B-MRS member is appointed editor of the Journal of Materials Science.


andrea de camargo

Prof. Andrea S. S. de Camargo (IFSC-USP), B-MRS member and scientific director, was appointed editor of the Journal of Materials Science (Springer), a well-established scientific journal within the international materials science community.

At the moment, the Brazilian scientist is the only representative of an institution from Latin America among the journal’s 25 editors.

 

Former B-MRS president is elected full member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences.


Osvaldo Novais de Oliveira JrProfessor Osvaldo Novais de Oliveira Junior (IFSC-USP), B-MRS member, was elected a full member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences (ABC) in the area of Physical Sciences. The professor was president of B-MRS for two consecutive terms, from 2016 to 2020.

The election of the 21 new full members of ABC was held at an ordinary general meeting on December 3, 2020, based on nominations made by full members of ABC.

B-MRS Newsletter. Year 7, issue 11.


 

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Newsletter of the
Brazilian Materials
Research Society

Year 7, issue 11. December 21, 2020.

boas festas sbpmat

B-MRS End of Year Message

The year 2020 will undoubtedly be marked with sadness in our lives by the pandemic of Covid-19, which violently altered our daily lives, imposed tragic losses for many of us and gave more space to scientific negacionism, reinforcing the feeling of “nonsense” that we experience in today’s society.

However, at the same time, it was in 2020 that Science was once again a safe haven, pointing out alternatives and strategies to combat this terrible disease, while, in record time, decoding the virus genome and manufacturing vaccines with high efficacy. Brazilian researchers played an active part in building this knowledge chain, while resiliently fighting against threats to the country’s Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I) structure. The materials research community could not abstain at such a critical moment and therefore quickly adapted research on biosensors, drug-carrying nanoparticles, materials with virucidal properties, etc. to combat SARS-CoV-2.

In 2020 B-MRS also had to reinvent itself. With the postponement of its annual meeting due to the health crisis, the virtual platform was our form of communication. And the community responded! With a strong presence in webinars, online events, and participating in awareness actions to maintain the country’s ST&I infrastructure as well as our most precious resource for the future, young PhDs and undergraduate and graduate students. The drive and motivation that students at our University Chapters show in their activities, brings us the certainty that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for Brazil.

And may 2021 come! We will be ready, equipped with the powerful resources of Science, to build a better year, with more health and decent living conditions for Brazilian citizens.

An excellent end of the year to everyone – as far as possible and observing all necessary care :).

B-MRS Board

Featured Paper

By adopting a strategy inspired by nature, a team led by researchers from Brazil was able to produce a material that stimulates bone regeneration, which is very similar to the natural material that performs this function in the body. The research was recently reported on ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. Know more.

imagem news

Unpaid Researchers

We share the story of Thiago Marinho Duarte, 33, PhD in Chemistry from UFPB. First in his family to obtain a university degree, Thiago had to disregard the thirteen years dedicated to his scientific education and training. He has been doing electrician jobs while applying, without success, for postdoctoral scholarships and temporary positions in the area. See here.

thiago_news

A Nature article about a survey carried out with more than 7,600 postdocs in the world shows the instability and devaluation they experience, and reports that 2/3 of the interviewees want to continue in academia, despite the difficulties. See here.

News from B-MRS Members

– Prof. Osvaldo Novais de Oliveira Junior (IFSC-USP), former B-MRS president, was elected Vice President of IUMRS (know more) and full member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences (know more).

– Prof. Andrea S. S. de Camargo (IFSC-USP), B-MRS scientific director, was appointed editor of the Journal of Materials Science. Know more.

Prof. Ana Flávia Nogueira (UNICAMP), B-MRS member, took on the position of general director of the Center for Innovation in New Energies. Know more.

B-MRS News

– Represented by Prof. Daniel Mario Ugarte (UNICAMP), B-MRS delivered a plaque in honor of the scientist and engineer Ricardo Rodrigues, one of the leaders in the construction of Brazilian synchrotron light sources. Know more.

