XVII B-MRS Meeting: Report on the technical sessions.

For a high-impact, diverse and inclusive science (Workshop Young Researchers’ School)

Sunday, September 16, around 1:00 p.m. City of Natal, State of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. The sky was blue and the sea was green. Possibly resisting the temptation of a Sunday afternoon at the beach, about 150 people decided to go to the Convention Center of the traditional Hotel Praiamar, located a few meters from the Ponta Negra Beach – the most famous in the touristic Natal. The reason for this strange decision? To participate in the Young Researchers’ School workshop, a four-hour activity offered at no additional cost to those enrolled in the XVII B-MRS Meeting.

Praia de Ponta Negra com o Morro do Careca ao fundo, a poucos metros do local do evento. 16/09/18.
Ponta Negra Beach, a few meters from the event venue. September 16, 2018.

The workshop started with a tutorial by Professor Valtencir Zucolotto (University of São Paulo, USP, Brazil), a member of the Brazilian Materials research community known not only for the research of Nanomedicine and Nanotoxicology Group, but also for the lectures, online courses and workshops on scientific writing and publishing that he creates and presents in Brazil and abroad. Good humored and interacting with the audience, Zucolotto talked about how to do high impact research, from the initial idea to the publication of the paper, covering the research methodology and the writing of the paper. In addition to showing data, Professor Zucolotto shared his experiences “on the two sides of the aisle” (Zucolotto is a productive and cited researcher, as his 42 H index shows, and also edits journals and books). The speaker also gave advice from someone who has gone through this to the younger members of the audience “One must learn to live with rejection, which is part of the work of a scientist,” said Zucolotto, referring to the rejection of papers during the publication process. “Don’t worry, your paper will be rejected… and will be finally accepted in a high-impact journal,” he joked.

[See Professor Zucolotto’s course material at the site http://zucoescrita.com ]

After a generous coffee break sponsored by Elsevier, the workshop continued with the presentation of Elsevier’s Director of Publication of the Materials Science area, Christiane Barranguet, on the diversity and inclusion in the environment of journals and scientific events. In addition to showing data on female participation in science, the director recounted the company’s efforts to achieve gender and geographical diversity and representativeness in the editorial bodies of the journals and in the group of panelists of the conferences. Good results have appeared shyly, she pointed out. However, women and Latin Americans are still underrepresented in these groups. At the end of the lecture, Barranguet invited the Materials community to indicate names of scientists, mainly from underrepresented groups, who could work in the editorial bodies of Elsevier journals.

[See Christiane Barranguet’s presentation file in our Slideshare https://www.slideshare.net/SBPMat/how-can-academic-publishing-increase-diversity-and-inclusion  ]

The last part of the workshop returned to the question of the impact of publications, precisely where Professor Zucolotto had stopped. Marlene Silva, also from Elsevier’s Materials team, talked about ways to disseminate a published paper to increase its visibility, citation potential, and academic and social impact. According to the speaker, the dissemination work should be carried out without wasting time, in the pleasure derived from the news of having the paper accepted. One of the most useful tools for this dissemination is, according to Silva, the URL sharing link – made available to the authors of the papers by most of Elsevier’s journals, which grants direct and free access to the paper for 50 days to anyone who receives the link. Silva recommended sharing this link by all possible means, from all social media, accompanied by texts and attractive images, to the author’s e-mail signature. The speaker also talked about strategies to make the article more relevant in search engines, known as SEO, such as repeating the most relevant keywords all along the paper.

[See the presentation file of Marlene Silva in our Slideshare https://www.slideshare.net/SBPMat/how-to-promote-your-article-116520984  ]
Workshop Young Researchers´ School. À direita, a partir da esquerda, Christiane Barraguet, Marlene Silva e Valtencir Zucolotto.
Workshop Young Researchers´School. In the second picture: Christiane Barraguet, Marlene Silva and Valtencir Zucolotto.



Tough, stiff and resilient: the Brazilian materials research community (Opening Ceremony)

A pleasant surprise awaited the approximately 800 participants who settled in the main hall of the Convention Center around 7:30 p.m. to attend the Opening Ceremony. Shortly after the opening words by the master of ceremonies, twelve musicians from the “Orquestra Potiguar de Clarinetas“, from the School of Music of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), left their hiding places with their instruments, stood near the stage and filled the room with Brazilian music – mainly compositions from the Northeast region. The musicians showed a sample of the richness and cultural diversity of this country, playing the rhythms of choro, baião, frevo and carimbó.

After the musical presentation, the Opening Table was set up, composed of Professor Antonio Eduardo Martinelli (Chairman of the XVII B-MRS Meeting), Professor Osvaldo Novais de Oliveira Jr (President of B-MRS), Professor Rodrigo Ferrão de Paiva Martins (Second Vice President of the International Union of Materials Research Societies, IUMRS) and Professor José Daniel Diniz Melo (Vice-Rector of UFRN).

Then, those standing on the stage and in the audience, sang the Brazilian National Anthem, accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra and Madrigal Chorus of UFRN projected on the screens scattered throughout the room.

In addition to welcoming and thanking everyone, in the words of the members of the table, there were several references to the social and economic importance of research in Materials. “Knowledge of this area is crucial to solve most of the problems of society,” said Diniz Melo, who is also a professor of undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Materials at UFRN. The Portuguese Rodrigo Martins, who besides being an internationally prominent Materials scientist, is a frequent participant in the B-MRS Meetings, highlighted the role of materials in the development of a country. “From life sciences to aerospace industry, materials are central to all developments and bring a better quality of life to the population,” said Martins. “This event is a celebration of what Materials Science has done for the society,” said Professor Oliveira Junior.

