[Text by Professor Petrus Santa Cruz (DQF/UFPE), B-MRS member.]
Some researchers make a difference in contributing for consolidating important areas of Science in Brazil. In the case of Professor Larry Clark Thompson, of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, he will always be remembered not only for his significance in the area of coordination compounds in the country, but also for his generosity. During the workshop “Larry Thompson and Brazil” held to celebrate 40 years of international cooperation in 2009, the beginning of his contributions to Brazilian science in 1970 was remembered, when he received professors Gilberto Sá (DQF/UFPE) and Oswaldo Serra (USP/Ribeirão Preto) in his group in the USA, resulting in collaborations that extended throughout his academic life.
Over the past 50 years, several episodes have been marked by his generosity.
In 2002 Professor Thompson participated in a thesis panel at DQF/UFPE on pioneering works in exploring the degradation of lanthanide complexes, which resulted in an innovative dosimeter device for measuring UV radiation, but before participating in the panel, Thompson hosted the doctoral student at his residence in Minnesota -Duluth, so that she could show him in his laboratory that the complexes actually degraded under the action of UV radiation, giving rise to a new line of research on devices for the prevention of skin cancer, currently explored for individual monitoring of vitamin D in a project of the Sibratec Nano program. Several other applications use as an active part the luminescent materials derived from his work.
Thompson was in Brazil for the last time in 2017, but unfortunately this year circumstances prevented the workshop “Larry Thompson and Brazil” of the 50 years of collaborations. He passed away at the age of 85 on August 15th, leaving behind many memories.
The Brazilian Materials Research Society (B-MRS/ SBPMat) and the International Union of Materials Research Societies (IUMRS) invite the scientific community to submit symposium proposals for the joint event on materials research that will take place from August 29 to September 2, 2021.
Symposium proposals can be submitted until November 2 11, for the event that will bring together the XIX B-MRS Meeting (B-MRS annual event) and the IUMRS – ICEM (seventeenth edition of the international conference on electronic materials organized every two years by IUMRS).
The event, initially scheduled to take place in 2020, was postponed due to the pandemic, and will be held from August 29 to September 2, 2021. The place remains the same: the Rafain Palace Hotel and Conventions, located in Foz do Iguaçu, a tourist Brazilian city close to the border with Argentina and Paraguay, which serves as a base for visits to Iguassu Falls and other attractions in the surroundings.
Symposium proposals can be submitted by teams of researchers, preferably of international composition, who wish to organize a thematic symposium within the event. Proposals that had been submitted and approved for the 2020 event are also expected to be resubmitted. “All symposium proposals will need to be sent by the deadline, including those that had been accepted for the 2020 event”, reinforces Professor Gustavo Dalpian, chair of the event. “The organizers of the symposia that had previously been approved will notice, when accessing the system, that the data from the 2020 proposal was automatically copied to the 2021 event. In this way, the organizers will be able to make the necessary adjustments and resubmit, but without having to enter everything again ”, he completes.
As in all editions of the B-MRS Meeting, the event will cover a wide range of topics in Materials Science and Technology, with a special emphasis on electronic materials, due to IUMRS-ICEM. Therefore, proposals for symposia are welcome on topics related to all types of materials, from design and synthesis to applications.
The symposia will be the main focus of the event along with plenary lectures, which will feature internationally renowned scientists who have already confirmed their presence: Alex Zunger (University of Colorado Boulder, USA), Edson Leite (LNNano, Brazil), Hideo Hosono (Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan), John Rogers (Northwestern University, USA), Luisa Torsi (Università degli Studi di Bari “A. Moro”, Italy), Tao Deng (Shanghai Jiaotong University, China) and Thuc-Quyen Nguyen (University of California Santa Barbara, USA). The traditional Memorial Lecture “Joaquim da Costa Ribeiro” will be given by Cid Bartolomeu de Araújo (UFPE, Brazil).
Symposium proposals will be evaluated by the event committee, and, by the end of 2020, the list of approved symposia will be released. On February 1, 2021, the call for papers will be opened, for abstract submission within the thematic symposia. The symposium organizers will be responsible for the evaluation of the submitted abstracts and for the symposium schedule.
