From idea to product: Kevlar, the strength of a scientific discovery.

Poliaramide fabric.
Poliaramide fabric.

The bulletproof vests that protect police and military personnel around the world, the cords that held the Pathfinder spacecraft on its descent to the surface of Mars, and the gloves worn by workers in the metalworking industry. What do they have in common?

The answer is Kevlar®, a highly durable polymeric synthetic fiber that combines high strength and low weight (it is five times more resistant than steel per weight module). The fiber can be used as a raw material for cords or flexible and comfortable fabrics. Also, it can be added to other materials to reinforce them. Kevlar® generates products capable of resisting the most diverse aggressions, from shrapnel and stab wounds to firearm shots. Also resistant to extreme temperature and pressure conditions, the fiber has been in the desert, on the mountain, in Antarctica, on the seabed and in space.

The history of this material begins, of course, with a scientific discovery that was made in 1965 in one of the DuPont laboratories by Stephanie Louise Kwolek. Stephanie had a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, without a doctorate and was the only female representative in the laboratory. Her competence and passion found in this place and at that moment a favorable environment, which yielded good results, not only for the company, but also for humanity as a whole.

From walks in the woods to DuPont laboratories

Stephanie Louise Kwolek.
Stephanie Louise Kwolek.

Stephanie Kwolek was born on July 31, 1923 in the United States, the daughter of Polish immigrants. Together with her parents and younger brother, her childhood was in New Kensington, a small town 30 km from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, in a wooded area she used to walk with her father while trying to discover animals and identify plant species, whose leaves were pasted and classified in a notebook. Her father deceased when she was only 10 years old, but he was responsible for developing a strong curiosity and taste for experimentation in Stephanie. With her mother, who until her father’s death spent much of her time at home in front of the sewing machine (later she started working in the industry to support the family), Stephanie developed her creativity and taste for fashion. The girl loved making paper clothes for her paper  dolls.

After fantasizing about a career as a fashion designer, Stephanie Kwolek discovered that she wanted to be a doctor. However, as medical school was very expensive, she went to study science at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg. More precisely, she attended Margaret Morrison Carnegie College, which was a college for women within that university. During her university years, in addition to an excellent academic performance, Stephanie gathered laboratory experience, doing work for the university and for companies during her summer vacations.

Stephanie graduated in 1946, at the age of 23, with a “major” in chemistry and a “minor” in biology, and went on to look for a job in the field, thinking about working for a few years until she collected the money to start her medical course. Stephanie was quickly hired by DuPont – by then already famous for the invention of nylon, the first synthetic fiber in history, among other products. The young woman then moved to Buffalo, New York, to work as a chemist in the Rayon Department, which would later become the Pioneer Textile Research Laboratory, where she worked with the synthesis of new polyamides and polyesters.

In 1950, the laboratory was transferred to the company’s main “invention site,” the so-called Experimental Station, located in Wilmington, Delaware, where Stephanie moved to in order to contribute with the team that would try to develop new methods of polymer production, performed at low temperatures, to create fibers with the highest possible resistance.

Passionate about the laboratory

By that time, Stephanie had already traded her dream of being a doctor for the passion of being a scientist. It fascinated her to have a new challenge each day and to learn something new every day. Furthermore, the working environment in that DuPont laboratory was very positive for her.

To begin with, the job was stable and there was a certain freedom to choose the research topics, within a list that the director prepared based on the company’s objectives. (Stephanie always liked participating in two projects simultaneously, preferably one that was more fundamental and the other one more applied). To develop her research, Stephanie could work independently, following her own plans, and without the pressure to generate immediate economic results. She just needed to have good sense to know when to stop a project that would not bear fruit in the medium term. This possibility of independent and free research was important not only to satisfy the researcher’s creative and curious nature, but also because she was working on very new lines of research, still lacking fundamental research, which needed to be done within the laboratories of the company.

In addition, there was great equipment and many opportunities to exchange ideas with colleagues. Finally, Stephanie was able to publish her results in articles or books, after the texts were reviewed by professionals from various sectors of the company, who checked whether the publication of that data could harm business. For Stephanie, writing articles was an important moment in her work, when ideas became more organized and results were subjected to scrutiny.

quote1_enIn her view, the set of good working conditions generated a conducive medium for scientific discoveries capable of generating radical innovations (new materials or molecules and new synthesis processes) that could position the company at the forefront of the market. As was the case with Kevlar®.

The discovery that spawned Kevlar®

In the 1960s, the Pioneer Research Laboratory in Textile Fibers became involved in the search for a fiber being very resistant, but also very light. One of DuPont’s goals was to offer the market a material that would replace steel as a rubber additive in tire manufacturing, so as to make tires lighter and thus reduce fuel use, as a period of oil shortage was expected in the following years.

After experimenting with dozens of different polymers, the laboratory decided to start working with the group of polyaramides, or aromatic polyamides, which were promising in terms of properties, but also famous among researchers for the difficulty of dealing with them in the laboratory. The polyaramides were particularly difficult to dissolve due to the rigidity of their rod-shaped molecules, unlike the flexibility of many other polymer molecules.

Persistent, as well as competent, Stephanie Kwolek was cast to participate in the challenge. Or, rather, the challenges, in the plural, that arose daily in each of the stages involved: the choice and synthesis of the compounds that would react to form the polymer (which, at the time, did not readily exist for sale), the polymerization method and, not least, the dissolution of the polymer obtained. In fact, to form the polymer fiber desired by DuPont, it was necessary to spin the polymer. For this, the laboratory had a very simple equipment, called a spinneret, in which a polymeric solution is forced to pass through small holes. In the next step, the solvent is removed and the fibers obtained.

At this stage of development, Stephanie was testing different compounds to dissolve the difficult polyamides, when she looked at her freshly prepared polymer solution and noticed, with the naked eye, that it was essentially different from all the others she had ever seen. The new solution was opaque and fluid, and not transparent and viscous as expected. In addition, when stirred, it was opalescent (with reflections in the colors of the rainbow).

Instead of throwing it down the drain, she got excited and took it to the spinneret to perform the spinning test. Believing that the milky aspect was due to the presence of particles in suspension that could clog the holes of the spinneret, the equipment technician refused to do the test. The spinning was done a few days later, after Stephanie scientifically proved that there were no particles in the solution. And the result was remarkable. The polyamide fibers obtained with the recipe developed by Stephanie were much more resistant than nylon, and also more resistant than steel, but much lighter. As soon as she confirmed the results of the characterization of the new material, she presented her discovery to her superiors, who joined her enthusiasm.

But what is the explanation for the super strength of polyamide fibers? Here’s the thing. Stephanie Kwolek managed to temper a polyaramide and with it prepare a polymeric solution of rigid macromolecules. During the spinning process, these molecules remained fully stretched and aligned in an orderly fashion. The result was a fiber with a very organized structure, from which the exceptional properties emerged.

quote2_enThe solution she had placed in the spinneret, the scientist would later discover, could be classified as a liquid crystalline solution. From this discovery, several new high-performance fibers were created based on liquid crystalline solutions, mainly Kevlar®.

