from the materials research community.

Interview with Miguel Henrique Boratto, winner of the Capes Award in Materials area. 

Thesis: Semiconducting and insulating oxides applied to electronic devices. Available at https://repositorio.unesp.br/handle/11449/153215

Author: Miguel Henrique Boratto.

Supervisor: Luis Vicente de Andrade Scalvi (UNESP).

Miguel Boratto (direita) junto a seu orientador de doutorado, Prof. Luis Vicente de Andrade Scalvi após a defesa da tese.
Miguel Boratto (right) and the supervisor of his doctoral thesis, Prof. Luis Vicente de Andrade Scalvi.

Improving performance and reducing the cost of electronic devices that are part of our daily lives is the desire of almost everyone. However, contributing to this is a not a reality for everyone. Miguel Henrique Boratto, dedicated the four years of his doctorate and the two years of his master’s degree to study some materials from the oxide group, with a view to their possible use in the production of fundamental pieces of electronics.

With a degree in Physics and a master’s and doctorate in Materials Science and Technology from UNESP (the São Paulo State University), Miguel first studied this group of materials during his master’s degree, but it was in his doctorate that he managed to manufacture thin films of tin, titanium and zirconium oxides using inexpensive processes, and testing their performance in electronic devices (transistors, capacitors and memristors), always guided by professor Luis Vicente de Andrade Scalvi.

The work that generated the awarded thesis was carried out in laboratories at UNESP in the cities of Bauru and Araraquara, and also at The University of Western Ontario (Canada), where Miguel did a 12-month internship, under the supervision of professors Giovanni Fanchini and Lyudmila Goncharova. During his doctorate, Miguel received fellowships from Brazilian agencies Capes (in Brazil) and CNPq (in Canada).

Five scientific articles directly related to the thesis were published in peer reviewed international journals with good impact factor. In addition, the results presented by Miguel at the 2017 B-MRS Meeting were awarded with two awards for the best oral presentation and best poster of their symposium.

After defending his doctorate, Miguel continued studying materials for electronic applications, as a postdoctoral fellow at UFSC. In addition, in June/July last year, he was selected to be part of a group of 580 young scientists from 89 countries participating in physics discussions with 30 Nobel Prize laureates, the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. Currently, as a post-doc fellow, he researches organic devices for bioelectronic applications at UNESP – Bauru and teaches Modern Physics Laboratory.

See our brief interview with Miguel Boratto, 32 years old, born in São João da Boa Vista (São Paulo).

a) Curvas de saída de transistores de filme fino de Sb:SnO2 e b) Sb:SnO2/PCBM. Detalhe: Diagrama do transistor e circuito elétrico. c) Diagrama de bandas da heterojunção Sb:SnO2/PCBM durante etapas de equilíbrio e operação do transistor.
a) Output curves of thin film transistors  Sb:SnO2 and b) Sb:SnO2/PCBM. Detail: Diagram of the transistor and electric circuit. c) Band diagram of the Sb:SnO2/PCBM heterojunction during balance and operation steps of the transistor.

B-MRS Newsletter: In your view, what is the most relevant contribution (scientific/technological/social) of the awarded thesis?

Miguel Boratto: In and of itself, the thesis presents a good part of the work developed and published, that’s why I think this is the most relevant work I have produced. Among the works presented, scientific relevance is in obtaining, by means of low cost methods, known materials followed by their applications in electronic devices to study their properties and final performance.

B-MRS Newsletter: From your point of view,  what are the main factors that allowed you to carry out a prominent research work at the national level?

Miguel Boratto: Aid from the national program “Science without Borders,” with CNPq scholarship for internship abroad, greatly expanded my horizon in relation to the work to be developed and partnerships to be carried out. I also think the partnerships I have made are important, as they are necessary to carry out work with more resources and possibilities.

B-MRS Newsletter: Leave a message for our readers who are undergraduate or graduate students.

Miguel Boratto: The epigraph of my thesis, by Niels Bohr: “An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field.”

Interview with Heloísa Pimenta de Macedo, winner of the honorable mention in Materials area. 

Thesis: Hybrid Porous Ceramics Derived from Polysiloxanes Containing Ni Nanoparticles for Production of Methane via Hydrogenation of CO2. Available at https://repositorio.ufrn.br/jspui/bitstream/123456789/26500/1/Ni-Containinghybrid_Macedo_2018.pdf

Author: Heloísa Pimenta de Macedo.

Supervisor: Dulce Maria de Araújo Melo (UFRN).