Advocacy & Policy

– B-MRS and dozens of scientific entities signed the “Letter from the City of Natal”, manifesto in defense of science and technology, quality education at all levels, environment, sustainable development and democracy in Brazil. See document.

Reading Tips

– Using two-dimensional materials, scientists create a new way to fix electrons and distribute them in regular arrangements, generating “electron crystals”, and develop a method that can analyze this structure without interfering with it (Nature). Know more.

– Based on simulation data, scientists were to able to train a neural network that sheds light on the relationship between monomer sequences and polymer properties. Artificial intelligence tools should help develop polymers with the desired properties (Science Advances). Know more.

– Use of a new liquid resin combined with an innovative 3D printing technique generates resistant, rigid or flexible objects within a few minutes (Advanced Materials). Know more.

– Via 3D printing, scientists use paint with graphene flakes to manufacture “sandwiches” with several two-dimensional layers, which allowed to understand how electrons advance between the flakes. The study opens possibilities for 3D printing of optoelectronic devices based on 2D materials (Advanced Functional Materials). Know more.

– Scientists develop piezoelectric nylon fibers that utilize the vibrations of body movement as a source of energy. The study opens possibilities in electronic fabrics (Advanced Functional Materials). Know more.

Opportunities

– Abstract submission for the special issue on surfaces for energy efficiency of the journal Frontiers in Chemical Engineering is open until February 4th. Know more.

boas festas sbpmat

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.

 

 

Biomimetic strategy for the synthesis of nanotubes that stimulate bone regeneration.


Experts say that, to date, there is nothing better than a natural bone to help regenerate another natural bone. In fact, despite the enormous advances in the area of biomaterials, there is still no synthetic material that works as well as autogenous bone graft (bone extracted from the patient himself) to encourage bone tissue regeneration – a process that occurs in our body regularly and spontaneously, but it is necessary to stimulate this through graft implantation when we experience noticeable bone loss due to trauma or disease. In this process, the basic unit of bone formation is the mineralized collagen fibril, a collagen cylinder formed by a group of cells called osteoblasts, which is filled and coated with calcium phosphates during the “biomineralization” process.

A study carried out by researchers from Brazil with collaborators from France took an important step in this context. Using a strategy inspired by nature, the scientific team produced, in the laboratory, a material that is very similar to mineralized collagen fibrils, in shape, size and structure. Collagen structures, which are expensive and difficult to handle proteins, were not used in this research. Instead, the researchers produced tubes (about 200 nm in diameter) which are very similar to fibrils, but composed of calcium phosphate crystals, the main inorganic component of bones, and strontium, an element used to treat osteoporosis, which helps reduce bone tissue loss and increase bone formation.

In in vitro tests, the material showed that it is not toxic to cells and that it generates the necessary conditions for bone tissue formation. In addition, it showed the ability to release strontium ions for long periods in controlled doses – an essential parameter for the long-term development of safe therapies, since in excess it can lead to the weakening of bones.

Strategy

Procedure adopted to produce the bone regeneration material. Use of a membrane allowed to obtain the desired characteristics.
Procedure adopted to produce the bone regeneration material. The use of a membrane (center) allowed to obtain the desired characteristics.

To produce the material having a cylindrical structure of controlled dimensions, the team employed a strategy that is used by several living organisms to generate teeth, shells and bones: physical confinement, which is nothing more than the use of a mold to induce a material to follow a specific morphology and size.

The mold used was a polycarbonate membrane, commercially available, which has cylindrical pores of 200 nm in diameter, similar in size to bone collagen fibrils. The membrane was submerged for twelve hours in a solution containing phosphate, calcium and strontium, which penetrated the pores. After drying the membrane in the presence of compounds that triggered mineralization, the polycarbonate was dissolved, allowing to separate and analyze the material that had formed inside the pores.

