5-7 May 2015
Mabula Game Lodge
Africa/Johannesburg timezone
Conference paper submission deadline is 8 May

Invited speakers


  • Prof Jens Birch, Linköping University (Sweden)


Talk: Structural and optical properties of group-III nitride nanorods grown by reactive magnetron sputter epitaxy 

Jens Birch is professor in Thin Film Physics at Linköping University (LiU). His research has focused at understanding the physics and materials science behind creation of new, previously unknown materials, with unique properties, in the form of artificial nanometer sized layers and 3D nanostructures. Typical dimensions of the structures range from sub-nm to a few tenths of nm. The materials range from amorphous metals to group III-nitride semiconductors, with diverse applications such as X-ray optics, piezoelectric devices, and optoelectronics. Recent research, in collaboration with the European Spallation Source (ESS), aiming at enabling novel thin film 10B-based neutron detector technology, is receiving much appreciation within the neutron scattering community. Birch was director of the Center for Nanoscience and Technology at LiU in 2003-2007. He is is active in building up research infrastructures for structural characterization, locally, nationally as well as internationally. He has built and maintains a state-of-the-art thin film X-ray diffraction (XRD) lab in Linköping, an XRD end-station at MAX-II in Lund and he is working actively with the new Swedish materials science beamline at PETRA III in Hamburg through his commitment in the steering committee for the Röntgen-Ångström Cluster. He has published more than 145 peer-reviewed articles in well renowned Physics Journals and he has been the main supervisor for 5 PhDs and co-supervisor for 11 PhD students. His research is funded through both large collaborative and smaller focused project research contracts.


  • Dr Valentin Craciun, National Institute for Laser, Plasma and Radiation Physics (Romania)


Talk: Characteristics of amorphous transparent and conductive oxides grown by combinatorial pulsed laser deposition

Valentin Craciun obtained his Diplomat Engineer degree from the Physics Faculty, University of Bucharest in 1984 with a thesis on Laser annealing of semiconductors and a PhD degree from the Polytechnic University Bucharest in 1991 with a thesis on Surface studies with laser for microelectronic applications. After a post-doc stage at University College London in Prof. I. W. Boyd’s group studying low temperature UV-assisted oxidation of semiconductors and a visiting scientist position at the University of Orleans in Prof. Chantal Leborgne’s group he returned in 1995 to the National Institute for Laser, Plasma and Radiation Physics in Bucharest where he continued his work on laser processing and characterization of thin films. He was a graduate faculty and associate research scientist in the Materials Science and Engineering Department, University of Florida, USA from 2003 till 2012, when he returned back to NILPRP, where now he is the head of the Laser Department and the President of the Scientific Council. He has more than 30 years’ experience in the area of laser processing of materials, pulsed laser deposition of thin films, synthesis and characterization of carbide, nitride and oxide thin films, nanostructures and devices. He has acquired international recognition in these areas, by publishing more than 170 articles in ISI-indexed journals with high impact factors that have been cited more than 1600 times (h index = 27), delivering more than 50 invited talks and seminars, organizing 12 international conferences, chairing sessions and being member of numerous international conferences scientific committees. He has been the principal investigator for 5 national and international projects totaling more than 2,000,000 Euro research funds in the last two years in the area of transparent and conductive oxides, thin carbide films for nuclear applications, high emissivity optical coatings, hard and protective coatings, 1 bilateral project and mentor for 2 postdoctoral national projects.