Co-supervisor: Michaela Wilhelm (Universität Bremen).

Heloísa Pimenta de Macedo
Heloísa Pimenta de Macedo

When she started her doctorate in Materials at the Brazilian Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), under the guidance of Professor Dulce Maria de Araújo Melo, Heloísa Pimenta Macedo was already familiar with ceramic materials and their applications in catalysts – themes in which she had worked during her Materials Engineering degree and her Master’s in Materials, always at UFRN. However, it was in her doctorate that she had the opportunity to investigate superior properties to those she already knew, and to contribute to a relatively new research area.

The theme of Heloísa’s doctorate was the development of hybrid ceramics, their characterization and their application as catalysts in a process of converting carbon dioxide (CO2), the great villain of the greenhouse effect, into methane (CH4), a compound with added value that can be used as fuel or raw material.

Hybrid ceramics have the distinctiveness of being obtained through the pyrolysis of polymeric compounds. They are polymers that convert into ceramics after going through high temperatures (400 to 600 °C, in Heloísa’s work). In addition, to work as catalysts, these ceramics can be added with metals (in this case, nickel nanoparticles).

Heloísa completed her doctorate with a Capes scholarship, and it was this same Brazilian agency that awarded her a scholarship to do a one-year internship at Universität Bremen (Germany), in a group with equipment and skills in the subjects she was researching.

The work of Heloísa’s doctorate was reported in an article published in a peer reviewed international journal with good impact factor. In addition, during her doctorate, Heloísa participated in some research projects that resulted in a series of published papers.

See our brief interview with this 30-year-old researcher from Natal (Rio Grande do Norte state), who is currently conducting research as a postdoctoral fellow at the UFRN Environmental Technology Laboratory.

Cerâmicas híbridas pirolisadas a temperaturas menores apresentam melhor desempenho catalítico.
Hybrid ceramics show better catalytic performance when pyrolised at lower temperatures.

B-MRS newsletter: In your view, what is the most relevant contribution (scientific/technological/social) of the awarded thesis?

Heloísa de Macedo: The development of hybrid ceramics with a wide variety of easily adjustable properties, featuring promising materials for important catalytic reactions, such as the conversion of CO2 into CH4.

B-MRS newsletter: From your point of view, what are the main factors that allowed you to carry out a prominent research work at the national level?

Heloísa de Macedo: To be part of a modern laboratory (Environmental Technology Laboratory) and of an excellent Postgraduate Program (with maximum score according to Capes), offered me all the resources for developing the thesis. In addition, of course, of the opportunity to undertake a doctoral internship at an excellent university in Germany, with renowned professionals in the field of materials, and all the infrastructure and equipment available, which allowed me to do high quality work.

B-MRS newsletter: Leave a message for our readers who are undergraduate or graduate students.

Heloísa de Macedo: I would tell them to persist in their dreams and believe in their potential, as they are the fundamental parts for Brazilian science.

Interview with Bernardo Jordão Moreira Sarruf, winner of a honorable mention in the area of Engineering.

Thesis: Ceria-based anodes with cobalt and copper additions for the direct utilization of methane in solid oxide fuel cells. Available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/338789167_BernardoSarruf-PhDThesis2018?channel=doi&linkId=5e2a4e8b299bf15216787c23&showFulltext=true

Author: Bernardo Jordão Moreira Sarruf.

Supervisor: Paulo Emílio Valadão de Miranda (UFRJ).

Bernardo Sarruf
Bernardo Sarruf

In his doctoral research, Bernardo Jordão Moreira Sarruf made a contribution to the development of fuel cells which is particularly relevant to the Brazilian reality. Fuel cells are devices that generate electricity and which have increased in popularity in recent years due to the emergence of some electric car models based on this technology. In fact, fuel cells are capable of transforming the chemical energy of a compound (the fuel) into electrical energy, through electrochemical reactions of oxidation and reduction. They work similarly to ordinary batteries, with the difference that the compounds that undergo the reactions come from outside the device.

The most common fuel in these batteries is currently hydrogen. However, this element, although it is the most abundant in the universe, is not easily obtained on planet Earth, and even less so in gas stations in Brazil. The good news is that other compounds can be used as fuel for fuel cells. Such is the case of methane (the main component of vehicular natural gas) and ethanol – two fuels widely available in the country.

In his doctoral research, Bernardo Sarruf developed a material based on cerium dioxide that performed very well on fuel cells “fueled” with methane, ethanol and hydrogen. The material was used as a battery electrode, that is, as a propellant for the transformation of chemical energy into electrical energy.

