Interviews with the winners of the 2016 Capes Thesis Award in the field of materials.

We interviewed three winners of the 2016 Capes Thesis Award who carried out their award-winning research papers in postgraduate programs in Materials. The prize was awarded on December 14, 2016, in Brasilia, at the headquarters of Capes agency, linked to the Brazilian Ministry of Education in charge of promoting high standards for post-graduate courses in Brazil.

The Capes Thesis Award was created in 2005 to distinguish the best doctoral theses in each of the 48 areas of the Brazilian postgraduate programs. The theses defended in Brazil in the year prior to the award announcement can compete for the award. The candidates are registered by the postgraduate programs where the scientific research work was performed. The winners are selected by committees formed by members of the scientific community in each area. The evaluation process considers aspects of originality and relevance for scientific, technological, cultural, social, innovation and value added development to the educational system

In 2016, 774 PhD theses were entered. Of these, 48 were selected to receive awards and 88 received honorable mentions.

Here are the interviews with the winners of the awards in the Materials community.


Interview with Antonio Cláudio Michejevs Padilha, winner of the Capes Thesis Award in the “Interdisciplinary” area

foto claudioThesis: “Computational simulation of TiO2-based memristive systems: from the raw material to the device”.

Advisor: Gustavo Martini Dalpian. Co-advisor: Alexandre Reily Rocha.

Institution: Postgraduate Program in Nanosciences and Advanced Materials of the Federal University of ABC.

Antonio Cláudio Padilha graduated in Physics with a bachelor’s degree from the University of São Paulo (USP) in 2007. In 2009, he began the master’s degree in physics at USP, where he studied-developed molecular mechanics/quantum mechanics on pentacene agglomerates and carbon nanotubes, mentored by Professor Maria Cristina dos Santos. He defended his dissertation in 2011 and that same year began his doctorate in Nanosciences and Advanced Materials at the Federal University of ABC (UFABC), also in the state of São Paulo, under the guidance of professors Gustavo Martini Dalpian and Alexandre Reily Rocha. In 2015, he spent three months at the National University of Yokohama (Japan), during the “sandwich period”, in the group of Professor Hannes Raebiger. In the Master’s and PhD program, he received a research grant from the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP). At the end of 2015, back in Brazil, he defended the thesis awarded by Capes. Since last year, Antonio Padilha is an associate researcher (postdoc) in the Department of Physics of York University (UK), in the group of Professor Keith McKenna. He is the author of 5 articles published in peer-reviewed international journals.

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

Antonio Cláudio Padilha: – The thesis presents a possible alternative mechanism for the operation of a new electronic device known as a memristor. This device is formed by a thin film of insulating material with metallic electrodes placed around it. When a high charge is applied through the electrodes under certain conditions, the electrical resistance of the insulation material changes. Interestingly, this change is stable, making it possible to store information in this system.

Many authors point out that the charge applied could cause the atoms inside the insulator to be displaced from their original positions. Therefore, new phases would form in certain regions, which due to different structures and/or compositions, consequently would have different electrical resistivities. This could explain the different electrical resistances initially observed in the devices.

The project that gave rise to the thesis had the objective to describe the processes occurring within the device from computational simulations. We performed simulations to understand the properties of some of the oxygen-deficient phases of titanium oxide, and we realized that these phases could trap and release charges. This process could also change the properties of the material, leading to different electrical resistances and thereby explaining, through another mechanism, the function of the memristor.

There is still much discussion regarding which of these two mechanisms provides the best explanation of the experimental results. However, I believe that one mechanism does not necessarily exclude the other. Our work intended to show that there is probably no single ingredient that explains how these devices function and that the entrapment and release of charges may explain in part what is observed experimentally.

SBPMat Newsletter: – Please cite the main results generated from the award-winning thesis (papers, patents, products, startups, other awards, etc.).

