High school students met top researchers at initiative seminar

Two full days packed with lectures where high school students had the chance to ask all the questions they had ever wondered about nanomaterials to successful and well-known researchers from all over the world. That was one of the purposes with Chalmers' Excellence Initiative Nano's seminar "A nano focus on quantum materials".
"We show what we do at Chalmers, but we also build connections and create enthusiasm among high school students", says Janine Splettstösser, leader of the Excellence Initiative Nano.
The initiative seminar was organized jointly between Chalmers' Excellence Initiative Nano (EI Nano, which since 1 January 2023 is renamed Chalmers' Area of Advance Nano) and Molecular Frontiers, took place on 28-29 November 2022, and was led by moderator Emma Frans, renowned Swedish scientist and author. The participants could, among other things, take part in lectures concerning the latest research in quantum materials.

"Quantum materials is a new area within EI Nano, and some very active research is conducted there", says Janine Splettstösser, professor in physics and leader of EI Nano. "With a seminar like this, we create synergies, both within Chalmers and internationally. The speakers we had were really the absolute best that can be found in this area, and in this way they can come to Chalmers and see what we do, and we can share our experiences with them."

The man organisers of the intitiative seminar were Floriana Lombardi and Thilo Bauch, professor and assistant professor at the Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience at Chalmers, and Janine Splettstösser highlights the high scientific level of the invited speakers - how they succeeded in creating a good mixture of enthusiasm among the audience and at the same time present their current research.

"Even those of us who weren't super-specialists could comprehend it on a more general level - for me, for example, someone who does not work with quantum materials, I learned a lot about the area, and I think that many others felt the same way."

135 high school students particpated

In addition to the nearly 180 researchers present on site, 135 high school students also participated - all of them with a burning interest in the subject area.

Janine Splettstösser is thrilled about how the meeting between the researchers and the students turned out, and about how engaged and curious the students were. In several cases, she was surprised by the level of knowledge of the subject.

"Some of them asked questions that made me wonder how they can know so much. Many of the speakers talked with the students during the breaks, and some students also contacted the speakers on LinkedIn after the seminar. Some said they couldn't even relax during the break, they were constantly talking to the students", she says and laughs.

Per Thorén has been working with Molecular Frontiers for several years, and was the one who contacted high schools all around Sweden. All schools with a science education received an invitation with an opportunity to nominate two students to come to the seminar. In order to support schools that are situated far from Gothenburg, there was also a possibility of receiving a travel grant that EI Nano finances, and students all the way from Strömsund in the north to Malmö in the south of Sweden attended the seminar.

"The students who came were extremely interested and motivated", says Per Thorén. "Different kind of subject areas are, of course, different in difficulty, and quantum physics is perhaps a little more difficult than, for example, something related to biology. Therefore, I prepared them by telling them about the concept, but also with links to information about the speakers where they can familiarize themselves in advance."

Very advanced presentations

Per Thorén emphasizes the high level of the research being presented, and that the presentations made by the speakers not in any way were regular lessons as made in high school.

"One must be aware of the fact that the research presented was very advanced", he says. "These are the sharpest minds in these fields of research, and they present their absolutely latest research results - that's what the students got to hear about."

The high level of the presentations and the seminar as a whole were received very positively by the students. Per Thorén says that several students have subsequently contacted him with positive reviews, and even teachers who have nominated students have written to him and told him that the students came back very happy and satisfied with the two days at Chalmers.

Janine Splettstösser hopes that this kind of event can continue in the future.

"We are all extremely motivated to have a new event next year with a similar layout but a different theme", she says.

She also thinks that it is possible to broaden the concept to go beyond basic research, and to also connect to other of Chalmers' areas of advance and make it a joint venture.


Janine Splettstoesser
Professor at the Department of Microtechnology and Nanoscience
janines@chalmers.se, +46317723111

​Text: Robert Karlsson
Photo: Susannah Carlsson

"A nano focus on quantum materials" - invited speakers

Claudia Felser, Max Planck Institute, Germany:
"Chirality and Topology"
Jens K. Nørskov, Technical University of Denmark, Denmark:
"New catalytic materials are key to the green transition​"
Susanne Stemmer, UC Santa Barbara, United States:
"Thin Film Topological Matter"
Ulf Gran, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden:
"The destruction of particles: when interactions become too strong for particles to exist​"
Subir Sachdev, Harvard University, United States:
"When nature entangles millions of particles: from quantum materials to black holes"
Zhi-Xun Shen, Stanford University, United States:
"In Search for the Next Magic Stone"
Katarina J. Franke, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany:
"Is there a superconducting one-way road? - Directing the current through superconducting junctions with single magnetic atoms"
​Irfan Siddiqi, UC Berkeley, United States:
"Computing with Entanglement: A New Chapter in Quantum Materials"
Odile Stéphan, Paris-Saclay University​, France:
"Seeing the invisible: exploring the quantum nature of the nanoworld with electron (and photon) beams​"

Page manager Published: Thu 19 Jan 2023.