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Slovensko   English2024-07-20

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Prof Dr Barbara Malič received the International Award of Ferroelectric Materials and Their Applications at the 41st Meeting on Ferroelectric Materials and Their Applications on June 12-15, 2024, in Kyoto, Japan. The meeting aimed to bring together researchers and engineers from Japan and the international community focusing on phenomena and measurement methods related to polarization, the preparation, properties, and evaluation of materials, including single crystals, ceramics, amorphous materials, thin films, polymers, liquid crystals, and composites, and applications related to polarization. In her award lecture entitled Sodium-Potassium-Niobate Based Piezoelectric Ceramics: Processing – Microstructure - Properties, Malič reviewed the research on alkali niobate-based ceramics. Besides barium titanate-based and sodium bismuth titanate-based piezoelectric ceramics, alkali niobate-based materials are one of the material groups studied as a viable and environment-friendlier alternative to commercially most widespread highly efficient piezoelectric bulk ceramics that contain about 60 weight % of lead.

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Researchers from the Department of Electronic Ceramics together with colleagues from the University of Vilnius published an article in the journal of Science Advances. The paper addresses the key question of the origin(s) of the unusually high piezoelectric responses in the PMN–PT ceramic system modified with samarium ions. While previously published studies report on various mechanisms, they usually do so in the context of the so-called "universal" mechanisms, which are typically focused on a single aspect of the material. Using a combination of nonlinear piezoelectric harmonic analysis and structural analysis over multiple length scales, the authors concluded that the high piezoelectric response cannot be attributed exclusively to a single mechanism. A coherent picture can only be achieved by combining various intrinsic and extrinsic dynamic contributions and by taking into account the complex influence of the samarium dopant on the local and average structure of the material. The paper also emphasizes the strong pressure in the research community to publish scientific papers with high-profile "universal" explanations.

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At "Jožef Stefan" Institute, we are actively involved in the European Research Area (ERA), participating in numerous projects across various European programmes. Our strongest involvement is in the Horizon Europe Programme, where we are currently running over 100 projects with a total budget exceeding 37 million euros. To ensure our continued success in the upcoming 10th Framework Programme (FP10), we have developed JSI Position paper on FP10 through extensive discussions, which was officially approved by the Scientific Council at its June meeting. Currently, guidelines for FP10 are being developed, influenced by the positions of member states, associations and stakeholders like the "Jožef Stefan" Institute. To address the needs of research community and promote innovation, we have made the recommendations in the following key areas: budget, openness, structure, open science, research and technology infrastructure, widening, missions, evaluation and administration of projects. More information is available on our International cooperation website.

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Remarkable advances in the understanding of topological constraints in biological and soft matter physics in the past few years stimulated the European COST collaboration EUTOPIA to write a comprehensive review paper on topological effects in systems ranging from DNA and genome organization to entangled proteins, polymeric materials, liquid crystals, and theoretical physics. The main intention of the review is to reduce the barriers between different subfields of soft and biological matter that are the consequence of the high specialization of practically all research fields, ranging from physics to chemistry and biology. Simon Čopar, Miha Ravnik, Primož Ziherl, and Slobodan Žumer, researchers from the "Jožef Stefan" Institute and the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics of the University of Ljubljana who participate in the EUTOPIA project, together with other colleagues from the collaboration project, published a review article Topology in soft and biological matter in the journal Physics Reports.

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