Advanced functional materials refer to an emerging group of materials or composite that are engineered to enhance native properties and functions. The Advanced Functional Materials and their Applications 2021 Webinar (AFMat2021), hosted by the Institute of Mathematical Sciences and Physics (IMSP) as a National Center of Excellence in the Basic Sciences, featured experts from the Philippines and across the globe.

The webinar started with a welcome message and opening remarks from Dean Maribel L. Dionisio-Sese and Director Editha C. Jose, respectively. It highlighted advanced functional materials research in diverse disciplines such as agriculture, technology, health, environment, and sustainability.

Dr. Mary Donabelle L. Balela and her team developed various kapok sorbents to target various types of pollutants. Their initial findings showed promising results that are suitable in water treatment facilities. 

Dr. Jey-R S. Ventura presented the country’s current achievements on polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) research, which includes production cost reduction and property improvement of PHA products. PHAs are biopolymers with similar properties to conventional plastics. 

Dr. Hsiung Chou and his research group are developing a biosensor platform that utilizes Au nanoparticles as detection agent to react with the antigen of a disease. The detection is based on the change in electrical properties when the system absorbs biomolecules. 

Dr. Juan F. Sanchez-Royo and his team showed that distinct properties of two-dimensional indium selenide (InSe) nanosheets present new opportunities for the development of modern heterojunctions and related devices. In their work, they concluded that InSe nanosheets are promising for 2D-based devices design because of its high electron mobility and its low density of defects. 

Dr. Jessica Pauline C. Afalla gave a discussion on the unique physics of Transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs), and how ultrafast spectroscopy can be used to characterize these new generation semiconductors. One of Dr. Afalla’s objectives is to probe and understand how charge transport happens in TMDs. Currently, she’s building a terahertz spectroscopy set-up to further analyze excitonic processes in TMDs. 

Dr. Lilia M. Fernando and her team worked on plant growth-promoting bacteria (PGPB) to contribute to sustainability. PGBG acts as a mini factory of plant growth regulators (PGR). Based on their study, their product can be used as a substitute for commercially available and synthetic growth regulators in the market. 

The last speaker, Mr. Ronaniel A. Almeda, presented the equipment and analytical services offered by the UPLB Nanotechnology program. Through coherent interdisciplinary collaboration, the program aims to establish the UPLB Nanotechnology Center as the lead institution for education, research, and development in the fields of nanotechnology with applications in agriculture, forestry, and industry.

With over 183 participants, AFMat2021 received outpouring compliments due to the diverse interesting topics and speakers. The attendees were from various units and colleges of UP Los Baños. Educators and researchers from different universities, e.g. Isabela State University Cabagan Campus, Adamson University, and Central Mindanao University, attended as well.  A closing remark was given by Asst. Prof. Marco Miguel P. Parel, the convenor of the webinar. The jam-packed webinar lasted for 3 hours.

(GM Oca)