Report of the XIV SBPMat Meeting: plenary lectures with their files, memorial lecture, symposia, awards…


Sunday, September 27. By 6:45 pm. Hundreds of people enter the plenary room of the Convention Center “SulAmérica”, in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) for the opening ceremony of the 14th annual meeting of the Brazil Materials Research Society, whose acronym in Portuguese is SBPMat. The opening table is composed by the chairmen of the event, Prof. Marco Cremona (Brazil) and Prof. Fernando Lázaro Freire Junior (Brazil), as well as the present SBPMat president, Prof. Roberto Mendonça Faria (Brazil), the immediate past president of the European Materials Research Society (E-MRS), Prof. Rodrigo Martins (Portugal), and the general secretary of the International Union of Materials Research Societies (IUMRS), Prof. Robert Chang (USA). Behind them, a big banner shows the logos of dozens of institutions and companies that gave financial support to the event.

At the opening table, from the readers´ left: Prof. Rodrigo Martins (Portugal, E-MRS immediate past president and IUMRS officer), Prof. Fernando Lázaro Freire Junior (Brazil, chair of the event), Prof. Marco Cremona (Brazil, chair of the event), Prof. Roberto Mendonça Faria (Brazil, SBPMat president), and Prof. Robert Chang (USA, IUMRS general secretary).

Near 1,000 attendants are present at the ceremony, which starts with the Brazilian national anthem. The chair Prof. Cremona welcomes the participants to the meeting. Prof. Robert Chang, who was president of MRS (Materials Research Society) in 1989 and founded IUMRS in 1991, convokes the participants of all countries to try to solve together the most important global challenges for materials research, related to health, food, environment, transport etc. Representing E-MRS, Prof. Martins, who presently takes care of Global Leadership and Service Award at IUMRS, emphasizes his desire of promoting international connections. Prof. Faria talks a little bit about Brazil, which, as well as other developing countries, is very rich in raw materials but needs to add value to its products by means of science and technology.

After the opening, Prof. Eloisa Biasotto Mano (Brazil) goes to the stage for the Memorial Lecture “Joaquim da Costa Ribeiro“, which is a distinction bestowed annually by SBPMat on a Brazilian researcher with outstanding career in the field of Materials. This 91-year-old scientist pursued international scientific education at a time when most women were illiterate in Brazil, and founded in the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) the first research group in polymers in the country. This group later became the Institute of Macromolecules (IMA), which was directed by Eloisa until she retired. In the memorial lecture, she talks about macromolecular materials and, using a representation of a polyethylene molecule made by herself with wire, she shows how these kind of molecules behave in response to their big size. A group of Prof. Eloisa´s disciples (among them, the present director of IMA) assists her with the presentation, showing affection, gratitude and admiration for her . After the talk, many attendants of diverse ages make a queue to take a picture with this protagonist of the dawn of polymer science in Brazil. Eloisa, who is professor emeritus of UFRJ, poses for all the pictures she is ask to. At the end of the photo session, she accepts our microphone and leaves a message for the young people starting a carreer in science:

Right after the memorial lecture, in the same venue, the participants enjoy the welcome cocktail while meeting friends and collaborators. The cocktail is animated by live “chorinho” music, an instrumental Brazilian popular genre original from Rio de Janeiro.



Nader Engheta

Nader Engheta.

Monday, September 28. At 8:30 in the morning, the plenary room is full of attendants waiting to learn about metamaterials and the extreme behavior of waves interacting with them in the first plenary lecture of the event. The speaker is Nader Engheta, the H. Nedwill Ramsey Professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania (United States). This Iranian-born scientist is a recognized world leader in research on metamaterials, and holds an H number of 69. Through experimental and theoretical research, Engheta and his collaborators have created such unconventional things as nanocircuits made of metamaterials that function as optical filters. Since the beginning of the talk, Engheta captivates the audience with some history of science and with a world of structures created by using particular composite metamaterials with particular sizes and geometries and arranged in particular ways with the aim of obtaining unconventional interaction with light and other waves.


Edgar Zanotto.

Edgar Zanotto.