“By delimiting the physical environment in which the nucleation and growth processes of the mineral occur, we obtained nanotubes with highly controlled morphology, composition and size,” says Ana Paula Ramos, professor at the University of São Paulo (USP), campus Ribeirão Preto, and corresponding author of a recently published article reporting the study.

The same procedure, but without the use of molds, resulted in agglomerated spherical nanoparticles with very different characteristics from the collagen fibrils that were sought to emulate.

Surprise

The research was carried out within the PhD in Chemistry of Camila Bussola Tovani, which was carried out with funding from FAPESP, supervised by Professor Ana Paula Ramos, and defended this year at USP, campus Ribeirão Preto.

The initial idea of the project was to understand how strontium ions, used in the treatment of osteoporosis, acted on the bone mineralization mechanism. As this process, in the body, occurs in a situation of confinement, limited by the framework formed by the collagen fibrils, Camila and her advisor decided to use a mold to study how the calcium phosphate mineralization occurs in the presence of strontium ions.

“During the structural characterization, we found high similarity between the particles obtained and the mineralized collagen fibrils that form the bones, which encouraged us to conduct biological investigations”, says the professor. “What really surprised us, was the possibility of controlling particle properties such as mineral phase, morphology and size, by simply changing the medium in which precipitation occurred,” adds Ana Paula, who suggests that the same strategy can be applied to synthesize other inorganic particles for different applications in which the control of physicochemical properties is essential.

The nanotubes were produced and characterized in the Physical and Chemical Laboratory of Surfaces and Colloids, coordinated by Professor Ana Paula. Biological tests were carried out in other laboratories at USP campus in Ribeirão Preto, through collaborations with Professor Pietro Ciancaglini and Professor Sandra Fukada.

The study also benefited from two collaborations by Professor Ana Paula with researchers from France. The first, with the researcher Alexandre Gloter (Université Paris-Saclay), made it possible to investigate the formation mechanism and to characterize the nanotubes by advanced spectroscopy and microscopy techniques. The second, with researcher Nadine Nassif (Sorbonne Université), helped to understand the bone mineralization processes. “It is interesting that the initial contact with Dr. Alexandre Gloter took place in Brazil during TEM Summer School, organized at CNPEM by LNNano, and that the BEPE-FAPESP scholarship allowed Camila Tovani to stay at the Chimie de la Matiere Condensée laboratory at Sorbonne Université, under the supervision of Dr. Nadine Nassif for one year,” says Ana Paula Ramos. “The investment of Brazilian funding agencies in internationalization, both in bringing and sending researchers abroad, had an important impact on this research,” she concludes.

From the laboratory to the market

According to Professor Ana Paula, after conducting an investigation to validate the performance of nanotubes in animal models, the material will be able to be used to locally fill small bone defects. The nanotubes could also be incorporated into polymeric matrices that are used in orthopedic and cranio-maxillofacial surgery to replace, fill or repair bone defects caused by infections, injuries and neoplasms. In addition, the material could be incorporated into toothpaste formulations for the treatment of tooth hypersensitivity, since some toothpastes used for this purpose have strontium in their composition.

“The biggest challenge to make the particles as product is to find companies in the industry interested in the technology, which would allow us to develop formulations in the short term,” says the researcher.

The authors of the paper. From the left: Camila Bussola Tovani, Tamires Maira Oliveira, Mariana P. R. Soares, Nadine Nassif, Sandra Y. Fukada, Pietro Ciangaglini, Alexandre Gloter and Ana Paula Ramos.
The authors of the paper. From the left: Camila Bussola Tovani, Tamires Maira Oliveira, Mariana P. R. Soares, Nadine Nassif, Sandra Y. Fukada, Pietro Ciangaglini, Alexandre Gloter and Ana Paula Ramos.