Product and market development

The development of the Kevlar® product, which started immediately after Stephanie’s discovery in 1965, took several years within DuPont, and involved an interdisciplinary team without the direct participation of Stephanie, who remained in the laboratory in search of new discoveries. The process included the development of the final chemical formula and adjustments to the spinning equipment. The adaptation to the industrial scale took into account economic, practical and ecological issues. In addition, starting in 1972, a marketing plan for Kevlar® was designed and put into practice, based on partnerships with potential customers to customize the product according to the desired application, generating an entire family of fibers.

Thus, it was in 1982 that the product was actually marketed, seventeen years and hundreds of millions of dollars after the initial scientific discovery. Since then, the Kevlar® family has conquered dozens of markets through hundreds of products, such as firemen boots, coatings for armored cars, rackets and components for boats, airplanes and automobiles, to name just a few examples besides those mentioned in the beginning of this story.

As for Stephanie Kwolek, she continued to work at DuPont until her retirement in 1986. She won several awards and honors for her work with liquid crystal solutions. She became a female icon of scientific discovery and “the face” of Kevlar®. After leaving the company, she dedicated time to encouraging girls to work in research, in addition to advising DuPont. She died at the age of 90, in June 2014, in Wilmington.

Some references:

  • Stephanie L. Kwolek, interview by Raymond C. Ferguson in Sharpley, Delaware, 4 May 1986 (Philadelphia: Chemical Heritage Foundation, Oral History Transcript # 0028). Available here.
  • Stephanie L. Kwolek, interview by Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent at Wilmington Delaware, 21 March 1998 (Philadelphia: Chemical Heritage Foundation, Oral History Transcript #0168).
  • Women in Chemistry: Stephanie Kwolek. Canal no YouTube do Science History Institute. Available here.
  • The Kevlar Story – an Advanced Materials Case Study. David Tanner, James A. Fitzgerald, and Brian R. Phillips. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. Adv. Mater. 28 (1989) No. 5.
  • Kevlar Technical Guide. Available here.

From idea to market: nanotechnology for wellness.

Nanomed-_logoA mix of entrepreneurial spirit, born in childhood, and scientific training, developed in the university stage, led Brazilian Amanda Luizetto dos Santos to create Nanomed two years after completing her doctorate. “The foundation of Nanomed was a natural thing, I always wanted to undertake it, I just needed some time to mature the concept as I imagined,” Amanda states.

Early on in her childhood, Amanda used to set up a street stall to sell her drawings. “From an early age entrepreneurship aroused my heart,” she says. Time passed and pastimes became a life goal. At the end of her undergraduate years in Pharmacy, she participated in an initiative to train young entrepreneurs, in which she opened, maintained and closed (with a positive balance, she explains) a decorative candles company. “This experience was very enriching and, in fact, revived my interest in the world of entrepreneurship,” she recalls.

From her undergraduate degree, Amanda went straight to a doctorate in Analytical Chemistry, at the São Carlos Institute of Chemistry (USP), where she dealt with research in essential oils. The doctorate program included a scientific internship in the United States at Cleveland State University. Then, working closely with the cosmetics industry, Amanda noted this market’s demand for innovation and managed to design a first version of the company. “I found what I had been looking for since I was a young girl,” she says.

Located in São Carlos, in the state of São Paulo (Brazil), Nanomed is dedicated to developing and marketing innovative nanosystems, designed to solve specific challenges of the industry segments such as cosmetics, health and wellness. An example of Nanomed’s technology is nanocapsules that protect substances of interest (skin moisturizing molecules, medicine flavorings, insect repellents), transport them in minimal doses and deliver them to the desired location. Nanomed’s nanocapsules and other nanoparticles, Amanda emphasizes, undergo scientific evaluations to check for toxicity to living tissues and the environment.

In addition to developing nanosystems for other companies, the startup is building its product portfolio. The first products, two nanotechnology-based cosmetic lines, will enter the market (via e-commerce) soon. And between the end of this year and the beginning of next, new products of the food and sanitizing segments will be launched.

Nanomed was formally created in 2012 following the approval of a project in the PIPE program of the São Paulo Research Foundation (Fapesp). PIPE supports scientific and technological research in small companies in the state of São Paulo. Shortly after its creation, Nanomed was incubated in the São Carlos Technology Park (ParqTec), where it remained until 2017.

Since its inception, the startup has been dedicated to R&D of its technologies and products and, at the same time, has taken advantage of its ability to perform analysis and testing to provide services, especially to companies in the cosmetics and pharmaceutical segment. Thanks to the provision of services, Nanomed today is self-sustaining, states Amanda, who is the company’s CEO. “However, profit is still being reinvested,” she says.

For its R&D and service activities, Nanomed has equipment at the company’s headquarters, some of them acquired in projects supported by Fapesp and the Brazilian federal agencies Finep and CNPq. In addition, the startup hires specific assays at university labs and other partners.

Fifteen people currently work at Nanomed – partners, employees, fellows and consultants. Most of the team consists of masters and doctors with degrees in Pharmacy, Chemistry, Engineering and Physics, who work in product development and service provision. The startup also has professionals working in the legal and administrative areas.

Below is our interview with Amanda Luizetto dos Santos, founding partner and CEO of Nanomed.

Founding partner of Nanomed: Amanda Luizetto dos Santos.
Founding partner of Nanomed: Amanda Luizetto dos Santos.

B-MRS Newsletter: What were the most important factors that enabled the creation and development of the startup?

Amanda Luizetto dos Santos: The key factors that enabled Nanomed include the support of Fapesp and ParqTec. Since the beginning of Nanomed, Fapesp has been a fundamental pillar in technology and product developments by financing innovative and high risk projects. ParqTec, which is the oldest incubator in Latin America and is located in São Carlos, was very important because it allowed immersing in the environment of innovative entrepreneurship, as well as supporting the business construction.

B-MRS Newsletter: What were the most important moments for you in the history of the startup?

Amanda Luizetto dos Santos: The most important moment was participating in a meeting at Anvisa’s parliamentary meeting to defend a grade 2 cosmetic product developed by Nanomed and which will be launched and marketed later this year.

[Editor´s Note: Grade 2 products are toiletries or cosmetics whose characteristics require proof of safety and/or efficacy, as well as information on use mode and restrictions].

B-MRS Newsletter: What were the main difficulties the startup has faced thus far?

Amanda Luizetto dos Santos: The main difficulty, still encountered, is the slowness and regulatory bureaucracy that is related to the fact we work in the health area.

B-MRS Newsletter: What do you think is the main contribution of the startup to society?

Amanda Luizetto dos Santos: The main contribution is to offer safe and innovative products to society and contribute to the population’s quality of life.

B-MRS Newsletter: What is your goal/dream for the startup?

Amanda Luizetto dos Santos: Nanomed’s goal is to make people happy and satisfied by offering a line of innovative and high performance products in the domestic and international market.

B-MRS Newsletter: Leave a message to our newsletter readers and social media followers who are considering starting a startup.