The joint event XIX B-MRS Meeting + IUMRS ICEM 2021 is coordinated by professors Gustavo Martini Dalpian (UFABC) in the general coordination, Carlos Cesar Bof Bufon (LNNANO) in the program coordination and Flavio Leandro de Souza (UFABC) as general secretary. The international committee comprises scientists from America, Asia, Europe and Oceania.
The latest editions of the B-MRS Meeting brought together between 1,100 and 2,000 participants from various countries around the world presenting their works within the symposia.
Olivia: back at her parents’ house after having developed a sensor for early detection of disease.
Head and neck cancer affects thousands of Brazilians every year. About 60% of these people are diagnosed late, which reduces their quality of life and makes treatment difficult. In her PhD in Materials Science and Engineering, carried out at USP, Olivia Carr generated a low-cost sensor that can detect the propensity of a person developing this cancer.
Olivia’s work was highlighted on the cover of a renowned international scientific journal (Talanta), in addition to generating a patent application, as well as other published articles. And furthermore, the technology developed in this work could be adapted to detect other diseases, including Covid-19.
Olivia, who is 30 years old, wants to continue contributing to society through research, which is the professional activity she most enjoys doing and for which she trained for over a decade. However, since the end of her doctorate, November of last year, she has only seen doors and opportunities closing.
Initially, she received, with great enthusiasm, three proposals to carry out post-doctoral studies in company projects, but two of them did not come through due to the pandemic (the companies decided not to make this investment in light of the new scenario) and the third did not succeed for other reasons. The young PhD then participated in a call from CNPq (the main Brazilian federal research funding agency) for projects related to the fight against Covid-19, in which she would receive a scholarship. However, her project was not approved for funding. After these initial frustrations, Olivia continued to participate in selection processes in research institutions and sent her resume to companies in Brazil that have a research and development area. Unfortunately, this path was not successful.
In parallel, in order to remain active and continue her career, she has worked with old and new collaborators, writing scientific articles and an academic book chapter for publication. All without receiving any payment, which is why she had to return to her parents’ house in the city of Rio Claro, which she had left to do her doctorate in São Carlos.
But it is not the first time that Olivia has experienced financial constraints in order to do research. In the four years of her doctorate, she spent more than half of that time without a scholarship. And here it is noteworthy to clarify that it is wrong to think that a doctoral student receives a scholarship to have more time for study or leisure. The doctorate is, in most cases, a full-time activity, which includes both the student’s theoretical training (the subjects taken) and the practical training (the doctoral research). Moreover, doctoral research is, in addition to training, a complete scientific undertaking, with results that contribute to the advancement of world science and industrial innovation.
Thus far, Olivia has not given up being a researcher, a profession that captivated her at the end of her undergraduate degree in Physics, when she discovered the day-to-day life of a research laboratory. However, after 10 months without pay, this science professional, trained to develop devices that can have great impact on people’s health, has started to evaluate other options, such as teaching Physics.
Newsletter of the
Year 7, issue 8. September 8, 2020.
A study carried out at UFPR revealed important details of the charge generation mechanism in organic solar cells and elaborated a mathematical model that helps choosing the most suitable materials for solar-to electrical conversion efficiency in these devices. The study was recently reported in Journal of Materials Chemistry C. Learn more.
Special: Unpaid Researchers
We are gathering statistical data and personal stories from PhDs who are without income and have had no opportunities to continue their scientific career in Brazil – a negative situation for these people and their families, for the research groups in the country and for society that would benefit from the fruits of research. See our first article here.
B-MRS Lives & Webinars
Five more technical webinars were held in August (last month of the Lives & Webinars 2020 program). Learn more and access the recordings of the webinars, here.
XIX B-MRS Meeting
The submission of symposium proposals for the XIX B-MRS Meeting + IUMRS ICEM is open until November 2. The event will be held from August 29 to September 2, 2021 in Foz do Iguaçu. The organizing committee invites the community to submit proposals. Go to the website.