In an inspiring opening speech, Professor Martinelli addressed a subject that has troubled the Brazilian scientific community. “Not only economic difficulties but mainly the sense of what are and what are note priorities for our country have burned part of our past and challenged the best chances to improve Science and Technology in Brazil, putting at risk a better future for current and future generations,” said the chair of the event, who is a professor of undergraduate and post-graduate studies in Materials at UFRN and coordinator of the Materials Area at the federal agency CAPES. The chair highlighted the strength of the Materials community that, even within this context, has remained active and allowed the event to take place, with a large number of participants. “We are materials people: tough, stiff and resilient,” Martinelli said. “No one has given up, and no one will”.

Público na abertura do evento. Mesa de abertura; a partir da esquerda: Antonio Martinelli, Rodrigo Martins, José Diniz Melo e Osvaldo Novais de Oliveira Jr.
Public at the Opening Ceremony. Opening Table, from the left: Antonio Martinelli, Rodrigo Martins, José Diniz Melo and Osvaldo Novais de Oliveira Jr.

Tributes to prominent members of the community (Memorial Lecture “Joaquim da Costa Ribeiro”)

After the words by the members of the table, the moment came for B-MRS to pay tribute to the long and distinguished trajectory of Brazilian scientists. The first tribute, which was not announced in the program, was for Professor Aloísio Nelmo Klein (Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil), who received a commemorative plaque and a gift for his “35 years dedicated to Applied Science.” In fact, Klein’s scientific career stands out mainly by the number of patents (more than 60 applications filed in offices in Brazil, Europe, the United States, China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and Australia) and numerous projects in partnership with companies. Professor Klein, who is a founding member of B-MRS and has previously served as scientific director, adviser and chairman of two annual meetings of the society, received gratitude and recognition from the president of B-MRS for his long-term dedication to this society.

[See the February 2017 interview with Professor Aloísio Nelmo Klein https://www.sbpmat.org.br/en/gente-da-comunidade-entrevista-com-o-pesquisador-aloisio-nelmo-klein/ ]

The second person to be honored that night was Professor Fernando Galembeck, retired from UNICAMP since 2011, but still active, who is also Collaborating Professor of that university. Throughout the four decades of his scientific career, Galembeck made important contributions to applied and basic research in diverse subjects such as surface modification, nanoparticles, nanocomposites, electrostatics, materials derived from biomass, among other subjects. He is the author of more than 250 papers, 35 patents and 20 books or book chapters, and has more than 3,700 citations. He was a founding member of B-MRS.

[See interview of Fernando Galembeck, updated and reissued in August 2018 https://www.sbpmat.org.br/en/cientista-em-destaque-entrevista-com-fernando-galembeck-que-proferira-a-palestra-memorial-no-xvii-encontro-da-sbpmat-reedicao-atualizada-de-entrevista-de-maio-de-2015/ ].

Galembeck was chosen this year to receive the main B-MRS honor for researchers with an outstanding trajectory in the area of Materials, the Memorial Lecture “Joaquim da Costa Ribeiro”. This distinction also honors, through its name, a pioneer of experimental Materials research in Brazil.

[See article on Joaquim da Costa Ribeiro https://www.sbpmat.org.br/en/historia-da-pesquisa-em-materiais-joaquim-da-costa-ribeiro-e-o-efeito-termodieletrico/ ]

In the first part of his talk, Galembeck addressed the relationship between raw materials, energy and food, given that hunger is still a problem for humanity, and that energy generation can compete with food production by using the same raw materials. This situation worsens, said Galembeck, when financial speculation comes into play. However, he urged, thanks to technological advances, it is possible to produce goods by combining cheap energy from inexhaustible sources like the sun and wind, with abundant raw materials such as lithium, magnesium and carbon dioxide, or even waste. “Waste is untapped opportunity,” highlighted the speaker. With respect to the use of biomass in developing countries, he stated that, in addition to generating energy by reducing the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, it can be used as raw material for high added value products, generating better income for the population. In the second part of the lecture, Galembeck presented an overview of some of his scientific contributions. The scientist also expressed his optimism about the crisis that Brazil is going through, which was addressed earlier by Professor Martinelli. “I’m experienced enough to know that in the end everything will be better than expected,” he stated.

[See Fernando Galembeck’s presentation file in our Slideshare https://www.slideshare.net/SBPMat/materials-for-a-better-future  ]

After the lecture, the participants left the Convention Center and, a few meters away, were able to enjoy the welcome cocktail of the event, held in an outside lounge of Hotel Praiamar, enjoying the sea breeze under a starry sky with a crescent moon.

Esquerda: homenagem a Aloísio Klein. Direita: Palestra Memorial de Fernando Galembeck.
Left: tribute to Aloísio Klein. Right: Fernando Galembeck giving the Memorial Lecture.

Theory and experiments, industry and academia and multidisciplinarity (Oral and Poster Sessions of the symposia)

The Brazilian members of the materials research community, who were majority in the event, has remained active throughout this difficult year, said the chair at the opening of the meeting. This could be confirmed by simply sitting down in the oral presentation rooms or walking by the poster’s white tent (preferably with a smartphone in hand, to access and save the abstract and data of the posters of interest).

More than a thousand Materials research professionals and students presented their works and discussed them with their peers at the XVII B-MRS Meeting. Despite the high percentage of those enrolled with approved papers who did not attend the event (about 30%), most likely due to of the lack of funding, the symposia held significant participation in the oral and poster sessions. Some symposium organizers went beyond these traditional presentation formats and included discussion forums in their programs. They broke with the linear sitting arrangements and encouraged collective discussions in semicircles, regarding topics they considered as particularly important. Another highlight of the symposia this year, according to the organizers, was the quality of the invited lectures (30-minute presentations given by experts on topics within the scope of the symposium, which are invited by the organizers).

