Samuel Lara-Avila, associate professor of physics, was appointed new director of 2D-TECH and Graphene Centre at the 2D-TECH assembly on 3 March. And with more than ten years’ experience working on graphene and an academic history at Chalmers that took off already in 2006, it’s safe to say he’s in familiar territories.
“I know for a fact that graphene can bring something to the table and solve real-world problems that other materials cannot. I see GCC and 2D-TECH as two tools to consolidate Chalmers as the Swedish epicenter of atomically thin materials and quantum materials”, says Samuel.
What made you want to take on the role as director?
“The conditions right now are very favorable: there is a large enthusiastic and highly competent community taking part in GCC and 2D-TECH. It has been a great achievement to kick-start a Vinnova competence centre and I’m here to do my best in trying to push it beyond. With the human resources and the infrastructure at Chalmers and partners, I believe this to be a feasible endeavour”.
What challenges do you see and what are your thoughts on how to overcome them?
“One core challenge that needs to be addressed is that many of the graphene technologies worldwide are at risk of getting stuck in the technological “valley of death”. But when I look at the list of PIs and participants of 2D-TECH, I see many ingredients are in place in order to tackle that challenge. For the next couple of years, I see It will be crucial to ensure we are not a passive community. Accountability for deliverables should be in place, and the interactions between companies and PIs should be closely followed. We should not forget the entrepreneurial spirit, of which I see more and more at Chalmers, especially among younger PIs”.
Samuel succeeds Ermin Malic who has been director of Graphene Centre since 2017 and of 2D-TECH since its birth in February 2020. And to Ermin stepping down doesn’t mean slowing down. New challenges await in the same country where he once got his PhD 13 years ago.
So, what will you be doing now?
“I’m building up a new research group "Ultrafast Quantum Dynamics" at the Philipps-Universität Marburg in Germany. The focus will be on microscopic understanding of moire exciton physics in atomically thin semiconductors”, says Ermin.
If you were to put the last few years into words, what would you say?
“Building up the 2D-TECH center at Chalmers was a very challenging, intense and rewarding time and it broadened my horizon in many different ways”.
Text: Lovisa Håkansson