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Professor Anton Fojtik: Level of my students in Moscow is much higher than in other countries


Training of specialists in the field of nanotechnology requires Russian universities to attract foreign scientists with a world name. One of them is a pioneer in the field of experimental research of nanostructures, winner of many scientific and professional awards, Professor of the Technical University Liberec, Czech Republic Anton Fojtik. During the VII International youth scientific school-conference "Modern problems of physics and technology", which was held at the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI, the Professor spoke about the prospects of joint research and training in the field of nanotechnology.

– Professor Fojtik, you are called one of the creators of nanotechnology. When did you start doing this?

– I started working in this field as early as 1980. Then the Economic Union of Europe and Germany established the project "Eureka", which purpose was to achieve the level of production of chip structures and solid-state storage devices with a density of recording information to a level higher than 1 MB. The West Berlin Institute for nuclear research Hahn-Meitner (HMM) received the task for the execution of this project.

The work had been carried out for two years, and resulted in the possibility to record up to 100 MB, however, chip structures was useless for these purposes. To improve the quality of recording information, we proposed to use ultra-small particles, where new unique physical and chemical properties were opened, which had not been observed in nature. It is time which started studies of "super low-dimensional" particles called quantum nanostructures.

In 1990, Professor Henglein, Director of the HZB Institute, and I worked on the application of laser techniques for the preparation of solutions with nanoscale particles. We were doing this research at odd moments; we didn’t expect much, just wanted to see if there was anything that hadn't been done so far. Having published the work, we did not expect much success or any big breakthrough. However, we ran into a surprise.

At first the article did not find a proper response in the scientific community. However, in 2005-2006, our research became the basis for the creation of several new research institutes in Germany and Italy. These institutes began to study the medical use of non-toxic pure nanoparticles in the human body.

Our work gave impetus to the development of laser nanotechnology in the liquid environment, the whole scientific direction. These technologies make it possible to obtain the purest nanoparticles using laser ablation, which can be used to treat diseases such as, for example, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

Unfortunately, Professor Henglein has already died, it’s only me left of our group, and that is why now I am called the "father of nanotechnology" at international conferences.

– How did your cooperation with Russian universities begin?

– At one of the international conferences in Essen, Germany, a Professor from Russia Andrey Kabashin, scientific director of the Institute of Engineering Physics for Biomedicine at MEPhI came to me after my report. Later he invited me to work together in Russia. I came and presented some results of my work at the Basov’s readings in 2016.

I learned that a new Institute had been established at MEPhI, which specializes in nanotechnology and scientific developments for nanomedicine.

The management plans to create an institution of such a high level, which doesn’t exist even in Europe. But it requires good instruments, equipped laboratories and classrooms, cooperation with the best scientists from different countries, who will transfer knowledge to students. If all this can be ensured, the Institute will have high-quality publications, and then – a good reputation.

I come here for the sixth time, and I would like not only to lecture, but also to take part in scientific research on nanobiomedicine.

– What developments in bionanomedicine can you tell as an example?

– We create nanostructures that can be introduced into the human body, into the blood, so that they do something useful there.

For example, we inject special magnetic particles into the tumor, then irradiate them and heat them up to 85 degrees. It makes this tumor to die, and does nothing with healthy tissues. After that, we remove the particles from the body. This method is suitable for the treatment of tumors smaller than 1 cm that cannot be surgically removed. Now, together with my former graduate students, we are conducting clinical studies of this method.

With the help of chemical solutions of nanoparticles, we can destroy fat plaques in blood vessels, kill anthrax spores and the HIV virus, although the effectiveness of the latter method still needs to be worked at. We develop artificial skin for the treatment of trophic ulcers, which shows excellent results in clinical trials.

– How do you assess the prospects of MEPhI to enter the top 100 of world universities?

– I think that the creation of a new Institute in MEPhI and cooperation with the best scientists of the world contribute to this. The reputation of MEPhI in the academic environment has increased in recent years, I would now place the University in the range of 50-100, and this is an excellent indicator, taking into account that how many good universities exist in the world.

I worked in Germany for 14 years, in the USA – for 2 years. Now I teach at universities in ten countries and can say that the level of students I teach in Moscow is much higher than in other countries. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the level of scientific training of students in Western Europe has decreased significantly in recent years. Partly it’s due to the fault of teachers who underestimate the practical application of scientific results.

For example, I often ask students in the first lecture if they know what semiconductors are, what properties they have, ask other questions. Students at some foreign universities are unable to answer this question, and many in MEPhI can, even at the beginning of the first year.

It is especially good if their scientific supervisors acquaint them with the issues of industrial application of scientific developments. After all, if at least 2% of scientific results can be introduced into production, it pays off all 100% of research.

Today science has a big problem of application of the advanced scientific experimental and theoretical achievements in practice, in production. This is the most difficult. This is not sufficiently developed in Russia yet, but I hope it will develop over time.

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