The thematic range covered by the symposia was once again broad and comprehensive. Many materials were covered (nanomaterials, conductive polymers, advanced metals, composites, metal oxides, electroceramics, biomaterials, surfaces, coatings). Many applications were presented (for the segments of energy, aerospace, health, electronics, bioelectronics, photonics, automotive, decorative). Several interactions took place: between different people, between the theoretical and the experimental, between industry and academia, between science and technology, between areas of knowledge (Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Engineering, Medicine).

Among the symposia of this edition of the event, there were old acquaintances (such as the Brazilian Eletroceramics Symposium, in its eleventh edition), newer symposia (such as the one about Surface Engineering) and totally new symposiums, such as the symposium on nanofibers and applications.

The symposia of the XVII B-MRS Meeting were organized by 76 researchers linked to education and research institutions or companies from Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Germany, Portugal, Spain, and USA.

[See the highlights of the symposiums, sent by some of the organizers https://www.sbpmat.org.br/en/xvii-b-mrs-meeting-highlights-of-the-symposia/]
Imagens dos simpósios. A partir da esquerda: apresentação oral, foro tecnológico e sessão de pôsteres.
Simposia activities. From the left: oral presentation, technological forum and poster session.

Lectures on scientific instrumentation

Located between the entrance to the Convention Center and the Secretariat of the event, on the way to the plenary lecture room, the exhibitors’ area was full of activity, and not just during the coffee break, which was served at the event. Twenty companies and UFRN were there with their booths staffed by specialists, their publicity materials, gifts and, in some cases, equipment for demonstrations. In addition, on Wednesday, some of the scientific instrumentation companies offered ten technical lectures showing the advances and the new applications of various characterization techniques, as well as innovations in laboratory equipment.

And the participation of the exhibitors went beyond the technical specifics. Solidus, a junior company of Materials and Mechanical Engineering that participated in the event at the UFRN booth provided a photo frame for visitors who wanted to take a souvenir photo of the XVII B-MRS Meeting and share it in social networks.

Área dos expositores
Exhibitors Area.

Student proposals for the future Aerospace Industry (The “Aerospace Materials and Manufacturing for the Next Century” challenge)

One of the highlights of the event was the technological challenge of the aerospace industry for undergraduate and graduate students attending the meeting. In order to motivate students to carry out multidisciplinary research with aerospace applications, and to bring the academic environment and industry closer together, the activity was conceived and organized by a group of researchers from Brazilian universities and two leading companies in the aerospace segment, the US Boeing and the Brazilian Embraer.

The activity began on Monday, September 17, when 55 students, interested in participating in the challenge previously announced by the B-MRS channels, registered at the Boeing booth (Diamond Sponsor of the event), located in the exhibitors’ area of the convention center. At the end of the day, a lottery defined who would be the participants in this challenge.

The following day, at lunchtime, experts presented six technical challenges related to problems or opportunities in the aerospace industry for 36 students who were having lunch in the audience – the lunch boxes were sponsored by Boeing. After the presentations, the students formed the respective work teams.

24 hours later, the six groups had to present their solutions in English, while they were evaluated in terms of originality, technical content, alignment with the proposed challenge, solution implementation potential and presentation quality. The jury consisted of nine researchers from the Materials area of Brazil and abroad, linked to Boeing, Embraer, as well as education and research institutions.

The following day, during the Awards Ceremony of the event, Catherine Parrish, Senior Coordinator of Materials and Process Engineering Research at Boeing, and Fabio Santos da Silva, Senior Technology Development Engineer at Embraer, announced the winning work and delivered diplomas and gifts to the members of the winning team, composed of five masters and PhD students in Materials, Chemistry and Physics from institutions in the South, Northeast and Midwest regions of Brazil.  “We are very happy with the results of the challenge. The participants presented really innovative ideas; it was fantastic,” Parrish said.

Responding to the challenge “Aerospace Structures and Systems Inspired by Nature – Lotus Leaf,” the winning team presented the properties of the lotus leaf, especially its super-hydrophobia and its consequent self-cleaning ability. The students suggested applications in the aerospace segment (mainly in the aircraft fuselage) of materials with lotus leaf-inspired surfaces, and proposed ways to obtain these surfaces. “What I learned from this challenge was that staying calm is very important for developing a project, and helping others wherever possible. Each one gives their contribution and together we add individual skills,” states Angelica Belchior Vital, Ph.D. student in Chemical Engineering at UFRN and a member of the award-winning team. “We had a great time and we were really excited with the ideas and discussions the work generated,” she adds.

Três momentos do atividade, incluindo a apresentação dos desafios e das soluções.
Three moments of the activity, including the presentation of the challenges (center) and solutions (right).

Sustainability and academic and social impact in the views of world-renowned scientists (Plenary lectures)

Two plenary lectures per day. Eight scientists with outstanding trajectory shared with the participants throughout their expertise in subjects of great academic, social and economic impact. Pillars of the B-MRS meetings, the plenary lectures of this edition of the event gathered a few hundred participants and showed the crucial role of Materials research in subjects such as sustainability and health.

Junbai Li
Junbai Li

At the first plenary session of the event, Professor Junbai Li, from the Institute of Chemistry of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, revealed how he helps nature to assemble nano and micro structures from biological molecules. More precisely, Li, who is the editor-in-chief of Colloids & Surfaces A (Elsevier) and editor of the self-assembly section at Current Opinion in Colloid & Interface Science (Elsevier), uses a type of amino acid (peptides) as basic block to form structures by means of self-assembly processes. The prominent Chinese scientist is able to control the architecture of structures, generating shapes similar to tubes, platelets, vesicles or flowers. The lecturer showed that these biocompatible structures can be used to staunch bleeding, cure skin diseases and carry drugs. At the end of the lecture, he ensured that peptide-based materials will be part of everyday life in a few years.

