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Foto: Arne Hodalič in Katja Bidovec

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On November 22, 2023, the director of the Jožef Stefan Institute, Prof. Dr. Boštjan Zalar, met with the delegation of Beijing Jiaotong University (BJTU), consisting of the Vice President of BJTU, Mr. Qiang Wu, Prof. Dr. Ke Guan and Dr. Lei Fan. BJTU, where 30.000 students study every year, comprises 18 schools and is active in the fields of electrical engineering, computer science, economics, transportation, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, physics, architecture and law. The aim of the visit was to strengthen and expand the cooperation, which has successfully existed for more than 10 years with the Department of Communication Systems of Jožef Stefan Institute and got acquainted with the key areas of work, the existing research infrastructure, important research achievements and international cooperation. Subsequent discussion was focusing on the supporting activities to innovation processes. At the end of the meeting the Vice President of BJTU, Mr. Qiang Wu, and the Director of IJS Prof. Dr. Boštjan Zalar signed a Memorandum of Understanding.

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Harvesting and conversion of the solar energy into the hydrogen fuel primarily relies on an efficient and stable materials. The researchers from Advanced Materials Department, Thin Films and Surfaces Department and Surfaces Engineering Department of Jožef Stefan Institute recently demonstrated that via a facile approach, the high-performing photoabsorber, silicon substrate, can be well protected by a robust strontium titanate (SrTiO₃) layer from corrosion under photoelectrochemical water splitting operations. In collaboration with National Institute of Chemistry and Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences, the results were published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. The study has realized that by using a buffer layer of reduced graphene oxide (rGO) on silicon substrate, the crystallinity and morphology of the deposited SrTiO₃ protection layer could be tailored accordingly, so that the durability of the silicon substrate and its photoelectrochemical performance are greatly improved compared to the properties of the individual components.

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Active control of quantum materials is highly desirable for a wide range of applications. Metastable hidden states, such as the one discovered a few years ago by researchers at the Department of complex matter at the Jožef Stefan Institute, offer completely new functionalities. However, the underlying mechanisms that lead to hidden states remains a largely open scientific topic. In a new study published on November 24 in Science Advances, prof. dr. Dragan Mihailović in collaboration with a group of researchers from Germany and USA, investigated coherent control of the transition to a metastable hidden quantum state in the quantum material 1T-TaS₂. Using time- and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (trARPES), electronic and collective excitations during the transition to the hidden state were investigated in real time. Using laser excitation with time-controlled pulses, they managed to coherently control the transition to the hidden phase, thus revealing the importance of collective excitations which helped elucidate the mechanism for this interesting phenomenon.

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At the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action (MSCA) Coordinators Info Day held on November 9, 2023, in Brussels, three selected MSCA ITN projects—EuPRAXIA-DN, FoodTraNet, and PERSEPHONe—showcased their experiences in fostering synergies with other projects and initiatives. Nives Ogrinc (Department of Environmental Sciences), coordinator of FoodTraNet, provided insightful perspectives on the project's experiences in synergies with other ongoing projects such as PROMEDLIFE and FishEUTrust, as well as engaging with industry stakeholders. With its primary aim of providing high-level intersectoral training in new and emerging techniques, including mass spectrometry for food quality, safety, and security, to a new generation of early-stage researchers (ESRs), FoodTraNet demonstrated how strategic collaborations contribute significantly to the project's success. Moreover, the Coordinators Info Day served as a dynamic forum where these projects not only shared their achievements but also paved the way for future cross-project collaborations, reinforcing the collective strength of the scientific community. A video can be found on YouTube.





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