Amanda Luizetto dos Santos: I believe we need to be realistic when we think about the future, especially when it comes to opening a business of our own. The idea that to undertake is to have no boss does not exist, in fact, you have thousands of bosses, such as client, employee, government, and many others. So, entrepreneurship means working hard and in all sectors of the business (all of them!). Creating a startup and keeping it alive requires a great deal of work (quite a lot), dedication, resilience and a cool head.

The universe of entrepreneurship is a constant adrenaline rush, particularly addictive, while it brings immense satisfaction to see things come to fruition, that cold feeling in the belly is inevitable. I can’t live without it (I still don’t know if fortunately or unfortunately!).


From idea to innovation: The glass wire that connected the world (part 2).

And now we are back to the history of optical fibers. [See the first part of our story]

In the late 1950s, short optical fibers were already industrially produced and used in certain segments, especially in medicine to inspect the interior of the human body using endoscopes.

In this figure on the electromagnetic spectrum, we can compare the different types of electromagnetic radiation. Source:
In this figure on the electromagnetic spectrum, we can compare the different types of electromagnetic radiation. Source:

In telecommunications, the transmission of information through copper wires and radio waves was established and continued to advance. The first transatlantic copper wire cable was installed in 1956, and the first telecommunications satellite, which used radio waves, was launched two years later. However, the increasing use of the telephone and television was creating an urgent demand to increase the capacity to transmit information.

Telecommunication companies in Europe and the United States began to seek solutions in their research labs. Most of the research focused primarily on the use of microwaves and short-wave radio waves, but did not consider the waves of the so-called “optical region,” which is mainly made up of visible light. Yet it was in the waves of visible light where the greatest potential for communications could be found. To give you an idea, for example, these waves can carry tens of thousands of times more information than radio waves.

The emergence of the laser somewhat changed the story of optical telecommunications. Invented in 1960 at a research center of an aerospace company of the United States, the laser began to gain new and better versions throughout the decade. With its ability to emit light in the form of very narrow beams that are preserved over large distances, the laser could be a great partner to fiber optics.                                                                                                                                                 

However, the optical fiber was left out because of its enormous attenuation – a reduction in the intensity of the light signal between two points, which is measured in decibels lost per kilometer (dB/km). In fact, using the available optical fibers at that time, only 1% of the light injected into the fiber remained within it 20 meters ahead. Faced with this very low efficiency, other ways of guiding light began to be proposed and tested by some groups, while other researchers continued to invest efforts and resources into radio or microwave waveguides.

The few groups that opted for fiber optics or similar optical waveguides (thin films, for example) in the early 1960s were located at STL (research center of the British telecommunications company STC); at CSF (a strong French business group active in areas such as telecommunications, defense, materials and electronics); at the Bell Labs (US industrial research laboratory then connected to the AT&T telecommunications company), and at the Japanese university of Tohuku.

Charles Kao, probably in 1966. Source
Charles Kao, probably in 1966. Source

In the STL group, there was a man called Charles Kao, who would go on to win the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2009 in recognition of his work with fiber optics. Born in Shanghai, China, Kao attended high school at a British college in Hong Kong and moved to England to pursue university studies in electronics and communications, which he loved. He graduated in Electrical Engineering from the University of London in 1957, and soon began working for STC, until he received and accepted a proposal to do a business doctorate in the company’s research arm, STL. There he helped the researcher Antoni E. Karbowiak in his studies on various waveguides until Karbowiak left STL to take up a professorship. At that time, Kao dedicated himself to a project at STL which he believed in, the development of fibers composed of core and coating to be used in telecommunications as guides of visible light waves.

Kao then relied on the help of his colleague, the young engineer George Hockham, to develop his studies on fiber optics. Together they set out to understand the causes of light loss in the fiber to assess whether they could be eliminated or diminished, or whether, on the contrary, trying to lower the attenuation meant facing a losing battle. While Hockham studied the imperfections in the shape or size of the fibers, Kao concentrated on the characteristics of the material, in particular its structure and the impurities and defects. The results of their studies were published in June 1966 in the IEEE Proceedings [K.C. Kao and G.A. Hockham, “Dielectric-Fibre Surface Waveguides for optical frequencies”. Proc. IEE, 113, 1151 (1996)].

This paper can be considered a milestone in the history of fiber optics, since it is the first to report the causes of light loss in fiber optics and it has shown the way forward and the goal to be reached in order to achieve suitable for use in telecommunications.

Based on the characteristics of existing light emitters (laser) and detectors, Kao and his co-author argued that in order to use the fibers in optical telecommunications, it was necessary to lower their attenuation to 20 dB/km. The goal was very challenging, because in the fibers then available the light attenuated 20 dB… every 20 meters! At its best. However, by showing that the main causes of light loss in optical fibers were related to the presence of impurities in the material, which absorbed or scattered light and diverted it from its path, the paper pointed out a way to reduce the attenuation: the use of purest glasses.

Representation of the frontal cut of an optical fiber (in which proportions were not considered) with the two main parts of the fiber: the core, with n1 refraction index, and the coating, with lower refractive index (n2). Source
Representation of the frontal cut of an optical fiber (in which proportions were not considered) with the two main parts of the fiber: the core, with n1 refraction index, and the coating, with lower refractive index (n2). Source

The article concluded that cylindrical fibers composed of a core and a coating, both made of vitreous materials with slightly different refractive indices (higher in the nucleus), could be a much better means for transmitting information than those existing at the time, in addition to being inexpensive.

In these fibers, the information would travel encoded in light signals that would run through the core, while the coating would ensure that the light remained in the nucleus, even in the curves.                                                     

After that, Charles Kao continued to focus on fiber optics, investing his time not only in research but also in dissemination. In fact, he lectured on his studies and on the potential of fiber optics in several laboratories and companies around the world. In addition, STL released a press release highlighting the possibilities of fiber optics in the field of telecommunications, with little impact on the press.

In parallel, along with new collaborators, Kao performed a series of experiments with various glasses and other materials and showed, among other results, that in fused silica glass, the attenuation could reach only 5 dB/km. The result was encouraging, but turning that material made of pure silicon dioxide (SiO2) into an optical fiber was another story. Due to its purity, this glass could only be melted at very high temperatures, above 1,500 °C. In addition, after melting, its viscosity made it difficult to transform into any product. Finally, the refractive index of the fused silica was extremely low. Thus, using it to make the fiber core, if on the one hand it would be advantageous in terms of purity, on the other hand it would be very complicated, not only because of the difficulty of processing the material, but also because of the impossibility of finding a material with a lower refraction index for the coating.

At that time, some laboratories from companies in Germany, the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Japan decided to face the challenge of developing low-attenuation fiber optics. Faced with the difficulty of dealing with the fused silica, most of them gave up on this material and tried to make optical fibers with other glasses, removing the impurities. Other groups, on the other hand, gave up making low attenuation optical fibers upon hearing from glass experts who claimed that it would be impossible to remove the impurities that were so problematic.