[See the plenary file of Junbai Li in our Slideshare  https://www.slideshare.net/SBPMat/molecular-assembly-of-peptide-based-materials-towards-biomedical-application ]
Christian Polak
Christian Polak

The afternoon plenary was delivered by a scientist who has been working for 25 years at the R&D of Vacuumschmelze, a manufacturer of advanced magnetic materials and related products, born in Germany and present in dozens of countries. Christian Polak spoke about some of the materials developed in the company (amorphous and nanocrystalline magnetic alloys), their manufacturing processes and their applications in products that are part of the company’s portfolio; for example, transformers, converters and electric current sensors. In the lecture, it was possible to verify that the application of highly specialized scientific knowledge results in widely marketed products and innovations that accompany the demands of the consumer market, such as components to improve the performance of smartphones.

[See the plenary file of Christian Polak in our Slideshare  https://www.slideshare.net/SBPMat/soft-magnetic-nanocrystalline-materials-for-inductors-and-shielding-applications-optimized-for-higher-frequencies]
Heinz von Seggern
Heinz von Seggern

On Tuesday morning, the plenary lecture was given by Heinz von Seggern, former researcher of the famous Bell Labs and Siemens research center, and retired but still very active Professor of the Faculty of Materials Science at the Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany).  Seggern spoke about ferroelectric polymers – materials that have, spontaneously and permanently, polarized electric charges – a characteristic that can be used in several applications, such as the well-known electret microphones. From a historical perspective, Seggern showed advances in the understanding, manufacture, characterization and application of some of these materials. In this narrative, Seggern referred to Brazilian researchers who are participating members of B-MRS, such as Professors Sérgio Mascarenhas, José Giacometti and Roberto Faria, as well as the German scientist Bernhard Gross, who came to Brazil in the 1930s and was a pioneer in Materials research in the country.

Bernhard Keimer
Bernhard Keimer

And after three plenary sessions foccusing applied research, Professor Bernhard Keimer (h index =86), in a lecture he himself classified as purely fundamental research, showed the experimental efforts he has been doing with his group at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research (Germany) to understand and control collective electron behaviors, more precisely the so-called “electronic correlations,” that would be responsible for generating phenomena as interesting as superconductivity. To carry out his studies, Keimer, who is director of this institute, creates “heterostructures”, which combine very thin layers of various materials (primarily metallic oxides). These are quantum materials – those whose macroscopic properties depend on the properties or behavior of their electrons. Keimer and his colleagues analyze these materials using advanced spectroscopy techniques, thus manage not only to understand but also to begin to control the correlations among small and difficult-to-study entities such as spins and charges.

Carlos Graeff
Carlos Graeff

The relationship between energy, materials and sustainability returned to the plenary sessions on Wednesday morning in the lecture of Brazilian scientist Carlos Frederico Oliveira Graeff, Professor and Pro-Rector of Research at UNESP (Brazil). The speech began with an overview on the use of different sources of energy. Currently 2/3 of the electricity that mankind consumes comes from fossil fuels responsible for the greenhouse effect. Nevertheless, that relationship will change progressively until 2040 due to the significant increase in solar and wind energy in the energy matrix. In fact, these are energy sources capable of delivering energy in quantities much higher than our current human demand (more than 3,000 times in the case of sunlight). After explaining the fundamentals of the photovoltaic effect, responsible for the conversion of sunlight into electricity, Graeff talked about two types of solar cells that can compete with those of silicon – the latter already widely marketed. The scientist showed the advantages and disadvantages of dye-based and perovskite-based solar cells, and cited the contributions his research group and collaborators have made to the development of these devices. The success of solar cells depends on properly matching a range of materials that work together, said Graeff, casting the challenge to the research community in the room.

[See the plenary file of Carlos Graeff in our Slideshare  https://www.slideshare.net/SBPMat/materials-for-the-optimization-of-solar-energy-harvesting ]
You-Lo Hsieh
You-Lo Hsieh

Sustainability also permeated the plenary session of You-Lo Hsieh, Distinguished Professor at UC Davis (USA). The scientist placed the current moment in the second industrial revolution, initiated around 1850 and driven by the use of oil to generate energy and plastic materials, and by the advances in Materials Science and Engineering. On the one hand this revolution brought products that make human life more comfortable, said Hsieh, but it also increased by thousands of times the carbon dioxide emissions and created pockets of litter in the oceans, to name just a few of the consequences. Hsieh develops new materials, such as nanofibers and biopolymeric aerogels, which could make up a different economy, based on low environmental impact chemical processes and on the use of biomass (the set of living organisms, from bacteria to animal or vegetable waste). With the partnership of companies, she hopes to transform these materials into new products that generate new markets. Professor Hsieh pointed some challenges of implementing such an economy, from connecting technology development to market demands, to achieving consumer acceptance.

Pietro Matricardi
Pietro Matricardi

Biomedical applications returned in the penultimate plenary of the event. Pietro Matricardi, Professor at the University of Rome “La Spienza”, spoke about his work with hydrogels (gels with high water content) based on polysaccharides (natural polymers composed of long chains of simple sugars, monosaccharides). Matricardi explained that the hydrogel combined with the polysaccharide can form an intelligent material capable of adhering to living tissues, covering their surface without leaving interstices and interacting positively with them. The gel can also be carried with some drug or compound, which will be released gradually into living tissues. In collaboration with a dentist, Matricardi tested the effects of his hydrogel, loaded with an anti-inflammatory and hydroxyapatite (used for bone regeneration) in patients with severe periodontitis, and they could see very good results. In its nano version, when properly manufactured the hydrogel can carry one or more drugs within the organism and deliver them at the right measure and place. Such is the case of a prostate cancer treatment drug which should be administered together with an anti-inflammatory. Nanohydrogels, whether or not loaded with drugs, may also function to treat skin bacterial infections, as demonstrated by good results from studies conducted with rats by Matricardi.