  • Prof Eduard Hulicius, Institute of Physics (Czech Republic)


Talk: Preparation and measurements of MOVPE multiple InAs/GaAs/GaAsSb quantum dot structures for the telecom wavelength region emitted from 1.3 to 1.8 µm

Eduard Hulicius obtained his diploma in physics from the Czech Technical University in Prague in 1973 and his CSc. (PhD. equivalent), in the Semiconductor Dept. of the Institute of Solid State Physics, later Institute of Physics of the Czechoslovak (later Czech) Academy of Sciences in 1981. He is currently Research Professor in the Department of Semiconductors and is head of MOVPE laboratory at the same institution. He has authored and co-authored 340 publications in scientific journals and also has several popular articles in newspapers, journals, radio and TV. He has also been on numerous scientific and organising committees for conferences and is a member and was both Vice chairperson and Chairperson of the Scientific Council of Institute of Physics of Czech Acad. of Sci. a few years back. He has been contractor or co-ordinator of more than 30 Grant projects and has been a participant in 11 other projects in the last 21 years. The projects are from three fields: Semiconductor lasers, LEDs and laser structures; Porous-Si and MOVPE technology, AIIIBV layers, nanostructures and devices. Eduard Hulicius has more than 50 industrial collaborations in Czech Rep., Europe, and USA - these are mainly in the field of semiconductor lasers and diodes.


  • Prof Francis Chi-Chung Ling, University of Hong Kong (China)


Talk: Defects in Zinc Oxide Grown By Pulsed Laser Deposition

Francis Chi-Chung Ling received his Ph.D. degree from The University of Hong Kong in 1996, with the thesis title “Positron Annihilation Spectroscopic Studies of GaAs and InP Related Systems”.  He then joined the same university as a Lecturer, and became the Assistant Professor in 2000.  He is now the Associate Professor of The University of Hong Kong.  Ling was elected a Fellow of The Institute of Physics (F. Inst. P.), U.K. in 2006.  His research activities fall in the regime of semiconductor physics, which include optoelectronic and defects in semiconductors.  In recent years, particular emphasis is placed in understanding the defects in oxide-based semiconductors, and their relations with the materials electrical, optical and magnetic properties.  He has supervised 7 Ph.D. and 18 M.Ph. students.  Ling has published 116 peer-reviewed papers in international journals.


  • Prof Rienk van Grondelle, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (Netherlands)


Talk: The Quantum Design of Photosynthesis

Rienk van Grondelle received his PhD 1978 in the Biophysics group of Leiden University under the supervision of Lou Duysens. After a postdoc at the University of Bristol (with Owen Jones) he returned to Leiden and became involved in ultrafast spectroscopy. In 1982 he moved to VU Amsterdam where in 1987 he was appointed as full professor in Biophysics. He is one of the most influential experimental physicists working on the primary physical processes of photosynthesis world-wide. Using the tools of ultrafast spectroscopy he has made major contributions to elucidate the fundamental physical mechanisms that underlie photosynthetic light harvesting and charge separation. He has developed theoretical tools to infer the effective electronic and molecular structure and dynamics from complex spectroscopic data. His work recently led to a fundamental new understanding of light-driven charge separation in the oxygen evolving photosynthetic reaction center of plants. Using multi-dimensional electronic spectroscopy he was able to show that in photosynthesis ultrafast charge separation is driven by specific molecular vibrations that allow electronic coherences to stay alive. Five years ago he proposed an explicit molecular model for photoprotection and demonstrated that the major plant light harvesting complex operates as a nanoswitch, controlled by its biological environment. These results, of utmost importance for our understanding of photosynthesis, inspire technological solutions for artificial and/or redesigned photosynthesis, as a possible route towards sustainable energy production on a global scale. He has published 532 papers in international, peer reviewed journals that in total have attracted over 22 thousand citations (h-index 77). In addition he is the co-author of three textbooks: Environmental Physics (3rd edition), Environmental Science and Photosynthetic Excitons. The latter has attracted close to 750 citations.


