PolyNano summer school 2015: Look back

For the fourth year in a row, DTU organised the PolyNano summer school, which took place between the 10th and 28th of August 2015.

17 students attended the lectures and practicals of this summer school, 5 from DTU Nanotech, but most were from various European countries (Spain, Finland, Czech Republic, Belgium, Hungary, Lithuania, Italy and Sweden). Their levels of education were very different (we had master students, PhD students, postdocs and even one professor!). Their backgrounds also covered a large area of interests –our students were trained as chemists, biologists, physicists or engineers. The one thing they all had in common was their interest in science, and, more specifically, in lab-on-a-chip systems and the possibilities of mass fabrication.

During the three weeks, the students attended lectures given by professors from DTU (DTU Nanotech, DTU Physics and DTU MEK), but also by invited guest lecturers: Tomas Cizmar (University of St. Andrews,  Scotland), Lene Oddershede (Copenhagen University, Denmark), Mihail Pascu (National Institute for Laser, Plasma and Radiation Physics, Romania) and Anthony Turner, currently at Linköping University, in Sweden, who is considered the father of biosensors and has a great deal of experience in both research and industry. Two Start-up stories (Filippo Bosco – BluSense Diagnostics and Theodor Nielsen – NIL Technologies) were introduced to the students to talk about the challenges and advantages of moving from research to production and commercialisation. Frank Nielsen (from Radiometer) and Wilgo Feliksdal (from Felix Robotics) gave lectures from industry’s point of view. A workshop on presentation skills and a talk on how to write a journal article were also part of the program.

eOne of the most exciting parts for most of the students was the cleanroom work, which showed the steps involved in the fabrication of chips for different applications. The students were divided in three experimental tracks: Electrochemical Bioanalysis, Optical Trapping and DNA Nanofluidics. Each group was taught how to fabricate a lab-on-a-chip system with a specific application in mind – and then the groups moved to different research labs at DTU Nanotech where they tested their chips. A great number of DTU people were involved in the experimental work, both in the cleanroom and in the labs.

At the beginning of the summer school, all students brought posters illustrating their research activity at their home universities and introduced this work to the other students and researchers involved in the summer school. On the final day, the students presented their work during the summer school in groups. They also had to submit an individual report written in the form of a paper to be submitted for publication.

Of course, all the work involved was made easier by the social events – starting with a barbeque cooked by the DTU professors on day one. Every Friday brought a group activity: Dinner at Krøgers Have in week one, boat trip followed by dinner at Restaurant Påfuglen, in Tivoli Gardens, in week two, then finally a goodbye lunch at Restaurant RizRaz on the last day of the summer school.

The PolyNano summer school will take place again next summer – don’t forget to sign up (or encourage your students to participate)! You can find more information here.

What the students said:

”It was great opportunity to spend time in Danchip and I had the chance to see almost all steps of the chip preparation”

“Sign-up process was simple and straight forward”

 “I think the group was super nice and also the professors. They seemed very happy with the project even at the social events.”

 “I learned a lot of new techniques in this school”

“The summer school was great and I hope it could be start of possible collaboration in the future.”