Bernardo’s first leap into the subject of fuel cells was in 2008, during his undergraduate degree in Materials Engineering at Brazilian Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), when he performed undergraduate research under the guidance of Professor Paulo Emílio Valadão de Miranda at the Hydrogen Laboratory. Between 2011 and 2013, when carrying out the master’s degree with the same advisor and in the same laboratory, Bernardo went deeper into the microstructural characterization of fuel cell anodes, while developing a software company for characterizing materials that he had just incubated in the university startups incubator.

Then, in 2013, Bernardo started his doctorate, once again under the guidance of Paulo de Miranda. From 2015 to 2016, he undertook an internship at the University of Birmingham (England), under the supervision of Professor Robert Steinberger-Wilckens, in a research center dedicated to fuel cells and their various fuels. In 2018, Bernardo defended the doctoral thesis that earned him the honorable mention in the Capes Thesis Award. The work generated five articles published in peer-reviewed international journals with good impact factor. During his doctorate, Bernardo received a scholarship from Brazilian agencies Capes (in Brazil) and CNPq (in England).

See our brief interview with Bernardo Sarruf, born in Niterói (Rio de Janeiro state), 33 years of age, who continues to work in the area of fuel cells at the Hydrogen Laboratory as a postdoctoral researcher, in addition to being a collaborating professor at the university.

Em cima, curvas de desempenho eletrquímico da pillha a combustível operando com hidrogênio, metano e etanol como combustíveis. Embaixo, imagem de microscopia eletrônica de varredura do anodo cerâmico poroso mostrando a distribuição das fases no material.
Above, electrochemical performance curves of the fuel cell operating with hydrogen, methane and ethanol as fuels. Below, a SEM image of the porous ceramic anode showing the fase distribution of the material.

B-MRS newsletter: In your view, what is the most relevant contribution (scientific/technological/social) of the awarded thesis?

Bernardo Sarruf: The fact that the work has demonstrated the development, even if embryonic, of a material that showed excellent results operating as an anode in solid oxide fuel cells for the use of both hydrogen and primary fuels, such as methane and ethanol, paves the way for inserting the fuel cells during the energy transition we are currently undergoing. A fuel cell is a device that combines hydrogen and oxygen from the air to produce electricity, with water as the electrochemical reaction by-product. In our case, instead of using hydrogen (which is still expensive and has an incipient supply infrastructure), we use methane (natural gas) or ethanol, products that already have a well-developed supply chain. As well known, policies to mitigate climate effects will increasingly consist of giving priority to low carbon technologies, which is the case with hydrogen chain technologies. Using ethanol as a fuel in an electrochemical device with almost zero CO2 emissions opens up even more opportunities for Brazil, which is currently the second largest exporter of this product.

B-MRS newsletter: From your point of view, what are the main factors that allowed you to carry out research work that is highlighted at the national level?

Bernardo Sarruf: The support of funding agencies (CAPES and CNPq) is and was fundamental, and we hope that research in Brazil will receive more and more the attention it deserves. The experience of my supervisors in the area was extremely important. I can say that I had a unique opportunity to work with cutting-edge resources and equipment, which were mostly acquired with the support of Hydrogen Laboratory projects over the years.

B-MRS newsletter: Leave a message for our readers who are undergraduate or graduate students.

Bernardo Sarruf: An important message is, perhaps a cliché: there is no magic recipe or shortcuts, if you wake up every day anxious to “get your hands dirty” and go to work, follow the experiment, cheer with the achievements and learn from mistakes, you will surely succeed. Moreover, what I try to do in my day-to-day life as a researcher is seeing beyond what is obvious to me; listening to people outside the professional environment also helps a lot in this task.

Interview with Fábio de Oliveira Braga, winner of a honorable mention in the area of Engineering.

Thesis: Optimized configuration of multilayer ballistic shielding with frontal ceramic and aramid composites or curauá fabric.

Author: Fábio de Oliveira Braga.

Supervisor: Sérgio Neves Monteiro (IME).

Fábio Braga
Fábio Braga

The bulletproof vests that offer highest levels of protection to police and military personnel in Brazil are reinforced with extremely resistant synthetic fabrics, which can be used in the form of thick plates, about 3 cm thick, or combined with ceramic plates. With these reinforcements, ballistic vests are able to protect a person from the firing of a 7.62 mm caliber rifle, for example.