[Paper: Strontium Calcium Phosphate Nanotubes as Bioinspired Building Blocks for Bone Regeneration. Camila B. Tovani, Tamires M. Oliveira, Mariana P. R. Soares, Nadine Nassif, Sandra Y. Fukada, Pietro Ciancaglini, Alexandre Gloter, and Ana P. Ramos. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2020, 12, 39, 43422–43434. doi.org/10.1021/acsami.0c12434.]

Unpaid researchers: Thiago Marinho Duarte.


Thiago Duarte in 2017 at the Jaume I University (Spain), where he did a research internship during his doctorate.
Thiago Duarte in 2017 at the Jaume I University (Spain), where he did a research internship during his doctorate.

Thiago Marinho Duarte, 33, has a solid background to work in teaching and research. The Paraiban, born in Campina Grande, did a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate in Chemistry, in addition to a specialization in teaching methodology in Chemistry and Biology. Thirteen years were dedicated to his scientific education.

However, since defending his doctorate in Chemistry at the Federal University of Paraíba (UFPB) in February this year, his plans to become a research professor have been put “in the freezer”. In order to pay the bills, he used the knowledge learned in his adolescence, in technical courses, and started to work as an electrician.

In September, he passed a selection process by the municipality of Conde, in the metropolitan region of João Pessoa, to work on the front to fight Covid-19, dealing with various issues, from analyzing water reports to raising awareness about the pandemic. In this way, he achieved financial stability for a few months (the contract ends at the end of December) while continuing to look for opportunities in order to return to his scientific career.

Usually, the step following the completion of a doctorate is a post-doctorate, which can be understood as a temporary job as a “junior scientist”. In Brazil, this phase of the career usually occurs in university research groups and is usually paid through scholarships, funded by government research agencies, either federal (such as CNPq or Capes) or state funded.

“I submitted research projects in two CNPq calls for selection of postdoctoral fellows,” says Thiago.  “In both cases I was evaluated with a score close to the maximum (above 9.5), but I was informed that I would not receive the scholarship due to budget limitations,” he laments. In fact, the number of postdoctoral fellowships from federal agencies has been decreasing consistently since 2015, as previously shown by B-MRS.

In the middle of the pandemic, Thiago participated in four selective processes of higher education institutions in the states of Paraíba and Rio Grande do Norte for substitute lecturer – a temporary position that would allow him to remain in his professional area and get an income. But he was not selected. “The competition was very strong,” he says. In addition, he enrolled in a selective process for effective professor at the campus of the city of Areia at UFPB, but the selection has not yet been carried out due to the pandemic.

Thiago also considered entrepreneurship. He looked fondly at his undergraduate memories, when he began to produce and sell detergents, and thought that producing sanitizers would not be a bad idea for a chemist in a time of pandemic infectious disease. But this idea also ended up “in the freezer” given the difficulties Thiago faced to obtain bureaucratic information, necessary to start the initiative.

First university student in the family

“My first vocation was teaching,” says Thiago. In high school, he was good in courses in the Exact Sciences area. In the last year, after helping some colleagues understand a subject and pass the exam, he realized that he could dedicate himself to teaching. So, even without any family references (Thiago’s parents are salaried employees without higher education and he was the first person who attended college among all his relatives), he decided for a degree in Chemistry at the State University of Paraíba (UEPB).

After his graduation, in 2011, Thiago noticed that there were many selection processes in universities and federal institutes, and that they all required a master’s and/or doctorate degree. So he believed he should leave Campina Grande for postgraduate studies at UFPB, always in the Chemistry area.

That decision brought him many rewarding experiences, as well as personal and professional growth. In the master’s degree, Thiago was delighted to discover that the concepts learned in class became palpable in the laboratory, and that he could make his own contribution to the advancement of knowledge. In his PhD, he immersed in the world of computer simulations to study semiconductor materials that can be used for environmental remediation, which gave him the opportunity to go abroad for the first time to carry out part of the research at a Spanish university, with financial support from Capes.

“The contact with the real world of experiments and with the ideal world of simulations made me mature,” reflects Thiago. “And the experience abroad allowed me to grow as a person and as a researcher; it is something I recommend to everyone who has the opportunity,” he adds.