In the afternoon, at 3:30, more than 400 people attend the second plenary lecture, which is about glass-ceramics (materials formed through controlled crystallization of certain glasses). The speaker is the Brazilian researcher Edgar Zanotto, Professor at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar), in Brazil, where he founded and heads the Vitreous Materials Laboratory (LaMaV) that assembles a big international team. Zanotto, who is a world-renowned expert on glass-ceramics, presents in his lecture many useful applications of these materials, such as cooking hobs or artificial bones and teeth. He also mentions the scientists who, along 60 years of glass-ceramics history, contributed to the advancement of research on that topic. In spite of those contributions, the comprehension of some aspects of the formation of glass-ceramics is not complete, he says, but that is not a problem for glass-ceramics fabrication and applications. It´s just an opportunity for fundamental scientists.


Paul Ducheyne. Biomaterials. Merging Materials Science with Biology.

Paul Ducheyne.

Tuesday, September 29. 8:30 am, time for the third plenary lecture of the event. The lecturer, Prof. Paul Ducheyne, also comes from University of Pennsylvania (USA), where he directs a multidisciplinary center for bioactive materials and tissue engineering research. An authority on biomaterials field, Ducheyne is the editor in chief of a six-volume book on biomaterials published in 2011. In the talk, he shows a series of biomaterial-made devices, grafts, scaffolds etc., most of them already being commercialized, that actively interact with the body, either by promoting tissue formation (for example, bone) or by releasing drugs for diverse treatments. Ducheyne presents their effects on solving health problems, numbers about their markets, and scientific recent advances that can make them even more effective.

Ulrike Diebold. Surfaces of Metal Oxides.
Ulrike Diebold.

Some hours later, at 3:30 pm, hundreds of participants cluster again, this time around Prof. Ulrike Diebold, whose research group at UT Wien (Austria) is devoted to the understanding of fundamental mechanisms and processes occurring in surfaces at the atomic scale. Prof. Diebold catches the audience attention from the beginning to the end by showing, through scanning tunneling microscopy images, how she spies the behavior of atoms on the surface of metal oxides – topic in which she is a worldwide leader researcher. In particular, she reveals two secrets of metal oxide surfaces: the first one about how oxygen adsorbs on titanium dioxide and the second one about how active single metal atoms are in oxidation process in magnetite.

George Malliaras.
George Malliaras.

Wednesday, September 30. In the plenary lecture of the morning, the audience is transported again to the social-impacting world of biomaterials by Prof. George Malliaras, Greek-born, working at École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Saint-Étienne (France), where he heads the Department of Bioelectronics. Malliaras has an H index of 64. After many years working on organic electronics, he entered the new field of organic bioelectronics and obtained impacting results. His research is about electronic devices made of conducting polymers that match properties of living tissues. These devices are used for interfacing with human brain – a “natural electronic device”. The final purpose is to study brain activity or diagnose and even treat neurological diseases such as epilepsy. An example of device is a transistor that enables boosted in vivo recording of brain activity with low invasion. As suggestions for the materials community, Malliaras highlights the importance of collaboration with neuroscientists and physicians and the challenge of improving the understanding of electronic transport and structure.


Ichiro Takeuchi. Combinatorial Approach to Materials Discovery.

Ichiro Takeuchi.

In the talk of the afternoon, the speed of science progress accelerates following the beat of the combinatorial approach. Prof. Ichiro Takeuchi, from University of Maryland (USA), explains how his group manages to optimize materials and properties discovery. As well as in lottery one can buy a big number of tickets to have more chances to win a prize, in materials discovery scientists can produce a huge number of combinations of elements to obtain a compound with desirable properties. For example, for quaternary compounds, millions of combinations are possible, from which only 0,01 % are known. In Prof. Takeuchi´s lab, machines for thin film deposition used with masks work night and day to create patchwork-like samples containing libraries of similar compounds. Then, the libraries are characterized by rapid tools, giving information about the properties of several compounds at the same time. Coupled with appropriate theory and computational simulations, these high-throughput experiments become real materials discovery engines.

Claudia Draxl. On the Search of Novel Materials: Insight and Discovery though sharing of big data.
Claudia Draxl.