Only one of these groups made different choices, the Corning company in the United States. Founded in 1851, the company always worked with glasses, but far from stagnating in the production of low value-added products, it led the development of many innovations, starting with the glass globe of Thomas Edison’s incandescent lamp. In the early 1930s, it was at Corning that the chemist Franklin Hyde created the flame hydrolysis method that enabled the manufacture and processing of fused silica. This method, instead of fusing silicon dioxide crystals, is based on a silicon-based liquid compound which when heated on top of a flame, generates a powder that can be deposited forming layers of silica.

Peter Schultz, Donald Keck and Robert Maurer, and optical fiber. Source
Peter Schultz, Donald Keck and Robert Maurer, and optical fiber. Source

In 1966, Corning commissioned physicist Robert Maurer to research and develop fiber optics of less than 20 dB km attenuation for use in optical communications. In 1968, two more scientists had joined Maurer in this project: Peter Schultz, PhD in Glass Science, and Donald Keck, PhD in Physics.

The trio firmly worked on ideas that were opposite to those that the other groups in the world were following. When choosing the material, Corning’s group opted to use the purest glass and added impurities when necessary, instead of removing impurities from less noble glass until it reached the desired attenuation. The Corning scientists then used pure fused silica to coat the optical fiber, which required a material with a lower refractive index, and silica with very small amounts of titanium in the core, in order to increase the refractive index only as necessary and to reduce purity as little as possible.

For the fiber manufacturing method, the Corning group also followed its own path, based on the method Hyde had developed more than thirty years ago. The trio made a tube of pure silica and deposited the doped silica into it. With this fiber, about four years after the start of the low attenuation fiber optic development project, the Corning group obtained the first attenuation measure of less than 20 dB / km. The first low attenuation optical fiber was developed!

In May 1970, the team filed two patents disclosing, respectively, the composition and manufacturing method of this fiber and, thereafter, began to disclose the results.

In 1971, Corning decided that the project could move from the research phase to the development phase, in which engineers worked to make the manufacturing process adequate to make the fiber stronger (the first fiber was more fragile than desirable) and to finalize the development with companies that were interested in buying the fiber. In the mean time, the research team continued to explore, with good results, new possibilities for better optical fibers. Subsequently, Maurer, Schultz, and Keck were forced to devote much of their time to litigation related to the fiber optic patents granted to Corning in 1972 and 1973.

In the early 1970s, fiber optics was not yet commercially available. In fact, it took more than 10 years for insertion of this technology in the market to take place. That part of the story, also interesting, will not be addressed here, but we can cite some landmarks. In 1975, in the United Kingdom, the first non-experimental optical fibers were installed. In 1976, Corning inaugurated its first industrial fiber optic plant. In 1983, in the United States, the first national fiber-optic telephone network was installed. In 1988, the first transatlantic fiber optic cable was installed.

Today, with billions of kilometers of fiber optics installed, telecommunications on planet Earth, mainly via the Internet, relies heavily on these fine glass or plastic wires. With regard to other technologies, fiber optics maintains first place in speed of data transmission, with immense amounts of information that can be transmitted in 1 second between distant points in the planet. With respect to the radio waves that prevailed in optical communications 60 years ago, this capacity increased by no less than a million times. All the effort of everyone involved in the history was worth it, wasn´t it?

To learn more

A biomimetic invention that became metonymy.

Guess what it is.

It is perhaps the best known among biomimetic products (products developed by humans to imitate living beings that have been “developed” by nature over many millions of years).

It is an invention that became innovation (entered the market) and after some time it was widely accepted by consumers. Its use spread on planet Earth (on land, water and air) and reached the Moon

It is an invention that was the seed of a multinational company that today markets thousands of products.

Have you guess it? Here’s another clue.

The word popularly used to designate this product actually corresponds to a trademark, not to the object itself. It is a case of metonymy.

Do you know what invention we’re talking about? Not yet? Then, carefully read the history of this invention.

Fruits of a plant of the genus Arctium, similar to those that inspired the invention. Credits:
Fruits of a plant of the genus Arctium, similar to those that inspired the invention. Credits:

It all began in 1941 in the Swiss Alps. George de Mestral, a thirty-something Swiss electronics engineer, was back from a walk in the mountain with his dog, removing the burrs that had stuck to the dog’s hair and his clothing during the walk. These small spiked balls are the fruits of some plant families, and their ability to attach to animal hair is an advantage of these species as it helps to disperse the seeds that are inside the fruit.

The story goes that at that moment Mestral wondered why the burrs stuck and decided to look at them with a microscope in his house. The engineer then noticed that the fixation occurred between two elements. On the one hand, tiny loops formed on the matted coat of the dog or on the surface of the tissues. On the other hand, the tips of the little thorns, which were shaped as a hook. These flexible little “hooks” were tangled in the loops and only loosened by pulling them out with some force. With a biomimetic look and inventive spirit (Mestral presented his first patent at age 12), he saw in this natural system of reversible fixation, a model to artificially develop a very useful product.

Have you guessed what the invention is? Whether yes or no, see how the rest of the story.

Figure included in patent US2717437A, representing the method for producing the fabric with hooks at the ends of the threads.
Figure included in patent US2717437A, representing the method for producing the fabric with hooks at the ends of the threads.

For some years, George de Mestral faced the challenge of creating a prototype of this system of tiny hooks and loops. The main problem was to develop a method which would allow manufacturing a strip of fabric that could push upward, perpendicularly, a considerable amount of flexible hooks.

It seems the process was not easy, and that Mestral had a hard time finding people to help him produce this fabric. However, in 1952, he filed a patent application with the United States patent office about such a fabric and how to fabricate it. In the document, Mestral presented a “velvet-like fabric,” as it was covered, like velvet, with a dense “forest” of upright wires. However, unlike velvet, in the new fabric the threads were made of nylon (a newly created material), and a good part of the threads had hook-like tips. The manufacturing process proposed in the patent was similar to traditional velvet, using a loom, but with a few additional tricks to shape the hooks at the ends of the nylon strands.

Granted in 1955, this seems to be the first in a series of patents by the Swiss engineer around the invention that is the answer of our guessing game.

Mestral then founded a company to manufacture and market the product. However, the manufacturing system he had proposed in the patent was not fully mechanized and did not allow it to be produced at an industrial scale. The finishing process to produce the hooks was manual… and quite time consuming. The engineer had to wait about 20 years from his “eureka!” for a loom capable of mass producing the fabric with the tiny hooks.

When coupling the fabric with the hooks with another fabric covered by a tangle of loops, Mestral obtained a reversible fixation product with a thousand and one utilities, and with potential to revolutionize the market of zippers and buttons.

At first, the system invented by Mestral did not look very attractive. But little by little he gained visibility (from newspaper columns to futuristic films) and was adopted by various segments. In the late 1960s, for example, the invention began to be used by sports shoes manufacturers, replacing shoelaces and stood out in the NASA space program “Apollo” as a system to attach small objects to the walls of the spacecraft, preventing them from floating.

