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Macro-European forum on nanosciences and nanotechnology: from basis to applications

Final Activity Report Summary - NANOSCIENCESTECH (Macro-European forum on nanosciences and nanotechnology: from basis to applications)

To make the word "nano" more than a mantra, the Institut d'Etudes Scientifiques de Cargese has triggered a six-events program named "NANOSCIENCESTECH", across the period 2004-2006. It totalled over 500 participants. "Nano" refers to small dimensions, and actually implies the ability to tailor matter and waves down to the atomic scale. The fields encompassed by "nano" often fail to solely fall in physics, chemistry or biology. Instead they often bridge ideas and concepts among them. The motivation for science lies in its endless thrust for unravelling new questions. Teaching nanoscience and nanotechnology as a basis is all the more relevant since today's doctors (PhD) are tomorrow's teachers of the engineers of the next decades.

In the six opportunities of the Events, most of them scheduled as two weeks Training Courses, the beautiful and well organised Corsican facility of Cargese, run by French CNRS, homed numerous marking moments, thanks to a bunch of selected lecturers,. The pace of science in the selected areas has evolved so swiftly that no textbooks are available to students and doctors. Hence, the spirit of these Events was permanently oriented towards a high degree of participation of the young researchers, be it through Round Tables or through long Poster sessions where they vividly presented their own work often until late in the night. They were also challenged by the innovative content of the main courses. Care was taken to blindly evaluate the participants' satisfaction (generally very good) and to foster post-Event networking. Direct dissemination in a peer-reviewed journal was achieved in one of the Events.

The events favoured bridges among disciplines and technologies:
- The "Nanophotonics" event answered to the emergence of wavelength-scale lasers (less than a micron), single molecule sources, and photonic bandgap materials or photonic crystal fibres, with impacts in optoelectronics, lighting, bio-sensing, and quantum communication. The energy-saving LEDs may benefit from nanostructuring, for example. Photonic crystal fibres provide ultrabright white sources and assist atomic clocks for unprecedented accuracy.
- The "Quantum Logic and Communication" event dealt with quantum manipulation of "ultimate" systems, such as photons or single atoms and molecule, the most profound level at which information can be encoded. The immense perspectives as well as the hurdles of a "computer" based on "entangled qubits" (say, well prepared sets of single atoms) were at the centre of the courses. From this on, intrinsically safe cryptography makes engineering meet physics.
- The "Nanomagnetism and Spintronics" Event gave to the audience the flavour of the many new games permitted by spin manipulation of individual, controlled systems. Its implications range from data storage (such as the Giant MagnetoResistance used in today's hard drive) to electronics and quantum information as well. Interestingly, representative from major industrialists positively answered to invitations.
- The "Self organised Nanostructures" was a one-week conference, which bridged topics from material science, physics (including magnetism), chemistry and even biology. The Conference was clearly instrumental in gathering a previously scattered community and in raising the awareness on this field among those institutions that sent participants. It is widely recognised that semiconductors, magnets as well as metal composites do benefit from shaping in the self-organisation mode.
- The 'Nanotubes" Event gathered 116 participants. This wire-like new form of carbon is clearly a winner in the "nano" arena, due to its good balance between known local properties and atom arrangement, its overall complexity (how does a tube bend, how it conducts) and its performances (why it is so resistant, etc.). From many perspectives, the topic deserves its flagship role.
- Finally, Science and Technologies met Biology in the last "Nanobio objects" event. Hearing "microarrays" or "microfluidic" is commonplace in biology labs nowadays, but this event emphasised the forthcoming step, whereby sets of individual biological objects (molecules, cells, organites) are fully manipulated. From the evaluations conducted, the participants hugely benefited from a remarkable selection from the organisers.

To conclude, the Series combined the excellence of lecturers with the commitment of all organisers. They also positively tackled the involvement of industrials, and elaborated a mix that was enthusiastically adopted by young researchers. It went smoothly in a large majority of instances. Hurdles concerning post-event dissemination were met with respect to the ambitious objectives, but they appear to be specific to the institutional landscape rather than to a lack of motivation. Another series with a well-defined coupling to targeted publishers comes thus as a final suggestion, together with enhanced relationship with selected active "nano" networks