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]