Sol-Gel Science and Technology in Latin America
This month, our focus on the sol-gel activities in various countries moves to Latin America, where the compelling cultural richness and diversity of this dynamic region is matched by the diversity and depth of sol-gel activities being undertaken. There are currently over 40 groups of varying size involved in sol-gel science and technology in Latin America, with research activities focused on coatings, biomaterials, drug delivery, photocatalysis, optical devices, encapsulation of cells, nanoparticles, catalysis and mesoporous materials, in addition to fundamental studies of sol-gel processing. Latin America has also hosted two of the biennial sol-gel workshops, with Brazil hosting the 1989 and 2009 meeting (chaired by Professors Michel Aegerter and Sidney Ribeiro, respectively).
Since 2015, over 140 publications from Latin America have appeared in the Journal of Sol-Gel Science and Technology, which represents nearly 8 % of all publications in JSST during the past five years. More broadly, colleagues in Latin America have published papers with collaborators in nearly 60 nations outside of Latin America since 2011 (with collaborations leading to five or more papers highlighted in the Figure). This reflects the creation of sustained and productive research partnerships spanning the world.
This rich palette of fundamental and applied scientific activity is also being converted into intellectual property, with 24 groups in Latin America having filed two or more patents from 2010 to mid-2020. A particular feature of the sol-gel activities in the region are the regular sol-gel schools that have been held in Buenos Aires every two years since 2003. In excess of 400 students have now participated in the nine schools held up to 2019. During the course of two intensive weeks, students learn from invited professors on a range of topics from fundamental concepts underpinning the synthesis and processing of sol-gel materials through to state-of-the-art applications. In parallel, participants complete 40 hours of laboratory-based work in small groups, focusing on the development of techniques and skills in sol-gel synthesis and characterisation.
An upcoming issue of JSST will be devoted exclusively to papers by leading sol-gel practitioners in Latin America, celebrating the diversity and innovation of sol-gel science and technology within this part of our international community.