Young researchers delve deeper into materials science
23–29 July 2012: The AIMR hosted an English-based Summer School program for international graduate students in Sendai, Japan
The AIMR at Tohoku University recently welcomed 30 graduate level students from around the world – representing 13 different nationalities – to Sendai, Japan to learn from top materials science researchers at the 2012 WPI-AIMR Summer School of Materials Science (ASSM2012).
This one-week English-based summer school program, held over 23–29 July 2012, is a recent international initiative organized by the AIMR that will likely have an integral role in the institute’s continued efforts to develop the world’s next generation of leading researchers. It offered up-and-coming scientists and outstanding graduate students in fields such as physics, chemistry, materials science, electrical engineering, precision engineering and mechanical engineering a glimpse into materials science research and technology at the AIMR, hands-on experience using the institute’s cutting-edge experiment equipment, and the opportunity to build a global network with AIMR researchers and other students.
Originally scheduled to be launched last year, the program was cancelled due to the Great East Japan Earthquake, but received almost 200 applications this year from Master’s and PhD students all over the world wishing to attend. A selection committee made up of AIMR researchers carefully selected participants based on their academic background and motivation for joining the program.
With a theme of “Advanced Materials to Build a Better Future,” the program consisted of morning lecture sessions given by the principal investigators of each of the AIMR’s four main research groups (Soft Materials, Materials Physics, Device/Systems Construction and Bulk Metallic Glasses), followed by afternoon laboratory sessions in which pairs of students performed various experiments under the supervision of AIMR researchers.
AIMR Director Motoko Kotani officially commenced the summer school on the afternoon of 23 July with an opening address, in which she explained the aim of ASSM2012 is to offer students “a fruitful and productive opportunity to experience high-level and advanced research,” and emphasized the importance of bringing young scholars together to build networks for future research. “These networks will be indispensable for humans as they tackle many complicated obstacles, which are unprecedented in the history of the human race. I believe the foundation of the AIMR networks is composed of the networks formed among students and researchers.”
Spending the next four days with some of the world’s top materials science researchers gave the students a valuable opportunity to do just that. Professor Kazue Kurihara, principal investigator of the Soft Materials Group and current president of the International Association of Colloid and Interface Scientists, delivered the first lecture of the week on Tuesday morning by discussing the measurement of surface forces for nanomaterials science and technology.
After each lecture, students proceeded to four-hour laboratory sessions on topics that ranged from making nano-sponge metals to fabricating hydrogels for cell encapsulation and drug delivery. This balance of classroom instruction from leading researchers with laboratory time using advanced equipment exposed the students to many fascinating aspects of materials science and introduced them to the research goals and achievements of the AIMR.
The following days featured more lectures from renowned researchers. Professor Katsumi Tanigaki of the Materials Physics Group spoke on the functions of nanomaterials and their industry applications, while Professor Terunobu Miyazaki of the Device/Systems Construction Group discussed the importance of magnetic materials and how magnetism can be understood intuitively. Tanigaki is a former research leader at NEC known for his contributions to superconductivity research, and Miyazaki is the pioneer of tunneling magnetoresistance (TMR) and the 2009 recipient of the Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize of the American Physical Society, considered the most prestigious award in the field of condensed matter science.
The final lecture of the course was given by Professor Alain Reza Yavari of the Bulk Metal Glasses Group, who in 2011 received the Award for Scientific Excellence from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). One of the highest ranking researchers at CNRS, his lecture covered metallic glasses from bulk metallic glasses down to a microscopic scale.
After the lecture and laboratory sessions wrapped up on Friday afternoon, the students prepared for a full weekend of discussions and presentations to conclude the intense week of learning, but not before experiencing a slice of Japanese culture by painting kokeshi (traditional handmade Japanese dolls) at the Zao Royal Hotel.
A closing ceremony was held after the final presentations and discussions on Sunday afternoon, where students were presented with certificates of successful completion of the course. It marked the end of a productive week for the students and AIMR researchers, one that helped the AIMR and Tohoku University to carry out their commitment to supporting the development of young researchers around the world.