Grants of 2016: ITMO University will get 90 million rubles funding for developing new hybrid materials for a new generation of optoelectronics

The Department of Nano-Photonics and Metamaterials at ITMO University in collaboration with professor Anvar Zakhidov from the University of Texas at Dallas, USA, will create Russia's first laboratory for developing organic-inorganic materials with integrated nanophotonic structures. This became possible thanks to ITMO winning two grants from the Ministry of Education and Science. Both Russian and foreign researchers will be able to work at the laboratory. From ITMO's side, Sergei Makarov will lead the laboratory, from USA — professor Anvar Zakhidov. Thus, the unique experience of scientists from St. Petersburg will unite with American achievements in nanotechnology, materials science and optoelectronics.

According to Sergei Makarov, there is a tendency to nanophotonics: researching new materials for creating metamaterials that have unique properties — ones you won't find in nature. For instance, gold nanoparticles were used as the basis for many materials. Yet, now they use nitrides of metals in USA and silicon instead of gold in Australia. The developments of the new laboratory will be based on organic-inorganic (hybrid) components. In the future, they might considerably affect the development of optoelectronic technologies and different new generation gadgets.

Thus, specialists plan to modernize the breakthrough technology of hybrid perovskvites that can effectively transform light into electricity and vice versa by combining it with the concept of metamaterials. This will allow to raise the efficiency of solar batteries and LEDs. What's more, thanks to the low costs and simplicity of perovskites, this may lower the costs of devices based on them. Thus, some scientists forecast that soon modern smartphones and tablet PC's will be replaced by new compact and efficient optical devices based on metamaterials and new hybrid structures.

«We really need these materials, as we'll soon have to rely on alternative power sources — especially solar power. The oil won't last forever. Also, perovskites combined with metamaterials will be then used as highly efficient LEDs. So, I'm absolutely sure that our laboratory will become a center for the best researchers in the optoelectronics field», — explains Mr. Makarov.

ITMO University. TASS Press Conference

As Pavel Belov, Head of the International Research Center for Nanophotonics and Metamaterials notes, the scientists should look at this grant as an investment into a scientific startup. According to him, these funds are best used for investing into talented researchers. The recent development of the International Research Center proves this hypothesis — now, there are more than 160 staff members here. The Center developed from a laboratory created by ITMO University on the grants won several years ago.

«The startup concept works: we bought the necessary equipment and attracted the employees we needed. And surely, the help from Project 5−100 was great luck — it came right after the end of the financing from the first grant from 2010. So now we can develop international collaboration in the field of breakthrough metamaterial technologies», — added Mr. Belov.

We'd like to also note that ITMO University won another grant — on creating the «Hybrid Light States in Substances in Low-Dimensional Quantum Materials with Preset Properties». The laboratory’s co-head will be Senior Research Associate of the Department of Nanophotonics and Metamaterials Ivan Shelykh.

During the last six years ITMO University received six large grants, which are currently used to develop such technologies as supercomputers, grid-technologies, technologies of interaction between chiral nanocrystals and biosystems, as well as adaptive control, communication and computing systems.

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