The school will bring together specialists in light-transporting or light-detecting material, such as glass and fiber optics, from Brazil and abroad

Photonic advances will be presented at the São Paulo School of Advanced Sciences

August 8, 2012

By Elton Alisson

Agência FAPESP – The Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP) Chemistry Institute at the Araraquara Campus will hold the 1st Advanced School of Sciences on Materials for Photonic Applications - Glasses, Optical Fibers and Sol-Gel Materials (SAMPA) on October 6 to 14. The scientific event in São Paulo will have presentations on the most recent discoveries in the field of light-producing, light-transporting or light-detecting materials.

The event targets master’s and doctoral students in the areas of chemistry, physics and materials engineering in programs from universities around the globe.

Some 60 students will be chosen to participate, half from Brazil and half from abroad. The participants will receive financing for plane tickets, land transport, housing, meals and course material.

According to Sidney José Lima Ribeiro, professor at UNESP’s Chemistry Institute at Araraquara and Sampa coordinator, the objective of the event, held under the auspices of the São Paulo Advanced School of Sciences (ESPCA), a FAPESP program, is to convey to participants a general and up-to-date overview on the recent scientific and technological advances in photonics.

The Advanced School program will comprise practical and theoretical classes on themes such as processing, preparation and applications in fiber optics, glass and sol-gel.

The classes and activities will be conducted by specialists in Brazil and abroad who are world renowned for their scientific contributions in photonics.

“We sought to bring together the top specialists from countries such as Portugal, Italy, Spain, France, the United States and Canada to present the most important discoveries in state-of-the-art laboratories the world over,” Ribeiro told Agência FAPESP.

Among the best-known materials with photonic properties are glass – considered the oldest material that humans learned to make and that is utilized in illumination devices such as lights – and fiber optics, which functions by propagating light. Fiber optics is the basis of current telecommunication and TV transmission systems.

According to Ribeiro, a recent innovation in photonics is the development of more efficient light emitters, such as organic light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which increase the sharpness and brightness of displays on electronic devices such as TV sets and computer monitors and use less energy than conventional LEDs.

Other innovations are special fiber optics that control the properties of the light propagated, more sensitive detectors and information transport and storage channels, which offer greater data storage capacity.

“Today, the storage capacity of a DVD, which is a high-capacity optical disk, is limited to 4.5 gigabytes. This number could be multiplied by four with the development of new materials that can also store data,” he stated.

According to the researcher, in addition to telecommunications, other areas in which photonic materials are being applied are medicine and textiles, in which fiber optics and light sources in so-called “smart fabrics” are capable of repelling humidity, reflecting light and reducing perspiration odors.

“There is ever-increasing development and usage of materials through photonic techniques, which form the basis of the modern techniques in biology and materials engineering that are behind all the technological development that we are seeing today in cellular telephony, telecommunications and television industries, among others,” said Ribeiro.

One of the preparation techniques for photonic materials that will be presented at the Advanced School of Sciences is the sol-gel method.

In practice since the 19th century, the sol-gel technique, which forms the basis of nanotechnology, has been widely explored in the last few years because it allows the introduction of organic compounds into solid materials at low temperatures, which is impossible to achieve through conventional methods.

“Normally, the handling and processing of glass, fiber optics and ceramics involves high temperatures of approximately 1,500 degrees. Through the sol-gel method, which involves colloidal suspension and gelling of the medium, it is possible to manipulate these materials at low temperatures,” said Ribeiro.

According to the researcher, during the event, participating students will have the opportunity to conduct a synthesis of sol-gel materials in addition to working with glass and fiber optics.

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