Antonio Cláudio Padilha: – From the results presented in the thesis, we published 3 papers in international scientific journals. Of these, I would like to highlight my last work, a cooperation result with Professor Hannes Raebiger, from the University of Yokohama in Japan. He spent 11 months as a visiting professor at UFABC and later received me in his group for a 3-month research internship. This research collaboration resulted in another article that is in the process of being published.

These papers also helped me to win an award entitled “2015 Post Graduate Academic Excellence Award” awarded by the Postgraduate Office of the UFABC. This award took into account not only the volume but also the quality of the journals in which the articles were accepted.

SBPMat Newsletter: – In your opinion, which are the main factors for your outstanding research work at the national level (your thesis)?

Antonio Cláudio Padilha: –Without a doubt, the funding I received from the São Paulo Research Foundation – Fapesp – was fundamental for the success of the project. Fapesp was responsible for financing my PhD grant, the grant for my internship in Yokohama in Japan (BEPE internship) and it was also crucial to acquire the basic equipment, both through the technical reserve of my scholarships as well as through related theme projects. Professor Raebiger’s visit to UFABC was also funded by Fapesp.

Another important factor was the National High-Performance Data Pocessing Center in São Paulo – Cenapad-SP. It provided infrastructure in the form of supercomputers capable of running the simulations we needed, and also great support, the work we were able to carry out leaves nothing to be desired in relation to other countries that have numerous resources for science, technology and innovation.

Finally, the innovative environment of UFABC and the excellent faculty at the university were decisive factors to give visibility to the thesis through the award. I am particularly grateful to my advisors for their dedication, Professors, Gustavo Dalpian (UFABC, currently Visiting Professor at the University of Colorado – United States) and Alexandre Reily Rocha (IFT-Unesp, currently at MTI – United States) and my unofficial advisor Professor Hannes Raebiger (Yokohama University – Japan, visiting professor at UFABC in 2015).

SBPMat Newsletter: – Please leave a message to our readers, many who are undergraduate or graduate students.

Antonio Cláudio Padilha: – The research activity is full of ups and downs. We often find ourselves for weeks or even months insisting on experiments or simulations that give completely different results or even wrong results than what we had expected. This can be very disheartening, and when combine this scenario with the lack of recognition, the feeling many of us have is to give up our career and try our luck in another area.

However, persistence and dedication will inevitably be rewarded and recognized, we must be patient. Despite the  difficult times ahead for Brazilian science, nothing will be able to destroy the curiosity and beauty of making new discoveries, inventing new solutions and the impetus to make this country a better place for everyone. This difficult phase for Brazilian science will not go on indefinitely, and when this phase is over, those who have endured the difficulties, in addition to being empowered, will be prepared to take advantage of the opportunities that will arise.


Interview with Fernanda Fiegenbaum, winner of the Capes Thesis Award in the “Materials” area.

foto fernandaThesis: “New ionic liquids for the production of hydrogen by water electrolysis”.

Advisor: Roberto Fernando de Souza. Co-advisor: Emilse Maria Agostini Martini.

Institution: Postgraduate Program in Materials Science (PGCIMAT) of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS).

Fernanda Fiegenbaum studied Industrial Chemistry at the University of Santa Cruz do Sul (UNISC), in Rio Grande do Sul, between 1998 and 2004. During this period, she carried out research activities in polymer laboratories. In 2005, she joined the Master’s Program in Chemical Engineering (PPGEQ) in the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), where she conducted research in the field of polymers, under the guidance of Professor Nilo Sergio Medeiros Cardozo, financed with a CAPES grant. She defended her dissertation in 2007. In 2011  she returned to UFRGS to continue her academic training in the PGCIMAT doctoral program, with a grant from the Research Support Foundation of the State of Rio Grande do Sul (FAPERGS). Under the supervision of Roberto Fernando de Souza and Professor Emilse M.  A. Martini, she developed a research project on the use of new ionic liquids for the production of renewable energies. The thesis was defended in 2015 and that same year Fernanda went to Germany to undertake a postdoctoral internship at the University of Ulm, at the Institute of Electrochemistry. She returned to Brazil and UFRGS in June 2016. She is the author of 4 papers published in peer reviewed international journals and holds a patent application for innovation at INPI.