PL 529/2020. B-MRS sent a letter to all the members of the Legislative Assembly of São Paulo state, rejecting the bill that would allow withdraw resources from state universities and research foundation (FAPESP) .Know more.
News from B-MRS Members
– Professor Ana Flávia Nogueira (UNICAMP), B-MRS member, joined this year the advisory boards of two renowned journals in the field of Materials, both from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). Know more.
– For the first time, scientists manage to perform an interaction between two “time crystals” – crystalline structures experimentally proven a few years ago, whose structure is repeated not only in space, but also in time. Discovery opens up possibilities in the development of quantum devices (Nature Materials). Know more.
– Document gathers research carried out by Brazilian public universities and institutes with important results in combating the Covid-19 pandemic. The material was prepared by scientists from the materials community, B-MRS member Oswaldo Alves (Unicamp) and Antonio Gomes Souza Filho (UFC). See here.
Post-doc researcher: essential professional for an efficient research group
In the Covid-19 pandemic the world is now experiencing, the importance of science and technology has become more evident to many people, with examples ranging from diagnostic tests and vaccines to the electronic devices that allow us to do almost everything remotely.
However, few know in detail how scientific and technological knowledge is produced in universities, which are the main scientific knowledge “factories” in Brazil. For each advance reported in a scientific article or patent, or transformed into a product or process, there are months or years of reading, laboratory experiments, computer simulations, discussions, analysis, writing.
Furthermore, there is the administrative work necessary in all research, which includes, among other tasks, project preparations to compete for financing, the recruitment of human resources and the purchase of inputs and equipment – often involving bureaucratic imports.
Far from the image of a scientist working alone in the laboratory, the reality is that to accomplish all of this, each scientific project must have a team of collaborators. Ideally, these teams are made up of people with different degrees of qualification and experience: undergraduate and graduate students (human resources in training process), postdoctoral fellows (junior science professionals) and professors, devoted to teaching, research and mentoring students (group leaders).
In addition to working on their research projects, “post-docs” assist in the intermediation between the group leader and the students, and gain experience in research management, as they more actively participate in administrative activities. Unlike the professor, the post-doc has no obligation to teach, nor does he need to hold an administrative position at the university. “The postdoctoral student can dedicate his/her efforts entirely to research projects, ensuring efficiency,” says Osvaldo Novais de Oliveira Junior, professor at the São Carlos Institute of Physics at USP.
Everyone benefits in this structure. Scholarship students receive more attention in their training, the post-doc gains experience as scientist in the profession and the group becomes more productive. “In a group, the post-doc leverages research and allows for more complex work,” says Professor Mônica Cotta, leader of the Laboratory of Nano and Biosystems at UNICAMP.
Postdoctoral fellowships are shrinking
An apparently large number of trained PhDs are currently in an unsuccessful search for opportunities to exercise scientific activity in Brazil. This situation is related to the decrease in the number of scholarships offered by federal agencies that deal with research grants: CNPq and Capes. In fact, after reaching maximum values between 2014 and 2015, the number of postdoctoral fellowships has decreased significantly, as shown in these graphs.
Without remuneration, these highly trained and specialized professionals, whose training takes, on average, a decade, look for positions abroad, adding to the “brain drain” that occurs in times of little appreciation of science in the country. Or worse, they abandon science to ensure their financial survival.
Unlike other groups that are suffering from a decrease or lack of income during the pandemic, the group of unpaid PhDs is not visible in society, nor has it been addressed by any government aid program.
Faced with this scenario, B-MRS is gathering stories of PhDs who have not found opportunities to remain active in research, in order to sensitize society and the government to the difficulties these people and their families are going through and understand the negative impacts of this situation for the country. B-MRS also request the restoration of the number of postdoctoral scholarships, in addition to a policy aimed at valuing and encouraging the placement of PhDs in development and innovation activities in our society.
Tales: PhD in Chemistry, freelancer and volunteer researcher
To be a professor in some Brazilian university, performing research, teaching and mentoring. That is what Tales da Silva Daitx chose to do as a profession. He has liked science since he was a child, but it was at the university that he found the passion to discover new things and to transmit knowledge to others through research and teaching. Tales then went through the required path to properly train and be able to compete in a public or private teaching and research institution.
