MC11 (the 11th International Conference on Materials Chemistry) was held by the Royal Society of Chemistry at the University of Warwick from July 8-11th. Given a reasonably local and affordable opportunity to attend a fully-fledged international conference, four DTC students with an interest in materials went to Coventry.
This post was contributed by second-year research student Adam Jackson.
Eight plenary talks across the four days did well to bring people together, but the star power was really unloaded on the first day, with two Nobel laureates (Dan Schechtman and Sir Harry Kroto). While there was a little indulgence in past success, most of the conference focused on developing technologies: new porous materials, molecular-scale devices and thin functional films.
I noticed a widespread drive to eliminate Indium Tin Oxide (ITO), a transparent conductor widely used in electronics and photovoltaics. This is largely on sustainability grounds, and supply shortages are expected in the near future. My engineering interest was also somewhat satisfied to see considerable interest in fabrication technologies. My colleagues had their own highlights:
I enjoyed Andy Cooper's lecture on covalent organic frameworks (COFs) and how to predict their properties. This in my opinion was the best talk; it was realistic in understanding the barriers and complications with the material, but also an informative presentation on the potential they have to be useful future materials.
— Jess Bristow, 1st-year DTC student
The most interesting talk from my perspective was a keynote lecture from Dr. Thomas E Albrecht-Schmitt from Florida State University. He presented remarkable work on several unstable elements of the actinide series of the periodic table. Not only did his research reveal 'unusual structures and unprecedented properties' but his observations will better allow for the safe storage of vitrified nuclear waste deep underground.
— Lee Burton, 3rd-year DTC student
I personally think the Harold Kroto lecture was the highlight for me; as my work involves fullerenes, it was really interesting to see the history and to hear the story of them in space. [After a period of skepticism, there is now strong evidence for the existence of fullerenes in interstellar clouds]. Added to that, I met some great people at Warwick and am now looking to extend this into a short collaboration with a group at the University of Warwick.
— Ben Hodges, 3rd-year DTC student
The University of Warwick's conference facilities were outstanding, with the four parallel sessions all held within a pleasant Arts Centre. Many productive discussions were also to be found in the campus's excellent tea shop.