Currently, in addition to working on the front to fight Covid-19, Thiago is writing a research project to work in a group in the state of São Paulo. Once again, he will try to get a postdoctoral fellowship. In addition, Thiago is preparing to participate in another substitute-lecturer selection process, this time at the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE).

“I want to exhaust all possibilities in the country, but I don’t rule out going abroad,” says Thiago. “It is a pity that the government of Brazil has no interest in investing in knowledge and technology generation.”

B-MRS delivered a plaque in honor of Ricardo Rodrigues.


Delivery of the SBPMat plaque to the widow of Ricardo Rodrigues, on November 9th.
Delivery of the SBPMat plaque to the widow of Ricardo Rodrigues, on November 9th.

B-MRS participated in the ceremony in honor of the scientist and engineer Ricardo Rodrigues, held on the morning of November 9 in the Sirius building, organized by CNPEM. The emotional ceremony, which was broadcast live on YouTube, brought together some relatives and friends, who held demonstrations and presentations about Rodrigues’ extensive scientific career and personal aspects.

Representing the Board of B-MRS, Professor Daniel Mario Ugarte (UNICAMP), a member of the Society, handed a plaque to Rodrigues’ widow, Liu Lin, who is also a scientist. The B-MRS’s homage to Ricardo Rodrigues was conceived by members of B-MRS at the beginning of the year and would take place at the opening of the XIX B-MRS Meeting, which would be held in September this year in Foz do Iguaçu, but was postponed to 2021 due to the pandemic. The ceremony organized by CNPEM provided a new opportunity to perform the tribute.

Commemorative inscription in the plaque

“B-MRS homage to Antônio Ricardo Droher Rodrigues (1951 – 2020). The Brazilian Materials Research Society (B-MRS) pays homage to Ricardo Rodrigues’ fundamental contribution to the successful development and implementation of Brazilian synchrotron light sources (UVX and Sirius), which have placed Brazil at the forefront of materials research worldwide. November 2020.”

Ricardo Rodrigues

Ricardo Rodrigues was one of the main leaders responsible for the construction of the first synchrotron light source in the Southern Hemisphere, UVX, inaugurated in 1997. Starting in 2009, he led the engineering team that developed Sirius’ electron accelerators, the second light source synchrotron of Brazil. He passed away on January 3, 2020, at the age of 68.

The recording of the ceremony can be watched at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrmTDdnyv9s.

B-MRS Newsletter. Year 7, issue 10.


 

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Newsletter of the
Brazilian Materials
Research Society

Year 7, issue 10. November 11, 2020.

Featured Paper

A group of Brazilian researchers has developed a filter-like material capable of decontaminating flowing water, degrading organic and inorganic pollutants. The material is composed of bacterial cellulose nanofibers coated with photocatalytic nanostructures. The study was recently reported on Applied Materials & Interfaces. Know more.

artigo_news

Unpaid Researchers

Here we tell the story of Bruno César da Silva, 32 years old, PhD in Physics from UNICAMP. The knowledge and research skills Bruno developed in Brazil, from high school to doctorate, did not help him to get a scholarship or a job in the country, but opened the door to a temporary position at a research institute in France. Know more.

bruno_news

News from B-MRS Members

– Professor Ana Flávia Nogueira (UNICAMP), B-MRS member, won the Award for Brazilian Women in Chemistry and Related Sciences, from ACS and SBQ, in the “Leadership in Academia” category. Know more.

– Professor Carlos Figueroa (UCS), B-MRS member, was appointed editor of Applied Surface Science (Elsevier). Know more.

Advocacy & Policy

– B-MRS and more than 90 entities signed a letter sent to Brazilian legislators to increase CTI resources in 2021. In relation to 2020, the current budget proposal has a 17.4% to 34% decrease (depending on the type of resource considered). Know more.

