The Sirius Art & Science Park in Sochi has recently hosted a four-day Conference School on Photonics, Radio Physics and Nanotechnologies. More than 60 students from Russian universities attended lectures and workshops, competed in a hackathon, and visited their first “real” science conference, METANANO-2018, which brought together more than 300 experts in the field of nanophotonics and metamaterials from all over the world. Speaking to ITMO.NEWS, the students shared the details of their research and gave their answers to the question of why fundamental science is relevant today and why conferences matter.
The Conference School was organized by ITMO University and the "Talent and Success" Foundation. The participants were 66 students of Russian universities enrolled in programs in the fields of physics, chemistry, engineering, optics, radio physics, new materials, and nanotechnologies. Over the course of four days, from September 15 to 18, they learned about the latest scientific achievements by attending lectures, seminars, and workshops. Among the Conference School’s main topics were metamaterials, modern two-dimensional materials, plasmonics, nanotechnology, biophotonics, topological photonics, new optical materials, wireless energy transfer, and MRI imaging.
The School’s scientific supervisor is Pavel Belov, head of ITMO’s Faculty of Physics and Engineering. Dozens of speakers were invited as lecturers, including Andrey Bogdanov, head of the Master’s program Nanophotonics and Metamaterials at ITMO, with a lecture titled “Power of Light: From the Atom to a Spaceship”, Sergey Makarov, head of ITMO’s Laboratory of Hybrid Nanophotonics and Optoelectronics, Ivan Shelykh, head of ITMO’s Laboratory of Light-Matter Coupling in Nanostructures, and many others.
In addition to lectures and workshops, the students took part in a hackathon, working on a commercialization plan for a technological product. Participants had to solve four tasks, two focused on perovskites: they had to decide which areas of industry are best suited for the material, and also develop a new method for application of perovskites over large areas. Two other tasks dealt with biology and biomedicine. Alexey Slobozhanyuk, a research fellow at ITMO’s Faculty of Physics and Engineering, headed the hackathon and also gave a lecture titled “From Fundamental Research of New Materials to Innovative Technologies and Forming Startups.”
The School’s participants also had the chance to participate in their first “real” science conference, METANANO-2018, which took place in Sochi at the Sirius educational center. Students listened to reports from more than 300 scientists representing the leading research centers of Russia, Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia.
“In the first two days, the students attended lectures given by top researchers and heads of various departments of the Faculty of Physics and Engineering. The lectures were simple and introductory, so as to give the audience a broad understanding of the key current research in nanophotonics and metamaterials. This was, in essence, preliminary work to prepare the students for the two days in which they would attend sessions of the METANANO conference, where scientific reports were presented in professional, academic English,” says Mikhail Mukhin, a lecturer at the School and staff member of ITMO’s Faculty of Physics and Engineering, “This format has proven successful, and we are currently in talks with staff of Sirius to organize similar events in the future.”
The Conference School was open for students and those who are already beginning a career in research. In conversation with ITMO.NEWS, the young researchers shared their interests, research, and reasons to do science.
Pavel Kokhanchik, fourth-year student, Faculty of Physics, Moscow State University
I’m currently involved in optical research of living cells, namely red blood cells. My work primarily involves the optical trap, a popular device used today to study small objects. I study how the cells interact with each other and react to the optical trap.
I enjoyed the lectures by the staff of ITMO’s Faculty of Physics and Engineering. They are all young scientists and they spoke about relevant, current-day topics. University programs tend to be long-established, and thus provide you with overall knowledge, but little understanding of contemporary science.
The hackathon was another valuable experience. I hadn’t participated in events of that kind before, but I liked how we had to come up with a whole bunch of ideas in a short time, and then pick the best.