[See Joan Ramón Morante Lleonart’s plenary file in our Slideshare https://www.slideshare.net/SBPMat/polysaccharide-hydrogels-a-versatile-tool-for-biomedical-and-pharmaceutical-applications ]
Joan Morante
Joan Morante

The last plenary lecture of the event began with an image that is as well known as it is worrying: increasing carbon dioxide emissions and global warming. “The circular economy of carbon dioxide is a major challenge for humanity,” said lecturer Joan Ramón Morante Lleonart (h index=82), director of the Institute of Energy Research of Catalonia (IREC), professor at the University of Barcelona and editor of the Journal of Physics D. This concept refers to removing from the environment the excess of carbon dioxide generated by human activities, capturing it and transforming the molecule into useful compounds (such as methanol, methane or formic acid), capable of generating products and fuels. To break the CO2 molecule at an industrial scale requires a lot of energy, which can ideally be obtained from renewable sources. Throughout this “recycling” process of carbon dioxide, materials once again play crucial roles. However, the existing materials generally do not effectively meet, in real conditions, the needs for this recycling to become a reality. Professor Morante pointed out a series of challenges for Materials Science and Technology, related to the development or improvement of nanomaterials for the capture and purification of carbon dioxide, materials for cathodes and anodes used in photoelectric processes, corrosion resistant materials for reactors and, mainly, catalytic nanomaterials for the reduction of carbon dioxide. The plenary closed the technical program of the event with a very encouraging image: that of a typical house of the circular carbon economy. This house does not need fossil fuels to meet the needs of its residents; it consumes sun, wind, air and water, it produces all the electricity and fuels it needs, and returns to the environment only fresh air.

[See Joan Ramón Morante Lleonart’s plenary file in our Slideshare https://www.slideshare.net/SBPMat/catalyst-materials-for-solar-refineries-synthetic-fuels-and-procedures-for-a-circular-economy-of-the-co2 ]

Featured scientist: interview with Carlos Graeff.

Prof. Carlos Graeff
Prof. Carlos Graeff

Fascinated by science since he was a child, with a representative at his home (his father, a renowned neuroscientist), Carlos Frederico Oliveira Graeff, born at Ribeirao Preto (state of São Paulo), chose the area of Physics as his university studies. He obtained his bachelor’s (1989), master (1991) and doctor (1994) degrees in Physics from the University of Campinas (Unicamp). During his master’s and doctorate program, supervised by professor Ivan Chambouleyron, he took his first steps as a researcher in the Materials area with studies on materials based on germanium and silicon. During his doctorate he participated in a research internship at the Max Plank Institut für Festkörperforschung in Germany.

He returned to Germany in 1994 until 1996 for a postdoctoral period to work on electronic magnetic resonance, semiconductors and electronic devices at the Walter Schottky Institute of the Technische Universität München (TUM), with a grant from the German foundation Alexander Von Humboldt.

Upon returning to Brazil, he became a professor at the Department of Physics and Mathematics of the University of São Paulo (USP), where he remained for 10 years. In 2006, he joined the Faculty of Sciences of Bauru at the State University of São Paulo (UNESP) as a full professor, where he is still teaching and researching. Throughout his academic career, Graeff has been visiting professor or researcher at several institutions in France, China and Switzerland.

From 2007 to 2009, Graeff was coordinator of the Post-Graduate Program in Materials Science and Technology (POSMAT) at UNESP – Bauru campus. Between 2009 and 2014, he was the coordinator of the newly created Materials Area of CAPES, responsible for the evaluation of Brazilian post-graduate programs in Materials, among other functions. From 2011 to 2013, Graeff was president of the Humboldt Club of Brazil and in 2012 and 2013 he was scientific director of B-MRS. The scientist also fulfilled or performs management or advisory functions at Brazilian agencies FAPESP and CAPES, and at IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry).

In 2017, after having participated in the editorial board of several international journals, he was appointed associate editor in the photovoltaic area of the journal Solar Energy (impact factor 4,018), of Elsevier publishing house. Also in 2017, he became Dean of Research at UNESP, a post he holds until now.

With an h index of 28, Graeff is the author of about 200 indexed papers that have more than 2,500 citations, according to Google Scholar. In three decades of scientific work, together with his team at the Laboratory of New Materials and Devices at UNESP and his numerous national and international collaborators, Graeff has contributed to the field of materials research with multiple subjects. Among his most cited articles there are studies on synthetic diamond, silicon and germanium heterostructures, conjugated polymers, latex and melanin (biological material with semiconductor properties that are promising for the development of bioelectronic devices).

The researcher has also worked in the area of photovoltaic energy (direct conversion of solar radiation into electricity), with numerous contributions to the development of solar cells based on different materials (dyes, perovskites and organic semiconductors). On this subject of photovoltaic energy, Carlos Graeff will offer a plenary lecture at the XVII B-MRS Meeting, to be held in Natal (RN) from September 16 to 20.

The following is an interview with this outstanding researcher of our community.

B-MRS Newsletter: How or why did you become a scientist? Did you always want to be a scientist? Also, briefly tell us what led you to work in the field of materials.

Carlos Graeff: My father, Frederico Graeff, is a well-known researcher and perhaps one of the most important influences in my decision. My aunts were also teachers and researchers, so from an early age I had access to the world of science from my home, which has always fascinated me. The decision to study physics was largely due to the various books I read and from the television Cosmos series presented by Carl Sagan. The decision to work in the Materials area came later on during my baccalaureate in physics after the first courses in condensed matter physics and semiconductors. From the beginning of the graduate studies I worked in materials, and soon I was attracted by the interfaces of physics with chemistry and biology in very different subjects of materials science and engineering.

B-MRS Newsletter: What do you believe are your main contributions to the Materials area? Please consider all aspects of scientific activity.

