SBPMat´s community people: interview with Israel Baumvol.


Israel Jacob Rabin Baumvol was born in Rio Grande do Sul, in the city of São Gabriel, in the last day of 1947. When he was a child, he moved to the city of Porto Alegre with his parents and siblings. When he was 19 years old, he entered the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS) to study Physics. In the following years, in addition to participating in the political activity that occurred in the university against the existing military government, Baumvol dedicated a lot of effort to his studies, trying to reach the academic standard of the bachelor’s degree in Physics of the university. In 1971, he completed the graduation course – without honors, according to him. In the following year, he moved to the city of São Paulo to take a Master’s Degree in the University of São Paulo (USP), in Nuclear Physics and under the orientation of Professor Oscar Sala. In 1975, he returned to UFRGS to undertake his Doctorate, with orientation of Professor Fernando Zawislak, studying composites of perovskite structures. During the doctorate, he became a professor at UFRGS. In 1977, he defended his thesis. For the postdoctoral course, Baumvol chose an institution of industrial research in England, today known as Harwell campus. There, between 1979 and 1981, he worked with techniques of ionic implantation and its applications, mainly the plasma immersion ionic implantation (PIII), and he took part in research contracts with large companies. Due to his expertise in PIII, Baumvol entered the world of the materials for microelectronics, an area in which he made significant scientific contributions and obtained international reputation.

In the United States, Israel Baumvol was an invited researcher of the IBM research center from 1984 to 1988 and, from 1998 to 1999, of the Bell Laboratories, belonging to company Lucent. In France, between 1992 and 1996, he was a visiting professor at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie and at the Université Paris Diderot (Paris 7). In 1997, after coming first in a public entrance examination, he was nominated full professor at Paris 7, but he did not take over the position to stay in UFRGS. From 1995 to 1996, he was a guest professor of the Ruhr Universität, in Germany.

Baumvol was also coordinator of international events held outside Brazil. In 2000 and 2005, he was coordinator (chairman) of international symposia of Physical-Chemistry of silicon oxide and silicon – silicon dioxide interface, organized by the Electrochemical Society. In 2001, he coordinated the International Workshop on Device Technology of the Materials Research Society (MRS), held in Porto Alegre. In 2004, he was meeting chair of the MRS Spring Meeting & Exhibit, that occurs annually in San Francisco (United States).

In 2003, after retiring from his position of full professor of UFRGS, he led the creation of the Materials Science and Engineering Potgraduation Program of the University of Caxias of Sul (UCS), near 130 km far from Porto Alegre, and he was coordinator and researcher of the program until 2014.

From 2002 to 2003, Baumvol presided the Research Support Foundation of the State of Rio Grande do Sul (FAPERGS). More recently, between 2011 and 2013, he was vice-coordinator of the Materials Department in Capes (a federal agency for higher education improvement). Baumvol also coordinated big projects in the Materials segment, such as the first National Network of Research in Nanostructured Materials (2001-2005) and the National Institute of Surface Engineering (2009 to 2010).

Throughout his scientific career, Israel Baumvol has carried out research in subjects related to ionic implantation, thin layer physics and surface modification, in addition to materials for microelectronics.

Baumvol holds the highest productivity level scholarship in CNPq, the Brazilian federal science council. He has authored over 270 peer-reviewed articles, besides books and book chapters. His scientific production has approximately 3,000 citations. He acted as advisor in about 30 Master’s Degree and Doctorate dissertations.

In 2000, he was chosen Prominent Researcher by FAPERGS; in 2010, he was nominated Commander of the National Order of the Scientific Merit by the Presidency of the Brazilian Republic and in the following year, he was named Professor Emeritus by UFRGS. In May of this year, the “Professor Israel Baumvol Microscopy Center” was inaugurated in UCS.

Here is an interview with the scientist.

SBPMat newsletter: – Tell us what led you to become a scientist and to work in subjects of the Materials field.

