Its very first edition was devoted to one of the main world issues: the environmental alterations caused by the human activity. The First Annual Congress of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (CANN in catalan) adressed the research areas of production and storage of energy, environment and sustainable development inside the field of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.
During the last hundred years, there has been a recorded increase in temperature of 1°C in Europe. Although this might seem trivial, it has already produced huge repercussions on the economy and in agriculture worldwide. The world needs new approaches to sustain the human activity in an environmentally responsible way, and it’s crucial to raise awareness of this issue among the citizens and the governments. With this act, we wanted to raise awareness about the role that Nanoscience and Nanotechnology plays in this ecological transition, offering a space for researchers working in Catalonia to expose and exchange their work.
We conceived the past 2019 edition, included during the week of science ‘La Setmana de la Ciència 2019’, as a scientific meeting of local researchers who are focused on proposing clever solutions to the current environmental challenges.
The day started with invited talks from referent researchers in the region of Catalonia. We were pleasure to have with us Dr. Salvador Pueyo, who connected the fields of nanotechnology immersed in developing new applications for sustainable energy storage and production, and the socio-economical and environmental impact it entails. Indeed, Salvador is currently interested in the implications of emergent technologies for society and the biosphere.
Later on, we continued the event with Dr. Pedro Gómez, leader in the Novel Energy-Oriented Materials group in ICN2. He gave us a very educational overview of the most recent advances of nanoscience and nanotechnology in matters of energy production and storage. He focused in the research topics of his group: synthesising new carbon-based and graphene-based materials for lithium batteries and fuel cells.
We also had among us Dr. Eva Pellicer, who holds an Associate Professorship at the Physics Department of UAB since May 2019. She explained us the synthesis and applicability of sustainable nanoengineered iron-based materials in both biomedical and environmental fields.
After Eva, we were glad to hear Dr. Elisabet Romero, who started in 2018 an independent research career at ICIQ and that later was awarded with an European Research Council (ERC), in order to undertake the project entitled ‘Engineering Bio-Inspired Systems for the Conversion of Solar Energy to Hydrogen’. During her speech, she showed us the last results of her group about that topic.
It was also a pleasure to count on Dr. Mariano Campoy during the CANN. Mariano’s group in ICMAB aims at contributing to make clean energy accessible for everybody by using scientific knowledge to develop new, cost-effective renewable energies technologies. His research focuses on the processing, fundamental properties and applications of organic semiconductors, with special emphasis on Organic Solar Cells and Thermoelectric Generators. He talked about the characteristics of solar cells based on organic-based materials and nanostructuration techniques to make them more efficient.
Last but not least, the session of invited speakers finished with Dr. Narcis Homs, who is in charge of ‘Nano-energy: production and storage’ unit. He explained us the heterogeneous catalysis as a pathway to produce Hydrogen as a clean energy material.
After listening to the invited speakers, we had the coffee break and the poster contest. We had people participating from IREC, ICIQ, ICMAB and ICN2 research centers taking part of it. After all the audience voted, we revealed who was the winner of the poster contest: Martí Gibert, from Nanostructures Materials for Optoelectronics and Energy Harvesting group, in ICMAB. He received a 100€ prize!
Last but not least, a round table gave us the opportunity to ask and discuss those open questions to the speakers during the past talks. Dr. Eva Pellicer was the mediator, meanwhile Dr. Pedro Gómez, Dr. Neus Gómez and Dr. Salvador Pueyo were the speakers.
Neus Gómez, who did not take part in the talks during the morning, kindly accepted to join the round table. Neus works in the ICN2 in the group of Inorganic Nanoparticles, leaded by Dr. Victor Puntes. They work in the synthesis of nanoparticles with biocompatible materials and low nanotoxicity for plenty of applications including environmental and biomedical.
During the round table, we adressed several topics including which is the role of the nanotechnology in the recent challenges of energy and technological development, which are the advantages or the benefits of the nanotechnology in this aspect. And, conversely, which are the limits or the drawbacks of nanotechnology in order to assume the imposed challenges by the sustainable development. Likewise, which should be the good practices to carry out a responsible and clean research in nanotechnology.