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[Event Review]: Black Sea Horizon International Workshop: “Applied research in chemistry: Smart materials for a smart future.”

On March 31, 2016, the Applied Research and Communications Fund (ARC Fund) hosted an international workshop in Sofia, entitled “Applied research in chemistry: Smart materials for a smart future”. The workshop was organised within the framework of the “Black Sea Horizon” project, and was the last one in a row of three thematic workshops that were held as part of the project. The event was attended by 21 experts (representatives of both science and business) in the field of smart materials from Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, France, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine. The aim of the workshop was to discuss pertinent research issues in the field of smart materials and to identify research topics of mutual interest for further uptake in forthcoming Horizon 2020 calls for proposals as well as in future international or regional bi-lateral and multilateral research programmes.   

[Event Review]: Black Sea Horizon International Workshop: “Applied research in chemistry: Smart materials for a smart future.”
  • Posted on: 14.04.2016
  • Bulgaria

Contact: Desislava Asenova, desislava.asenova@online.bg

The event was organised around three sessions with presentations and one plenary session for discussions and key messages. During the sessions with presentations, 13 of the participants made short presentations on current research in the field of advanced materials in the country they were representing and suggested a list with pertinent RTI topics to be included in future research programmes calls for proposals. Prior to the event, annotations of all the presentations were collected in a short catalogue which was disseminated during the workshop. During the plenary session, the experts provided general recommendations and formulated key messages of the day. 
The workshop began with a welcoming speech of Ms. Zoya Damianova, who is the progamme director of ARC Fund. She welcomed the participants and explained the purpose of the meeting. Then, a presentation of the BSH project by Ms. Georgia Chantzi who is a research fellow in ICBSS (Greece) followed. She provided an overview of the project with its objectives, duration, and partners, as well as more detailed information on the project’s task from which the workshop was part of. She also emphasised that the expected impact of the workshop will be increased cooperation between the EU and the countries from the Black Sea region. 
The first session with presentations was opened by Prof. Dr. Eldar Zeynalov from the Institute of Catalysis and Inorganic Chemistry, Azerbaijan. The subject of his presentation were the carbon nanostructured materials which were considered as advanced and effective catalytic systems for a liquid-phase oxidation of hydrocarbons. He talked about the experiments in this field that were made by the institute he is representing and gave his suggestion for a research topic – to use nano-grade carbon nanocatalysts for solving urgent regional ecology problems which imply total removing of oil contaminants from soil and sea surface. Next to present was Dr. Pierre Rabu from the Institute of Physics and Chemistry of Materials of Strasbourg, France. He talked about 2D hybrid materials which are considered as having tremendous potential for application in modern technology. The research topic that he proposed was the following: “2D hybrid structures and nanostructures for multi-addressable devices in electronic, environmental sensors, bio-sensors, with controlled storage/release, Multiprobe-multiscale characterization and modelling of “hybrid” interfaces”. The third presentation was made by Dr. Zoltan Varga from the Institute of Materials and Environmental Chemistry of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. His presentation was focused on the recent development of the use of smart materials (i.e. the inventions of nanotechnology) in molecular nanomedicine. Besides the overview of the recent advances in molecular nanomedicine, some examples from the Hungarian research groups working in the field were also presented with the aim of facilitating international collaborations. The suggested research topic was related to the development of stimuli responsive smart nanodrugs for theranostic treatment of cancer. The first presentations session was closed with the presentation of Dr. Olga Covaliova from the Institute of Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences of Moldova. She provided an overview of the current research in the field of smart materials in Moldova, emphasising that the research activities of the Moldovan chemical scientists are aimed at the development of novel materials applied in industrial processes for the resolving of ecological and energy challenges and for contributing to the economic development of the country. She also mentioned that the main fields of application of the novel materials are water treatment and conditioning, food production and medicine. After the first set of presentation there was time allocated for discussions and questions. 
The second set of presentations started with the presentation of Dr. Agnieszka Dabrowska from the Laboratory of Nanomaterials Chemistry and Physics at the University of Warsaw, Poland. She talked about nanomaterials and their way from synthesis to application. She also presented the main experimental set-up of their laboratory and the pros and cons of the self-propagating high-temperature synthesis. She concluded with the following suggestions for research topics: combustion synthesis as a versatile method of materials design; silicon carbide nanowires (NWSiC), NWSiC bundles, carbon encapsulated magnetic particles, core-shell structures; development of nanocomposites materials and fractal modelling  of structures. The second one to present was Prof. Dr. Aurelia Meghea from the Romanian National Academy of Sciences. She presented the topic of smart materials for health based on spontaneous flora of Black Sea region. Her focus was on nanostructured lipid carriers (NLCs) which have been intensively studied as delivery systems of cosmetic and pharmaceutical lipophilic drugs with successful results and which find its application in medicine (cancer treatment), in dermatology (skin cancer chemotherapy, chemo an photo-protection) and in cosmetics (photoprotection). She concluded that the special climate conditions existent in South-Eastern Europe and the potential of the countries in the region to develop green materials for health