After graduating in Chemistry from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), he entered the Chemistry graduate program at this university – a program of excellence and with the highest score in the evaluation of Capes (entity in charge of expansion and consolidation of graduate studies in Brazil). He spent six years there working on his master’s and doctorate, both focused on research in the field of intelligent materials.
In mid-March of this year, a few days after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Covid-19 pandemic, Tales defended his thesis, the final stage of every doctorate, at the Chemistry Institute of UFRGS. It was one of the last in-person defenses at the institute, together with his wife, who completed her doctorate at the same time. Since then, the couple, who live in Porto Alegre, are trying to earn an income to pay their bills and, at the same time, remain active and productive in research, two objectives that have not been possible to conciliate.
After his doctorate, Tales intended to move on to the next stage of his scientific career, a postdoctoral fellowship (popularly called “post-doc”). Thus, he contacted a research group from the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), where he could apply the knowledge acquired in graduate school in a project to develop smart nanoparticles for biodegradable packaging.
Thus, after defending his doctorate, already in the middle of a pandemic, Tales participated in two calls for proposals from CNPq, the main federal research funding agency, to try to obtain a post-doc grant, of around 4 thousand reais. Trained to carry out the project and with a competitive curriculum, with eleven scientific articles published in international journals and two patents (one filed and one already granted), Tales obtained a score close to the maximum in the first call. However, he was informed he would not be awarded a grant due to the resources available. The second notice, that would have the result in August, was suspended due to the pandemic.
Currently, while looking for other opportunities, Tales works as a voluntary postdoc (without a grant or any other type of remuneration) in the research group where he completed his doctorate. He participates in meetings, does bibliographic searches, and writes projects. However, he is unable to dedicate his efforts to these activities full time, since, to meet the couple’s basic financial needs, Tales became a freelancer. This 30-year-old professional, highly trained and specialized in an area of knowledge, is currently spending much of his time performing services, such as data entry in computer systems, which do not require such qualification.
“I think this situation in Brazil is a shame, the lack of opportunities for PhDs. In the past there was investment in science and technology, and it had good results. The country was well positioned in research around the world. But the investment did not continue, and that will bring it back to square one,” says Tales. “In addition, the pandemic has affected the research system. Public S&T policies should be revised,” he adds.
In August, the last 2020 technical webinars of the B-MRS Lives & Webinars program were held. Five online lectures on scientific instrumentation and material characterization were given by professionals from instrumentation companies, from Brazil and abroad. Between 30 and 160 participants attended each of the lectures, held on B-MRS’s Zoom and Facebook.
The Lives & Webinars program is a B-MRS learning and training initiative during the period of social distancing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, carried out in partnership with instrumentation companies.
Watch the webinars held in August, whose recording was authorized by the speakers:
How Vacuum Innovation Drives Instrumentation (Agilent). See here.
Instrumented Indentation Techniques on Polymers (Nanovea e Altmann). See here.
Caracterização Elétrica de Materiais (Keysight). See here.
Not just for experts – PDF analysis in the home laboratory (Bruker). See here.
Soluções de vácuo para pesquisa em materiais (Edwards Vacuum). See here.
Unlike other solar cells that have dominated the market for a long time, such as silicon cells, the organic ones are thin, light, flexible and semi-transparent. With these characteristics, they become very attractive for specific segments. In Brazil, for example, which has national production, some of the largest installed surfaces in the world can be seen in business buildings, as well as some installations in shopping centers, trucks and bus stops.
Although the organic version of solar cells also offer advantages in large-scale production (simpler industrial processes with lower carbon footprint, such as the roll-to-roll), conquering big markets largely depends on an ongoing efficiency improvement to convert sunlight into electricity. To overcome this challenge, it is essential to develop materials with suitable properties and to combine different materials within the device.