Israel Baumvol: – It was the junction of three factors. The first one was the desire to use my knowledge one day to be able to contribute to the progress of the country and its citizens. This desire was developed through reading and great political participation during the graduation course. However, seeing as in Porto Alegre the tradition of basic research was very strong and there was nobody working in applied physics, I had a strict academic formation, that was very good for my future. The second factor was my post-doctorate, for which I chose an institution of industrial research, in England. I went there in 1979 to learn ionic implantation, because the institution was a pioneer in this method. There, I became acquainted with ionic implantation, specially its applications, such as reduction of the friction in metallic components (for example Ti-Al alloys) by means of implantation of species and heavy ionic composites, increase of the resistance to wear and corrosion of steel by nitriding, oxinitriding and nitrocarburizing using the method of ionic implantation by immersion in plasma (PIII). At that time, they were constructing there the first industrial-scale reactor of PIII, with a volume of approximately 30 m3, which was later spread throughout the world, including by companies that manufactured these reactors, such as Eaton and several others, including two companies in Brazil. This environment of applied physics fascinated me due to its possibilities. I participated in many research contracts, such as the one about bone prosthesis for a Japanese manufacturer, another about turbine blades for Rolls-Royce and another on cut blades for the future electric shavers project for Philips. These projects, in addition to fascinating me, had a component that for me was romantic: they were confidential projects. The third and last factor occurred by the end of my post-doctorate. I went to a congress in Germany, where I gave a 50-minute lecture, something very difficult nowadays, when the lectures only last about 20 minutes. When I finished speaking and answering questions, there was a coffee break. Dr. James F. Ziegler came up to me, introduced himself and gave me his business card, in which it was written “Research Director, Thomas J. Watson Research Center, IBM”. He invited me to go there because, during my lecture, he thought that the PIII method could solve a serious problem that IBM had with hard drives. Yet again, the siren song of a confidential project. I accepted the invitation and, for some years, during winter and summer vacations, three to four months per year, I went to IBM – Yorktown. There, I got in touch with something unusual for me, the silicon technology, which was just being born. That was yet another allure and my mind was made, Materials Science and Engineering.

SBPMat newsletter: – What are, in your own evaluation, your main contributions to Materials field?

Israel Baumvol: – I worked in many different subjects in my professional activity, some of them mentioned above. I will highlight three of them. The first one was my participation in the beginning of the PIII technology, which is nowadays widely used in the whole world, also in Brazil, where there are at least four services of PIII processes of steel components for the metal-mechanics industry. The second one is my contribution, throughout ten years of work, to explore and to reach the physical limits of silicon oxide as gate dielectric in the metal oxide semiconductor (MOS) technology. I formed a network of cooperation with academic laboratories in four different countries and with industrial laboratories, including IBM, Motorola, Texas Instruments, Bell-Lucent. We reached the physical limit, 1 nm. From there, the entire network started to work on a substitute for silicon oxide, which was the first change in the MOS technology, after forty years. There was a convergence for hafnium oxide and, eventually, certain hafnium-based double oxides. This material stood out, allowing an increase of processing speed and today it is used as gate oxide in advanced processors. It allowed the continuity of the Moore Law, which was threatened. This research segment led to the formation of a golden generation of PhDs, all around gate oxide, which is a crucial subject for the micro and nanoelectronics.  Many of them are acting professionally in industrial companies, in technology of silicon and in other activities.  Finally, I highlight the creation of a research environment in Materials Science and Engineering and of a post-graduate program in this segment. I started this activity with only one element: Caxias do Sul and its environs possess a large number of industrial companies, small, average and large companies needing research and human resources qualification. Only this, nothing more. Then, from nothing, I gathered some young high-qualified doctors and built the desired research environment, with many excellent laboratories and a very respectable post-graduation program. The impact on the industrial context of the region is notable and very recognized.

Bulletin of SBPMat: – Leave a message for our readers who are initiating their careers of scientists.

Israel Baumvol: – Follow your heart and not convenience. Take advantage of the doctorate, because this is the best time of the career: creative research and free from administrative responsibilities. Do not hesitate in showing your ideas. New ideas are not necessarily bad ideas. Use your post-doctorate to get in touch with the new and the unknown. Do not look for a place that works with the same subject of your doctorate research. Do not hesitate in changing the field, this is very stimulant and constitutes an important factor of individual progress. I pity the professionals who continue working in the subject of their doctorate theses, ten or twenty years after the conclusion. Applied research can very be good research. Get rid of preconceptions, it does not matter if the research is fundamental, or applied or directly industrial. What counts is quality. The only difference is between good quality research or bad quality research.

SBPMat´s community people: an interview with Professor Fernando Zawislak.


Professor Fernando Zawislak.

Fernando Claudio Zawislak was born in 1935, in the city of Santa Rosa, state of Rio Grande do Sul (RS), in a family with Polish origins, which lived in the rural area. In decade of 1940, his parents sent him to Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul, with one of his siblings, so they could study in a boarding school. In 1952, the whole family moved to the city, proceeding with the decision to prioritize the education of the children.

