- Organized in
partnership with the International
Sol-Gel Society (ISGS
), the XX
International Sol-Gel Conference
was hosted by ITMO University on
August 25-30, 2019, in St. Petersburg, the former capital of Russia.
Over 500 scientists from 55 countries took part into what was
perhaps the best ever edition of the world's leading meeting in sol-gel
"Next Generation is the motto of the
" said the conference's chair and head of ITMO
University’s SCAMT Laboratory Vladimir
opening the conference on Monday at Tovstonogov Bolshoi Theater
held by ITMO students.
Following, the greeting address of ITMO University’s vice-Rector
responsible for international affairs Daria
, the two other members of the international organizing
committee, Vadim Kessler
and David Avnir
, briefly explained the
new approach followed to organize the conference.
"We asked leaders and recognized
experts in the field" Professor
Vinogradov added "what they
think about the future of the sol-gel community and what career
development pathways for young researchers they see.
"Likely we will not find all the answer, but we will open an ongoing dialogue that
will continue well after the conference
The first plenary lecture was given in the splendid hall of the
Tovstonogov Bolshoi Theater by Norway's Academician Mari-Ann Einarsrud
who gave a
remarkable presentation on aqueous deposition routes and
characterization of thin inorganic oxide films.
A first photo album
made available by the organizers. Another photo and video
was published by Mario Pagliaro.
Beyond the traditional lectures and
the international meeting offered an hands-on
workshop on aerogels
on the very first day (August 25th) with eminent scholar and relevant
entrepreneurs in the field of silica aerogels, and a science communication
workshop as part of Science Slam
a new format where scientists present the specifics of their research
during ten-minute presentations that resemble stand-up comedy
This was the first
novel format forms part of the official program of International
Sol-Gel Conference whose first edition took place in Padua, Italy, in
Supporting the next generation
of materials chemistry
scientists, the conference hosted competition for the best 100 MS
and PhD students
open for applicants under 25 years, offering free access to
the conference, workshops and dorm accommodation.
Because of 2019 Sol-Gel’s focus on supporting young specialists in the
field, the program underwent significant changes compared to previous
years. Joining plenary reports by globally renowned scientists, which
revolved around applications of the sol-gel method in 3D printing,
quantum technologies, space engineering and other promising fields, and
the Ulrich Award ceremony were lectures by students and panel
discussions aimed at helping young researchers.
Entitled “How to build a successful
, a most interesting roundtable discussion was held on
the afternoon of August 27th during which young delegates feely asked
questions to the five participants -- experienced scientists and
representatives of the industry -- of the roundtable moderated by David
Answering questions from the role of women in science through the
importance of having clear and explicit objectives, offered advice and
their personal insight on Eugenia Kumacheva, Mario Pagliaro, John
Brennan, Alon Seri-Levy and Marco Faustini on how to achieve success in
science and advanced chemistry technology.
The founder of Sol-Gel Technologies, Alon
, emphasized the importance of having a clear vision
and the need to adopt
core values as two key drivers for successful entrepreneurship
University's Professor John Brennan
discussed the importance of collaboration
and how to
transition into a leadership role to allow one to implement their
Professor Eugenia Kumacheva
discussed how to balance successful career in science and family life,
an especially important topic for women scientists who are also
mothers. Sorbonne University's Marco
discussed the key role of the mentors/mentee
relationship, and the importance of networking at different levels to
build a successful career plan.
Italy's Research Council scholar Mario
highlighted the need -- for a successful career in
materials chemistry in industry and in the academy -- for a new and
cross-disciplinary education involving also economic and management
" he insisted "it has become crucially important to teach
students and post-docs how to properly communicate their work,
including the balanced use of the e-mail as we witness professors and
students overwhelmed by time-wasting emails vastly exceeding the
possibility to be properly managed
Professor Faustini was also presented with the Donald R. Ulrich Award
since the 1991 during the International Sol-Gel Conference outstanding
contributions in sol-gel processes made by young researchers.
Leading scientists in a reunifying chemistry context
The conference saw the plenary lectures
of some of the world's leading chemists and materials scientists.
chemistry's sub-disciplines occurred in the course of the 20th century
was evident from the lectures of all the eminent scholars invited to
present their research group's findings and personal insight in St.
Germany's Academician Peter Fratzl
gave an exceptional talk on water-mediated forces in biological
University's of Toronto and a
Canada Research Chair Eugenia
presentation on bridging the gap between molecules and nanoparticles.
Russia's Academician Aziz Muzafarov
shared new findings on hyperbranched
polyethoxysiloxanes and related molecular nano-gels. ‘If you’d tell me that an ORMOSIL such as
that prepared by Nakanishi
" he said "could be reduced to less than 80% of its
volume by simple pressing it and then return to its original dimension,
I would have said: impossible. But there it is
Austria's Academician Nicola Hüsing
highlighted new routes to highly porous sol-gel materials by
non-conventional sol-gel precursors and processes.