A scientific team from the Brazilian Federal University of Paraná (UFPR) studied in detail, using experimental and theoretical tools, the charge generation mechanism in organic solar cells – a complex process that is not yet fully understood. In practice, the results of this work help choosing which materials should be used and how they should be synthesized, so that their properties enhance the efficiency in converting light into electricity. The research paper was reported in the Journal of Materials Chemistry C (impact factor 7.059), where it was highlighted on the back cover.
Unraveling the exciton dissociation
In the sandwich of layers that forms solar cells, the active layer (responsible for absorbing light and generating electric charges) is composed of semiconductor materials that, for organic devices, are polymers or other carbon-based molecules. When excited by light, these materials do not generate free electric charges, as is the case with inorganic semiconductors. They generate excitons, which are electron–hole pairs connected by forces of attraction between the negative charge of the first and the positive charge of the second.
In order to generate free charges, which form the electric current, it is necessary to break this connection, in a phenomenon called exciton dissociation. One way to achieve this is to create, in the active layer, an interface between an electron donating material and an electron acceptor. “Depending on the combination of these two materials, exciton dissociation processes can occur at a very low time scale, resulting in a more efficient charge generation,” explains Leandro Benatto, corresponding author of the paper. “However, this process is still not well understood,” he adds.
In their work, Leandro and the other authors focused specifically on trying to understand the exciton dissociation and the generation of free charges at the interface between the donor and acceptor material. The team carried out photoluminescence experiments, which are generally used to measure the efficiency in generating free charges in systems of this type, and developed a mathematical model that simulates the process. The experimental and theoretical results were very similar, proving the model’s accuracy. “We developed a model that simulates the kinetics of the process, including the several stages of exciton dissociation and considering the main characteristics of the interface,” he says. “Based on the kinetic model, it was possible to reproduce the experimental results in a comprehensible manner and more clearly observe the main factors that influence the efficiency of the free charge generation process in donor/acceptor interfaces,” he adds.
Fullerenes vs. Non Fullerenes
The study that produced the article was coordinated by two professors from the Physics Department of UFPR, Marlus Koehler and Lucimara Stolz Roman, who have a longstanding partnership in the theoretical and experimental study of organic solar cells. “The theoretical part began to be developed in 2019, at the end of my PhD in Physics at UFPR under the guidance of Professor Marlus, and continued in my postdoctoral work at the Nanostructured Devices Laboratory (DINE) under the coordination of Professor Lucimara,” says Leandro. Also participating in the research were Maiara de Jesus Bassi, PhD student in Physics in the group of Professor Lucimara, and Luana Cristina Wouk, PhD in Physics who was also under the supervision of Professor Lucimara Roman, and currently working at CSEM Brazil, a private applied research center, which helped contextualize the problem in the large-scale development scenario.
The initial idea of the work was to understand the difference between two types of electron acceptor molecules: those derived from fullerene (a carbon allotrope), which have excellent performance in the collection and transport of electrons but have a limited spectrum of light absorption, and compounds not derived from fullerenes, which in recent years have optimized the collection and transport properties. “This is a very interesting topic since, recently, the efficiency of organic solar cells based on non-fullerenes surpassed the efficiency of those based on fullerenes, although, a few years ago, it could not be imagined that fullerenes would be surpassed,” reports Leandro. “Currently, laboratory produced organic solar cells based on non-fullerenes have reached 18% efficiency,” he adds.
This research received funding from Brazilian agencies Capes, CNPq and FAPEMIG, INCT–Nanocarbono and COPEL (Companhia Paranaense de Energia).
[Paper: Kinetic model for photoluminescence quenching by selective excitation of D/A blends: implications for charge separation in fullerene and non-fullerene organic solar cells. L. Benatto, M. de Jesus Bassi, L. C. Wouk de Menezes, L. S. Roman and M. Koehler. J. Mater. Chem. C, 2020,8, 8755-8769].
Professor Ana Flávia Nogueira (UNICAMP), B-MRS member, joined this year the advisory boards of two renowned journals in the field of Materials, both from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). These are the Journal of Materials Chemistry A(impact factor = 11.301), where the Brazilian scientist is the only representative from Latin America, and Journal of Materials Chemistry C (impact factor = 7.059), where Professor Ana Flávia and Professor Carlos Graeff, also a B-MRS member, are the only scientists from Latin American institutions.
