Who Cut the Cheese?

After a long day at the conference, topping it off with some difficult but necessary conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion the number one thing that I crave is a curated charcuterie board of assorted cheeses....Not really, but the blue cheese got me to stick around for a few more moments.

In the next moment the last of us cheese monsters were huddled around a table nerding out about layered materials. That is the magic of MRS, we all had a safe space to ask questions, practice explaining our ideas and at the same time an opportunity to build life long connections. Maybe it was just me but our table was glowing with energy. It was this moment that for all of us the conference momentum would change completely.

I met some of the most impressive scientists I have ever met. PhD students at Central Florida University Dylan Jeff and Alexis Agosto along with undergraduate student Luis Tomar left a deep impression on me. So much so, I felt compelled to show them Prof. Oscar Dubon and Prof. Junqiao Wu's labs. We ended up jetting to Berkeley checking out the lab and hanging out the rest of the night. I look forward to keeping in touch with this brilliant trio of scientists. Dylan Jeff presented on An Extensive Raman Study on Quantum Material Nb3Cl8: From Bulk to Thin Layers. 

Keep a look out for their future publications, they will not disappoint.

-Viva MSE


Will Liquid Crystals Terminate Sarah Connor?

The first time I heard about liquid crystals I had the initial perplexed look on my face about how this state of mater could exist, what could it look like. I even wondered what it might taste like...I must admit I was a bit hungry.

It wasn't until I remembered the movie Terminator and how the robots where made of a shape shifting liquid (crystal maybe?) that it hit me what this brilliant scientist Giulia Spallanzani, of the Technische Universiteit of Eindhoven in  Netherlands, was actually doing. She was developing crystals that can flow like a liquid and respond quickly to external stimulus.

Ok maybe liquid crystals aren't going to evolve into murdering robots but they certainly will be making waves in robotics, texture-changing surfaces and self-cleaning surfaces. Giulia  might be one of the most humble scientists I ever met, an exceptional experimentalist, she was able to develop an electrical driven Liquid Crystal Elastomer (LCE) driven by Joule heating of a resistive element.

I unfortunately was not able to attend her talk but was lucky to run into her often enough to get a crash course on these LCEs. It was so fun discussing with her and her ability to take complex ideas and explain them to people with no experience was evident. I walked away excited to tell others about LCEs.

This brilliant powerful scientists future is very bright, I am so grateful to have met her. Do yourself a favor and say hello to Giulia, you wont regret it!

What color solar cell is your favorite?

I think many of us can remember the first time we took statics and we found out most of the trusses in a bridge don't carry load and are really just there for aesthetic purposes. The way things look is an important characteristic that should be considered in materials being used in buildings and structures.

Increasingly, mundane object like a roof and a window are transforming into opportunities to generate or save energy. Building integrated photovoltaics are one category of material applications in which the technology is integrated with the design of the structure. For example the windows not only bring in light but also absorb part of the solar spectrum and generate electricity.

How do we design these types of materials? This is a question that not only excites Minji Kim, of Ewha Womans University in Seoul Korea, but also has her in the lab answering it with her work on Light Scattering Optical Color Filters for Enhancing the Absorption in Colorful Semitransparent Solar Cells.

I was very unfamiliar to this area of research and her ability to explain the fundamental materials concepts and provide perspective on the big picture made her work easy to follow. I found myself hypnotized by her poster, it was elegantly designed. Her enthusiasm and pride in her work was like a beacon drawing me in to ask questions and learn more.

Definitely take a look at her paper with the same title as the poster, and decide which solar cell color is your favorite. I think the blue one is my personal favorite.


-Viva MSE

Thermal runaway has this scientist running straight to the lab

With more electric vehicles on the road, we are now faced with new types of vehicle fires that burn hotter than standard vehicles and are more difficult to put out. Many fire departments across the state of California realize they are not prepared for this. It is a serious safety concern. Yet when you meet the vibrant and brilliant scientist, Annie Sun of Purdue University, you can't help but feel calm and excited, then bam all of  a sudden you can't stop talking about nonflammable solid-state lithium-ion batteries.

Her passion is infectious and you can't help but wonder what is everyone smiling about when you pass by her poster. Her command of the subject and understanding of the fundamental materials science at work allows her to take technical data and area specific jargon and transform it into a natural conversation. I couldn't help but think, wow this is how a poster presentation is done!

I had to move on unfortunately but I could have stayed all day talking to this brilliant magnetic scientist. Ultimately she expressed confidence in the future of nonflammable solid-state lithium-ion batteries and the works future is in refining the microstructure to improve charging capabilities of their coin cells.

Do yourself a favor and keep an eye on this one! She is going places, I look forward to her future publications.

-Viva MSE


MOFs Targeting bacteria...whats next?

