Featured scientist: Interview with Prof. Cid Bartolomeu de Araújo (UFPE).

Prof. Cid de Araújo
Prof. Cid de Araújo

Cid Bartolomeu de Araújo was born in Recife, the capital of the Brazilian state of Pernambuco, in 1945. When he was in high school, he was very fond of Physics. However, he was not able to choose this undergraduate course because it was not yet offered in Pernambuco in the 1960s.

He graduated with an Electrical Engineering degree from the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE) in 1968. After the B.S. degree, he received a master’s degree in Physics from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio). After that, he became an adjunct professor at UFPE, where he actively participated in the creation and development of the Physics Department. At the same time, he started his doctorate, again at PUC-Rio, and in 1975 he obtained a PhD diploma in physics.

Throughout 1976 and 1977, he held a postdoctoral position at Harvard University (USA), in the research group of Nicolaas Bloembergen, who, at that time, had one of the best laboratories in the world in Nonlinear Optics (area of knowledge dedicated to the study of phenomena that occur when high intensity light interacts with matter). In 1981 Bloembergen was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Back in Brazil in 1978, Professor Araújo created the Laboratory of Nonlinear Optics, which placed UFPE on the world map in this research area. Since then, Cid de Araújo has contributed to the advancement of scientific progress and development of human resources. He produced around 350 articles published in international scientific journals and supervised almost 100 masters and doctoral students and postdocs. His scientific production has more than 9,300 citations, according to Google Scholar. In 2020, Professor Araújo, whose h-index is 48, was listed among the 100,000 most influential scientists in the world in the ranking published in the journal Plos Biology.

Currently Professor Emeritus at UFPE, Cid de Araújo was Full Professor at the university from 1989 until 2013. He was a Visiting Professor at the Université d´Angers (France) and a Visiting Researcher at the State University of Campinas, École Polytechnique (France), Université Paris-Nord (France) and IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center (USA).

Araújo is a Full Member of the Brazil and Pernambuco Academies of Sciences, and a Fellow of the Optical Society of America (OSA) and TWAS (The World Academy of Sciences). He is a member of the Brazilian National Order of Scientific Merit – Grand Cross and Commander. In 2003, he received the Galileo Galilei award, bestowed annually by the International Commission for Optics (ICO) in recognition of outstanding contributions in the field of Optics, achieved in comparatively unfavorable circumstances. Professor Araújo is the only Brazilian out of 27 scientists who have received the medal so far.

In 2020, B-MRS granted Cid de Araújo the Memorial Lecture “Joaquim da Costa Ribeiro” – a tribute granted annually since 2011 to notable scientists from Brazilian institutions. Thus, Professor Araújo will deliver a lecture at the opening of the XIX B-MRS Meeting + IUMRS ICEM, which will be held virtually from August 30 to September 3 this year. At the event, he will talk about plasmonic nanocomposites (fundamentals, synthesis, linear and non-linear optical properties and applications), a research topic that has engaged the scientist and his group in recent times.

Read our interview with Cid de Araújo.

B-MRS newsletter: Tell us what led you to become a scientist and, in particular, to participate in the field of optical properties of materials.

Cid de Araújo: I don’t have an objective answer to this question… It certainly wasn’t family influence. My mother was a “housewife” and my father was a businessman. He wanted me to become a businessman just like him. He almost convinced me, but the school’s influence was greater. I liked Physics and Mathematics when I was in high school. I also liked History and used to read biographies of famous scientists (physicists, astronomers, mathematicians…). When I took the entrance exam, I chose the Electrical Engineering course because among the possible alternatives in Recife, in 1964, it was the one that seemed to have a larger scientific component than the other engineering courses. During the first two years of the course, I understood that I really liked Physics. From the fifth semester onwards, I decided that I should be in a Physics course; I did not like the subjects of the professional Engineering course. But there was no Physics course in Recife. Fortunately, other colleagues were also attracted to Physics and together with some Physics professors from the School of Engineering, we began to informally study the subjects that constitute the core of the bachelor’s degree in Physics. At the same time, I continued the EE course that I concluded in December 1968.

My fondness for Solid State Physics (currently called Condensed Matter Physics) grew during the undergraduate Electrical Engineering course as a result of reading scientific articles about electrical and magnetic properties of materials.

After completing the course, thanks to previous contacts with two professors from PUC-Rio (Alceu Pinho and Erasmo Ferreira), I traveled to Rio de Janeiro, in January 1969, to enroll in the postgraduate program in physics. In the master’s degree course, I performed experiments that combined microwaves and light to study properties of ferromagnetic crystals. A resulting article was published in Solid State Communications (in 1972) and the co-authors were Sergio Costa Ribeiro and Sergio Machado Rezende. As the article was written when I was already hired in Recife, the article included my UFPE address, and this was the first article in Physics of the Solid State with an UFPE address in the literature. Later, in the doctoral project, I developed works where I explored analogies between nonlinear processes of ferromagnetic magnons and the theory of lasers and optical parametric amplifiers. In the post doctorate program, I started working in Nonlinear Optics with applications in Material Physics (some liquids and semiconductors).  The decision for postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, with Nicolaas Bloembergen, was motivated by the fact that he was one of the pioneers of nonlinear magnetic resonance, and in addition, he was one of the pioneers of Nonlinear Optics.

B-MRS newsletter: From the point of view of scientific discoveries, reflected in the publication of articles or patent applications, from your viewpoint, what are your main contributions and why do you consider them the most relevant? In other words, which are your favorite and why do you like them so much?

