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PERSEPHONe & SMART-X Winter School in Bormio

The two MSCA - Innovative Training Networks, PERSEPHONe and SMART-X, organized a joint winter school in Bormio, Italy, on January 2023, for training scientists from both networks on the development of a new technological platform based on perovskites for photonics and on the development of time resolved X-ray spectroscopy for the study of new functional materials.

The place chosen to host this event was the city of Bormio in the Italian Alps, a winter wonderland famous for its ski and thermal resorts. It was organized unitedly by their respective host institutions, the Italian Institute of Technology and the National Research Council of Italy.

The school sessions were organized in such a way to allow participants to go for team building activities outside during sunny hours every day.

Lectures were divided in parallel and joint sessions, allowing participants to mix and match according to their interests and share knowledge in common research fields. The participants formed a well-balanced mingle of research experience, ranging from students, post-docs, senior principal investigators and professors, who had the opportunity to go for long discussions off-time and share their findings over dining tables every night. ESRs also had a chance to present their research progress and findings during a dedicated presentation session in the afternoons.

International and broadly known speakers were invited in. Some of the highly expected talks were given by Prof. Keshav Dani from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology, Japan who focused his speech on time-resolved photoemission microscopy (TR-PEEM), and by Prof. Yong-Young Noh from the Pohang University of Science and Technology, South Korea, with his talk on Sn based halide perovskite transistors. Very interesting talks were also given by Dr. Oliver Graydon, Chief Editor of Nature Photonics on the latest trends in scientific publishing and by Prof. Beatrice Fraboni from the University of Bologna and her talk on 2D and 3D hybrid perovskites.

Feedback given by participants was very positive throughout the event. They enjoyed very much the lectures, the hotel premises and services offered, the food and the town, as well as the opportunity to practice some winter sports, many of them for the very first time.

PERSEPHONe’s ESR Shaoni Kar commented:

“The Persephone winter school held in the winter wonderland of the Italian Alps was a fantastic experience. As an early stage researcher starting out in perovskite research, the talks and networking opportunities were extremely useful. I could develop ideas and collaborations for my secondments through the ample interaction with supervisors made possible by this training event. While each of the arranged lectures were uniquely informative, I particularly enjoyed Prof. Keshav Dani’s talk on the emerging spectroscopic technique of time-resolved photoelectron emission spectroscopy (tr-PEEM). Apart from the academic standpoint, the winter school will also be memorable for my first skiing and snowshoeing experiences. With the talk schedules enabling ample time for outdoor activities, I could face my fears and try these sports for the first time in my life. I truly believe such efforts also translate to academic pursuits where risk-taking and stepping out of one’s comfort zone prove to be extremely rewarding. Overall, this school will be a much-cherished event of my student life.”

Another PERSEPHONe ESR Aditya Bhardawj said:

"I really gained a vision of potential applications of thin and flexible X-ray Detectors which is otherwise very counterintuitive, thanks to Prof. Fraboni. Secondly, I had heard about Sn-based perovskites as a good alternative to Pb-based perovskites, I never fully understood the difficulties in synthesis and stability until this conference where many speakers both professors and students, highlighted their work. Moreover, I cannot really forget Dr. Keshav's talk on excitons would stand for me as one of the talks that got everybody excited even though most of us work in different fields."

Teresa Stefanini, also a PERSEPHONe student, highlighted:

“Taking part of PERSEPHONe Winter School has been, for me, an enriching experience. I had the chance to meet and listen to lectures by researchers and professors whose work I had so far only read about. In particular, the lecture by Professor Yong-Young Noh on the “Development of high-performance Sn based halide perovskite transistors” and the one given by Professor Beatrice Fraboni on “2D and 3D hybrid perovskites as ionizing radiation detectors” were extremely interesting as they provided very useful information for my current work. In addition to the very good lectures and lecturers, from this experience I will also cherish the good time I had with colleagues, friends and new acquaintances. PERSEPHONe Winter School provided such a rich platform for me to get to know new and very interesting people and catching up with friends and colleagues, sharing some work talk as well as having fun in the snow. I am definitely looking forward for the next PERSEPHONe event.”

One of the latest ESR’s to join the project, Amit Kumar, had the opportunity to fist meet his fellows in Bormio:

“It was a pleasure to attend winter school in the picturesque town of Bormio and meet other ESRs and new people in person. All of the talks were extremely interesting and entertaining, but I particularly enjoyed the ones about light emitting diode and transistor devices. The presentation by Oliver Graydon titled "Trends and advice in scientific publishing" is also not to be missed if you are in the early stages of your research career. Introducing other ESRs and researchers was likely the most exciting part. Lots of fun and scientific discussion with domain experts. The itinerary was thoughtfully designed to allow for city tours and skiing during the day. Lastly, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at The Palace Hotel. Cheers!”