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

Fernanda Fiegenbaum: – Currently, finding new environmentally friendly energy sources, that when used do not generate CO2, is an urgent challenge. Hydrogen gas is an energetic vector and its use does not generate pollutants, but it must be produced with a high degree of purity, which has a considerable cost. In my doctoral thesis, I synthesized new ionic liquids based on tetra-alkyl-ammonium-sulfonic acids that were used as electrolytes for the production of hydrogen gas by water electrolysis. The use of this new class of materials showed catalytic effect and compatibility with several materials (carbon, stainless steel) used as low cost electrodes, thereby increasing efficiency and reducing the cost to produce hydrogen gas. Therefore, I believe these results represent the major contribution of my thesis.

SBPMat Newsletter: – Tell us about the main results generated from the award-winning thesis (papers, patents, products, startups, other awards, etc.).

Fernanda Fiegenbaum: – The new acid ionic liquids of the tetra-alkyl-ammonium sulfonic family were patented, BR1020120275333: A process for the production of hydrogen by electrolysis of water using ionic liquids such as tetra-alkyl-ammonium sulfonic acid salts, its derivatives and product.

Four papers were published in high-impact international journals. Moreover, these results were disseminated in several national and international conferences: Greenchemistry 2012, CBCat 2013 and 2015, SBQ 2014, WiCaC 2014 and SIBEE 2015.

SBPMat Newsletter: – In your opinion, what are the main factors that allowed you to carry out outstanding research work at the national level (your thesis)?

Fernanda Fiegenbaum: – There were many factors that enabled the thesis award. But I believe there are some fundamental points.

Foremost and certainly the main factor is with regard to the guidance, support, help and teachings of my advisors, Professors Roberto Fernando de Souza (in memoriam) and Emilse M. A. Martini, which enabled the successful completion of my PhD.

Definitely, my ability to accept new challenges was decisive, for instance, search the literature for the scientific basis on the synthesis of materials and modern techniques of characterization. This search helped increase my understanding about the role of the electrolyte on the process of electrolysis of water and I designed an ionic liquid with the proper properties, but without the undesirable characteristics, such as a toxic and corrosive agent.

The laboratory where I was able to conduct my activities, Laboratory of Reactivity and Catalysis (LRC) of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), has the necessary modern equipment and laboratories adapted to carry out the synthesis, characterization and application of these new ionic liquids. The financial support of various development agencies to the LRC allowed acquiring the reagents and equipment.  Moreover, I had access to the high quality infrastructure of the Institute of Chemistry of UFRGS, Center of Microscopy (CME) and CNANO, support agencies of UFRGS and fundamental for high quality scientific production.

Another important factor was the collaboration of colleagues and other professors at LRC, which I portray as a motivating and supportive relationship that was fundamental to develop my thesis.

SBPMat Newsletter: – Please leave a message to our readers, many who are undergraduate or graduate students.

Fernanda Fiegenbaum: – The message I would like to pass on to those who are starting or continuing their studies is that despite the everyday difficulties and stress, at the end of the day, it is extremely gratifying to participate in the scientific construction of solutions to the great challenges in Brazil and the world. Brazil is a country where cutting edge research is carried out and with excellent researchers and laboratories that compete with “first world countries”. However, we must not forget that continuous support is fundamental to value and give continuity to everything that has already been achieved.  I end with a quote by Marie Skłodowska-Curie: “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”


Interview with Flávio Camargo Cabrera, who won an honorable mention of the Capes Thesis Award in the “Materials” area.

foto flavioThesis: “Natural-rubber-based microfluidic device (lab-on-a-chip)”.

Advisor: Aldo Eloizo Job.

Institution: Post-Graduate Program in Materials Science and Technology (POSMAT) of the Paulista State University “Júlio de Mesquita Filho”, Presidente Prudente campus (UNESP/PP).