Reading Tips

– The first room-temperature superconductivity material was created: a hydrogen, carbon and sulfur compound. Still far from applications, the discovery opens possibilities for the transition from a semiconductor to a superconductor society (Nature cover). Know more.

– By precisely controlling the size, shape and distribution of gold nanoparticles within a crystalline structure, a research team with Brazilian participation produced a material capable of generating extraordinary interactions between light and matter. The study opens possibilities for developing more efficient photonic chips and solar cells, among other devices (Nature). Know more.

– Scientists develop a method to modify physical properties of two-dimensional materials via deformation using a nanometer tip (Nano Letters). Know more.

Brazilian researchers developed nanocapsules that double fight pancreatic cancer: they transport chemotherapy drugs directly to the tumor and stimulate the body’s immune response. The nanocapsules are produced with membranes from the tumor itself (Materials Advances). Know more.

– Innovation: Antiviral surgical mask that inactivates SARS-CoV-2 developed by a Brazilian company in partnership with USP is already on the market. Know more.

Opportunities

– Call for papers for the special issue of Applied Surface Science Advances (new open access journal by Elsevier) on Nanotribology. The issue celebrates the contributions of scientist Bo Persson in this area of knowledge. Know more.

Events and online events

– ONLINE. International Conference on Defects in Insulating Materials (ICDIM 2020). November 23 – 27, 2020. Organization: UFS. Site.

4th International Conference on Applied Surface Science. Barcelona (Spain). June 28 – July 1, 2021. Site.

4th Workshop on Coated Tools & Multifunctional Thin Films. Campinas, SP (Brazil). July 20 – 23, 2021. Site.

XIX B-MRS Meeting + IUMRS ICEM (International Conference on Electronic Materials). Foz do Iguaçu, PR (Brazil). August 29 – September 2, 2021. Site.

– 7th Meeting on Self Assembly Structures in Solution and at Interfaces. Bento Gonçalves, RS (Brazil). November 3 – 5, 2021. 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 paper: Aerogel membranes as filters for water decontamination.


[PAPER: Bacterial Nanocellulose/MoS2 Hybrid Aerogels as Bifunctional Adsorbent/Photocatalyst Membranes for in-Flow Water Decontamination. Elias P. Ferreira-Neto, Sajjad Ullah, Thais C.A. da Silva, Rafael R. Domeneguetti, Amanda P. Perissinotto, Fábio S. de Vicente, Ubirajara P. Rodrigues-Filho, and Sidney J. L. Ribeiro. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2020, 12, 37, 41627–41643.]

A team of researchers from Brazilian universities has developed a new material capable of decontaminating water, simultaneously eliminating organic and inorganic pollutants, such as dyes and heavy metals, respectively. The material is in the form of a membrane with the potential to be used as an active filter: as water passes through the membrane, pollutants are adsorbed and degraded. The material can be reused several times, without losing its properties.

The membrane is composed of a three-dimensional network of cellulose nanofibers, coated with molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) nanosheets. Each material performs its function in the filter. Molybdenum disulfide is primarily responsible for adsorbing pollutants and degrading them through photocatalysis [see box]. Nanocellulose operates mainly as support for photocatalysts. Firstly, it allows the construction of an easy to handle macroscopic membrane. In addition, its structure of interwoven nanofibers with a rough surface offers an exceptionally large surface area to contain the photocatalysts. Finally, the flexibility and strength of the nanocellulose allows the membrane to withstand the water flow pressure.

“Although several excellent photocatalysts have been previously developed, one of their disadvantages is the difficult separation and recovery of nanometric materials, thus the idea of producing membranes,” says Elias Ferreira-Neto, postdoctoral fellow at the Laboratory of Photonic Materials, at the Chemistry Institute of UNESP Araraquara. “This study is a first step in the area,” adds Elias, corresponding author of the article reporting on the development of membranes, recently published in Applied Materials & Interfaces (impact factor = 8,758).

