What I obtained in this MRS Meeting

The five-day meeting has brought me a lot.

1) Deepened my understanding about my research through presentations and discussions with researchers with different backgrounds but working in fields relevant to my research.

2) Practiced how to present and communicate effectively to both experts in my fields and "laymen" with other research specialty.

3) Practiced scientific writing and news writing by attending the MRS Science Writing workshop and serving as a blogger.

4) Extended my professional network. I've interviewed leading figures in my research fields and was also able to discuss with other talented graduate students.

5) Met MRS organizers who I would never see in my life if I didn't decide to come. Chats with session organizers and meeting organizers as well as MRS website administrator revealed numerous behind-the-scenes stories, adding unique elements to my meeting experience.

If you are one of the graduate students who are reading this post but didn't get a chance to involve this time, I would encourage you to attend the MRS Fall Meeting at Boston in this Nov.

Ready to get back at it

While I enjoyed a week out of the lab, off from stressing about deadlines and papers, I am ready to get back at it. This week invigorated me to work harder at my research in order to be able to present my work to the next convention (MRS Fall, anyone?). Hearing from all these names who I’ve never met, but read papers of and bouncing ideas around with them allowed me to realize that science is all in this together.

I am ready to bring what I had learned about my materials and processes back home with me to the lab. MRS may be over for now, but the effects that this conference had will play a vital role in my research.

Pizzeria Bianco

Ever since I saw Pizzeria Bianco on Yelp I knew I had to visit the cute little red brick building once before I leave, and today seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so. With the one hour I had left in Phoenix, before my flight back to Los Angeles, I made my colleagues walk over to Heritage Square to grab a pie with me. Because it was after lunch hours there was no wait at all for a table, but the restaurant was still pretty and almost full. 

I ended up ordering a 1/2 Sonny 1/2 Wiseguy pizza, while my colleague enjoyed a unique gingerale (this soda brand that Pizzeria Bianco carried boasts low sugar as a feature). The pizza was amazing and words can't do justice, but I can guarantee that the somewhat steep price of $20 for a small pie was worth all my dollar bills. If you're in the area and/or looking for a great pizza, stop by Pizzeria Bianco.

Convention Center

The convention center, my home for the last week, is a unique building. Perhaps my favorite architectural quality of the convention center would be the giant “garage door” which opens during the mornings. It makes the PCC very accessible and open to the world around it. It made the atmosphere of the convention extend beyond the heavy (they were pretty heavy for me) doors, and out to the streets, to fully embrace the city.

Going downstairs to the exhibit hall and registration was a complete transformation as well, seeing high ceilings and large open areas, even allowing for indoor walking between PCC buildings. Being on the first floor, PCC West was a very busy place where I saw most of my nanomaterials talks. PCC North seemed to be a bit calmer. The rooms in North seemed much larger, and more personal.

While the PCC is not the biggest convention center I’ve been in, it definitely has a lot of character to it. I think this was a great choice for MRS17 to have been held.

Phoenix: A Busy City

When we first arrived on Monday, I was excited to see all the other scientists walking around with their MRS badge. On that same day, I saw an influx of high school groups in the hotels nearby and in the convention center. This was the SkillsUSA group, a convention aimed to help high school students who wish to pursue careers as police, firemen, etc.

As the week went on, I saw a variety of people come in and out of the hotels. Most of the people I saw were MRS members, as I was constantly in the crowd, but I also met some people who were there on business trips, some locals who came down for festivities, and even some vacationers who are enjoying downtown.

Finally, on our last days, I noticed many women move into my hotel, a group part of some choir conference. While I never learned more about the chorus activities, I noticed that the city had changed in the week, from being filled with high schoolers running around, riding the elevator to kill time, to now being filled with the sounds of choirs breaking into song.

Downtown Phoenix and the convention center is a bustling, busy city that is constantly changing and welcoming many unique groups and visitors.

A piece of suggestion for MRS

In an early post, our blogger John mentioned that as MRS members, you are qualified for a number of benefits: http://materials.typepad.com/mrs_meeting_scene/2017/04/mrs-membership-beyond-the-meetings.html

MRS is surely doing an awesome job in providing us these services, but I don't know how many of you are aware all of them. My personal feeling is that MRS is a little bit "shy" in reaching out to its members. Personally I would like to receive emails notifying me anything that MRS is providing. As far as I know, researchers frequently check their emails because conversations in academia primarily utilize emails as the communication platform. 

I, as an MRS member, would like to hear what great works MRS is doing for us!