Throughout his master’s and doctorate, conducted at the Brazilian Military Engineering Institute (IME) under the guidance of Professor Sérgio Neves Monteiro and with CNPq fellowships, Fábio de Oliveira Braga investigated whether it was possible to replace these synthetic fabrics with materials based on natural fibers, thus reducing the weight, thickness and cost of the reinforcement plates of the ballistic vests. In particular, Fábio has been dedicated to studying the fibers that are extracted from the leaves of an Amazonian plant belonging to the pineapple family, the curauá. These fibers can withstand high tensions – property that the Indians of the region have long used to make nets, to tie boats, etc.

Fábio’s doctoral research, awarded with the Capes Award, was entirely carried out in Brazil. At IME, Fábio prepared the samples, performed the physical and mechanical tests and applied a statistical method to find the best thickness ratio between ceramics, curauá and a third material (aluminum) in the composition of the vest plates. Thermogravimetric analyses were performed at the Institute of Macromolecules of the Brazilian Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. In addition, he used the facilities of the Army Assessment Center to perform ballistic tests, which showed that plates made with materials based on curauá are capable of absorbing energy from an impact that could be lethal to humans, in addition to retaining the projectile.

Seven scientific articles related to the thesis were published in peer-reviewed international journals with good impact factor.

In addition, the work won an award at the poster competition of a symposium on sustainable materials engineering at the annual meeting of the  The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society, held in 2019 in the U.S.A.

See our brief interview with Fábio Braga, born in Resende (Rio de Janeiro state), metallurgical and materials engineer with a specialization in Inspection and Maintenance Engineering in the Petroleum Industry, and a master’s and doctorate in Materials Science.

Currently 30 years old, Fábio is a professor at Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF) and at Faculdade SENAI Rio, where he coordinates the specialization courses in Welding Engineering and Equipment and Materials Inspection Engineering.

Imagem da placa balística de manta de fibra natural (curauá) após o impacto com projétil 7,62 mm. A marca hexagonal é a região onde estava posicionado o material da primeira camada da blindagem (cerâmica), que, como esperado, sofreu fragmentação total.
Image of the ballistic plate of natural fiber blanket (curauá) after impact with 7.62 mm projectile. The hexagonal mark is the region where the material of the first layer of the armor (ceramic) was positioned, which, as expected, suffered total fragmentation.

B-MRS newsletter: In your view, what is the most relevant contribution (scientific/technological/social) of the awarded thesis?

Fábio Braga: In the research line I was inserted in, we sought to replace aramid composites (such as Kevlar®) in ballistic vest plates, with lighter, sustainable, inexpensive and widely available composites made with natural lignocellulosic fibers. In my work, a commercial blanket of natural fiber from the Amazon, known as curauá, was used for the first time, integrating these ballistic plates. In order to maximize the performance of the material and minimize its weight, a statistical method of multivariate analysis was used to approach the problem. In the end, we obtained optimized material properties.

B-MRS newsletter: From your point of view, briefly, what are the main factors that allowed you to carry out a prominent research work at the national level?

Fábio Braga: I attribute the success of this work to the quality of the scientific training I had in Engineering and Materials Science, at State University of the North of Rio de Janeiro (UENF) as undergraduate student and at IME (master’s and doctorate). I had the opportunity to receive fellowships for undergraduate research (UENF) for 3 years, master and doctorate, which was fundamental. In addition, I had great emotional and financial support from my family, wife (Bianca) and my advisor, Professor Sergio Neves Monteiro, who was instrumental in my training.

B-MRS newsletter: Leave a message for our readers who are undergraduate or graduate students.

Fábio Braga: Research requires much dedication and study, but it is a very rewarding path. Today I live from teaching and doing research, and I am very grateful to have chosen this path.

Featured paper: Solid electrolyte for safer and fast-to-charge batteries.

[Paper Controlling the Activation Energy for Single-Ion Diffusion through a Hybrid Polyelectrolyte Matrix by Manipulating the Central Coordinate Semimetal Atom. Victoria C. Ferrari, Raphael S. Alvim, Thiago B. de Queiroz, Gustavo M. Dalpian, Flavio L. Souza. J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2019, 10, 24, 7684-7689. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jpclett.9b02928.]

Solid electrolyte for safer and faster-to-charge batteries

Our cell phones, laptops and tablets, as well as the electric cars that are beginning to transit planet Earth, would not exist without rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. These devices were the subject of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, which recognized the work done in the United States, United Kingdom and Japan by three scientists in the 1970s and 80s, mainly focused on the development of the materials that compose the electrodes of these batteries.