Currently the product is incredibly widespread. It helps solve small day-to-day problems in offices, shops, residences, hospitals, laboratories, walkways, schools…

Need another clue to guess what the invention is? Here goes the last one:

In 1956, George de Mestral obtained the trademark registration for his company. The name invented by the Swiss is the combination of two words in French (predominant language in the region of Switzerland where he was born and died): “velours” (velvet) and “crochet” (hook).

We do not need to pronounce the name of this invention, do we? Mainly because it’s forbidden to use the term “Velcro ®,” as it is a registered trademark of this multinational company which markets this and other similar products, and is also the trademark used for all the company products, not just for “hook and loop fastener.” Go explain this to the children, who really like V________, especially in sports footwear…

Microscope image showing how the hooks are entangled in the loops in this invention. Credits:,(Velcro_like).jpg
Microscope image showing how the hooks are entangled in the loops in this invention. Credits:,(Velcro_like).jpg

SBPMat´s community people: interview with Fernando Galembeck.

To Fernando Galembeck, Director of the Brazilian Nanotechnology National Laboratory (LNNano) from 2011 to 2015, the interest in research started to appear during his adolescence, when, working in his father’s pharmaceutical lab, he realized the economic importance that new products, resulting from efforts in scientific research, had on the company. Currently aged 72, Fernando Galembeck, looking back at his own scientific path, can tell us several stories in which the knowledge produced by him, jointly with his collaborators, is not only transmitted through scientific papers, theses and books, but has taken form as licensed patents and new or improved products.

Galembeck received his Degree in Chemistry in 1964 from the University of São Paulo (USP). After graduating, he stayed at USP, teaching (1965 – 1980) and, simultaneously, conducting his doctoral studies in Chemistry (1965 – 1970) with a research work on the metal-metal bond dissociation. Once his doctoral studies were completed, he held post-doctoral fellowships in the United States, at the universities of Colorado, in the city of Denver (1972-1973) and California, in the city of Davis (1974), working in the field of Physical Chemistry of biological systems. In 1976, back at USP, he had the chance to create a colloids and surfaces laboratory in its Chemistry Institute. From that moment, Galembeck has been increasingly involved in the development of new materials, especially the polymeric ones, and their manufacturing processes.

In 1980, he started teaching at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP), where he became a Full Professor in 1988, position he held until his retirement in 2011. At Unicamp, he held management positions such as University Vice-Dean, as well as Director of the Institute of Chemistry and Coordinator of its graduate studies program. In July, 2011, he took over the recently created LNNano, at the Brazilian Center for Research in Energy and Materials (CNPEM).

Throughout his career, in Brazil, he held management functions at the Brazilian Academy of Sciences (ABC), Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCT), National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), Brazilian Chemical Society (SBQ), Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science (SBPC) and Brazilian Society for Microscopy and Microanalysis (SBMM), among other entities.

Holder of a 1A-level fellowship for research productivity at CNPq, Galembeck is the author of almost 250 scientific paper published on international peer reviewed journals, which count with over 2,300 citations, as well as 29 deposited patents and over 20 books and chapters in books. He has advised almost 80 Master’s and Doctoral researches.

He has received numerous awards and distinctions, including the 2011 Anísio Teixeira Awards, from CAPES, the Brazilian agency for the improvement of graduate courses; the 2011 Telesio-Galilei Gold Medal, from the Telesio-Galilei Academy of Science (TGAS); the 2006 Almirante Álvaro Alberto Award for Science and Technology, from CNPq and the Conrado Wessel foundation; the 2006 José Pelúcio Ferreira Trophy, from Finep (Brazilian entity for funding of studies and projects); the 2000 Grand Cross of the National Order of Scientific Merit and the 1995 National Commendation of Scientific Merit, both from the President of the Republic of Brazil. He has also received several awards from companies and scientific and business associations, such as CPL,  Petrobras, Union Carbide do Brasil, the Brazilian Paint Manufacturers Association, the  Brazilian Chemical Industry Association, the Union from the Industry of Chemicals for Industrial Use from the State of Rio de Janeiro, the Brazilian Polymer Association, the Brazilian Chemical Society – which created the Fernando Galembeck Award of Technological Innovation, the Engineers Union from the State of São Paulo and the Electrostatic Society of America.

What follows is an interview with the scientist:

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

Fernando Galembeck: – My interest in research work started during my adolescence, when I comprehended the importance of new knowledge, of discovery. I found this when I was working, after school, at my father’s pharmaceutical laboratory, as I could see how the newest, latest products, were important. I also saw how costly it was, for the lab, to depend on imported products, which were not produced in Brazil, and that in the country there was no competence to manufacture them.  Then I realized the value of new knowledge, as well as the importance and the economic and strategic significance of such breakthroughs.

This feeling was increased when I took my major in Chemistry. I enrolled into the Chemistry course because one of my school teachers had suggested that I should seek a career related to research. He must have seen some inclination, some tendency of mine. So I attended the Chemistry course provided by the Philosophy School, in an environment where the research activity was very vivid. Because of that, I decided to conduct my Doctoral studies at USP. At that time, there were no regular graduate studies in Brazil yet. The advisor with whom I defended my dissertation, Professor Pawel Krumholz, was a great researcher, who also had built a very important career working on a company. He was the industrial director of Orquima, a major company by that time. That boosted my interest in research.

I worked with Chemistry for some years and my interest in materials came from a curious occurring. I was almost graduating, in my last vacations during the undergraduate studies.  I was at an apartment, resting after lunch. I remember looking at the walls of this apartment and noticing that, with all I had learned in the Chemistry course, I did not have much to say about the things I could see: the paint, the coverings etc. That was Chemistry, but also Materials, and there was not much interest in Materials in the Chemistry course. Actually, Materials became very important in Chemistry mainly because of plastic and rubber, which, at the time, did not have the importance they have today. I am talking about 1964, approximately.

Well, then I started to work with Physical Chemistry, to later work a little in a field that is more oriented to Biochemistry, that is Biological Physical Chemistry and, in 1976, I received a task from the USP Department, which was to build a colloids and surfaces laboratory.  One of our first projects was to modify plastic surfaces, in that case, Teflon. Then I realized that a major part of the colloids and surfaces Chemistry existed due to Materials, because the subject lends itself to create and develop new materials. From that moment on, I was getting increasingly involved with Materials, mainly polymers, a little less with ceramics, and even less with metals.

SBPMat Newsletter: – What are, in your own opinion, your main contributions to the field of Materials? Consider, in your answer, all aspects of your professional activity, including cases of knowledge transfer to the industry.

