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Fraunhofer IISB Summer School 2018 on Crystal Growth

Picture courtesy of Dr. Jochen Friedrich

Second semester MAP student Sharanya Nair shares about her participation in the Fraunhofer IISB summer school on Crystal Growth 2018, which is part of the MAP soft skills program:

“I was captured for life by chemistry and by crystals.” – Dorothy Hodgkin

The summer school on Crystal Growth offered to MAP students by the Fraunhofer IISB and conducted by Dr. Jochen Friedrich has given us the understanding of why crystals have always been a fascinating material to scientists and engineers until today. Irrespective of our technical backgrounds from Chemical Engineering to Nanotechnology, we could attend the workshop-type of summer school, and learned a lot about the principles of a fascinating material i.e. crystal.

The initial part of the sessions were presentations and seminars given by the experts of the Fraunhofer IISB answering the basic questions from what a crystal is to the advanced studies in dealing with the understanding and utilisation of these structures. The best part of the summer school was the experts’ way on how they responded spontaneously in their teaching to a mixture of students from various backgrounds. Even for students like me from a chemical engineering background the fundamentals of crystal growth were made crystal clear. The learning atmosphere was amazing and this motivated the students to curiously think about these materials and ask questions. The question-answer-session was very interesting as we were all walking on the path of “out of the box thinking”.

The best part of the summer school was the presentation session given by the MAP students. We had been divided into three teams and Dr. Friedrich had assigned to each team the most advanced topics. We then had more than a month’s time to prepare our presentations within the teams. This part of the summer school was very motivating as we were doing our own research over the latest topics. We students were fascinated by how the basics of crystals are combined with various other properties in the advanced applications. The teams learned about the developments taking place in the areas dealing with gallium oxide, synthetic diamond, and quantum technologies. In between of the research, we had also meetings with Dr. Friedrich who clarified our queries and further assisted us in improving our presentations. Finally, the day had come when all of us were ready to give the presentations on the different areas. Each team member enthusiastically participated in this session by presenting the outcomes of the research and by contributing in a question-answer-session for about one hour. We learnt a lot through these presentations. A delicious lunch was provided by the Fraunhofer IISB. A feedback session by Dr. Friedrich followed. He gave very important tips on scientific presentations and appreciated our efforts. We had a wonderful and mind grasping tour through the Fraunhofer IISB. The laboratories and working spaces were very captivating. We understood how the experts apply the theory that we had learned. Besides, Dr. Friedrich introduced how various machines and devices work.

I would like to conclude by stating that we, the MAP students, are really grateful to Fraunhofer IISB and the MAP programme for giving us this marvellous opportunity of stepping into the fascinating world of research, science and engineering.