However, there are still challenges to continue improving the performance and safety of lithium-ion batteries and to adapt this technology to new applications. One of these challenges refers to the development of solid materials for the electrolyte of these batteries, as an alternative to the liquid or gel-like materials which are currently widely used, which present a greater risk of causing accidents, such as the explosions of smartphones, widespread in the media. Located in the middle of the electrodes, the electrolyte has an important function of promoting the displacement of the lithium ions (only them, not the electrons) in their back and forth between the electrodes. For this reason, the electrolyte material must be a good ionic conductor – a condition that can be more difficult to achieve in solid materials.

Picture of the solid polymer electrolyte with germanium: transparent and flexible.
Picture of the solid polymer electrolyte with germanium: transparent and flexible.

In an article recently published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters (impact factor = 7,329), a Brazilian scientific team presented an important advance in the development of solid materials for electrolytes that can be used in lithium-ion batteries and other electrochemical devices (those that produce electricity from chemical reactions and vice versa) and electrochromic devices (those that have a color or opacity change when voltage is applied to a material, such as smart windows). Using a simple and economical manufacturing method, which can be carried out at an industrial scale (the hydrolytic sol-gel), the researchers produced a solid polymer-based material that demonstrated exceptionally good performance as an ionic conductor. “The low amount of energy required to activate the ion in this material to move and its high ionic conductivity at room temperature may drastically reduce the charging time of the batteries,” specifies Professor Flavio Leandro de Souza, professor at the Brazilian Federal University of ABC (UFABC) and leader of the work.

This Brazilian electrolyte is a light and flexible film from the polyethylene family, with an aspect very similar to the material of the transparent films and polyethylene bags used on a daily basis. “From an aesthetic point of view, this material can provide lighter devices with different shapes,” explains Professor Souza. “In terms of safety, it brings unprecedented improvement, as it does not contain toxic materials in its composition and, because it is in a solid state, there is no risk of leakage in the event of breakage or fracture, also avoiding explosions usually observed nowadays, causing many devices to be banned in air travel.”

The secret behind the good performance of this electrolyte regards the presence of a germanium atom in the center of the polymeric structure, called the “coordination atom.” In fact, this metallic atom modifies the polymeric chain, reducing its spontaneous vibrations and thus attacking the main disadvantage of polymers as ionic conductors: the coupling of the movement of the lithium ion to the movement of the polymeric chain.

Beginning of the story: an off-plan experiment

The initial idea of the work dates back to the years 2001 to 2006, when Flavio Souza was a master’s student and later in his doctorate in Materials Science and Engineering at the Brazilian Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar). During this period, under the guidance of Professor Edson Leite, Souza was trying to produce a silicon matrix with metallic nanoparticles, through a process that had the formation of a polymer as an intermediate step which final destination was the burning stage in a common oven. When Souza observed the solid, transparent and easy-to-manipulate polymer that had formed, he decided, out of sheer curiosity, to save the material and subject it to electrical characterization to check whether it was able to conduct nickel. “Nothing happened, but I showed it to my advisor, who suggested replacing the nickel with a lithium salt. To my surprise, this was a conducting material. And that is when it all started,” reports the scientist. This first material, a polymer that contained a silicon atom in the center of its structure, allowed lithium ions to move through its structure without much interference from the movements of the polymer chain, and for this reason it was classified as a fast ion conductor.

Years later, as a professor at UFABC and coordinator of the Laboratory of Alternative Energy and Nanomaterials, Souza decided to return to this subject and propose a challenge to a young student of Energy Engineering, Victória Castagna Ferrari, who had sought him out for undergraduate research. “The challenge proposed and accepted was to try to further improve this type of material for application in lithium ion batteries and electrochromic windows and to answer some scientific questions,” says Professor Souza. “Victória is a brilliant student, quickly showing she could take this challenge to a very high level,” he says.

The work was developed over two years of scientific initiation for Victória as a UFABC scholarship holder and two more years as a master’s student in Nanoscience and Advanced Materials with a CAPES scholarship, always under the guidance of Professor Souza.

During this period, Souza and his student wanted to answer a series of scientific questions. This included using several experimental and theoretical techniques and relied on the collaboration of other UFABC researchers: Professor Thiago Branquinho de Queiroz in experiments of solid state nuclear magnetic resonance, and professor Gustavo Martini Dalpian together with postdoctoral fellow Raphael da Silva Alvim in computer simulations.