The Vice-Director at the Institute of Materials and Systems for
Sustainability of Nagoya University, and aerogel pioneer scientist Kazuki Nakanishi
approaches in extending chemical compositions for broader applications
of porous inorganic monoliths.
City University of Hong Kong Professor of Photonic Materials Andrey Rogach
recent achievements with solution processable light-emitting colloidal
Harvard University's Professor of Materials Science as well as of
Chemistry and Chemical Biology Joanna
presented a host of remarkable results with
sol-gel-derived inverse-opal structures for photonic, catalytic and
University of Melbourne's Professor and Deputy Director of the ARC
Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology Frank Caruso
gave a wonderful
lecture on advanced functional materials such as new metal-phenol
particles obtained via supramolecular gelation.
Italy's scholar Mario
gave a plenary lecture on sol-gel
catalysts for synthetic organic chemistry.
Pagliaro said in a comment "paid
special attention to today's young
researchers and to their multidisciplinary background, offering a
practice-oriented outlook on 30 years of successful research on sol-gel
for synthetic organic chemistry".
"The invitation indeed recognizes scientific efforts
started in Sicily exactly 20 years ago
Awards and further exceptional presentations
, Waseda University,and Professor Massimo Guglielmi
, University of
Padova, Italy, were presented with the ISGS Life Achievement Award
honoring the lifetime contribution of a scientist to enriching sol-gel
science, whereas Professors Rui
, Kazuki Nakanishi
and Galo Soler Illia
of the ISGS.
In their award-recipient lectures Professor Kuroda and Guglielmi gave fascinating accounts
on the historic
development of pioneer sol-gel science in their Labs.
Professor Guglielmi offered memories of when Vittorio Gottardi
organized in 1981
Padova as a small meeting the very first international workshop on
derived glass later to become the international sol-gel conference- "Professor Gottardo was a glass chemist
he recounted "and was obviously
fascinated by the solution chemistry route to glass.
"I was a young chemical
said Professor Guglielmi "and in 1979 Professor Gottardo had asked
me to stay in his Lab, starting to work with Giovanni Carturan, who had
already graduated there.
"We started a long series of studies
on the fundamentals, such as the polymerization mechanism and the
kinetics that are now part of all introductory texts to sol-gel science
Professor Carturan later on pioneered the sol-gel entrapment of living
cells. How titania
, and not
only silica, can also be
used to encapsulate living cells was discussed by South Korea’s KAIST
Professor Insung Choi
started from Kessler’s work to
encapsulate single cells using a new biomimetic method" and University
of Birminghan's Dr Poologanunderampillai
presentation on glycerol-modified silanes enable to produce bioinks
for 3D printing of hydrogels
as a truly promising approach to make biotissues and bioinplant
In his award-recipient lecture Professor Kuroda recounted how the
discovery of mesoporous silica
was first reported in 1990 by Kato, Kuroda and co-workers in the Bulletin of Japan Chemical Society
He then showed how Francesco Di Renzo
a scholar based at Montpellier's CNRS reported in 1997 the discovery in
the literature of a 1969 patent
in which American industrial researchers described exactly the
synthesis of mesoporous (‘low bulk
density’) silica prepared via the surfactant-template sol-gel
"The only reason for which that
patent did not become the foundation of mesoporous silica syntehtic
strategies as it happened with our study followed by that of Kresge and
", Professor Kuroda explained, "is they did not have TEM to visualize the
Numerous other exceptional presentations
were given at the conference. "I
started research in sol-gel silica 30 years ago focusing on mononliths
said Nagoya's University Professor Kazuki
. "Today we can fully
control their porosity as it happens with those commercialized for
today's chromatography, as well as with other porous oxides achieving
similar exceptional control on the porosity
"In 1997 I had no money, but a former
PhD student from his group, I had the strong desire to commercialize
this fantastic technology from David Avnir's Lab
", said in his
inspiring lecture on how to go from academic work to a successful
sol-gel company Dr Alon Seri-Levy
co-founder of Sol-Gel Technologies.
Today the company is listed in Nasdaq stock market, and one of the most
successful in the field of sol-gel derived products for cosmetic and
"A cream 5% in Epsolay, our
silica-entrapped benzoyl peroxide"
recounting the story of the
company "has been carefully tested in
double randomized controlled trials for treating the symptoms of
Rosacea. With excellent results
SCAMT: A future-driven Lab
Finally, during the conference breaks, Professor Alexander Vinogradov
Lab visit tours.
One surprising outcome discovered by visiting delegates is the number
of new sol-gel derived industrial products developed by M.Sci. and
Laboratory already commercialized
in Russia's market.
One of said product is antibacterial "Blokador
a sol-gel stabilized version of powerful oxidant ClO2
safely usable by consumers in place of vaccines, antibacterial and
‘We provide formal and practical
education on science communication to all of our students
said Polina Khapaeva
for Development at the SCAMT ChemBio Cluster, o the audience of the
conference, showing the effects of
science in what she called "the digital" in full analogy with a recent
on today's chemistry education in the digital era.