Fernando Galembeck: – I will tell the story in order, more or less. I think that the first important result in the field of Materials was exactly a technique intended to modify the surface of Teflon, that material in which it is very difficult to stick something. There is even that expression, “Teflon politicians”, the ones for which does not matter what you throw at them, they do not stick to anything. But, in certain situations, we want the Teflon to have adhesion; we want some things to stick. So, by a somewhat complicated path, I managed to see that I already knew how to modify Teflon, but I had never realized that is was important. I knew the phenomenon; I had observed it during my PhD defense. I knew that there was a change happening in Teflon. But it was during a visit to a Unilever laboratory in 1976, when I was talking to a researcher, that I saw that there were people striving to modify the surface of Teflon and achieve adhesion. Then, bringing the problem and the solution together, as soon as I returned to Brazil, I tried to see if I what I had previously observed was really useful, and it worked. That led to the first paper I wrote by myself and my first patent application, at a time when almost nobody talked about patents in Brazil, especially in the university environment. I was very enthusiastic about this: I was approached by companies that were interested in applying what I had done; one the modification in Teflon itself, the other in a different polymer. So I felt great, because I had made a discovery, I had a patent, and there were companies which, at least, would like to know what it was to see if there was a way to use it. One more thing:  soon after the paper I wrote was published, I was invited to attend a conference in the United States, which addressed exactly the issue of modifying surfaces. Polymers, plastic and rubber surfaces, a subject with which I was involved for pretty much the rest of my life, up until now.

I will mention a second fact that did not have the same effects, so far.  I discovered a method that enables the characterization and separation of very small particles. That was a very interesting paper. It was released, also produced a patent, but had no practical consequences. Recently, there have been some issues related to nanoparticles, which is a very important subject in Materials now, offering a chance to apply what I did over 30 years ago. The name of the technique is osmosedimentation.

Next there was some work that I did by collaborating in projects with Pirelli Cabos. With all this story of surfaces and polymers, I think I had become more or less known and was approached by Pirelli, which contracted me as a consultant and commissioned projects I had at Unicamp. An outcome of these projects, that I think is the most important, was the development of an insulator for very high voltages. This work was not only mine, but rather of a very large team, in which I took part. There were several people from Pirelli, and several from Unicamp. The result of this project was that the Brazilian Pirelli managed to be hired to provide high voltage cables for the Eurotunnel, back in the ‘80s. I think this was a very important case, as it led to a product and brought substantial economic results. I would like to stress that this was done in Brazil, by a Brazilian team. They were not a Brazilian company, but the team was based here.

Then, there were several projects with nanoparticles, at a time when we did not even call them nanoparticles; we used to call them fine particles, or simply small colloidal particles. The first paper I released on nanoparticles was in 1978. There were other things after that, which, ultimately, led to a paper on aluminum phosphate, which resulted in dissertations and papers, as well as a license by a company named Amorphic Solutions, from the Bunge group, that basically explores aluminum phosphate. The subject started at my lab, stayed there for many years, then a company of the Bunge group here in Brazil got interested, started participating, and we collaborated. That became a major development project. Later, Bunge found it infeasible to carry on with the project in Brazil and today is in the United States. I think it is a shame that they are there, but there were some other issues involved, including a disagreement with Unicamp, who holds the patents. If you check Amorphic Solutions page on the internet you may see many applications of the product. As far as I know, they are currently emphasizing its use as an anti-corrosive material to protect steel.

About the same time, in another project on nanoparticles, clay/natural rubber nanocomposites were developed. This was licensed by a Brazilian company called Orbys, which released a product called Imbrik, a product that the company provides, for example, in order to make rubber rolls for paper manufacturing.

Another case with a product. I had done a project with Oxiteno, which manufactures raw materials for latex, the surfactants. They wanted to get an ideia of how much you can change the latex changing the surfactant. I conducted a project with them that I consider one of the most interesting among those in which I have been involved. In the end, we realized that, by changing the surfactant a bit, we changed the latex a lot. These are used in paints, adhesives, resins. So we realized we had a great variability. This work was published and promoted. It did not result in a patent because it was a comprehension project. So, another company, Indústrias Químicas Taubaté (IQT) approached me to produce cationic latex, but using a new path. Cationic latex in general is made of quaternary ammonium salts, which have some environmental restrictions. The company wanted an alternative that did not have those restrictions. By the end of the project, we produced cationic latex without environmental restrictions, and the IQT put the product on the market.

There was another case that was also very interesting, even though it was canceled. Here in Brazil, there was a large manufacturer of polyethylene terephthalate, PET, which is used for many things, including bottles. They knew about the work I had done with nanocomposites, the one with Orbys I mentioned before, so they approached me wanting to produce PET nanocomposites. We had to find out how to escape from what was already patented abroad and discovered a whole new path. The company was called Rhodia-Ster, and today it is part of another Italian company, called Mossi e Ghisolfi. The company was enthusiastic and ended up patenting it in Brazil, and then later abroad. At a certain point, they decided that they would conduct the work internally, and so they did for some years. One day, my contact within the company called me to tell this: “look, we were working with two technologies; the one held by Unicamp and another one, in another country. Both are working, but the company has reached a point where it has chosen to complete the development of only one”.  When coming to the final stage in developing materials, the projects costs are too high. One have to use large amounts of materials, run many tests with customers. So, the company decided to take one project further, and, unfortunately, it was not the one in which I had worked. At the end, it was a little frustrating, but I think that it was interesting, because, during this whole time, the company invested a lot in the path we had started here. Not only that, each project brings resources for the laboratory, brings money to hire people, more jobs etc. So, these projects result in many benefits, even when they are not concluded.

Now, skipping some bits, I will reach the last result, which is fairly recent, happening after I left Unicamp and came to the CNPEM. One of CNPEM’s goals is to explore renewable source materials to produce advanced materials. There is a whole philosophy behind this, based on the depletion of natural resources, sustainability…  We have worked hard in order to make new things with materials derived from biomass, and the main focus is cellulose. It is the most abundant polymer in the world, but it is very hard to work with it. You cannot process cellulose as you process polyethylene, for example.  One of our goals has been to find ways to laminate cellulose, i.e., work it as closely as possible to the way we use to work synthetic polymers. A recent outcome, built upon this idea, is that we managed to produce cellulose adhesives having it as the only polymer, which is new. A patent application was entered in the beginning of the year, and we are submitting a paper on it, while aiming to work with companies that are interested in the subject. We are already discussing a project for a specific application of this modified cellulose with a company.

This is the latest case. In the middle of the way, many other projects were conducted with companies, for issues of their interest. Coating something, gluing another, modifying a polymer to achieve a certain result. But these were answers to demands from companies, instead of researches started at the laboratory.

SBPMat Newsletter: – Leave a message for our readers who are starting their careers as scientists.

Fernando Galembeck: – First of all, in any chosen career, there must be a dose of passion. It does not matter if you are going to work in the Stock Market, Healthcare or whatever you may do; above all, your taste must decide. If a person chooses a career because it will give them money or status… I think it is a bad choice. If you do things with pleasure, with interest, the money, prestige and status will come from other paths. The goal is to do what makes you happy, what makes you feel good when you do it, what makes you feel accomplished. It is true not only for the scientific career, but also to any other career. In science, it is crucial.

Another point is that you must be prepared to work hard. There is no easy way. I know some young people who are constantly seeking the great idea that will bring them success with relatively little work. Well, I’d better not count on it. It may even happen, but waiting for it is almost the same as wait to win the Lottery and get rich.