Carlos Graeff: It is always difficult to choose key contributions. In my case in particular it is easy to see, reading my CV, a very eclectic trajectory in terms of studied materials and applications. Using originality as a preference, I will dwell on three themes; the first is the production of CoS (cobalt sulfide) the basis of ecological paints for the production of electrodes for solar cells. We have achieved a simple, industrial and ecological method to replace platinum in dye-based solar cells. In the second theme, we have proposed several alternative methods for the synthesis of melanin, the material involved in tanning, and with this we have been able to produce biocompatible materials with very special characteristics with regard to, for example, solubility. We are identifying a very important defect for this material using, as a main tool, computational simulations combined with spectroscopic techniques. We are sure this material will be important in the emerging area of bioelectronics. In the third theme, we describe in detail the whole degradation process of organic semiconductors, identifying routes for the production of high sensitivity dosimeters for applications in hospitals and clinics that use, for example, gamma rays for cancer treatments and diagnosis. We also have had very unique contributions in the physics of electrically detected magnetic resonance, increasing the sensitivity and the general understanding of the physical phenomena involved. In addition to these fundamental contributions, I was responsible, proudly and with satisfaction, for the implementation of the materials area at CAPES. Another source of satisfaction regards the good students I was fortunate enough to mentor, many of them brilliant scientists. I helped and coordinated the assemblage of several laboratories both here in Brazil and abroad, most recently I helped set up a magnetic resonance laboratory in China.

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

Carlos Graeff: I started my master’s degree in 1989, a time that was perhaps as troubled as the current one, do not get discouraged! With focus and a bit of luck it is always possible to create new ideas, build a solid career and contribute to our beautiful country. We are going through a great revolution, with the emergence of new technologies that will profoundly transform society. Intelligence will increasingly play a decisive role in the direction of our society, be prepared to work in this new world of great opportunities. Always seek out dialogue with specialists from the most different areas of knowledge and from various countries. Quite possibly, in the coming years we will unravel the mysteries of how the brain works, we will master limitless forms of energy and ecological production, generate artificial intelligence. Open up to what is new, be bold, Brazil needs your citizen and entrepreneurial spirit.

B-MRS Newsletter:  You will deliver a plenary lecture at the XVII B-MRS Meeting. Leave an invitation to our community.

Carlos Graeff: Photovoltaic energy is reaching its commercial maturity, we are living an unprecedented energy revolution. In the lecture I will show some updated data on the perspectives of using photovoltaic cells in Brazil and in the world; its principles of operation; the challenges for scientists and material engineers in this relentless race for increasingly efficient, durable and environmentally friendly materials, processes and devices. I will present our group’s latest results on this topic.

Interview with the winner of the honorable mention of the 2014 CAPES award for best thesis in the field of Materials.

Augusto Batagin Neto

The honorable mention of the Award 2014 for best Thesis in the field of Materials granted by CAPES (the Brazil´s Federal Agency for the Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education) was given to Augusto Batagin Neto for his doctoral thesis, “Simulation of the spectroscopic and structural properties of organic materials for application in devices”, defended in 2013 in the São Paulo State University (UNESP). The research was advised by Professor Carlos Frederico de Oliveira Graeff.

The result  of the Capes Award 2014 was released in early October. The award ceremony will be held on December 10, 2014, in Brasília.

Read our interview with Augusto.

SBPMat Newsletter: – Could you tell us briefly about how your interest in science started, and what were the most important moments in your academic career so far?

Augusto Batagin Neto: – My interest in science started at an early age, since I was a child I was interested in studying “phenomena” associated to natural sciences. I remember that my sister and I used to try and catalogue different species of ants, according to the size of their bodies and other characteristics. I always received a lot of encouragement from my parents and siblings, in my family life there was always an environment that called for dialogue, arguments, the exchange of ideas, which was, and still is, the basis for my education, in every sense.

Up to this moment, there were many moments that I consider very important for my career, first of which was deciding to enroll in the undergraduate course of Physics. I chose the Physics course exactly because it used to be the hardest subject for me during High School (I believe the lack of actual graduates in Physics teaching it in the public education system was one of the main reasons for my initial struggle). A second major moment was starting my research initiation in UNESP at Bauru. By the end of the second semester, Professor Francisco Carlos Lavarda, from the UNESP Physics Department, invited me to enter a training course that was mainly intended to prepare students in the first years of their undergraduate studies to make and interpret electronic structure calculations. We started the activities, and then, I was granted my very first scholarship from the São Paulo State Research Foundation (FAPESP). In my opinion, the support offered by such an excellent development agency, especially in this field, is vitally important to encourage the production of new human resources in research, and so it was in my case.

Important moments are not always the easiest. A third moment I consider extremely important in my career/education was conducting all my Master’s studies without any scholarship whatsoever. In the occasion I took and passed a public exam held by the State Department of Education of São Paulo to work as a basic education teacher, so I was both preparing my Master’s and teaching in the public education system. I completed all mandatory subjects for the Master’s during my first year in order to conduct the research more calmly in the city where I had to hold the teaching position.

There is no doubt that another moment of great importance was starting my doctoral studies with Professor Carlos Frederico de Oliveira Graeff, from UNESP -Bauru Physics Department, as my advisor, under the graduate program in Materials Science and Technology. During that time I discovered different theoretical and experimental issues and could mature as a researcher.  Still during my doctoral studies, I had the opportunity to hold a scholarship from the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUe), in the Netherlands, advised by Professor Peter Arnold Bobbert, an experience that enabled me to be acquainted with different simulation techniques and complement my basic training.

The last moment I consider important was being hired as an assistant professor in the UNESP Experimental Campus at Itapeva. I was born in this city and now have the chance to ensure that my work is able to help bringing human resources and technology to this region.

SBPMat Newsletter: – Why did you start to do research in the field of Materials?

