Georg Forster Award: Argentinean scientist conducts research at GSI/FAIR


Professor Omar Azzaroni from Argentina has received the Georg Forster Research Award, granted by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, for his research in the field of nanosciences. As award winner, he will work in close cooperation with the Materials Research Department of GSI.

The Georg Forster Research Award honors researchers from developing and transition countries who have earned international recognition for their research and seek to solve development-related issues. The award winners are nominated by German experts and invited to establish or expand collaborative projects with them. Valued at €60,000 each, the Georg Forster Research Awards are financed by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Omar Azzaroni studied chemistry at the National University La Plata UNLP (Universidad Nacional de La Plata) in Argentina, receiving his PhD in 2004. His postdoctoral studies were carried out at the University of Cambridge in UK (2004– 2006) and the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz (2007). He was then appointed as Max Planck Partner Group leader from 2009 until 2013. Max Planck Partner Groups are an instrument in the joint promotion of junior scientists with countries interested in strengthening their research through international cooperation. Contacts to GSI have existed for many years, mainly through working with GSI scientist Dr. Eugenia Toimil-Molares.

From 2012 to 2015, Omar Azzaroni has served as Vice-Director of the Institute for Theoretical and Applied Physical-Chemical Research INIFTA (Instituto de Investigaciones Fisicoquímicas Teóricas y Aplicadas). He is currently a fellow of the Argentinean National Council of Scientific and Technological Research CONICET and head of the Soft Matter Laboratory of INIFTA. He has also been Adjunct Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University La Plata since 2009. His research interests include solid-state nanopores, nanostructured hybrid interfaces, supra- and macromolecular materials science and nanotechnology.

During his stay at the GSI and FAIR campus, Omar Azzaroni will work together with his colleagues from the GSI materials research department and use nanopores that are produced by irradiating polymer films with high-energy heavy ions. The head of the department, Professor Christina Trautmann, emphasizes in her laudatio of the laureate: “Professor Omar Azzaroni has made pioneering contributions by combining polymer science, surface chemistry and nanotechnology.” Based on his chemistry expertise, he developed polymer brushes of designed composition, structure, and functionality such as responsiveness to temperature.

Omar Azzaroni will focus on the fabrication of nanodevices with chemical and biological sensor properties through the modification of nanochannels with molecular systems. He will integrate soft-matter based responsive building blocks into solid-state nanopores. The aim is to develop intelligent nanosystems that can recognize chemically or physically triggered environmental changes and adjust e.g. the pore diameter as a function of temperature. This smart materials-based nanotechnology has great innovative potential and could open up new applications in the future, for example in drug delivery, biosensing or energy conversion. (BP)