I’m over 70, therefore I have met many people and seen many things happen. Something that strikes me is how young people who seemed very promising end up not working very well.  Frankly, I think it is bad for youngsters to achieve success too early, because I have the impression they get used to this idea that things will always work out fine. And the problem is that there isn’t anything, anyone, any company that will always work. There will always be the moment of failure, the moment of frustration. If the person is prepared for that, when the times come, he or she will overcome it, while others are crushed – they cannot move one. That is why we must be careful not to be deceived by our success and think that, because it worked once, it will always work. You must be prepared to fight.

When I was in college, thinking about doing research seemed a very strange thing to do, crazy talk. People did not know very well what it was, or why would someone choose to do it. Some people said that research was something like priesthood. I have always worked with research, associated with teaching, consulting and, without having ever sought to become rich, I managed to have an economic status that I deem very comfortable. But I insist, my goal was to enable the development, to produce material, not the money I would receive. Money came, as it does. So, I suggest you to focus on your work, on the results and the contribution that said work may give to other people, to the environment, to the community, to the country, to knowledge. The rest comes as a bonus.

In short, my message is: work seriously, earnestly and passionately.

Finally, I would like to point out that I think the research work, the development work, really helps you to grow as a person. It will depart you from ideas that are not very fruitful and guide you towards attitudes that are really important and helpful. A student asked Galileo once: “Master, what is the method?”, and Galileo’s answer was: “The method is the doubt”. I think it is very important in the research activity, which, for Materials in particular, is especially interesting because the final product is something you can hold in your hands. In the research activity you have to always wonder, “I’m thinking like this, but is this right?”, or “This guy wrote this, but what are his bases to write it?”. This attitude is very different from the dogmatic one, which is common in the realms of politics and religion, and very different from the attitude of someone who has to deceive, as the lawyer who works for a mobster or drug dealer. The researchers have to commit themselves to the truth. Of course there are also people who call themselves researchers and spread disinformation.  Some years ago, people were talking about something called “Bush science”, an expression referring to President Bush. This Bush science was the arguments fabricated by people who gained money as scientists, but who produced arguments to sustain Bush’s policies. In other words, the problem exists in science as well, but then we get back to what I said earlier. You cannot enter this field because of money, or to achieve prestige, or to be invited to have dinner with the president; you must enter this field because of your interest in the subject itself.

Made in Brazil: incorporating silver nanostructures into oral hygiene products eliminates 99% of bacteria and fungi.

A research on the incorporation of silver with antibacterial properties on surfaces, conducted by the  Center for the Development of Functional Materials (CDMF in Portuguese), one of the Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers of the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) is being applied to toothbrushes.

OralGift, a company with 12 years of experience in the oral hygiene business, in association with CDMF and NANOX Tecnologia, released a new line of products coated with the NanoxClean technology. Produced with silver nanostructures incorporated into the raw materials, the surface of the product is protected against microorganisms and bacteria.

The researchers responsible for this work explain that damp environments, mainly bathrooms, display a large amount of bacteria and fungi. When toothbrushes are left exposed, there is a high possibility of contamination.

The technology incorporating silver nanostructures eliminates 99% of the bacteria and fungi accumulated on  toothbrush and the cases used to keep them, as well as tongue cleaners.

The CDMF Director, Professor Eldon Longo, clarifies the importance of the association between the research developed at the university and the industrial-scale innovation made in companies:  “Nanox is a first world company in innovation, with high technology. It develops products based on nanotechnology, mainly to healthcare. This innovation, released on the market, is another example of creativity in transforming knowledge into wealth for the country”.

 About CDMF

The Center for the Development of Functional Materials (CDMF) is one of the Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers (CEPID in Portuguese) supported by FAPESP (São Paulo Research Foundation), and the National Institute of Science and Technology of Materials in Nanotechnology,  and counts with the collaboration of São Paulo State University (Unesp), Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar), University of São Paulo, (USP) and the Nuclear and Energy Research Institute (Ipen).

Facebook profile:


NANOX Tecnologia is located in São Carlos city (Brazil), and was created from a project developed by three young UFSCar students, which they improved during their graduate studies in the Chemistry Institute of Unesp at the Araraquara campus.

The company was among the first ones engaged in the field of nanotechnology in Brazil, and is currently considered the largest in its business in the country, being the first national company to export nanotechnology.

(From Fernanda Vilela – CDMF)

XII Encontro da SBPMat: mesa redonda sobre pesquisa e inovação em Materiais.

Na segunda-feira dia 30 de setembro, o XII Encontro contará com uma mesa redonda sobre pesquisa e inovação na área de Materiais. A partir das 18h20, os sete membros da mesa, provenientes do Brasil e do exterior, apresentarão brevemente suas experiências de PD&I desenvolvidas enquanto empreendedores, profissionais de empresas ou pesquisadores de instituições de pesquisa. Em seguida, a discussão será aberta ao público.

Mesa redonda

Título: “Ciência, engenharia e comercialização de dispositivos industriais, eletrônicos e biomédicos”
Quando: 30 de setembro (segunda-feira) das 18h20 às 19h30.
Onde: Convention Center, Campos do Jordão (SP), no XII Encontro da SBPMat.

  • Orlando Auciello (presidente da Materials Research Society – cofundador das empresas Advanced Diamond Technologies e Original Biomedical Implants – professor da Universidade de Texas em Dallas)
  • José Arana Varela (CEO da Fapesp – professor da Unesp)
  • Carlos Paz de Araujo (cofundador das empresas Ramtron, líder em semicondutores ferroelétricos, e Symetrix Corporation, dedicada à pesquisa em materiais avançados e processos para a indústria de semicondutores – detentor de mais de 500 patentes – professor na Universidade de Colorado – Colorado Springs)
  • Elson Longo (coordenador do Centro Multidisciplinar para o Desenvolvimento de Materiais Cerâmicos e do Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia dos Materiais em Nanotecnologia – professor da Unesp)
  • Vladimir Trava-Airoldi (pesquisador do INPE e da empresa CVD Vale – vencedor de dois Prêmios FINEP de Inovação)
  • Luiz Gustavo Pagotto Simões (presidente da Nanox, empresa brasileira exportadora de antimicrobianos para embalagens de alimento)
  • Fábio Lopes Pinto (engenheiro da Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional)

Edital Inova AeroDefesa, da Finep, tem oportunidades para Materiais.

A Finep está divulgando seu plano Inova AeroDefesa, cujo edital atualmente aberto tem como papel fomentar as indústrias e centros de pesquisa aeroespacial, aeronáutica, de defesa, segurança e materiais especiais com até R$ 2,9 bilhões, em créditos reembolsáveis a juros subsidiados pelo Estado e recursos não-reembolsáveis (subvenção econômica).