Membrane production: from bacterial hydrogel to hybrid aerogel

Scanning electron microscopy image shows the aerogel structure, composed of bacterial cellulose nanofibers coated with MoS2 nanosheets.
Scanning electron microscopy image shows the aerogel structure, composed of bacterial cellulose nanofibers coated with MoS2 nanosheets.

The “recipe” developed by the Brazilian researchers to produce the membranes involves several steps and requires mastering different processes for the synthesis of materials.

In the first step, bacteria from a non-pathogenic strain, placed in an appropriate medium, perform a metabolic process that generates the bacterial nanocellulose hydrogel as a by-product. This highly porous material is composed of 1% of interwoven cellulose nanofibers and 99% of water. The hydrogel is then washed in order to eliminate impurities.

Subsequently, the surface of the nanofibers is coated with controlled structured molybdenum disulfide nanosheets, regularly distributed on the surface of the nanofibers. Finally, this hybrid hydrogel is transformed into aerogel through a drying process, which replaces the pore water with air. The final result is an aerogel membrane composed of bacterial nanocellulose and molybdenum disulfide.

Decontamination assays

Scheme illustrating the reactor operation used in the water decontamination assays.
Scheme illustrating the reactor operation used in the water decontamination assays.

The researchers built a small photoreactor in order to verify the ability of the new membranes to remove the organic and inorganic pollutants in the water. In this device, the contaminated water passes through the membrane, which is illuminated to generate the photocatalytic effect. In the assays, the researchers used an organic pollutant (methylene blue, a compound used as a dye and as a drug) and an inorganic contaminant (hexavalent chromium, a toxic and carcinogenic compound, still used in various industries).

By measuring the presence of contaminants in the water after filtering, the researchers found that the membrane was able to eliminate approximately 96% of the paint and 88% of the heavy metal after 120 minutes of reactor circulation. “The efficiency achieved is in the range of photocatalytic materials of nanoparticulate-like molybdenum disulfide, which is excellent, given that in the supported material, the active surface area exposed to light is much smaller,” says Elias. However, to make the membranes suitable for real applications outside the laboratory, the researchers intend to further increase this efficiency. “The modification of the materials prepared with other photocatalytic nanostructures, such as titanium dioxide (TiO2) and bismuth vanadate (BiVO4), can greatly increase the efficiency of the materials we have already obtained,” says Elias. In addition, the researchers plan to test the action of the membranes against other organic and inorganic compounds that pollute waters, such as drugs, pesticides and other heavy metals.

Aggregated expertise

Entirely carried out in Brazil, more precisely in the state of São Paulo, the work gather the expertise in bacterial cellulose materials from the group led by Professor Sidney Ribeiro (Institute of Chemistry at UNESP Araraquara), and the experience in photocatalysis from the group conducted by Professor Ubirajara Rodrigues Filho (Institute of Chemistry of São Carlos – USP). The research also involved the collaboration of Professor Fábio Simões de Vicente, from the Physics Department of UNESP Rio Claro, to characterize the porosity and textural properties of the materials.

The study is part of Elias Ferreira-Neto’s post-doctoral project, funded by FAPESP. In his doctorate, under the guidance of Professor Ubirajara, and during the research internship abroad conducted with a researcher specialized in aerogels, Elias acquired great experience in the development of inorganic nanoparticles and aerogels for photocatalysis. In these studies, he could identified the great potential of these materials as photocatalysts, as well as their main limitation, the low mechanical resistance and, particularly, the low resistance to capillary pressure in liquid medium.

In the context of Elias’ postdoctoral fellowship, the collaboration between Brazilian research groups could overcome this limitation through the development of hybrid aerogels that combine the excellent mechanical properties of the cellulose support with the photocatalytic and adsorptive properties of the MoS2 nanosheets.