could be considered as a promising bridge to enhance STI cooperation with European Union. She also proposed several topics for future Horizon 2020 calls, focused on more efficient use of natural resources provided by Black Sea region to obtain smart materials based on soft nanotechnology techniques. The next one to present was Dr. Andrey Yaroslavtsev from the Kurnakov Institute of General and Inorganic Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He talked about recent advantages in low temperature proton exchange membrane fuel cells in Russia. He emphasised that technologies of the future will be based on the clean and safe energy sources. His research topic suggestions were related to hybrid membranes for fuel cells and water purification, as well as multisensory systems based on such membranes. The rest of the topics were development of energy storage using hydrogen cycle, cathode nanomaterials based on lithium ferrophosphate and anode nanomaterials based on lithium titanate. The second presentation session was concluded by Prof. Evgeny Antipov from the Department of Chemistry of the Lomonosov Moscow State University in Russia, who provided an overview of the novel materials for future energy. He stressed that ninety percent of the energy used today comes from fossil fuels, which in turn leads to serious consequences such as rapid consumption of renewable energy sources, ecological damage, and climate change. He expressed a concern with regard to the depletion of fossil fuels and stated that there is a need to increase the efficiency of use of fossil fuels and to develop clean, sustainable energy technologies. As possible solutions he mentioned the need to discover and design new materials for Li-ion batteries or multivalent-ion batteries and enabling the systematic design and synthesis of novel nanostructured electrodes that exhibit the key properties which are important for practical application. He concluded that research should be done on topics which are interesting and valuable not only to the scientists but also to the industry. The session was again closed with time for discussion and questions. 
The third presentations session was opened by Dr. Fevzihan Basarir from the TUBITAK Marmara Research Center, Turkey. With his presentation he outlined the recent progress on solution based transparent conducting electrodes (TCE). He presented the latest attempts of his organisation on TCE preparation by using various nanomaterials. The TCEs are one of the fundamental components of optoelectronic devices. His project offer was related to the design of biosensing assays and their potential applications in biomedical diagnosis and environmental monitoring. The second to make a presentation was Prof. Andrey Ragulya from the Frantsevich Institute for Problems in Materials Science of the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences. His topic was about the progress of R&D in the areas of smart composites based on ceramics and carbon fibers. The presentation gave information on the self-healing ceramic bearings and seals for operation in water steam, sea water, acids, basis and other aggressive media, lead-free materials and high modulus carbon fibers based composites. The next one to present was Dr. Nikolay Tankovsky from the Department of Physics at the Sofia University, Bulgaria. His presentation was focused on the potential means to realise a smart system which is the electrically excited resonant oscillations in a pendant, liquid droplet. His research topic suggestions were related to manipulation and analysis of charged micelles in ionic surfactant solutions and of adsorption-desorption dynamics in the interface liquid-air; and construction of miniaturized smart droplet system and development of algorithums for specific analysis of liquids. The last two presentations were from people from the business field. Firstly, Dr. Richard Smits from CSI, Bulgaria talked about agriculture as a source for advanced materials. He emphasised the importance of science getting inspiration for projects from the industry and of transferring knowledge from science to industry. He also stressed that scientists should go to business/industry, to see what they are doing, what they are interested in, what products they need to be developed and keep all these in mind when doing research. The second representative of the business sector was Dr. Lydia Kostova from Interiorprotect Ltd., Bulgaria. She talked about innovative flame retardants that can be used for after-treatment of porous polymers such as textiles, wooden materials, paper, corrugated board, leather, foams, etc. by simple application of spraying, brushing, rolling, and dipping. The flame retardants are halogen-free, environmentally friendly, biodegradable and non-hazardous. The research topic that she suggested was “Halogen-free fire retardant wildfire fighting”. This third presentations session was the last one of the three and was again closed with time for discussions and questions.     
What followed afterwards was the plenary session during which participants shared thoughts on the topic of smart materials and the workshop as a whole. Apart from the research topics that they have suggested in their presentations, participants were given the opportunity to suggest additional topics, inspired from the discussions. As a result, a list of thematic suggestions for pertinent research topics in the field of smart materials was created as well as recommendations for future activities and calls. At the end, key messages from the discussions and the overall workshop were summarized by Ms. Elena Nasybulina from the National Research University at the Higher University of Economics, Russia. She stressed that there are strong interest and potential in STI cooperation by countries that are both from the Black Sea region and other parts of Europe as well as solid basis for active cooperation. Another conclusion from the session was that it is necessary for countries to join resources and find effective global solutions for global challenges in the field of smart materials. It was also recommended for national funding agencies to join their efforts/resources to identify joint research topics that are interesting for their countries as this will ensure that scientists are nor dependent on the political climate in their countries. 

Please find attached all presentations held.

For more information please contact:

 Desislava Asenova (desislava.asenova@online.bg)

Scientific field: Materials science and engineering | Related Topics: BLACK SEA HORIZON | Geographical focus: Black Sea Region

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