  • Dr Tjaart Krüger, University of Pretoria (South Africa)


Talk: Making every photon count - optical nanoscopy and single molecule spectroscopy applied to natural light-harvesting materials

Tjaart completed his M.Sc at Potchefstroom University and then went to Amsterdam where he obtained his PhD in Biophysics cum laude in 2011 from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. His specialization is on the primary steps of photosynthesis and in particular the spectroscopic characterization of Light-Harvesting complexes of various photosynthetic organisms. He has 20 journal publications, a couple of chapters in books and a number of invited keynote lectures amongst his many conference presentations. Tjaart joined the University of Pretoria in 2013, where he currently heads the Biophysics research group at the University of Pretoria, and he is also currently the Chair of the South African Institute of Physics (SAIP) Biophysics Initiative.


  • Prof Andre Vantomme, Leuven University (Belgium)

Prof Andre Vantomme

Talk: Lattice location of dopants in group-III nitrides and ZnO

André Vantomme obtained his PhD degree from KU Leuven, Belgium, in 1991 after which he spent two years as a postdoctoral researcher at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena. Since 1997, he is a professor in nuclear solid state physics in Leuven, where he built up his research group. His research focuses on unraveling the intimate link between the structure and the functional properties of low-dimensional materials – down to the atomic level.
Besides using ‘conventional’ characterization techniques to investigate these systems, his research has greatly benefited from applying nuclear techniques, which provide complementary information on structure or functionality, often down to the single atom. These techniques are either based on (stable or radioactive) ion beams or on hyperfine interactions. He is leading the Ion and Molecular Beam Laboratory in Leuven, a unique facility where 3 accelerators are in situ coupled to two molecular beam epitaxy set-ups as well as to a wide scala of (surface-sensitive) characterization techniques. This experimental facility is complemented by frequent experiments at large scale facilities such as ESRF, ISOLDE-Cern, APS, ILL and iThemba LABS.
Throughout the past 25 years, André Vantomme has been active in the field of thin film growth mechanisms (with emphasis on silicide and germanide thin films, including ternary systems), magnetic, superconducting and optical properties of thin films and nano structures, and doping of semiconductors, including investigating the lattice site of implanted species.
Besides conducting research, he also enjoys teaching physics, including training young researchers. So far, he has been promotor of 37 finished or ongoing PhD students. Furthermore, he is serving the international scientific community via membership in or chairing of various councils, boards and commissions.

  • Dr Adi Salomon, Bar Ilan University (Israel)

Salomon

Talk: Plasmonic systems and their Interaction with Moleucles

Adi Salomon obtained her B.Sc. in Chemistry from Tel Aviv University and received her PhD from the department of Materials and Interfaces at Weizmann Institute of Science with David Cahen. There she got a scientific background on surface chemistry, semiconductors and electron transport through organic molecules. Then she went to ISIS, Strasbourg, working with Thomas Ebbesen on Interaction between molecules and surface plasmons. Her research was the first to demonstrate the dynamics of interaction between surface plasmons and molecules throughout the development of a new surface photochemistry. Later on, at the WIS, together with Yehiam Prior, Tamar Seideman, Robert Gordon and Maxim Shukaharev, they have developed a new model to explain interactions between molecules which are immersed in the ‘plasmonic field’. Current research in Salomon's lab is on interaction between molecules at light at the nano scale, and real time imaging of electrodes surfaces as part of INREP group.
  • Prof David Cahen, Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel)


Talk: Proteins as opto-electronic materials?

David Cahen's main research interests lie in exploring chemical means to control the electronic and optical properties of materials. He has had a keen interest in solar energy conversion ever since participating in the first Earth Day as a beginner PhD student, and in earlier studies co-invented and developed a solar cell, a device that uses solar energy to generate electrical power, of a new type – one that also stores electricity. He also contributed to the understanding and assessing the efficiency of the photosynthetic apparatus of plants and algae. His atomic-level research has helped to define the chemical limits of semiconductor miniaturization and contributed significantly both to the basic understanding and the practical use of several types of solar cells. His current research is aimed at understanding how simple organic molecules and complex biomolecules, such as proteins, can function as optical-electronic materials, how they can work in devices such as solar cells and sensors, and how to improve solar cells, in terms of materials and use of light.