Augusto Batagin Neto: – I was introduced to the field of Materials during my research initiation, engaged in the study of biomolecules, while in my Master’s I started studying the structural and optical properties of polymers, and then, in my doctoral studies, I expanded my research field to examine transport and magnetic properties of organic materials.

I always found the use of simulation tools for the study of materials properties interesting, because I believe that such inquiries may bring major scientific contributions, both in regard to basic science (discussing new processes/related phenomena) as from a technological perspective (proposing materials/devices with improved properties).

SBPMat Newsletter: – In your opinion, what is the main contribution of your award-winning thesis?

Augusto Batagin Neto: – Generally speaking, the series of studies presented in my thesis contribute to different areas involving the application of organic materials in the manufacturing of devices.

In regard to the study of dosimetric systems based on organic polymers solutions, the results allow us to identify which structural and electronic properties are desirable in high sensibility systems.

As for the study of synthetic melanins, the work points out what is the source of the paramagnetic centers observed in those systems, which may deeply influence the transport properties of said biomaterial.  In addition to that, the reactivity study provides information about the macrostructures that are most likely to be observed, a very controversial topic in the existing literature.

Using electronic structure calculations, it was also possible to suggest the occurrence of light-induced conformational changes in iridium complexes.  These compounds are extensively deployed in the manufacturing of light-emitting devices, although they usually display a very short life cycle. Our results suggest that structural changes may arise from optically activate processes, followed by a charge transfer, indicating a possible route for the degradation of said complexes.

To conclude, the study also counted with simulations, aiming to model the experiment with electrically detected magnetic resonance by means of two different approaches: equivalent circuit and “drift-diffusion” equations. The results obtained allow us to better comprehend what are the effects to be expected from the occurrence of different resonant entities in the system. This result could, in principle, be used to distinguish spin-dependent transport properties related to electrons and holes in semiconductor devices.

SBPMat Newsletter: – What were the criteria that guided you to do a research recognized nationwide for its quality (the award-winning thesis)? To what factors do you attribute such achievement?

Augusto Batagin Neto: – The initial ideia was to comprehend a series of experimental phenomena under a more fundamental point of view, all directly or indirectly related to the application of different materials in optoelectronic devices. One of the criteria guiding the research was precisely to try and go a little further beyond the phenomenological description of the studied processes.

I attribute the success of the research to several factors, among which I highlight the atmosphere of intense scientific discussion in our group, led by Professor Carlos Graeff.  In that moment, I was the only student in the group whose work was entirely theoretical, and the chance to discuss, propose theories and empirically test them was the distinguishing element in the conducted work, not only for the development of my thesis, but also in partnerships made all along my doctoral studies. I must also mention the assistance given by the POSMAT-UNESP/Bauru graduate studies program, especially Professor Francisco Lavarda, and the financial support received from CAPES and FAPESP, as well as the computational resources made available by GridUnesp as decisive factors for the execution of the project.  Another factor to which I attribute the quality of the work conducted was the chance provided by the TUe-Netherlands scholarship; the scientific discussions I had during that period allowed me to expand the scope of the research I was already conducting and develop a distinguished work.

SBPMat Newsletter: – Would you like to leave a message for our readers who are preparing their own research initiation, master’s and doctoral papers in the field of Materials?

Augusto Batagin Neto: – I believe the constant development of our field of research in the country reflects the great potential of the human resources we hold. In my opinion, the quality of the intellectual work that has been developed in Brazilian laboratories is in no way inferior to the one coming from the international community. In this regard, the message I would like to send to everyone in our community is that we must seek to increase our visibility more and more, diffusing our research not only though traditional means, but also in varied forms of communication, including social media.

Anniversary of CAPES Materials Area. Part 2.

A little more than four months after the creation of CAPES Materials Area, with Professor Lívio Amaral as pro tempore coordinator, in 12 and 13 of June 2008, the first meeting of postgraduate programs of the new field took place in the headquarters of CAPES, Brasilia. Discussions basically involved the presentation of ten programs already linked to CAPES Materials Area (from UCS, UFC, UFPE, UFRGS, UFRN, UFSC, UNESP – Bauru, UNESP – Ilha Solteira, USP-Lorena and USP São Carlos), meetings with some of the directors from CAPES and the presentation of new programs (from FATEC, FEEVALE, UFMT and UFSCar- Sorocaba). Some programs linked to other areas in CAPES (from UFVSF, UFPR and UFS) have also been invited, to assess a possible change of area. At the end of the event, there was a discussion about creating what they called “the document of the Materials Area”.

This document was finalized in the second meeting of postgraduate programs, which took place in the 5th and 6th of March 2009 at Puc-Rio. At this time, the meeting was summoned by Professor Lívio Amaral, together with SBPMat, presided then by Professor Fernando Lázaro Freire Junior. Discussions included presentation of SBPMat and work teams about the creation of the document.

Professor Carlos Graeff, coordinator of the Materials Area at CAPES, lecturing at USP in November, 2013. Photo supplied by Carlos Graeff.

In April 2009, Professor Lívio Amaral left the coordination of the Materials Area to take over as Evaluation Director at CAPES. Regarding the actions performed during his coordination, which lasted a year and two months, Professor Amaral states that theytake this time to essentially identify the postgraduate programs in the field of Materials; from this, they try to consolidate the Materials Area and include it among the other CAPES areas, in a way that could be understood by the community”. On the other hand, Amaral regrets not being able to stimulate, neither in existing programs nor in new initiatives, “the imperious need to have much more research and human resources formation in Biomaterials”, subarea which, according to the Professor, is still very critical in the country. “All you have to do is go to a MRS meeting, either American or European, and it is easy to observe the increasing research in Biomaterials”, demonstrates Amaral.