Flávio Camargo Cabrera completed his undergraduate studies in Physics (2006 – 2009) at UNESP/PP,  Master’s in Materials Science and Technology (2010-2012) and a PhD in Materials Science and Technology (2012-2015). Starting in the undergraduate scientific initiation up to the doctorate, he developed research projects based on the use of natural rubber, always under the guidance of Professor Aldo Eloizo Job and with FAPESP grants. He is currently associated with POSMAT of UNESP as a CAPES postdoctoral fellow. He is the author of 15 papers published in peer reviewed international journals and one patent application.

SBPMat Newsletter: – In your opinion, what is the most important contribution of the awarded thesis?

Flávio Camargo Cabrera: – The thesis presents a new concept of flexible microfluidic device using natural rubber as an alternative, organic, biocompatible, easy to handle and low cost material, for the preparation of lab-on-a-chip platforms.

The use of new materials opens up a range of new applications based on the properties of these materials. The largest contribution is that it highlights the importance of Materials Science for the development of pre-existing technologies. We believe that with the evolution of preparation techniques and miniaturization, it is possible to develop implantable biological sensors from this new polymeric device concept.

SBPMat Newsletter: – From your perspective, what are the main factors that allowed to carry out a research work highlighted at the national level (your thesis)?

Flávio Camargo Cabrera: –  The interdisciplinarity and partnership between the FCT UNESP, Presidente Prudente campus and the Bioelectrochemistry group coordinated by Professor Frank Crespilho of IQSC (Chemistry Institute of USP in São Carlos), was fundamental to undertake the project. In addition, INEO projects (National Institute for Organic Electronics) and FAPESP financing (Proc. 2011/23362-0) provided conditions for developing the project.

SBPMat Newsletter: – Please leave a message to our readers, many who are undergraduate or graduate students.

Flávio Camargo Cabrera: – When we graduate, we are tempted to fight for survival, the ideal to graduate, publish a paper, achieve indices, seek recognition, and others. Not that this is a bad idea, but you should not let this tendency take away your possibility to stop for a moment, a day, a week, to reflect, think about, allow your dreams and ideas to beyond the limit known as impossible and materialize them, it may be we do not solve the big questions of the universe, but we may serve as an incentive so that one day someone can do it.

Capes Doctoral Dissertation Award 2015: Interview with the author of the award-winning work in Materials area.

Edroaldo Lummertz da Rocha, winner of the Capes Dissertation Award in Materials field.
Edroaldo Lummertz da Rocha, winner of the Capes Dissertation Award in Materials field.

The scientific career of Edroaldo Lummertz da Rocha is permeated by two features of the area of Materials science and technology: interdisciplinarity and impact on people’s lives.

After graduating in Computer Science from Universidade do Extremo Sul Catarinense (UNESC), in the south of Brazil, Edroaldo got his master’s degree in Electrical Engineering at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), with a study on the transport of phonons in fractal geometry. In 2010, he began a doctoratal program in Materials Science and Engineering, also at UFSC. With the advised of Professor Carlos Renato Rambo and Professor Luismar Marques Porto, Edroaldo worked on the interface among Materials Science, Computer Science and Biology to study the interaction between biological cells and bio and nanomaterials. In 2012, Edroaldo submitted, as first author, a scientific paper on simulations of interactions between nanoparticles and cell membranes. His paper was published in the journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics (DOI: 10.1039 / C2CP44035K) in 2013 and was featured on the front cover.

From January to December 2013, Edroaldo remained in the United States developing a part of his doctoral research at Harvard University (United States), more precisely in the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, a multidisciplinary and multiinstitutional entity dedicated to the development of materials and devices inspired in nature, aimed at transforming medicine and building a more sustainable world. There he was advised by Professor Donald E. Ingber, founder and director of Wyss.

Two papers signed by Edroaldo became covers of prestigious journals.