In 1958, Fernando Zawislak graduated in Physics in the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS). From 1960 to 1961, he took a research internship in the Van de Graff Laboratory of the University of São Paulo (USP) with Professors Oscar Sala and Ernst Hamburguer. There, he had the first contacts with research. Then, he returned to the Physics Institute of UFRGS, started and coordinated an experimental research group in the field of Nuclear Physics. In said field, advised by Professor John D. Rogers, he was granted the PhD degree, for which he was approved “with honors” in 1967, becoming the first PhD in Physics graduated by UFRGS. From 1968 to 1970, he attended his postdoctoral studies in the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), in the United States.

In 1979, he started working in the field of ion implantation and use of ion beam techniques to modify and analyze materials. With this goal, he worked as a visiting researcher for a year in the Ion Implantation Laboratory of Orsay, in the University of Paris (France). In 1981, he founded the UFRGS’ Ion Implantation Laboratory, upon acquiring a 400 kV accelerator. In 1996, he managed to buy a 3 MV accelerator, which allowed to expand the activities of the laboratory to new fields, as semiconductors, polymers, metals and alloys, to name a few. He coordinated the Ion Implantation Laboratory since its foundation up to 2009. Today, the Laboratory is the largest of its kind in Latin America, counting, among its results, with more than 60 graduated doctors, approximately 1,000 papers, and studies developed jointly with groups from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Denmark, France, Germany, New Zealand, South Korea,  Spain and United States. During the decade of 1990, Zawislak took part in the planning and raising of funds of UFRGS’ Electron Microscopy Center and the creation of the UFRGS’ Graduate Studies Program in Materials Science (PGCIMAT).

Professor Zawislak retired from UFRGS in 2005. He is an Emeritus Professor of the institution, a level 1A (the highest one) researcher of the Brazilian Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), sitting member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, as well as Commander with the Grand Cross of the Brazilian National Order of Scientific Merit. During his career, he graduated 14 doctors and 16 masters, authored or co-authored more than 160 scientific articles in indexed international journals, and was the chairman of, among others, two of the most important international conferences in the field of ion implantation, the Ion Beam Modification of Materials (in the city of Canela, RS, 2000) and the Radiation Effects in Insulators (in the city of Gramado, RS, 2003), both held for the first time in a Latin American country.

Following there is a brief interview with the researcher.

SBPMat Newsletter: – In your own point of view, what are your main contributions to Materials Science and Engineering? Tell us what led you to achieve them, as well. 

Fernando Zawislak: – I started my scientific career working in the field of Experimental Nuclear Physics. I even completed my Doctorate in this field. In 1968, I went to California to attend my postdoctoral studies in the California Institute of Technology. There, in this institute, the field of Materials Science was getting started, and, more specifically, the field of ion implantation and analysis of ion beams. The United States had decided to invest heavily in the field of interdisciplinarity, mainly in Materials Sciences. There, in Caltech, I didn’t work with Materials, but followed the studies. Then I thought, “If I have the opportunity, I am going to start this field of ion implantation and materials studies with ion beams in Brazil.”

California was one of the three or four places in the world where the field of ion implantation and materials analysis was being established. And I used to attend the seminars, despite working in other field. Then, I returned to Brazil in 1970, but only in 1982 I managed to install the Ion Implantation Laboratory. It was a radical change in my life, but I think this is important: all researchers should, if possible, change their fields once or twice along their careers, in order to always move to a more modern one. I was working in an old field, in which it was hard to publish, while ion implantation was just beginning, and until now is very important.

In this field of Materials Science, which I started in 1982, when I changed mine, I acquired the first implanter, and graduated, in this twenty-something years, up to my retirement, many doctors and masters, authored more than one hundred published papers and developed studies, basically, in the field of materials nanostructures and modification of materials with ion beams.

Actually, I was interested in interdisciplinarity, and the field of Materials Science is clearly interdisciplinary. Such interdisciplinarity is absolutely necessary, as the United States discovered, founding, around that time, twenty interdisciplinary centers. So, in Brazil, once I returned, I started to struggle for this interdisciplinarity. Everyone was in favor, really, but neither the university, nor the funding agencies supported the interdisciplinary fields. There was domination of the classic subjects. Each department focused its own field, and, when new ones were on the rise, people didn’t want to share, didn’t want lose students, scholarships… Well, but we struggled quite a lot, and I was one of those who fought for the creation of the Graduate Program in Materials Sciences in UFRGS, jointly with colleagues from Physics, Chemistry, Engineering. And we managed to do it.