A friendly face yet a stranger to begin with, Jon Ostolaza sat almost suspiciously next to an open hole in the conference centers floor. After deeper inspection, alas! I had found a charger. Speaking to Jon, I could feel his infectious excitement surrounding his work and I had not even asked yet. Staring intently at his computer, I Interrupt him to ask about his interests.

Metal organic frameworks (MOFs) are what excites this brilliant scientist. These structures are composed of metal clusters linked by organic molecules which allow for a variety of shapes with controlled porosity. A key characteristic that is taken advantage of for drug delivery.

Jon, with his fresh pair of Levi’s jeans, as stylish as they come, happily took me down a brief timeline of MOFs concluding on why his work has created a special excitement. Instead of targeting cancer cells his work focuses on targeting bacteria. Definitely check the work out that he has done on Aptamer-Functionalized Metal-Organic Frameworks as an Efficient Delivery Vehicle of Antimicrobial Peptides.

His talk will be on Thursday April 13 at 8:30AM, Moscone West, Level 2 Room 2016.

-Viva MSE

Poster Session Highlight in Microscopy

Tucked in this futuristic turquoise blue chair was an energy so strong it would be impossible not to notice. With a radiating brilliance and the coolest tiger print shoes I had seen, I could not help but introduce myself to this powerful confident scientist. It didn’t hurt that the laptop they used sported a very familiar Berkeley logo.

The scientist name is Sarah “Sally” Karstens and if you thought for a second microscopy would put you to sleep, a few moments discussing with her and you’d be writing a proposal to the Molecular Foundry at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab(LBNL) sitting with your fingers crossed that you get the chance to work at the National Center for Electron Microscopy(NCEM). Not only is she an inspirational and enthusiastic graduate student she is also the Regional Liaison for the Microscopy Society of America(MSA). Wow!

Come check her out at the poster session on April 12 5-7PM where she will be presenting exciting results on Imaging Gas Adsorption in MOFs via 4D-STEM Ahhhh! I am excited, I don’t know about you.

If you miss the chance to catch her poster, make sure to check out the paper with the same title.  If you wanted to learn more about the MSA, definitely reach out to this impressive scientist.


-Viva MSE!

Lunar Dance at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

The 2023 MRS Spring Meeting and Exhibit began with a mesmerizing performance of a Chinese lunar dance, which left the audience in awe. The intricate movements of the dancers, the colorful costumes, and the traditional music created a magical ambiance that transported everyone to ancient China.

The dance was based on the Chinese lunar calendar, which is an important aspect of Chinese culture. The lunar calendar is based on the cycles of the moon and is used to determine important dates such as Chinese New Year, Mid-Autumn Festival, and many others.

The dance began with the sound of a gong, which signaled the start of the performance. The dancers, dressed in elaborate costumes, moved gracefully on stage, performing a series of intricate steps that were synchronized with the music. The movements of the dancers were so fluid and effortless that it was hard to believe that they were actually performing a choreographed routine.

As the dance progressed, the audience was treated to a visual feast of colors and patterns. The dancers used silk fans, ribbons, and parasols to create beautiful shapes and designs in the air. The intricate choreography and the mesmerizing music created an atmosphere of tranquility and peace that enveloped the entire audience.

The Chinese lunar dance is a celebration of the cyclical nature of life and the harmony between humanity and nature. The dance was a reminder that even in the fast-paced world of technology and science, we must always remember our roots and the cultural traditions that have shaped us.

Overall, the Chinese lunar dance was a fitting opening to the 2023 MRS Spring Meeting & Exhibit. It not only showcased the beauty of Chinese culture but also reminded us of the importance of cultural exchange and understanding. It was truly a breathtaking experience that left a lasting impression on everyone in attendance.


First-time attendee at the 2023 MRS Spring Meeting & Exhibit

As a first-time attendee at the 2023 MRS Spring Meeting in San Francisco, I am filled with a sense of excitement, joy, and curiosity to learn about the latest scientific breakthroughs and developments. The prospect of meeting and interacting with leading experts and researchers in various fields of science is exhilarating, and I am eager to engage in discussions and exchange ideas. 

The next four days promise to be filled with engaging talks, insightful poster presentations, and interactive workshops. From cutting-edge materials science to groundbreaking advances in nanotechnology, the conference is sure to provide a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. I am particularly looking forward to attending sessions on the latest developments in renewable energy, biomaterials, and high entropy alloys.

Moreover, the chance to network with peers and experts from diverse backgrounds and cultures is an added bonus. I am excited to build new connections and collaborations and to learn about the latest trends and opportunities in my field of study.

I couldn't resist stopping and taking a picture with the cool photo booth featured in the picture. In the photo, I'm proudly holding up my name tag, which displays my name as "Nabojit Kar".

Overall, the MRS Spring 2023 Meeting is an excellent platform to gain insights into the latest research, build new connections, and expand horizons. I am thrilled to be part of this community of scholars and researchers, and I look forward to the next five days with enthusiasm and anticipation.