Thursday, October 1st, 8:30 am. In the last plenary lecture of the event, Prof. Claudia Draxl (Humboldt University, Germany) publicly wonders how to make available the huge amount of data resulting from experiments around the world, high-throughput screening, computer clusters etc. Why to do that with scientific data? For confirmation, broad dissemination in society, sharing with distant collaborators and reuse with new purposes. With that aim, Prof. Draxl and collaborators from European countries are facing the development of a repository of materials raw data, called Novel Materials Discovery (NoMaD), which hosts, organizes and shares materials data on the web.



Some of the symposia coordinators with the meeting chairs and the SBPMat president.

The symposia at SBPMat annual meetings are selected from proposals that can be submitted to the event committee by any scientist from anywhere in the world. This edition of the event encompassed 26 symposia (including the satellite event “8th International Summit on Organic and Hybrid Solar Cells Stability”) and 2 workshops, and it registered symposia coordinators from Argentina, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Portugal, Spain, Swiss, USA, and, of course, Brazil. Within the symposia, near 190 invited speeches and more than 2,000 technical works are presented and discussed in oral and posters sessions, on a wide range of subjects going from carbon nanostructures to biomaterials, from characterization techniques to computer simulation, from materials for sustainable development to safe use of nanomaterials.

While some symposia have been held year after year in the SBPMat meeting, the University Chapters symposium was a novelty of this year meeting. It was completely organized by students from diverse points of Brazil who are coordinators of the SBPMat University Chapters. The chapters are organized teams, affiliated with the society, composed of graduate and undergraduate students working in materials field. The members of these groups carry out diverse activities that complement their academic education. The students from the existing chapters, which were eight in number up to the moment of the meeting, faced the challenge of organizing a symposium – a task that is usually done by senior researchers.

In fact, students have not only active but also massive participation in the XIV SBPMat meeting. Almost half of the attendants (950 people) were master, doctoral and even undergraduate students doing research on materials field. In Brazil, the federal agency for research support, CNPq, has a program called “scientific initiation” that grants scholarships to undergraduate students to conduct research under the supervision of a Professor.

For the oral sessions of the symposia, all along the meeting, after the morning plenary session, and before and after the afternoon plenary talks, the attendants distributed themselves among 17 rooms. The poster sessions took place at the end of the afternoon from Monday to Wednesday and in the morning on Thursday. Walking through the long corridors of the poster sessions, one could see active scientific discussion, many times between a young author and a renowned researcher. One could also hear very positive comments about the original arrangement of the poster panels. The size of the poster session was impressive. In total, near 1,800 research works were presented in the posters.

View of the first poster session.



Twice a day from Monday to Wednesday, the attendants could take a break and have a coffee with cookies while visiting the exhibition of the event, which encompassed 32 stands showing a variety of scientific instruments, services, scientific journals, books and opportunities for the materials community. In addition, on Wednesday, the participants had the opportunity to attend four hours of technical talks given by some expositors about fabrication and characterization techniques.

Coffee break and exhibition.



On Thursday by 12:30 the closing ceremony started. In the closing panel, Prof. Soo Wohn Lee, from MRS Korea and conference chair of the IUMRS-ICAM 2015, joined the representatives of SBPMat, E-MRS and IUMRS.

In his final remarks, the meeting chair Prof. Cremona presented some photos of the past days and hours that made the public remember so nice and fruitful moments. He also presented the numbers of the event: 2,000 registered people from 985 institutions, among which 300 were foreign researchers from 40 countries. Finally, he announced that the next SBPMat annual meeting will be held in Campinas city (São Paulo state).

After the closing words, more than 20 prizes were given to young researchers within four different awards: the Bernhard Gross Award, a traditional SBPMat recognition for the best works of students, and the awards bestowed by IUMRS, E-MRS and Horiba.

Announcement of the students who won the Bernhard Gross Award.

See list of the awards winners.

Interviews with plenary speakers of the XIV SBPMat Meeting: Nader Engheta.

Photo of Prof. Nader Engheta superimposed with some of the images related to his research. Credit: University of Pennsylvania photographer Felice Macera.

