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[Editor’s note] This post comes to us from John M. Parker, emeritus professor of glass science and engineering at the University of Sheffield. Contact Parker at j.m.parker@sheffield.ac.uk.

by John M. Parker

The 24th International Congress on Glass (ICG) took place April 7–11, 2016, at the Shanghai International Convention Centre in China. ICG is a non-profit international glass society consisting of 37 national organizations in glass science and technology, which together promote cooperation among glass experts. 

The Chinese Ceramic Society, working with the International Commission on Glass, hosted the 24th meeting. This triennial event has a long pedigree—it began in Venice, Italy, in 1933 and has continued ever since, apart from a break during World War II. Shanghai built on the meeting’s most valued traditions whilst successfully introducing new ideas to maintain its freshness and appeal.

The Congress Chairman was Professor Shou Peng of China Triumph International Engineering Co., the immediate past president of ICG, who called on the glass community to take this opportunity to join hands and make common efforts for healthy and sustainable development of the glass industry and to realize our beautiful “glass dreams” for the benefit of mankind. Professor Jianrong Qiu chaired the scientific committee, while Mr. Zhanping Jin chaired the organizing committee.

The setting for the event, the SICC building, combines a hotel with dedicated conference facilities. Sited in the Pudong New Area of Shanghai on the east bank of the Huangpu River at one end of the Bund district, it faces the old trading area of Shanghai on the western bank where many of the buildings retain their early 20th century European architectural style. Its immediate surroundings, however, are a monument to glass and include some of the tallest towers in the world—most encased in their transparent protective cocoons.

The opening ceremony began with welcomes from the ICG president, Dr. Manoj Choudhary; president of the Chinese Ceramic Society, Dr. Yongmo Xu; a representative of the municipal government; and, finally, Professor Shou Peng. Next followed an awards ceremony.

The prestigious President’s Awards, presented only at Congresses, were this year presented to: Dr. N. F. Borrelli (U.S.), Professor A. Makashima (Japan), Professor J. Parker (U.K.), and Professor Shou Peng (China) for their lifetime contributions to glass and ICG. This year’s recipients of the Turner Prize—awarded annually for services to ICG’s technical committees—were Professor A. Boccaccini (TC03) and Dr. S. Slade (TC13). The Gottardi prize was awarded to Professor R. Martin (U.K.), who later gave a plenary presentation entitled “A structural insight into bioactive glass.” The Weyl award was presented to Dr. Qiang Fu (U.S.), who subsequently spoke on “Glasses for healthcare: research, development and industrialization.”

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GOMD chair Randy Youngman (left) presents Qiang Fu with the Weyl award. Credit: ICG

Altogether, 803 people registered for the Congress—169 (20%) were students, 58 from outside of China. The 270 international participants represented 33 countries. Many excellent presentations and posters offered by delegates provided an exciting glimpse into the future of glass science and technology. Some sessions were organized by individual technical committees of ICG, in particular, following a long tradition, TC17 on Archaeometry. During the conference, copies of the latest book to be authored by Professor Fuxi Gan and Professor J. Henderson were available.

Each session was preceded by at least one plenary lecture. Based on the enormous expertise within China on optical glasses, several sessions built on topics such as harvesting solar energy and the role of nanoparticles in improving efficiency. One of my abiding memories concerned the remarkable optical characteristics of twisted hollow core fiber bundles, demonstrating how ancient skills used to make twisted stem wine glasses can be resurrected to provide completely new applications for glass. In addition, an unusual session aimed at young lecturers examined good teaching practices.

Another highlight was the Congress banquet, held on the penultimate evening. It took place in the Sea Palace Floating Restaurant, a large moored barge with wonderful views of the Bund. Attendees were entertained with a varied and rich diet of Chinese culinary expertise as well as traditional acrobatic and dancing skills. These included such wonders as a dancer whose mask magically flipped from one image to another and a more modern dance synchronized with butterflies projected on a large illuminated screen.

The Stevanato Group once again provided invaluable support by sponsoring the poster competition. Altogether 104 posters presented a wide range of subjects. Prizes were given to: T. Nakaya (“Precipitation of metallic tin nanoparticles in SnO-P2O5 glass matrix for lithium ion rechargeable batteries,” Nagaoka University of Technology, Japan); W. Chung (“Color tunable white LED using phosphor-in-glass film based on low temperature glasses,” Kongju National University, Korea); and W.C. Peng (“Enhanced upconversion emission in crystallization controllable glass-ceramic fiber containing Yb³-Er³ doped CaF2 nanocrystal,” South China University of Technology, Guangzhou, China).

The Chinese Ceramic Society also generously sponsored five prizes for best young speakers in the oral sessions. These were restricted to research students, new post-docs, or those who had only recently joined the industry. Nonetheless, there were many excellent and interesting lectures to choose from, so several “spies” were recruited to work with session chairs to ensure that all speakers were heard.

Young speaker prizes were awarded to the following (in no particular order): M. Dubernet from the University of Rennes, France; C. Ragoen from the University of Brussels, Belgium; W. Chung from Kongju National University, Korea; S. Cozic from the University of Rennes, France and Yamagata University, Japan; and M. Xi from Wuhan University of Technology, China. Poster and young speaker prizes were distributed during the closing ceremony and were followed by a formal handover to the American Ceramic Society, who will organize the 25th Congress in Boston, Mass., June 9–14, 2019.

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Attendees gather for a group photo. Pictured center left is Congress Chairman Shou Peng, and center right is ICG President Manoj Choudhary. Credit: ICG