The doctoral thesis that won the Capes Award for Doctoral Theses in the field of materials research was also winner of a Grand Capes Award. The thesis was defended in 2014 by Edroaldo Lummertz da Rocha to obtain the doctoral degree in Materials Science and Engineering from the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC). The award was delivered in a ceremony, in December 10th at Capes central office, in Brasília.
The Grand Award selects the best thesis of each of the three major evaluation areas of Capes, which is the government agency linked to the Brazilian Ministry of Education in charge of promoting high standards for post-graduate courses in Brazil. To run for the Grand Award, the authors of winners theses in the Capes Award must present a video lesson of 20 to 30 minutes, destined to high school students, approaching the thesis theme in a proper way to the target audience.
In his video, Edroaldo presents the contributions of his doctorate research to the development of nanostructures that, introduced in the human body, would have therapeutically effects against cancer and, at the same time, would generate less collateral effect than the methods currently used (surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy). To present these contributions, the video explains concepts such as cancer and bionanotecnology. The video also presents the development of CellNet software, in which Edroaldo participated during his doctorate, which helps in the investigation of transformation of cells from a type to another (for example, stem-cell in other cells or skin cells in heart cells). See here the video lesson prepared by Edroaldo and also the videos of the other candidates to the Grand Award.
The scientific paper by members of the Brazilian community on Materials research featured this month is: “Green” colloidal ZnS quantum dots/chitosan nano-photocatalysts for advanced oxidation processes: Study of the photodegradation of organic dye pollutants.Alexandra A.P. Mansur, Herman S. Mansur, Fábio P. Ramanery, Luiz Carlos Oliveira, Patterson P. Souza. Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, 158–159 (2014), 269–279. DOI:10.1016/j.apcatb.2014.04.026.
“Green” nanoparticles for water treatment
A group of researchers from Brazilian institutions developed nanoparticles that are triply “green”. They can be used to purify water, one the greatest global challenges of the 21st Century. In addition to that, they coexist harmonically with the environment and biological systems. Finally, they are produced by means of an eco-friendly process.
“We managed to integrate properties and characteristics rarely found in nanostructured systems, which are biocompatibility and environmental compatibility, using a ‘green’ process”, says Professor Herman Sander Mansur from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG).
The particles are formed by “quantum dots” (fluorescent semiconductor nanocrystals) of zinc sulfide (ZnS) with approximately 3.8 nm in size, coated with “shells” made of chitosan – an abundant, low-cost material, derived from the external skeleton of crustaceans such as shrimps and crabs. The synthesis process of these particles is completed in a single stage, carried out in an aqueous medium, without using toxic substances.
In a study performed by the research team, the nanoparticles displayed the capacity to degrade contaminant organic pigments usually found in water, using only light, including direct sunlight.
“The results were very promising, since we were able to observe that the system was effective for the photodegradation of organic contaminants found in the aqueous solutions we studied,” said Herman Mansur, who is the corresponding author of a paper about the research, recently released by the journal Applied Catalysis B: Environmental.
The research will also be the subject of a patent application, which the authors already started writing. “The following step will be searching potential partners in the private sector, in order to commercialize it as a product for cleaning waters which are polluted by organic pigments”, says Mansur.
History of the paper
It was during scientific discussions occurred in the monthly meetings of the Exact Sciences and Materials Board of the Minas Gerais State Research Foundation (FAPEMIG) that the initial idea for the research came up. In fact, both, Herman Mansur, coordinator of the UFMG Nanosciences, Nanotechnology and Innovation Center, and Luis Carlos de Oliveira, coordinator of the research group in Advanced Materials for Catalysis and Photocatalysis in the same university, were members of said advisory committee between February 2010 and the same month in 2014. According to Mansur, “the main idea was to use nanotechnology to develop innovative environmental solutions to clean up water, as it is an increasingly scarce resource in the world, whether in developed or emergent countries, as well as the ones with low social and economic development”.
Then, the professors prepared a project that combined the experience from the two research groups: Professor Mansur’s team, dedicated for twenty years to the development of nanomaterials and nanostructures by means of the synthesis of quantum dots, and Professor Oliveira’s group, which had been working in the field of chemical catalysis, searching sustainable solutions for the treatment of industrial waste.
Their initial research led to a first article on nanoparticles with cadmium sulfide (CdS) core and niobium oxide shell: L. C Oliveira et. al. One-pot Synthesis of CdS@Nb2O5Core-Shell Nanostructures with Enhanced Photocatalytic Activity. Applied Catalysis. B, Environmental, v. 152:53, p. 403-412, 2014 (DOI:10.1016/j.apcatb.2014.01.025).
As a result, the group conceived, designed and developed an application for the concept of “green chemistry” in the whole project, producing zinc sulfide and chitosan particles, and their synthesis process. In the following stage, their research also incorporated the collaboration of Professor Patterson P. Souza, from the Federal Center for Technological Education of Minas Gerais (CEFET-MG), who conducted mass spectrometry tests, assessing the degradation of the organic pigments used as models for the polluting chemical species.
Pesquisas sobre cerâmicas refratárias realizadas no âmbito do Departamento de Engenharia de Materiais (DEMa) da UFSCar, no grupo coordenado pelo professor Victor C. Pandolfelli, foram contempladas com cinco prêmios durante 2012.
A mais recente das distinções foi outorgada em novembro de 2012 pela Associação Latino-americana de Fabricantes de Refratários (ALAFAR), no XXXVI ALAFAR Congress. Na ocasião, o artigo “High-performance nano-bonded refractories for a wide-temperature range” recebeu o prêmio de melhor trabalho na área de cerâmicas de altas temperaturas. São autores desse trabalho Mariana Braulio (doutora em Ciência e Engenharia de Materiais pela UFSCar), Jorge B. Gallo (gerente da área de Pesquisa, Desenvolvimento e Inovação da Alcoa Alumínio S. A.), Jorivaldo Medeiros (pesquisador do CENPES-Petrobras) e Victor C. Pandolfelli.
“Embora os estudos envolvendo nanopartículas sejam hoje assuntos correntes, é raro o uso e domínio da técnica em larga escala e em produtos com preços compatíveis aos disponíveis no mercado”, explica o professor Pandolfelli. “Este estudo e desenvolvimento alia, portanto, o uso dos fundamentos científicos que possibilitam o uso de nanopartículas em materiais cerâmicos para alta temperatura (entre 800 e 1400°C) e o superior desempenho do produto obtido para uso na unidade de craqueamento catalítico de indústrias petroquímicas e calcinadores para a indústria de alumínio”, completa.
Outro trabalho premiado do grupo foi o artigo “Novel technological route to overcome the challenging magnesia hydration of cement-free alumina castables”, de autoria de Tiago M. Souza, que também é doutor em Ciência e Engenharia de Materiais pela UFSCar, Mariana A. L. Braulio e Victor C. Pandolfelli. O trabalho recebeu, em setembro deste ano, o Gustav Eirich Award 2012 – uma distinção outorgada pela empresa alemã Gustav Eirich Maschinenfabrik e o Centro Europeu de Refratários (ECRef) a trabalhos de pesquisa na área de materiais refratários. A avaliação dos trabalhos é realizada por um júri formado por profissionais europeus de indústrias, universidades e centros de pesquisas.
O artigos vencedores estão em processo de publicação em revistas internacionais.