Materials created by applying the state-of-the-art in materials science and engineering and nanotechnology can make light and other electromagnetic waves behave in an extraordinary way, becoming very useful for applications in several fields.

To talk about this issue in the XIV SBPMat Meeting, Professor Nader Engheta (University of Pennsylvania, USA) will be in Rio de Janeiro in the end of September. Engheta is a recognized world leader in research on metamaterials – man-made materials created through micro or nanoengineering, and capable of interacting with electromagnetic waves in ways not found in nature.  Metamaterials can sculpt the waves in order to achieve unconventional light-matter interaction.

In Rio de Janeiro, Engheta will talk about extreme scenarios generated from metamaterials: light traveling at full speed through artificial structures, one-atom-thick optical devices, metamaterials that perform mathematical operations, miniaturized circuits – optical rather than electronic – composed by metamaterials, and structures with effective refractive index near zero.

In his childhood in Tehran (capital of Iran), Nader Engheta developed a special curiosity to understand phenomena related to waves. This curiosity propelled him to attend and get a BS degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Tehran. In 1978, he came to the United States to pursue his post-graduate (master’s and PhD degrees), also in Electric Engineering, carried in the prestigious Caltech (California Institute of Technology), in the United States. In 1982, he got his PhD diploma from Caltech, with a dissertation in the field of electromagnetism. After a post-doctorate at the same institution, Engheta worked as a scientist in the industry for four years, working again with electromagnetism.  Then he joined the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 1987, and was swiftly promoted through the professorial ranks, and now he is the H. Nedwill Ramsey Professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering, with affiliations in the departments of Electrical and Systems Engineering, Physics and Astronomy, Bioengineering and Materials Science and Engineering.

Owner of an H number of 69 according to Google Scholar, Engheta has more than 21400 citations. Besides being author of 28 book chapters and numerous journal articles and conference presentations, Engheta is coeditor of the book “Metamaterials: Engineering and Physics Explorations”, released in 2006 by Wiley-IEEE publisher. In 2012, he chaired the Gordon Research Conference on Plasmonics.

His contributions to science and engineering have received important recognitions and distinctions from several entities, as the international society of optics and photonics, SPIE (“2015 SPIE Gold Medal”), the international union of radio science, URSI (“2014 Balthasar van der Pol Gold Medal”) and the international professional association of electric and electronic engineers, IEEE (“2015 IEEE Antennas and Propagation Society Distinguished Achievement Award”, “2013 Benjamin Franklin Key Award”, “2012 IEEE Electromagnetics Award”, “IEEE Third Millennium Medal”), among many other entities. He is also Fellow of six international scientific and technical organizations, namely, Materials Research Society (MRS), American Physical Society (APS), Optical Society of America (OSA), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), SPIE, and IEEE.  Engheta also received several teaching awards.  In 2006 the Scientific American Magazine selected him as one of the 50 Leaders in Science and Technology for his development of metamaterial-inspired optical nanocircuitry.

Here follows an interview with Professor Nader Engheta.

SBPMat newsletter: – In your opinion, what are your most significant contributions on issues related to the topic of your plenary lecture? Explain them very briefly and if possible, share references of resulting papers or books, or comment if these studies have produced patents, products, spin-off companies etc.

Nader Engheta: – I am very interested in light-matter interaction, and in my group we explore different methods in manipulating and tailoring interaction of waves with material structures, both in the optical as well as microwave domains.  I am very excited about all the research topics my group and I have been working on.  Some of these topics include (1) The optical metatronic nanocircuitry, in which we brought the notion of “lumped” circuit elements from electronics into the field of nanophotonics, developing a new paradigm in which material nanostructures may function as optical circuit elements.  In other words, “materials become circuits” working with optical signals.  In this way, nanophotonics can be modularized, in an analogous way as in electronics.  This allows one to perform optical signal processing at the nanoscale, (2) Metamaterials that can do math:  following our work on optical metatronics, we are exploring how properly designed materials (e.g., layered materials) can interact with light in such a way that one can do mathematical operations with light.  In other words, we are exploring the following questions:  Can materials be specially designed to perform analog processing with light at the nanoscale?  As light propagates through such properly designed material structures, would the profiles of the output signals resemble the results of certain mathematical operations (such as differentiation or integration) on the profiles on the input signals?  In other words, can we design materials for specific mathematical operations in order to do “photonic calculus” at the nanoscale?  (3) The extreme scenarios in light-matter interaction: this may include extreme dimensionality, like graphene photonics as the one-atom-thick platform for light manipulation, extreme metamaterials in which material parameters such as relative permittivity and relative permeability attain near-zero values.  This category of materials, which we have named epsilon-near-zero (ENZ), mu-near-zero (MNZ) and epsilon-and-mu-near-zero (EMNZ) materials, exhibit very interesting features in their response to electromagnetic wave interaction.


