Materials science to build a better future

October 29, 2013

Mise à jour : September 15, 2020

A number of researchers from INRS’s Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications Research Centre shared their innovative ideas at the annual Materials Science and Technology (MS&T) conference. Organized by American businesses—mostly from the metallurgical sector—the event took place in Montreal for the first time, from October 27 to 31, 2013. Recently opened to advanced materials, an INRS area of expertise, the event featured 24 sessions organized by INRS professors and involved nearly 70 experts from 14 countries (Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States).


The 2013 conference explored “Shaping the Future with Technological Breakthroughs in Metallurgy and Materials.” Federico Rosei, Director of INRS’s Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications Research Centre, and six other professors discussed some rather futuristic avenues of research, from nanoelectric devices to medical and space applications for advanced materials.


Thanks to its unique positioning regarding research on advanced materials, photonics, and sustainable energy, the Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications Research Centre was able to put together a team of elite researchers—some of the best in the world. They discussed innovative processes for the synthesis, characterization, and application of new materials.


A hot topic these days, solar energy has been the focus of many sessions, from the basics to more technical aspects of research in the field. For example, professor Majed Chergui of École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne discussed charge transfer mechanisms in materials of interest for photovoltaics using a type of X-ray spectroscopy.


Historically developed with industry in mind, MS&T is a place for industrial and academic scientists to share their findings and ideas. In this vein, one of the guests of INRS, Jessica Topple of Chipworks, a Canadian company, took the opportunity to reveal certain development approaches resulting from advanced industrial research in the area of laser beam characterization techniques.


Distinguished guests

Among the guests at the conference, one researcher in particular was sure to draw a lot of attention: Professor John Polany iof Toronto University, who has been doing research for more than 60 years and won the 1986 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Since the start of the 21st century, he has focused his research on molecular motion on thin surfaces. He took part in a session on nanostructures in thin layers and their self-assembly, organized by Federico Rosei, Mohamed Chaker, and Alberto Vomiero, all from INRS.


Many notable guests took part in the discussions, such as Richard Siegel—a pioneer in nanotechnology—and James F. Scott of Cambridge University—a well-known scientist, often referred to as the “father of integrated ferroelectrics,” who was instrumental in the development of FRAM, a non-volatile memory. Professors Andreas Ruediger and Alain Pignolet of INRS were excited to have such a prominent researcher as a guest for their session on magnetoelectric and multiferroic nanostructures.


In addition to explaining innovative techniques for preparing and synthesizing materials, attendees shared their ideas on potential new applications, notably in the field of medicine. Daniel Jaque of the Autonomous University of Madrid will describe a therapeutic approach that involves using light-activated nanoparticles to kill unwanted cells.


A special experience for a Ph.D. student

Fortune sometimes smiles on students, and that is exactly what happened to Mischa Nicklaus, a Ph.D. student in energy and material science under Andreas Ruediger at INRS. Nicklaus got to present some of the results of his research project before giving the floor to two leading global experts in his field, Achim Hartschuh and Debdulal Roy—a brilliant debut for this talented student. The next day, he defended his thesis, the results of which were already being described as spectacular by jury members.


This was an exciting week for the materials industry. We can only wait and see how many innovative ideas and new partnerships will emerge from it.