Then, the results of my activity with Materials were, on one hand, the Laboratory of Ion Implantation, and, on the other, the creation of the Graduate Studies in Materials Science. I also acted very intensely, trying to convince people, during scientific meetings, that it was absolutely crucial to enter in the interdisciplinary field, because all great advancements in research and innovation are interdisciplinary.

Up to this day, the Ion Implantation Laboratory is the largest in Latin America, and is similar in efficiency and equipment to many good labs around the world. Our laboratory has 25 doctors, considering that there are always 21 or 22 permanent ones, and 3 or 4 postdoctoral fellows. It counts with 30 graduate students, half a dozen of technicians, plus the undergratuate students… We have a total of more than 50 people in the lab. I headed it until 2010, when I was replaced by my colleague, a young man, Pedro Grande.

The Graduate Studies course in Materials Science, I think, is also doing very well, but there are hardships yet. I supervised students of the course, but now I am retired.

SBPMat Newsletter: – In your opinions, what are the main current challenges in the field of ion implantation, regarding Materials Science and Engineering?

Fernando Zawislak: – I think the key point about ion implantation is that it comprises several fields of research, starting with Physics, Chemistry, many types of Engineering, Biology, Genetics, Geology, which are all fields where the ion implantation and, mainly, the analysis of materials in the accelerator, are important. We managed to measure very small amounts of impurities, for example. For the last five years, we introduced microbeams, beams focused to the size of a micron. Such beams have conditions to analyze microstructures from Geology or Microelectronics. Now, we have two accelerators in the lab, a smaller one, which was the first, and another, with 3 MV, acquired in the end of the decade of 1990. The techniques, such as RBS, MEIS etc, even measure the shapes and sizes of the nanoparticles. We implant a impurity in a matrix, and, depending on the energy of the implantation, and the temperature, we can produce nanoparticles from 2 or 3 nm to 100 nm.  So, I think that the future and the challenges are both great, and the technique has a lot of potential in many fields. For example, we are analyzing the wine made in Rio Grande do Sul. I think that the lab is doing very well. I retired but, thank God, I was well replaced. Now, it is doing even better than when I was the coordinator.

SBPMat Newsletter: – Tell us which are your main current occupations, and your projects for the future.

Fernando Zawislak: – Well, I am not really thinking that much about the future. I have been retired for ten years, I’m an Emeritus Professor. I still receive CNPq’s sponsorship, as I continue to produce papers, but now my productivity, strictly in research, is decreasing. I’m using my time to help younger colleagues, attending some societies, some councils…  In short, activities for someone who is already retired. My last student, a doctor, graduated last year,  and I’m not accepting students anymore, but I still help, if they ask me for something.

SBPMat Newsletter: – Would you like to leave a message to our readers who are starting their careers as scientists?

I think that what is important for researchers is choosing a career in a field that they like. As a Professor, many students asked me “Which career my children should follow”? , and I used to answer “Any one, as long as they like it. All are good”.

I also think that young people, now, shouldn’t narrow their undergraduate studies in just one field, that much. I think they should be open-minded to interdisciplinarity, collaborate with other colleagues, and eventually attend subjects in other fields. To me, it is very important, because focusing too much in one field has a very restricted specter: they may end up teaching at a university. And I think that the expectation in Brazil is for young people to move on from college and create industries, innovation, etc.

Penultimate advice: choose an advisor that works in a modern field of work.

And the last one is: you must have an entrepreneurial spirit. That is lacking. In Brazil, this issue of the interaction between the industry and university is frequently discussed, but there is no way, it is not possible to transform an “old” industrial that became rich making screws, and convince him that he must hire doctors and build a research lab. The young people are the ones who must initiate this. In the results of our universities, some successes in technological innovation were achieved by students that complete their doctorate and even their undergraduate studies. So, how do we produce young entrepreneurs? They must look for internships, in the industry, if possible, and go to a country where there is  such entrepreneurial culture, as, for example, the United States, Germany, Korea or Japan, Here in Brazil, chemists generally display more of an entrepreneurial spirit than physicists, some fields of engineering too, but it is still lacking, and it is extremely important. It would be important to make youth aware that they can leave college and go to a new field, to make technonogical innovation happens.