  • N. Engheta, “Circuits with Light at Nanoscales:  Optical Nanocircuits Inspired by Metamaterials”, Science, 317, 1698-1702 (2007).
  • N. Engheta, A. Salandrino, A. Alu, “Circuit Elements at Optical Frequencies:  Nano-Inductor, Nano-Capacitor, and Nano-Resistor,” Physical Review Letters, 95, 095504 (2005).
  • N. Engheta, “Taming Light at the Nanoscale,”  Physics World , 23(9), 31-34 (2010).
  • A. Vakil and N. Engheta, “Transformation Optics Using Graphene,” Science, 332, 1291-1294 (2011).
  • A.Silva, F. Monticone, G. Castaldi, V. Galdi, A. Alu, and N. Engheta, “”Performing Mathematical Operations with Metamaterials,” Science, 343, 160-163 (2014).
  • M. G. Silveirinha and N. Engheta, “Tunneling of Electromagnetic Energy through Sub-Wavelength Channels and Bends Using Epsilon-Near-Zero (ENZ) Materials,” Physical Review Letters, 97, 157403 (2006).
  • N. Engheta, “Pursuing Near-Zero Response”, Science, 340, 286-287 (2013).
  • A.M. Mahmoud and N. Engheta, “Wave-Matter Interaction in Epsilon-and-Mu-Near-Zero Structures”, Nature Communications, 5:5638, December 5, 2014.

SBPMat newsletter: – Help us visualize the metamaterials developed by your group. Please choose one of your favorite photonic materials and tell us, very briefly, its composition, its main properties and its possible applications.

Nader Engheta: – One of the structures developed by my group is the optical metatronic nanocircuits for mid-IR regime (from 8 to 14 microns), in which we properly tailored and constructed nanorods of Si3N4 with specific widths and thicknesses, separated by a specific gap.  These arrays of Si3N4 nanorods function as collections of optical nanoinductors, optical nanocapacitors and optical nanoresistors in mid IR.  We demonstrated that such structures behave as nanoscale optical circuits, with functionality analogous to electronic filters, but here these material structures operate in the mid IR regimes.  We have shown how these structure operate as optical filters in the mid IR, offering exciting applications for future integrated optical devices and components.


  • Y. Sun, B. Edwards, A. Alu, and N. Engheta, “Experimental Realization of Optical Lumped Nanocircuit Elements at Infrared Wavelengths,” Nature Materials, 11, 208-212 (2012)

Later, in collaboration with my colleague Professor Cherie Kagan and her group at UPenn, we extended this work into the near IR regime (from 1 to 3 microns).  In this case, we used the indium tin oxide (ITO) as the material of choice, with proper design and patterning of ITO nanorods. We also demonstrated that such ITO-based optical metatronic circuits function as an interesting platform for optical circuitry and filtering.  This can have exciting possibilities in the silicon photonics.


  • H. Caglayan, S.-H. Hong, B. Edwards, C. Kagan, and N. Engheta, “Near-IR Metatronic Nanocircuits by Design,” Physical Review Letters, 111, 073904 (2013).

SBPMat newsletter: – If you want, leave a message or invitation to your plenary lecture to the readers that will attend the XIV SBPMat Meeting.

Nader Engheta: – One of the exciting features of doing science is the joy of search for unknowns and the thrill of discovery.  I always believe that we should follow our curiosity and our passion for discovery. Also, in science and technology it is important to maintain the balance between the complexity and the simplicity in search for solutions to scientific inquiry.