A second journal cover (DOI:10.1016/j.cell.2014.07 .020) increased Edroaldo´s curriculum in 2014 as a result of his participation, along with researchers at Harvard University and other institutions in the United States, in a Cell Engineering field study.This time the distinction was in Cell, the prestigious journal of Life Sciences, whose impact factor is 32.242.

In September 2014, Edroaldo obtained his PhD degree by defending his dissertation entitled “Nanoparticle-cell interactions and biomaterial-cells induce global changes in gene expression programs“. A year latter, the work was distinguished as the best  dissertation defended in Brazil in 2014 by Capes, the government agency linked to the Brazilian Ministry of Education in charge of promoting high standards for post-graduate courses in Brazil. Edroaldo received the news of the award in the city of Rochester, in the United States, where he works in scientific activities as a postdoctoral fellow of the Mayo Clinic, an institution in the field of Medicine dedicated to research, education and patients´ care.

Interview with Edroaldo.

SBPMat Newsletter: – Could you tell us very briefly how did you become interested in science and in the Materials area, and what were the most important moments in your academic career so far?

Edroaldo Lummertz da Rocha: – My interest in science arose from the possibility of doing something important and helping people somehow. My interest in the Materials area arose due to the existence of a special class of materials, called nanomaterials, which can be used for the development of new therapies for a variety of diseases such as cancer, vascular and neurodegenerative diseases. However, the understanding of how nanomaterials interact with cells and biological tissues is extremely important for the development of safe and effective therapies.

The first most important event of my academic career was when Professor Carlos Renato Rambo, of the Federal University of Santa Catarina, agreed to be my advisor during my doctoral period. That’s where it all began. The second most important moment was when I had the opportunity to conduct part of my doctorate studies at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University, which significantly contributed to the development of my academic career.

Gene regulatory network made of data of gene expression from 16 kinds of human cells and tissues.

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

Edroaldo Lummertz da Rocha: – The main contribution of my thesis was the development of computational approaches to systematically understand how cells interact with nanomaterials and respond to external stimuli. This can serve as a basis for future studies in the field of development of new drug delivery systems and lead to a better understanding of how gene expression programs change when nanomaterials interact with cells.

SBPMat Newsletter: – Which criteria guided you to make a quality research highlighted at national level (the award-winning thesis)? To what factors do you attribute this achievement?

Edroaldo Lummertz da Rocha:  – Dedication, discipline, creativity and a good team and co-workers are essential to progress in any area. Family support is essential, above all. From the point of view of the thesis, under the guidance of Professor Carlos Renato Rambo, I had the opportunity to work in a variety of projects and this contributed to the multidisciplinary nature of my thesis.

SBPMat Newsletter: – We invite you to leave a message for our readers who are conducting scientific research in the Materials area.

Edroaldo Lummertz da Rocha: – It is a long road, so you might as well enjoy the way. Being a scientist is something really rewarding, with new challenges and opportunities every day. The hope of discovering something important and providing a significant contribution is the driving force that guides my research. The effort is never in vain and there is always hope where there is perseverance.


More award-winners in the Materials field.

Several other works related to Materials Science and Engineering were awarded this year with the Capes Thesis Award, which was awarded to the best doctoral theses in 2014 in each of the 48 areas of knowledge recognized by Capes in postgraduate courses. The announcement of the winners was made on August 31 and the awards event will take place on December 10 in Brasilia city, the capital of Brazil. Here follow some examples related to Materials area:

Honorable Mention in the Materials area. Thiers Massami Uehara. Study of the interaction of nanomaterials with models of cell membranes and neural stem cells. Advisor: Valtencir Zucolotto. Postgraduate Program in Science and Engineering of Materials – USP/SC. Dissertation file:

Capes Award in Chemistry.  Rodrigo Villegas Salvatierra. Thin Films of Conjugated Polymer and Carbon Nanostructures obtained in Liquid-Liquid Interfaces: Synthesis, characterization and application in photovoltaic devices. Advisor: Aldo José Gorgatti Zarbin. Postgraduate Program in Chemistry – UFPR. Dissertation file:

Honorable mention in Chemistry.  Anderson dos Reis Albuquerque. Quantum-Chemical Study of the Ti(1-x)CexO2-δ in the Anatase Phase. Advisors: Ieda Maria Garcia dos Santos (DQ-UFPB) and Júlio Ricardo Sambrano (DM-UNESP Bauru). Postgraduate Program in Chemistry – UFPB. Thesis file: Report on CDMF website:

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

Augusto Batagin Neto

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

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

Read our interview with Augusto.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luís Fernando (right) and the advisor of his doctoral thesis, Prof. Valmor.

Luís Fernando da Silva is the winner of the 2014 award for best thesis in the field of Materials, granted by the Brazil´s Federal Agency for the Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education (CAPES). Luís Fernando´s Doctoral thesis, “Synthesis and characterization of SrTiO3 and SrTi1-xFexO3 compounds prepared by microwave-assisted hydrothermal method”, was defended in 2013 in the São Carlos School of Engineering at University of São Paulo (USP). The research was advised by Professor Valmor Roberto Mastelaro.

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

Read our interview with Luís Fernando.

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

Luís Fernando da Silva: – My interest started during my undergraduate studies in Physics at the São Paulo State University (UNESP) at Bauru. I entered the research initiation program in my second year, and my project comprised the structural characterization of GaAs and GaN film, having Professor José Humberto Dias da Silva as my advisor, and receiving funds from the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP). During my last undergraduate year, my work received an honorable mention in the USP research initiation symposium, which managed to motivate me further to enroll in a Master’s program in the field of Materials. Due to my interest in structural characterization, I started my Master’s studies at USP being advised by Professor Valmor R. Mastelaro, who is a reference nationwide in the field of X-ray absorption spectroscopy. My work consisted in preparing and characterizing amorphous and nanocrystalline StTiO3 and SrTi1-xFexO3 compounds. By the end of my Master’s studies, Professor Valmor Mastelaro proposed the challenge of synthesizing the SrTi1-xFexO3 compound using the hydrothermal-microwave method, considering that, up to that point, there was no record of its preparation by means of such method.  After studying different parameters of its synthesis and characterizing the structural properties of the SrTiO3 compound, we started synthesizing the SrTi1-xFexO3, which we managed to do with great success. Both compounds were characterized using X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XANES and EXAFS) at the National Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS), and the importance and originality of the results were accepted to be published by major journals in the field of materials: CrystEngComm (CrystEngComm, 2012,14, 4068-4073) and Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics (Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2013,15, 12386-12393).  In addition to that, according to the literature, the SrTi1-xFex03 compound has been successfully applied as a gar sensor, mainly for hydrocarbons and oxygen. Based on this application, Professor Valmor Mastelaro established a partnership with the microsensors group from Aix-Marseille University, in the city of Marseille, France. Thanks to said partnership, I received a scholarship to join the microsensors group for six months, counting with funds from the “Ciência Sem Fronteiras” (Science without borders) program. The results obtained were partially released by an important journal in the gas field, Sensors and Actuators B (Sens. Actuators, B, 2013, 181, 919–924). Currently in my Postdoctoral studies, I started a new research project, advised by Professor Elson Longo, in a partnership with Doctor Cauê Ribeiro from the instrumentation unit of the Brazilian Corporation of Agricultural Research (Embrapa), which comprises the study of photoactivated resistive gas sensors. Recently, I was granted a project to develop said research.

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

Luís Fernando da Silva: – The field of Materials always fascinated me, since the time I spent in the research initiation program. The possibility of managing to synthesize a material, unveil its properties and use it for a technological application is challenging and fascinating at the same time.