Newsletter of the
Year 7, issue 7. August 7, 2020.
From Ideia to Innovation
Doctors and nurses wearing masks are icons of the current Covid-19 pandemic. Going back to the history of respiratory protection masks, one can find advances, made in different places on the planet, in materials, technologies, concepts and methods that enabled the development of current, efficient and certified masks. Get to know a bit of this history, here.
Scientific work carried out at IQSC-USP generated a low cost and easy to manufacture nanostructured material, based on non-precious metals inserted in carbon layers, which demonstrated high performance as a catalyst for electrochemical reactions used in the generation of renewable energies. The work was recently reported in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A. Know more.
B-MRS Lives & Webinars
– The XIX B-MRS Meeting + IUMRS ICEM Organizing Committee and the B-MRS Board of Directors invite the entire community to participate in a brief ONLINE meeting in the late afternoon of August 30, 2020, when the event opening, which was postponed due to the pandemic, was scheduled to take place in Foz do Iguaçu. Know more.
– Eight technical webinars were held throughout July (second month of the Lives & Webinars program). Learn more and access the recordings of the already held webinars, here.
– Access the schedule for August, choose the webinars you are interested in and register (free), here.
– FNDCT. B-MRS endorsed the manifesto for the total release of FNDCT resources. Know more.
– Capes. B-MRS endorsed manifesto against the centralizing management mode of the current presidency of Capes.Know more.
– CNPq. B-MRS endorsed letter to the president of CNPq, pointing out problems and possible solutions in the implementation of the 25/2020 master’s and doctoral scholarships. Know more.
– Webseries. Webseries episodes about Brazilian science related to materials research have an exclusive premiere for B-MRS channels. Know more.
– Science and democracy. B-MRS participated in the “Virada pela Democracia” (Turning-point for Democracy), held on July 4 and 5, with a video statement on the relationship between science and democracy, which was included in a panel organized by SBPC. Watch the video of Professor Ivan Bechtold, scientific director of B-MRS, recorded for this occasion, here.
News from B-MRS Members
– Professor Luciana Reyes Pires Kassab (Faculty of Technology of São Paulo/CEETEPS), B-MRS member, was distinguished with the category of Senior Member of OSA (The Optical Society). Know more.
– Postdoctoral fellowship at UFRGS (Brazil) in surface chemistry for the development of technology for SARS-Cov-2 detection tests. Know more.
Events and ONLINE events
– Webinars on research and teaching techniques and tools in the materials field. June – August, 2020. ONLINE. Organization: B-MRS. Site.
– IV Simpósio de Fotobiofísica – UV e Vírus. 21 de agosto de 2020. ONLINE. Organização: Departamento de Física da USP. Folder para download.
– XLI Congresso Brasileiro de Aplicações de Vácuo na Indústria e na Ciência. Foz do Iguaçu, PR (Brasil). 5 a 7 de outubro de 2020. Site.
– 5th International Conference of Surfaces, Coatings and NanoStructured Materials – Americas (NANOSMAT-Americas). Foz do Iguaçu, PR (Brazil). October 7 – 10, 2020. Site.
– 7th Meeting on Self Assembly Structures in Solution and at Interfaces. Bento Gonçalves, RS (Brazil). November 4 – 6, 2020. Site.
– Pan American Ceramics Congress and Ferroelectrics Meeting of Americas (PACC-FMAs 2020). Panama (Panama). November 15 – 19, 2020. Site.
– 4th Workshop on Coated Tools & Multifunctional Thin Films. Campinas, SP (Brazil). November 16 – 19, 2020. Site.
– International Conference on Defects in Insulating Materials (ICDIM 2020). November 23 – 27, 2020. ONLINE. Organization: UFS. Site.
– XIX B-MRS Meeting + IUMRS ICEM (International Conference on Electronic Materials). Foz do Iguaçu, PR (Brasil). August 29 – September 2, 2021. Site.
XIX B-MRS Meeting + IUMRS ICEM
(Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, August 29 – September 2, 2021)