A parte de materiais com foco nas aplicações de aeroespacial, defesa e segurança também está incluída neste edital nos seguintes temas:

“Linha 4: Materiais Especiais
– Materiais para Aplicações Diversas: fibras de carbono e compósitos; ligas metálicas para altas temperaturas e outros materiais;

– Materiais para Aplicações na Indústria de Defesa: resinas para propelentes sólidos; materiais absorvedores de radiação eletromagnética; blindagens e proteção balística; e outros para aplicações em defesa, aeronáuticas e espaciais.

– Ligas Metálicas para Aplicações Especiais: aços maraging M300 e M350; componentes de aços e ligas especiais para gerador de vapor; tubos extrudados de parede grossa de ligas de alumínio; superligas à base de níquel e aços inoxidáveis especiais.”

O prazo para envio de carta de manifestação de interesse vence no dia 01/07/2013.


Plenárias do XII Encontro da SBPMat: palestra sobre memórias avançadas não voláteis de Carlos A. Paz de Araujo (University of Colorado, Colorado Springs e Simetrix corporation – EUA).

O pesquisador, inventor, professor e empresário Carlos Paz de Araujo nasceu no Brasil, na cidade de Natal (RN). Realizou seus estudos superiores em Engenharia Elétrica na Universidade de Notre Dame, nos Estados Unidos. Ao concluir seu doutorado em 1982, ainda na Universidade de Notre Dame, iniciou sua carreira de professor na Universidade de Colorado – Colorado Springs (UCCS), onde permanece até hoje.

Em 1984 foi um dos fundadores da empresa Ramtron – atualmente líder em semicondutores ferroelétricos para diversas aplicações. Em 1986 cofundou a empresa Symetrix Corporation, dedicada à pesquisa em materiais avançados e processos para a indústria de semicondutores. Hoje, Paz de Araujo é chairman executivo da companhia.

O palestrante é detentor de centenas de patentes concedidas nos Estados Unidos e outros países, sendo cerca de 200 delas sobre materiais para FRAM (ferroelectric random access memory).

Paz de Araujo participou de 25 projetos de licenciamento e colaboração com entidades da indústria e do governo, como, por exemplo, Panasonic, Delphi, Harris, Hughes Aircraft, Siemens, Sony, Epson, Ramtron Corporation, STMicroelectronics, IMEC, Micron, Raytheon, NASA e Hynix.

Em 2006 foi distinguido com o prêmio Daniel E. Noble da IEEE, por meio do qual a maior associação profissional do mundo, a IEEE, destaca contribuições notáveis em tecnologias emergentes. Paz de Araujo foi selecionado por suas contribuições fundamentais à área de memórias FRAM e à sua comercialização.

O seu constante trabalho de desenvolvimento de tecnologias e transferência ao mercado resultou em 1,5 bilhão de dispositivos comercializados em diversos países e utilizados em telefones celulares, leitores de DVD, computadores e cartões inteligentes, entre outros produtos.

No XII Encontro da SBPMat, Carlos Paz de Araujo proferirá uma palestra plenária na qual revisará o estado da arte em memórias não voláteis – memórias que conservam a informação armazenada mesmo estando desligadas da fonte de energia, como, por exemplo, as ROM, FLASH e as próprias FRAM. Memórias de tipo FRAM têm significativas vantagens com relação aos outros tipos de memórias não voláteis no que diz respeito a sua alta durabilidade, capacidade de ser regravadas, baixo consumo de energia e velocidade de gravação, entre outras características.

As memórias não voláteis constituem um dos temas mais estudados desde final dos anos 1960 e são atualmente objeto de vigorosa pesquisa e desenvolvimento. O tema ainda apresenta muitos desafios à área de Materiais.

Na palestra, Paz de Araujo também comentará oportunidades de pesquisa, desenvolvimento e comercialização desses dispositivos.

Veja resumo da palestra.
Veja o mini CV do palestrante.

XI Encontro da SBPMat: discussões sobre ciência, tecnologia e inovação em Materiais.

De 23 a 27 deste mês, a bela Florianópolis (SC) receberá um grande número de pessoas atuantes na área de Materiais, provenientes de diversos estados brasileiros e de outros 25 países para participar do XI Encontro da SBPMat no resort Costão do Santinho.

O encontro da comunidade da pesquisa em Materiais vai ocorrer em hotel da praia do Santinho, em Florianópolis. Crédito da foto: Vani Lemos.

“Além de simpósios voltados para o aprofundamento da Ciência dos Materiais, foi dada especial atenção à inclusão de simpósios com foco em Engenharia de Materiais e Inovação”, resume o chairman do evento, Aloisio Nelmo Klein, professor da Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina.

A programação desta décima primeira edição do evento segue o formato dos encontros anteriores, baseado em simpósios temáticos. O conjunto dos 16 simpósios contempla, neste ano, temas como nanotecnologia para aplicações diversas, biomateriais, materiais para eletrônica avançada e novidades em técnicas de fabricação e análise de desempenho de materiais avançados.  Entre apresentações orais, pôsteres e palestras convidadas (invited lectures), os simpósios reúnem 1.818 trabalhos.

O evento conta também com seis palestras plenárias de pesquisadores dos Estados Unidos (do MIT, NASA e Argonne National Laboratory), França (do MINATEC micro and nanotechnologies innovation campus e École des Mines) e Alemanha (Fraunhofer Institute).

Na área dos expositores, haverá mais de 30 estandes de empresas e instituições com propostas relevantes para a comunidade de Materiais.


“A minha expectativa é que o encontro, além da tradicional discussão sobre os avanços nos aspectos científicos e tecnológicos na área de Materiais, cresça a discussão sobre a necessidade urgente de se dar passos bem maiores em inovação no Brasil”, diz o professor Klein. “Somos uma comunidade de pesquisa que já se destaca na produção de artigos científicos a nível internacional. Precisamos agora envidar maiores esforços na conversão da ciência em tecnologia e inovação”, acrescenta.

Nesse sentido, esta edição do Encontro da SBPMat incluirá uma mesa redonda que debaterá o tema “ciência, tecnologia e inovação para um Brasil competititvo” e terá a participação de representantes  da ANPEI (Associação Nacional de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento das Empresas Inovadoras), a empresa Embraco,  Fapesc (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa e Inovação do Estado de Santa Catarina), Fapesp (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo), Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação, e SBPMat. Essa mesa redonda está programada para o dia 25 de Setembro, às 18 horas.


O evento já conta com mais de 1.500 inscritos, entre estudantes de graduação e pós-graduação e cientistas formados em Física, Química, Biologia e Engenharias.  “Essa diversidade de áreas do conhecimento reflete a multidisciplinaridade e a interação interdisciplinar da área de Materiais”, diz Klein.

Quanto às origens dos inscritos, esta edição do encontro agregou a China, Coreia, Índia e Japão à já tradicional participação de pesquisadores da América Latina, Europa e Estados Unidos.

E você, já fez sua inscrição?

As inscrições pelo site ainda estão abertas:

Aproveite agora e evite filas no local do encontro.


Conteúdos relacionados:

Veja fotografias do X Encontro, realizado em 2011 em Gramado, em nosso Facebook:

Veja a programação do XI Encontro da SBPMat:

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