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

Luís Fernando da Silva: – The main contribution of my thesis was the use of the x-ray absorption spectroscopy technique. The vast majority of existing articles in the literature report the method used to prepare the material and its application (gas sensor, photocatalysis, etc); however, there are only a few studies on its structural properties, restricted to the identification of the crystalline phases using the technique of x-ray diffraction.  In my work, we could observe that materials (in my case, SrTiO3 and SrTi1-xFexO3) prepared using the hydrothermal-microwaves method, present substantial structural distortions. In addition to that, concerning the SrTi1-xFexO3 compound, we managed to analyze its detection properties against different gases (reductant and oxidant) in greater detail, since one of the most important parameters for a gas sensor is its selectivity.

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

Luís Fernando da Silva: – Mainly my good relationship with the Doctoral advisor, Professor Valmor R. Mastelato, who gave me total freedom and credibility to develop this work, as well as important scientific contributions. Besides that, the infrastructure of the Center for the Development of Multifunctional Materials (CDMF/FAPESP) was crucial and allowed a proper and detailed characterization of the compounds studied in the thesis.

SBPMat Newsletter: – Would you like to leave a message for our readers who are doing research in undergraduate, master´s or doctoral level in the field of Materials?

Luís Fernando da Silva: – I believe that the main message is that before starting any research work (whether for initiation, master’s or doctoral studies), it is paramount for them to have pleasure doing their research and believe in the potential and quality of their work. If you believe the work you are developing has potential, you will seek your best to do it.

CAPES award for the best doctoral thesis in Materials: fast synthesis of strontium titanate compounds for gas sensors.

Postdoctoral student at the Institute of Chemistry at the São Paulo State University (UNESP), Luís Fernando da Silva received an award for the best doctoral thesis in the field of materials in 2014 by the Brazilian agency for the support and evaluation of graduate education (CAPES). The research, conducted during his doctoral studies at the University of São Paulo (USP), used a new method to synthesize chemical compounds displaying effective properties as gas sensors.

The thesis is titled Synthesis and characterization of SrTiO3 and SrTi1-xFexO3 compounds by microwave-assisted hydrothermal method, and the work was advised by Professor Valmor Mastelaro (from the São Carlos Institute of Physics – USP). Silva also used infrastructure of the laboratories of the Center for the Development of Functional Materials (CDMF) to perform his study. 

The researcher worked with strontium titanate compounds, both in its pure form or added with iron (SrTiO3 and SrTi1-xFexO3). Silva says that to produce such materials in the laboratory used to require an extensive amount of time, which would delay and complicate the synthesis process of the compound. “In my paper, I proposed the use of the microwave-assisted hydrothermal treatment to obtain this compound. The advantage of this method is the low temperature and the short amount of time.”

In general, the titanate synthesis takes 12 hours, at a temperature of 1200 °C. With the new method proposed by Silva in his doctoral thesis, the whole process takes 10 minutes at a temperature of 140 °C. The researcher explains that, in addition to making the compound synthesis faster, the microwave-assisted hydrothermal method also enables a better control over the titanate properties. “This compound managed to display interesting properties as a sensor for ozone gas and nitrogen dioxide, as well as photoluminescence and photocatalysis”.

Gas sensors are usually used by the industry as a key element for safety in production lines. The device helps to detect gases which are odorless and hazardous to human beings. Thus, the detectors play a major role ensuring safety in installations and preventing accidents.

To read the original thesis by Luis Fernando da Silva, click here.

About the CDMF

CDMF is one of the several Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers (CEPID) supported by FAPESP. The center also receives funds from CNPq, through the National Institute of Science and Technology for Nanotechnology Materials (INCTMN), integrating a research network between UNESP, the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar), USP and the – Nuclear and Energy Research Institute (IPEN).

CAPES Award for Thesis

The CAPES award was created in the year of 2005, with the purpose of granting a distinction to the best doctoral thesis defended and approved in Brazilian courses. Its selection takes into account criteria of originality, innovation and quality, considering that the pre-selection is made by the graduate programs.

The award ceremony will be held in the CAPES office, in Brasília, on December 10th.

[Press release from the CDMF]