On August 12th, 2009, CAPES president, Professor Jorge Guimarães, announced through Normative Regulation 097 that Professor Carlos Frederico de Oliveira Graeff had been assigned to fulfill the role of Materials Area coordinator until 2010, concluding the period of three years started by Lívio Amaral. Graeff still remains the coordinator until June 2014, being assigned for the role for three more years.


APPENDIX 1: About CAPES Materials Area.

The main tasks of CAPES are: evaluate and promote creating of new postgraduate programs; evaluate existing programs applying grades; evaluate scholarships and other financial support requests for students and teaching staff and for scientific events organization. Besides, CAPES coordinators are the most important interface between academic community and CAPES.

The Materials Area at CAPES is composed by a coordinator and two deputy coordinators. The job of the second deputy coordinator has been recently created, around 2013, to follow up in more detail programs of professional masters. Besides, the Evaluation Direction at CAPES has one or more technicians that help in the coordinators with internal procedures and the interface of CAPES with the community.

Coordinators in the area are chosen by the president at CAPES, after consulting post-graduate programs and technical and scientific societies connected to the area.


Professor Carlos Graeff, coordinator of the Materials Area at CAPES, lecturing at USP in November, 2013. Photo supplied by Carlos Graeff.

APPENDIX 2: Interview with Professor Carlos Graeff, CAPES Materials Area coordinator from 2009 to 2014.

SBPMat Bulletin: – Could you summarize the quantitative and qualitative evolution of postgraduate courses in Materals in Brazil, since the creation of CAPES Materials Area?

Carlos Graeff: – The area was created in 2008 with the adhesion of 10 programs. We are 29 today, that is, we have increased 290% in 6 years. This is quantitative date, but, most importantly, the area has diversified. It is a multidisciplinary area and with new programs, new frontiers of knowledge have been embraced with interfaces related to biological and medical fields, as well as agriculture, to name a few. Besides, another important feature of this evolution was the expansion of covered areas with postgraduate programs, especially in places with no high level education programs in the field, as the Central-west and Northeast Brazilian regions.

SBPMat Bulletin: – What were the main actions and facts  during your coordination?

Carlos Graeff: – The main mark of our administration was transparency. We had a series of meetings with coordinators and, as the area is still relatively small, we could make a serious of decisions collectively, mostly relating to the evaluation of postgraduate programs. Regarding new courses, we always tried to invite new members, specialists, to the evaluation committees, for a fair examination of requests.  This measure also brought improvement of the existing knowledge concerning CAPES role. A recurring issue is related to unawareness of CAPES work; when bringing a representative number of professors to the assessment processes, there is a tendency to strengthen the relationship between the scientific community and CAPES. I hope that this interview can contribute in that sense.

Besides working in this interface with post-graduate programs, I am a full member of Conselho Técnico-Científico da Educação Superior, where I led the work team with the topic “technical products”. There is an increasing demand for stronger interaction between academic society and society in general, that is, for applied research or technological development. In fact, creating the Materials and Biotechnology Areas at CAPES was basically inspired by this approximation. However, to evaluate programs that work with this interface there is a need for tools that might measure and qualify products such as patents, prototypes, etc. Therefore, it is essential that CAPES successful in assessing intellectual production well (in the case of Materials, basically articles in scientific journals) can be extended to technical production. The discussions have been very productive and we hope that soon they will reflect both on the CAPES evaluation process.

SBPMat Bulletin: – Can you comment on the “Qualis” (CAPES system for evaluation of scientific journals) of Materials Area?

Carlos Graeff: – One of the debates in the area was how to generate a Qualis that would attend multidisciplinary. Qualis is a broadly discussed tool in academic community in general, but especially in more dynamic areas of knowledge, considering its role is one of the most important: to qualify main intellectual products generated by postgraduate programs, scientific papers. The most used method uses impact factor. However, impact factor reflects the size and dynamics of different academic communities. For instance, when we compare average impact factors in Engineering with those of Natural Sciences (Physics, Chemistry, and Biology), they are inferior. We do not want to discuss the reasons for this difference which is even more remarkable if, for instance, we enter the realm of humanities. But this difference exists and, therefore, we should take this into consideration in order to avoid distortions in the evaluation process of, for instance, postgraduate research with strong inclination to research in Materials Engineering against Materials Chemistry. Our proposal, therefore, separates journals in big groups: Materials Science, Materials Engineering and correlate areas. By doing this, we try to achieve fairness while comparing papers generated by groups of engineers or physicists that work with Materials. Obviously, our proposal needs some adjustment, but I believe we have taken a step further in this direction.

SBPMat Bulletin: – In your opinion, which are the challenges faced by the area in the next few years?

Carlos Graeff: – Brazil is going through an important time in industry where it suffers with increasingly stronger competition, due to a great opening of our market and the integration with global economy. An important path is the sophistication of our products and processes, and Materials area has a lot to contribute to a stronger and more competitive industry. Nanotechnology is increasingly more emphasized and there are expectations that it might generate a series of new products, which is a fundamental subject of Materials field. Therefore CAPES and SBPMat play an important part in this matter. Actions in this direction are being discussed both at CAPES and SBPMat. Besides great national issues, there is still a lot of room to grow in the area.  There are, for instance, the great and urgent challenges of creating a postgraduate program in the North Brazilian region, the only region with still no offer for Materials courses.

SBPMat Bulletin: – Feel free to add anything else.

Carlos Graeff: – I am honored with the generous invitation from Professor Livio Amaral to conduct the implementation of Materials Area at CAPES. I have learned a lot and I could follow changes that CAPES have been through in the last years, focusing in system improvement. We will soon have significant changes in the assessment process, among them, a new tool to collect and support evaluation called Sucupira Platform. This initiative has been taken with enthusiasm and skillfulness of Professors Amaral and Guimarães. So I would like to end thanking both of them.