New Research Collaborations With US Universities

Sergey Makarov, Deputy Head of the Department of Dielectric Nanophotonics went to the United States to open up opportunities for research collaboration with American universities. During his two week stay in the United States, he visited four universities with which ITMO University is going to conduct joint research: The University of Virginia, the City University of New York, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas at Dallas. He also paid a visit to MIT and Harvard. At each University he conducted seminars where he talked about the achievements of the laboratory and got to know local experts.

As a result, ITMO University plans to implement a project, together with the Anvar Zakhidov, the Associate Director of NanoTech Institute at the University of Texas Dallas, on the creation of optical and electronic devices based on new materials and nanophotonic structures.

"Electronic component based materials, like nanotubes or perovskites and nanoparticles are very functional and compact. They can work on flexible devices – for example, made from polymer with an unbelievable radius of curvature. In fact, they can even roll it into a thin tube, just like in Sci-Fi movies when you take out rolled up piece of paper from your pocket, unroll it, and in your hand you have a device", – says Sergey Makarov.

As explained by the scientist, the ability to implement such technologies arose by chance. By publishing the work of the Chair of Nanophotonics and Metamaterials in respected journals with a high impact factor such as Advanced Materials, Nano Letters and Nanoscale, this in turn attracted the attention of foreign scientists to the Chairs. Now, specialists from different countries are becoming interested in the work of the Chair including colleagues from the University of Texas at Dallas.

For example, American colleagues have already made impressive progress in the development of solar panels, using new materials, explained Sergey Makarov. They gave their best samples to ITMO University, whose scientists will improve their characteristics and performance.

“We can modernize the newest American optoelectronic devices by increasing the absorption coefficient in the solar cell due to the nanoparticles in the thin active layer. For comparison, you can pick up a piece of paper and see how easily light goes through it. The thickness of the devices we are planning to work on will be hundreds of times thinner than paper, and this means that they will be almost completely transparent. So that’s why we are going to integrate nanostructures within them, which will effectively capture the light, and guide it in the right direction” added the scientist.

In this context, ITMO University is also interested in working with leading scientific groups in Germany and Finland with whom they already have joint research in the field of photovoltaics and biosensors.

From nonlinear nanodevices to artificial muscles

Sergei Makarov was also interested in the research of eminent scientist Ray Baughman, Director of NanoTech Institute at the University of Texas at Dallas in the field of nanophotonics and metamaterials, known for his work in the field of advanced materials. In 2011, he used carbon nanotubes to create artificial muscles and continues with this research today.

"He showed interest in our project to create metal nanowires, which potentially can be made from titanium nickelide with shape memory effect. On the basis of these nanowires, the Americans are ready to make artificial muscles that will shrink under the influence of an electric current", – said Sergey Makarov.

Further connections were made with researchers and academics at other leading universities in the USA, in which Sergei Makarov spoke about the Chair’s R&D work.  Thus, scientific collaboration will begin with Italian scientist Andrea Alu from the University of Texas at Austin, creating joint models of nonlinear nanodevices. In addition, a Professor at the University of Virginia, Leonid Zhigilei, proposed to send his students for an internship at ITMO University, so that they could “radically increase” their knowledge of physics, material science and nanooptics. Furthermore, collaboration with Professor Patrick Hopkins will give Mr. Makarov access to devices designed for spectroscopy with time resolution in a wide spectral range from UV to far infrared rays. Chemist and material scientist Joshua Tsoi is ready to synthesize highly efficient quantum dots and nanoparticles for colleagues from ITMO University, so they can continue to measure their optical properties. And Alexander Khanikaev, who works at the City University of New York and recently won the ITMO University Professorship competition, showed the scope of his American laboratory and expressed willingness to cooperate in the creation of new nanophotonic devices.