THz Success: ITMO Master’s Student Presents His Research in Paris
ITMO University student Egor Litvinov believes that 2019 may well be his lucky year: he’s won a presidential scholarship to pursue studies abroad, became a laureate of the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society scholarship and attended international conferences in Paris and Yokohama, where he also got the opportunity to present his research. ITMO.NEWS met with Egor to find all about his work and successes.
IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society scholarship
МТТ-S is the largest international community of scientists and representatives of scientific organizations conducting research in the field of radiofrequency, microwave and terahertz radiation. The society was created on the basis of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and hosts annual contests among students and PhD researchers from all over the world, with the winners being awarded scholarships to advance their scientific projects. Since 2001, eight young scientists from Russia have become laureates of the prestigious IEEE MTT-S Undergraduate Scholarship, seven of them coming from ITMO University (all but one from Terahertz Biomedicine Laboratory).
Egor, could you please tell us more about your research?
I’m in the first year of my Master’s program and combine my studies with work at ITMO’s Terahertz Biomedicine Laboratory, where I’m developing a terahertz (THz) phase compensator. To design a compensator with a refractive index close to zero, I’m creating a unique material that doesn’t exist in nature.
Where can this compensator be applied?
In research, and also in the development of masking coatings, ideal adapters between waveguides as well as coatings that reduce scattering operating with virtually no losses and in little time.
What advantages does the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society scholarship offer?
I’ve received a money prize worth of 1,500$, in addition to 1,000$ to attend any conference in the terahertz field that is organized by MTT-S.
You’ve already seized on this opportunity and attended a conference in Paris, haven’t you?
Yes, it was the IRMMW-THz 2019 conference, the largest terahertz event in the world. It’s attended by leaders in the fields of THz radiation generation, development of materials for working in the THz frequency range and THz biomedicine. I had the chance to present my research on ENZ (epsilon-near-zero)-based phase compensator alongside globally-renowned scientists.
What exactly did this conference give you?
First and foremost, conferences like this provide you with opportunities to establish useful connections, for instance, I’ve exchanged contacts with several Chinese researchers who work in the field of experimental data processing for pulsed terahertz spectroscopy. I have also met a British scientist who, like me, focuses on the materials in the THz frequency range. But the most amazing meeting was with a scientist from Japan, who told me he could help in the development of the material I need for my compensator. This is one of the key problems I face in my project.
Secondly, conferences are a great opportunity to see where your field is at this point in time. For example, there was a presentation that showed how to remove the peaks of water absorption during the processing of experimental data. Scientists “cleared” the spectrum and removed unnecessary information, and all this without any loss in amplitude thanks to the use of machine learning, which amounts to a very useful development. It is important to be aware of what solutions have already been proposed by your colleagues so as not to miss out on something valuable for your own research.
Trip to the UK and future plans
Why is this a special year for you?
I’ve been very lucky. I won the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society scholarship in spring and shortly before that, received a university scholarship and a presidential scholarship to pursue studies abroad. I’ve also been to the OPIC 2019 conference in Yokohama, Japan, and to the event SPIE Student Chapter Leadership in the same city.
Have you already decided where to go on your winter exchange to?
Yes, I’ll go to the University of Exeter, which is the county of Devon, the UK.
What is behind your choice? Does this university have something to do with your field of research?
The research they do is very close to mine. I focus on a slightly different structure, but they have unique equipment that allows to make a structure of the same morphology, but from graphene. I’m going there with the aim of learning how to make these structures.
Why did you get interested in the field of terahertz spectroscopy?
To be honest, I chose my laboratory even before the start of the practical component of my Master’s program. We were given a tour of all the labs our department had to offer, and Terahertz Biomedicine Laboratory appealed to me because of its young and dynamic profile. I’ve set my eyes on working there at once. Later on, I decided on my topic, metamaterials. I was very inspired by its potential of developing unique materials which aren’t present in nature. This is very interesting, but the main problem lies in the implementation side of things: the most difficult aspect is actually creating such structures.
You’ll be graduating from your Master’s studies next year. Any plans for the future?
Without any doubt, I’ll be applying for PhD studies and aim to continue my research activities.
In Russia or abroad?
I want to do my PhD studies at ITMO University and continue my work at Terahertz Biomedicine Laboratory. I hope that I’ll once again get to participate in an exchange program to gain more experience and expertise in the field of metamaterials. I’m not sure yet where my research interests will lead me, but most likely this will be the development and manufacturing of metamaterials. Given that I have some background in terahertz spectroscopy, I think that my work will be connected to terahertz materials.
You’ve taken part in many conferences. Why do you think it’s so important for students to attend such events?
I think that conferences allow you to break free from laboratory work once in a while and obtain new experiences, which is an important reason because you need to have a break from your day-to-day work to look at your research from a new angle. And, of course, any specialized events, especially international ones, give you the opportunity to connect with people who do similar research. In general, it seems to me that you need to start attending conferences as early as you possibly can. Students should aim to become part of this movement from the very beginning of their scientific career because it opens up new horizons and allows you to grow much faster and more productively.