My Last Day in Sprite '17 MRS

Time flies! Already five days have passed and officially today is the last day for the Spr '17 MRS meeting. In the morning I attended the ES2 sessions and learned a lot from fellows working both in batteries and supercapacitors. At the end of meeting, I met with a graduate student from UK. His team works on supercapacitor simulation works and published a high quality paper I just came across a few weeks ago. We talked about the current research in his group as well as challenges and opportunities for supercapacitor simulation works. It is always of great pleasure to talk to those people who are working on theoretical studies to guide our experimentalists to design novel materials.

Early this afternoon four bloggers met together for the first time (because we always scattered to capture the materials for our posts I guess), and took a photo together. Then I was approached by an engineer and shared me his valuable feedbacks about the past meeting. At 3 pm, I went to Sheraton and thanked Judy, who worked behind-the-scene and maintained this website, for  all her great effort! I returned from Sheraton and joined the last session of ES1, where people were talking about perovskite materials. The last session officially ended at 4:45 pm.

Looking forward, the first thing is to get back home. I will have an early fly (7 am) to San Jose, CA tomorrow. Will release myself for a work-free night to pack my things.

Bloggers for Spr '17 MRS Meeting


In the final day, we four bloggers finally managed to gather together and had the photo above. We hope our posts have added values to your participation in this meeting. Sessions, plenary talks, award ceremony, career fair, we were always there with you. We hope you've enjoyed our posts and this MRS spring meeting.

Being an blogger trains me on how to extract useful information from talks and how to communicate information effective to general audience. It also enabled me to talk to the "big names" in my field and to learn their inspiring behind-the-door stories about their researches. I also met a number of peers who we have chatted together and I learned a lot from them.

Everyone, have a safe trip back home! Hope to see you in next MRS meetings!

SM2: Advanced Multifunctional Fibers and Textiles

Yan-qing Lu, Nanjing University, China

Microfiber-Based Microcavities and Miniaturized Fiber Stereo Devices

Written by Akshay Phadnis

Microcavities based on optical microfibers are significant in fiber electronics because of their strong confinement, large evanescent field, flexibility, low-loss connection, and configurability. The one-dimensional (1D) approach involves methods such as Bragg grating for producing micro-cavities on the microfiber surface. Yan-qing Lu of Nanjing University explains the importance of optical force in these fibers, wherein force due momentum change of photons is considered. As compared to 1D, the three-dimensional resonator can be developed by a 2D graphene sheet coiled and put inside a 3D cavity of spiral microfibers. These kinds of special resonators, miniaturized fiber stereo device (MFSD), result in increased interaction length, with high modulation efficiency and hence find applications in optical modulation for optical signal processing. This type of miniaturized fiber stereo, in-line, all-optical modulator has potential in fiber optical communications, in which there are demands for high-speed, wideband, low-cost, and integrated methods to modulate information.

ES14: Thin-Film Chalcogenide Semiconductor Photovoltaics

Chris Leighton, University of Minnesota

Potential Resolution to the “Doping Puzzle” in Pyrite FeS2: Carrier Type Determination by Hall Effect and Thermopower

Written by Ahmad R. Kirmani

As the race toward a cost-effective solar energy conversion technology heats up, the need to better understand the fundamental questions at the heart of these promising technologies takes center-stage. One such interesting technology is based on pyrite iron sulfide (FeS2) as the absorber. The interest and potential in this not-much-pursued photovoltaics lies in its earth-abundance, non-toxicity, low-cost, and optimal bandgap. However, since the metric of power-conversion efficiency (PCE) rules the photovoltaics sector, interest in FeS2 has declined owing to sub-standard PCEs, making it a failed photovoltaic technology. Low voltages are a scourge to these solar cells and an inability to effectively dope them has led to the downfall.

Chris Leighton and his team at the University of Minnesota hope to revert this trend. Leighton feels that an efficient control over doping requires a deeper understanding of the doping mechanism in this material that the community has so far lacked. Harkening back to the widely-held misunderstandings on doping of FeS2 single crystals and thin films, the team took a fresh look employing a suite of characterization techniques. The findings suggest a rethink on the widely-accepted notion that these thin films are predominantly p-type. Furthermore, the team suggests that sulfur vacancies might, in fact, be responsible for doping in this photovoltaic material. 

These key findings from the Leighton group are potentially game-changing and provide crucial design rules for a cost-effective and non-toxic pyrite FeS2-based photovoltaic technology.