An opportunity to become acquainted with the results of research and development of nanomaterialsin the Czech Republic and abroad as well as to meet the world's leading scientists working on nanotechnology and to debate with them had participants ofthe fifth annual international conference NANOCON'13. This event was organized by the Czech Society for New Materials and Technologies on 16 - 18, October 2013 in Brno, in cooperation with the Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials (RCPTM) at the Faculty of Science of Palacky University in Olomouc and with the company Tanger Ltd..
During the three days of the conference 84 lectures on 5 different thematic areas of research and applications of nanomaterials were presented for 293 participants from 37 countries of four continents. NANOCON´13 confirmed that it is the largest event of its kind organized in the Czech Republic and at the same time one of the largest conference in the field of nanotechnology in the Central European region.
The opening plenary lecture entitled "Environmental Health & Safety of Nanomaterials: When can Little Things be a BIG Deal for the Environment?" was performed by the world's leading chemist, Professor Gregory V. Lowry, Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh (USA). He presented the results of recent experiments relating new environmental nanotechnology for cleaning of contaminated wastewater. Another plenary speaker - Professor Seeram Ramakrishna from National University of Singapore, which is the third most cited researcher in materials science in the world, has confirmed his reputation as a global guru in the field of nanofibers and in his lecture "Electrospun Nanomaterials: Basics to Applications", outlined the wide range of nanofibre applications produced by electrospinning and electrospraying techniquesfor regenerative medicine, solar energy, water regeneration or food.
Other lectures were related to nanomaterials, their preparation, properties and methods of characterization, the measurement and standardization of various procedures related to the characterization and use of nanoparticles. Next presentations were focused on a variety of nanostructured metallic materials, such as iron, gold or silver, the nanocomposites, carbon nanostructures, materials for electronics and optics, nanoceramic materials, nanowires, etc.
The programme of the conference accentuated also the issue of impact of nanomaterials on human health and nature. Dr. Lang Tran of the Institute from Occupational Medicine in Edinburgh (UK), a specialist in nanotoxicity, attracted the attention of the participants by his explanation of potential cause of atherosclerosis, which is becoming a serious lifestyle disease. According to him, the toxicity is caused by endogenous biological nanoparticles. In his lecture he outlined the research and development of targeted nanocarriers for the identification of this disease and its treatment. Dr. Melanie Auffan from the French centre CEREGE in her speech dealt with exposure of nanomaterials in various stages of their life cycle - from development through production to their use in the final products. She informed about the results of the investigation showing that nanomaterials can penetrate through various biological membranes and can spread to different parts of living organisms, including the fact that they can also cause the toxicity.
Professor Ralph Krupke from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Germany) delivered a presentation about revolutionary possibilities of using graphene in nanoelectronics. Dr. Martin Nikl from the Institute of Physics of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic introduced a wide application potentialof nanophosphors (grain size below 100 nm), such as biomarkers or for photodynamic therapy in oncology. Jiří Homola, director of the Institute of Photonics and Electronics AS CR, informed about the progress of his team in research and development of optical biosensors, which are used in medical diagnostics, environmental monitoring and the monitoring of food quality.
The award of Dr. Tasilo Prnka (the promoter of nanotechnology in the Czech Republic), for the best lecture of young scientists under the age of thirty years received Ms. Petala Eleni from Greece, the post-doctoral student at the Faculty of Science of the Palacky University in Olomouc. Her lecture was focused on application of iron nanoparticles in water treatment.
In the poster session two hundred posters had been performed. Their scientific content and graphic design have been assessed by a professional jury. As the best poster has been evaluated the work of Dr. Oliver Beier from the research department of the company Innovent in Jena (Germany) showing new possibilities to create functional thin films by using cold atmospheric pressure plasma enhanced CVD techniques. Among the top three the poster of Dr. Catherine Jurková from the Research Institute of Physical Chemistry Jaroslav Heyrovsky the Czech Republic was evaluated. She presented the single-layer MoS2 and its interaction with graphene. Honorable Mention from Brno for an interesting poster was awarded to five other experts.
The conference NANOCON'13 confirmed that this event becomes a popular meeting place for Czech nanotechnology community. In total 12 universities, 11 research institutes of the Academy of Sciences and other research organizations, such as the State Office for Nuclear Safety, the Public Health Institute and the Czech Metrology Institute, and twenty-five private sector entities, typically innovative companies with strong research background (eg. Contipro Biotech, Nanovia, TOSEDA, ASIO or TESCAN) presented their results in the field of nanomaterials and nanoinstruments in Brno.
For example, the associate Professor Martin Weiter form the Chemical Faculty of the Technical University in Brno introduced advances of his research team in the development of organic materials and nanomaterials for applications in organic electronics and photonics. Their advantages such as flexibility, light weight and protection of the surrounding environment, suggest their great future. Nanostructured organic solar cells, organic transistors and sensors (based on these new materials) have been already engineered by Brno researchers in the newly equipped laboratory. Jaroslav Lev from the Czech company Asio in his contribution wondered if nanofiber materials could replace the current micro filtres. Miroslav Tejsl of the company Pardam focused on the functionalization of polymeric nanofiber materials industrially produced by this Czech company.
"This year's conference confirmed the high quality of research of nanomaterials in the Czech Republic as well as the growing interest of experts from abroad to establish cooperation with Czech experts. Some of them do not hide their surprise of the wide spectrum of research topics in a small country like the Czech Republic, erudition Czech researchers, modern equipped laboratories and the results achieved, „says Professor Radek Zboril’, the conference chairman and the director of the Regional Centre of Advanced Technologies and Materials. His words were confirmed by Professor Vladimir Šepelák from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, whose research group collaborates with experts from the Institute of Physics of Materials AS CR. Professor Ramakrishna from Singapore, visited in Brno the new Research Centre of Materials being constructed in the last two years in the Faculty of Chemistry of Brno University of Technology. During the conference Dr. Lang Tran consulted details of cooperation with Professor Pavel Danihelka from the Faculty of Safety Engineering of Technical University in Ostrava. A Professor Philomela Komninou from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, a recognized expert on the characterization of nanoparticles, discussed with colleagues from the Institute of Physics AS CR the continuation of the joint research in the field of semiconductor nanostructures.
About forty percent of the participants came from abroad this year. The most foreign participants came from Russia, Italy, Greece and South Korea. The research results presented in Brno also scientists from distant countries, including China, U.S.A., South Africa or Japan. For example, Professor Fabio Vianello from the University of Padova (Italy), who presented the novel biotechnological applications of surface active maghemite nanoparticles in medicine for targeted drug delivery and teranostics (combines diagnosis and targeted therapy, including monitoring the effectiveness of the applied therapy). Dr. Karin Aschberger of ISPRA Research Centre of the European Commission presented the existing regulatory measures relating to the safe use of nanomaterials within the EU.
The interest of the corporate sector of nanomaterials illustrated by the fact that eight companies exhibited their products and demonstrated laboratory and measuring equipment in the conference accompanying program. Electron microscopes, spectrometers, particle size and surface and other instruments for the characterization of nanomaterials, as well as laboratory chemicals, nanoparticles and other materials were exhibited during the conference altogether by 8 companies. More information about the conference is available at www.nanocon.eu.
Next year's conference NANOCON´14 will be held again in Brno on December 5th to 7th, 2014.
Conference Program Committee Chair and Head of Nanosection of the CSNMT