The Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU) has been training specialists in nanotechnology, nanomaterials and nanosystems for nearly ten years. This work is carried out by a number of chairs of the Faculties of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Materials Science, Bioengineering and Bioinformatics, Fundamental Medicine. There are special courses and practical classes in this fast developing branch of the fundamental, applied and engineering science specially designed for students of these faculties. Research and development in nanotechnology, nanomaterials and nanosystems require in-depth knowledge of students’ specific areas as well as broad scientific outlook and understanding main problems and approaches of related sciences (physics, chemistry, biology, materials science, medicine). Therefore it is necessary to exceed the limits of not only certain chairs but faculties: it will provide students with additional knowledge and research skills essential for cross-disciplinary study after the first three years of studying at their core faculties within MSU.
MSU Nanotechnology Education and Research Center (ERC) was established to consolidate efforts of MSU units aimed at research and development and true cross-disciplinary education in nanotechnology, nanomaterials and nanosystems.
Using advanced educational technology, ERC trains students according to novel programs based on lectures and practical classes of the Faculties of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Materials Science, Bioengineering and Bioinformatics, Fundamental Medicine.
“Fundamentals of Nanotechnology” was the first step in ERC’s activity. It is the general course given in the spring semester since 2009 for third-year students of the mentioned faculties and all those who are interested in the discipline. The course consists of 14-18 lectures and a set of talks given by leading scientists called “Current Challenges of Nanotechnology”. The course ends with a pass/fail exam.
Those third-year students who pass the exam undertake further study majoring in “Nanosystems and Nanodevices”, “Functional Nanomaterials”, “Nanobiomaterials and Nanobiotechnology”. Each program comprises 460 class hours and about 300 laboratory hours. MSU laboratories have state-of-the-art and unique equipment to which ERC students have access: magnetic resonance scanner (the Cross-Disciplinary Research Centre for Magnetic Tomography and Spectroscopy), lines of transmission and scanning electron microscopes, scanning probe microscopes, powder and single-crystal diffractometers, mass spectrometers, IR, UV and optical spectroscopic instruments, electron paramagnetic resonance and nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometers, etc. Chebyshev and Blue Gene/P supercomputers with performance of tens of teraflops are used to model and forecast structure and properties of nanosystems and nanomaterials.
The cross-disciplinarity of ERC means not only integration of certain faculties within its programs. Creating a lively pro-active atmosphere between students and academicians, twice a year ERC holds scientific conferences which present results of the most significant works carried out in ERC. It also organizes schools for students, postgraduates, young scientists. Being an effective way of acquiring knowledge, they also make a good addition to core lecture courses and involve students, postgraduates and scientists of other Russian higher education institutions and research centers in ERC activity in the initial stage.
ERC pilot programs will be constantly improved incorporating new achievements of this rapidly growing field of science and adjusting to new demands of students and their future employers. On the basis of ERC lectures, seminars and practical classes there will be prepared textbooks and manuals one can use for effective training in other Russian universities.
Raising the number of students and academicians and areas of study is another ERC priority. Involving the leading RAS (the Russian Academy of Sciences) scientists, Russian and foreign research centers considerably increases a list of and enriches the content of lectures and practical classes, gives students essential skills for further activity in the real sector of economy and nanoindustry. ERC also promotes cooperation with government institutions, primarily with the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies (RUSNANO).
MSU and RUSNANO signed the agreement on cooperation on the 3rd of December 2008. It stipulates the construction of MSU-based up-to-date Nanotechnology Innovation Center and close cooperation in the following areas:
Improvement of postgraduate programs is also high on the agenda in ERC. Development of special Master’s programs in different nanotechnology areas for bachelors from Russian and foreign universities and specialists who want to upgrade their skills is a very important direction of ERC’s activity. This work is carried out in close cooperation with the RAS institutes and Russian and foreign research centers.
It is necessary – at both the national level and university one – to organize postgraduate training, or rather to establish postgraduate school in the field of nanosystems, nanomaterials and nanotechnology. In such a school, the education and research will dominate equally and numerous joint projects under which Candidate research will be conducted simultaneously at MSU faculties and ERC as a partner will be undertaken. ERC will also develop remote learning programs for government institutions and large companies to retrain their specialists or improve their skills.
MSU Nanotechnology Education and Research Center can be considered as a basis for a well-composed and flexible system of training of advanced research, education and innovation specialists who have deep fundamental knowledge, broad scientific outlook, understanding of main problems of nanosystems, nanomaterials and nanotechnology and are able to undertake independent research at the cutting edge of their areas.