The authors of the paper. From the left: Victoria Ferrari, Raphael Alvim, Thiago de Queiroz, Gustavo Dalpian and Flavio Souza.
The authors of the paper. From the left: Victoria Ferrari, Raphael Alvim, Thiago de Queiroz, Gustavo Dalpian and Flavio Souza.

The team first investigated whether the replacement of the silicon atom by another element (in this case, germanium) would influence the mobility of lithium ions in the material. The results were exceptional. “This substitution increased the conductivity by two orders of magnitude and reduced the activation energy by 50%,” says Souza. In fact, the experiments showed that the energy needed to set the lithium ion in motion was 0.27 eV (electron volts) in the silicon polymer and 0.12 eV in the germanium polymer. “This value undoubtedly sets a record as the lowest obtained for a solid polymeric electrolyte in the literature,” says Souza. In the scientific literature, Souza contextualizes, the value oscillates between 1 and 0.5 eV.

Further research efforts were then made to understand why germanium had made the polymer a better ionic conductor. The team was able to understand in detail the structure of polymers coordinated by silicon and germanium, the movement of the polymeric matrix, the movement of lithium ions and the interaction between them. The experiments and simulations confirmed that the exchange of silicon for germanium does not change the type of polymer (the fundamental nature of the structure is the same), but it does change the electronic structure of the polymer chain, changing the location of the most relevant orbitals and further reducing its spontaneous vibrations, which affects the interaction of lithium ions with the polymer chain.

This work was supported by Brazilian agencies Capes and CNPq (federal) and Fapesp (state), and used multi-user equipment from UFABC and the National Laboratory for Scientific Computing (LNCC).

To understand in detail how lithium ion batteries work, we recommend this video:

Swearing in of the new B-MRS board.

The members of the new Executive Board of B-MRS will take office on February 14, 2020. The ceremony will be held at 10 am in the auditorium of the Physics Institute Gleb Wataghin (Unicamp), in the city of Campinas (SP).

The new board, elected in October 2019 for the 2020 – 2021 biennium, is chaired by Professor Mônica A. Cotta (IFGW-Unicamp). The directors are Professor Andrea S. Stucchi de Camargo (USP),  Professor Antonio Eduardo Martinelli (UFRN), Professor Ieda Garcia dos Santos (UFPB), Professor Ivan H. Bechtold (UFSC), Professor Newton M. Barbosa Neto (UFPa) and Dr. Rubem L. Sommer (CBPF).

The ceremony is open to the public. Those interested in participating should confirm their presence by email to secretaria@sbpmat.org.br until February 12th.

B-MRS member is co-editor of a Springer book on experimental – computational research on materials and biomolecules.

Prof Felipe La Porta.
Prof Felipe La Porta.

Professor Felipe de Almeida La Porta, from the Chemistry Department of the Brazilian Federal Technological University of Paraná (UTFPR) is co-editor of the book “Emerging Research in Science and Engineering Based on Advanced Experimental and Computational Strategies.” The other editor is Professor Carlton A. Taft, from the Brazilian Center for Research in Physics (CBPF).

Published by Springer, the book has 20 chapters that were signed by 89 researchers from Brazil and other countries. According to La Porta, a wide variety of materials and biomolecules applications are covered in this book, including plasmonic materials, semiconductor oxides, printed polymers, chitosan nanoparticles, biomass, inorganic nanotubes, colloidal quantum dots, nanocrystals as potential antimicrobials, biomolecules for disease inhibition and cancer control/prevention, proteins to hinder metastasis, natural products used in medicine, infinitely coordinated polymers, zeolites, compounds related to graphitic carbon nitride, polysaccharides, organic, magnetic and conductive polymers, and also ferrites in the form of nanoparticles.

Link to the book: https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783030314026#aboutBook

Ricardo Rodrigues: note of regret.

B-MRS regrets the death of Antonio Ricardo Droher Rodrigues, leader of the Engineering Division at the Brazilian National Laboratory of Synchrotron Light (LNLS/CNPEM). Ricardo Rodrigues was the technical and scientific leader of the design and construction of the two Brazilian synchrotron light sources: UVX (developed in the 1980s and 1990s) and Sirius (fourth generation source developed since 2009, currently in the testing phase). Rodrigues passed away on January 3, 2020, at the age of 68. B-MRS’s Executive Board expresses its regret at the premature departure of this Brazilian scientist who made great contributions to our community.