The authors of the paper. Fron the left: Elias Ferreira-Neto, Sajjad Ullah, Thais da Silva, Rafael Domeneguetti, Amanda Perissinotto, Fábio de Vicente, Ubirajara Rodrigues Filho and Sidney Ribeiro.
The authors of the paper. Fron the left: Elias Ferreira-Neto, Sajjad Ullah, Thais da Silva, Rafael Domeneguetti, Amanda Perissinotto, Fábio de Vicente, Ubirajara Rodrigues Filho and Sidney Ribeiro.

B-MRS member was appointed editor of Applied Surface Science (Elsevier).


Figueroa_socio_siteProfessor Carlos Alejandro Figueroa (University of Caxias do Sul, UCS), B-MRS member, was appointed editor of Applied Surface Science (Elsevier), a renowned journal in the area of Physics and Chemistry applied to surfaces and interfaces, 6,182 impact factor.

Figueroa is the second researcher of a Latin American institution within the journal’s team of 30 editors.

Unpaid researchers: Bruno César da Silva.


Bruno da Silva in a research laboratory in 2019, during his doctorate.
Bruno da Silva in a research laboratory in 2019, during his doctorate.

At the beginning of 2020, Bruno César da Silva was very excited. After six months of participating in an international selection process, he had obtained a position as a temporary researcher at a research institute in the city of Grenoble (France). Paid by the French government, he would commit to studying in detail the properties of semiconductor nanowires and some of their possible applications. In fact, these tiny wires may be used in future electronic and optoelectronic devices, but, for that, they need to be better understood and controlled.

In his master’s and doctorate in Physics, carried out at UNICAMP, Bruno had studied semiconductor nanowires, always under the guidance of excellent professors, and he had acquired solid knowledge in the set of techniques required by the post. “Finding someone who has a background in all the topics the job asked for is difficult, but I was lucky, was willing and had the opportunity to gain experience in all these areas,” says Bruno. In addition, Bruno is the main author of two articles published in renowned scientific journals (Nano Letters and Scientific Reports). Despite not having an expressive number of articles, Bruno’s production, generated during his doctorate, drew attention for its quality.

But Bruno’s training in scientific research started in high school, within the Junior Scientific Initiation Program of CNPq (the main federal research agency in Brazil). He then continued his undergraduate studies in Physics at the University of Lavras, where he undertook undergraduate research as a fellow of FAPEMIG (the research foundation in Minas Gerais State). While still an undergraduate student, Bruno had his first international research experience, at a Spanish university, as a fellow of the Science without Borders Program, from the Brazilian government. “My training is the result of public policies and investments,” says Bruno. In fact, at all stages, Bruno had scholarships financed with public resources. He started with less than 100 reais in high school and reached about 3,600 reais at the end of his doctorate with a scholarship from FAPESP, the São Paulo State research foundation.

Sudden change of plans

Bruno had a flight ticket and accommodations booked to begin his life in Grenoble when in mid-March the WHO declared the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, hiring at the research institute was suspended, and Bruno started looking for other opportunities.

He searched in Brazil and abroad. He sought postdoctoral fellowships and jobs as a researcher or data scientist – a professional area linked to mathematics and computing.

Without opportunities and no income, Bruno, aged 32, returned to his parents’ home in Jacareí (SP). He requested emergency government assistance and pledged to finalize scientific articles based on the doctoral results, while taking online courses to redirect his career.

Finally, six months after the scheduled date, Bruno took on his temporary position at the French research institute. And he has been working with nanowires for over a month, very happy. “Here, we, the newly graduated doctors, are treated like professionals, and we pay taxes like any worker,” he jokes, making an implicit comparison with the situation that young PhD grant holders experience in Brazil.

After his experience in Grenoble, he plans to participate in a selection process to become a research professor at a Brazilian university. However, Bruno says that if the situation of scarce resources for science continues in Brazil, he will continue to build a career abroad. “I think it is important to return the investment in my education to the Brazilian society through teaching and conducting research that can contribute to the development of my country. We are able to do quality science in Brazil, but we need the necessary conditions,” he concludes.