[Image above] A hot-air balloon floats over the city of São Carlos, São Paulo, Brazil. Credit: Leoadec; Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 3.0

Excitement and promise rippled through the glass world during the summer of 2013 when news broke from Brazil of substantial funding awarded to support glass and glass-ceramic research as well as education outreach.

The funding, from the São Paulo State Research Foundation (FAPESP), established the Center for Glass Research, Technology and Education in Vitreous Materials (CeRTEV), which has been led by Edgar Zanotto, professor at the Federal University of São Carlos, ever since.

CeRTEV is an 11-year, approximately $22 million effort with funding of about $2 million per year through 2018, after which FAPESP will evaluate the program before authorizing funding for the following six years. CeRTEV is a collaboration that involves 14 faculty at two universities located in São Carlos, São Paulo, Brazil.

And this summer, CeRTEV is making news again—it organized the São Paulo Advanced School on Glasses and Glass-ceramics, held August 1–9 in São Carlos, and the program was a rousing success.

The program covered state-of-the-art topics on glass and glass-ceramics, ranging from structural characterization to relaxation, thermodynamics, crystallization, and properties. There were 11 lectures and several tutorials about the powerful SciGlass database and software, with a free user license for program attendees.

Program attendees were selected among hundreds of applicants worldwide, and the selection criteria were stringent—among the requirements, attendees had to provide a thorough analysis of their CVs, recommendation letters, and scientific standing of their current research group.

“The large number of applications and the outstanding quality of many of them made this [selection] process quite difficult. In the end, approximately 100 highly qualified students from 19 countries were accepted,” says Zanotto.


Students gather for a group shot during São Paulo Advanced School on Glasses and Glass-ceramics. Credit: Edgar Zanotto

The program kicked off with an overview of the school objectives and the overall plan delivered by Zanotto. But by the second day, students engaged in what Zanotto calls a “fire session,” where they had only one minute to “sell” the highlights of their doctoral research work to a panel of judges.

Over the course of the program, students attended a variety of lectures on topics including (but not limited to) glass structure by NMR techniques; structural and stress relaxation in glasses; and nucleation, growth, and crystallization of glasses. (You can learn more about the lectures here.)

Overall, Zanotto feels this program was well-received and beneficial to the students who attended—and that will have a positive, direct impact on ceramics and glass research. 

“The vast majority of received feedback indicates that the school was a great success and should be repeated. This was likely one of the largest short courses focusing on glass education worldwide. We are confident the attendees have benefitted greatly from the information and perspectives presented at this school and that they will return home to their ongoing research projects with inspiration and new ideas,” says Zanotto.