After the 2011 Materials Research Society (MRS) Fall Meeting Maxim Nikiforov, a Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Nanoscale Materials (CNM), was speaking with his mentor Daniel Lopez (CNM). He talked about the new ideas, which had arisen after attending the MRS conference. His mentor mentioned that some of these new ideas could be shared with the scientific community through a short course, which the CNM organizes during the Annual CNM Users Meeting.
Maxim liked the idea of a short course, but at the same time he wanted to organize a little more than just another one-day lecture series. For experimental scientists, hands-on experience is just as valuable as lectures. Hence, he decided to organize a unique short course, which combined lectures and hands-on experience for the participants. Experimental sessions are rarely organized during short courses because of logistical complexity.
Maxim chose scanning probe microscopy as a topic for a short course because he is an expert in this area with almost ten years of experience. Selecting a theme was a bit more difficult for him since scanning probe microscopy has many areas to cover. He decided to focus the lecture topics and hands-on demonstrations around electrical and mechanical measurements, which reflect his current research interests in localized analysis of photovoltaic materials and devices. “My main objective is to teach fellow researchers that scanning probe microscopy is much more than a tool for plain topography measurements,” said Maxim.
The short course preparation consisted of several parts: developing a scientific agenda; securing participation commitments from guest lecturers as well as industrial participants; arranging on-site logistics such as venue selection, planning the location of experimental stations, coordination of activities with FMS and ESQ; and promoting the short course across the scanning probe community and around the laboratory.
While planning and preparing his short course was time consuming Maxim felt that “it was definitely worth the effort because based on the feedback, participants liked the course and the main objective was achieved.” He credits Saw Hla (CNM), Daniel Lopez (CNM), Marie Carrie Clark (CNM) and Ron Tollner (FMS) for unequivocal support and help with the short course. “True teamwork made this short course a success,” said Maxim.
Maxim Nikiforov (CNM) is a Argonne Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow. His current research interests are improvement of power conversion efficiency of solar cells by understanding local electrical and optical properties of organic photovoltaic materials and devices. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008. He worked in Professor Dawn Bonnell’s research group at Pennsylvania where he studied electrical properties of interfaces using scanning probe microscopy.
As a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (2008 – 2011) he developed methods for localized measurements of phase transitions in polymers. His work at Oak Ridge resulted in an R&D100 Award in 2010.