Cid de Araújo: I am an experimental physicist, but my doctoral thesis resulted in the publication of five theoretical articles. Infrastructure problems in Recife contributed to this theoretical work. We were building laboratories from empty rooms. I was very happy with these articles because they were published in good scientific journals and so I was able to complete the doctoral thesis, which was presented at PUC-Rio in 1975. These are not the most important publications in my curriculum, but they represent a relevant contribution in the history of the Department of Physics-UFPE.

Upon returning from the postdoctoral studies in January 1978, until today, I always worked with several collaborators (students and fellow professors). So, in 1978, while setting up the Nonlinear Optics Laboratory, I began to interact strongly in another laboratory with a professor at DF-UFPE, Erivaldo Montarroyos, who was completing his doctorate using the Raman Scattering technique to study antiferromagnetic materials. The sequence of works that resulted from this project was important for developing the area at UFPE. I also interacted with other students who later entered this research line; the experimental works were carried out exclusively in Recife from 1978 to 1985. At that time in Recife, Experimental Physics was an adventure. In the same period, together with my colleague José Rios Leite, in 1980, we published in Chemical Physics Letters a theoretical article with the prediction of a new effect of Non-Linear Optics: the simultaneous absorption of two photons by a pair of interacting atoms. At that time, it was not possible to carry out the experimental work in the existing laboratories. The effect was observed for the first time in 2002 by a Swiss-German group that, utilizing modern techniques for preparing nanomaterials and nano-optic techniques, observed the phenomenon using an organic solid (para-terphenyl) doped with terrylene molecules (an organic dye). The article appeared on the cover of the journal Science [vol. 298; issue 5592 (2002)]. It was encouraging to know that the effect we had foreseen was observed 22 years after our proposal and that our theoretical article received the due credits. Later, in 2012, this same effect was observed in sodium vapor and published in Physical Review Letters [108, 253004 (2012)] by the group of Vanderlei Bagnato, in São Carlos. In other words: it is a basic phenomenon that can be observed not only in condensed matter but also in atomic vapor and other systems not yet studied. There are some proposals in the literature to study the effect under different situations.

A set of works that I really like is related to the observation, understanding and applications of optical phenomena in plasmonic composites (glasses and colloids with metallic nanoparticles). These are more recent works where we explored the contribution of superficial plasmons in silver (or gold) nanoparticles and their application in studies related to luminescence, using random lasers, with the propagation of space solitons and other phenomena of optics instability influenced by plasmons. We have published several articles in this area and a review of some published works can be seen in Advances in Optics and Photonics 9 (2017) 720-774. This research continues in the present time and we continue to place much effort in this area with recent publications.

B-MRS newsletter: From the point of view of developing researchers, creating laboratories and other aspects of a researcher’s career, what are your most impacting achievements and/or the ones that gave you the greatest satisfaction?

Cid de Araújo: From an institutional perspective, I believe I carried out very important work together with the colleagues when we put together the first research group in Physics in Recife, in 1971. Also in 1971, we implemented the bachelor’s degree in Physics. This group included Ivon Fittipaldi, Mauricio Coutinho, Marco Moura and Sergio Rezende. My colleague José Rios Leite, who participated in the initial project, joined the DF only after completing his doctorate at MIT in 1977. We were conducting research, teaching and administrative work, in order to establish a new research center in Physics. Fortunately, we were successful, and we gradually incorporated new professors who helped consolidate the project. Between 1973 and 2013 I took on several administrative positions: Head of the DF-UFPE, Physics Undergraduate Coordination, Physics Postgraduate Coordination, Postgraduate Coordination in Materials Science, and Direction of the Exact and Nature Sciences Center, which in addition to the DF brought together the Departments of Fundamental Chemistry, Mathematics, Statistics and Informatics.

From the research perspective, I had the opportunity to set up one of the first Non-Linear Optics laboratories in the country. This laboratory has been in operation since 1978, and has remained active since the beginning, contributing to the education of undergraduate and graduate students. To date, there have been about 40 undergraduate students, 44 master’s students, 27 doctoral students, and 20 post-doctoral students. These former students currently work in several Brazilian states, some at DF-UFPE, and some abroad (Canada, USA, Colombia, Peru, Uruguay, China and India) as research leaders.

In the 43 years of the Laboratory, we have been able to introduce in the Country several experimental research techniques in Nonlinear and Photonic Optics, new scientific topics and we have contributed to significant advance in this area.

Currently, the Physics Department of UFPE is completing 50 years of research and teaching activities in PG. The performance of DF radiated to several States, especially the Northeast and Northern regions of the country. I am extremely pleased for the opportunity to participate in this story.

Until now, I have been contributing to the physics community by participating in the research commissions of funding agencies (from Brazil and abroad), coordinating research projects and scientific events at the national and international level. I hope to continue doing research for several more years.

B-MRS newsletter: Now we invite you to leave a message for our readers who are starting their scientific careers.

Cid de Araújo: I believe that a career choice should be based on the attraction the professional activity exerts on the individual, and this is particularly true with regard to scientific activity. However, this is not enough. In addition to the attraction for the profession, solid education is required in the specific content of the field and in the fundamentals. The ability to work as a team, the ability to impart knowledge, general culture and the ability to interact with people are very important requirements. Scientific work requires considerable effort and a lot of dedication, but intellectual challenges serve as a permanent stimulus.




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