The Jožef Stefan Days are held to commemorate the famous Slovenian physicist Jožef Stefan, who was born on 24 March, and to popularise science.
Monday, 20 March
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OPEN WEEK AT JSI: 12:00 – visiting JSI in person, ŠCLJ, Srednja strojna in kemijska šola
(Secondary School of Mechanical Engineering and Chemistry in Ljubljana)
JSI main lecture hall
OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE 31st JOŽEF STEFAN DAYS
Prof Boštjan Zalar, JSI Director
JSI main lecture hall
Prof Frédéric Mila, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland
Quantum spin liquids and their experimental identification
Quantum spin liquids are as old as quantum magnetism itself. The very first solved model of quantum magnetism – the spin-1/2 Heisenberg chain (Bethe, 1931) – is an instance of a quantum spin liquid. Almost a century later, this research field is more active than it has ever been, with many generalisations, including two-dimensional models, and several compounds whose characteristics cannot be understood within the framework of long-range magnetic order. The lecture will provide an overview of breakthrough discoveries since the early 1980s, covering Haldane’s spin gap conjecture, spin liquids with resonating valence bonds as superconductivity precursors, algebraic spin liquids and spin-1/2 Heisenberg antiferromagnet on an anisotropic kagome lattice. It will conclude with a review of the Shastry-Sutherland compound SrCu2(BO3)2, its fractional magnetization plateaus and the pressure-induced critical point analogous to that of water.
OPENING OF THE EXHIBITION
Nande Vidmar (1899–1981) was one of the key representatives of visual arts in Slovenia, active from the 1920s to the early 1970s. His works, which predominantly depict social-critical, rustic and working-class motifs, reflect the character of contemporary European art movements, such as Expressionism, New Realism, Social Realism, Colour Realism and Intimism. Vidmar is considered one of the pioneers of Expressionism and New Realism in Slovenia. He perfected his skills at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb, where socially critical themes became even more prominent in his art. He thus represents a link between the Expressionist and the new Colour Realism generations that came to the fore in the 1930s. Due to his retreat from public life in the decade following the Second World War, his name and oeuvre somewhat faded. A major retrospective exhibition in 2019 was followed by the donation of his works to the Božidar Jakac Gallery, which now has a permanent collection of his work on display. Nande Vidmar is thus deservedly returning to the heritage of important Slovenian painters of the first half of the 20th century. A part of the collection from the Božidar Jakac Gallery will also be displayed chronologically in the JSI gallery.
Goran Milovanović, Director of the Božidar Jakac Gallery
Tuesday, 21 March
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JSI main lecture hall
Dr Lukáš Palatinus, Institute of Physics of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic
Crystallography in the 21st century: The age of the electron?
Many consider crystallography the most important scientific field for the rapid scientific and technological development of the 20th century. It has provided us with a glimpse into the atomic structure and given us a wealth of information about the materials that surround us, ranging from minerals to proteins. The pivotal method in crystallography proved to be X-ray diffraction. The downside of this method, however, is that it requires quite a substantial amount of analysed material. Recently, an alternative method without this caveat has emerged – three-dimensional electron diffraction (3D ED). This method provides similar information to X-ray diffraction but requires a million-times less sample material. The lecture will discuss this method, its remarkable development in the past 15 years since its inception and the impact it has had and will continue to have on materials science, chemistry and molecular biology.
OPEN DAYS AT JSI: 12:00 – visiting JSI in person, OŠ Danile Kumar (Danila Kumar primary school)
JSI main lecture hall
Dr. Pierre Denise in dr. Hervé Normand, University of Caen Normandy, France
Parabolic Flights, a tool for Space Research
Parabolic flights recreate a real state of weightlessness and can be used to study acute effects. Parabolic flights are also able to recreate Moon and Mars gravity. Initially used for the training of astronauts, these flights are now principally used for technical testing of space equipment or for scientific experimentation. In this presentation will be presented the technical aspects as well as the physiological aspects of parabolic flights. How parabolic flights can help solve some of the daunting challenges to human exploration of the Moon and Mars will also be presented.
Wednesday, 22 March
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OPEN WEEK AT JSI: 12:55 – visiting JSI in person, OŠ AMS Vrhnika (Anton Martin Slomšek primary school)
JSI main lecture hall
Prof Ester Heath, “Jožef Stefan” Institute
Priority organic pollutants: From the source to the environment
Priority organic pollutants are many of the substances we use every day but have only recently become aware of their potential negative effects. This is why researchers have started to study their presence (usually occur only in trace amounts), their sources and how they make their way into the environment, as well as their possible adverse effects on humans and other organisms. Such pollutants include residues of active pharmaceutical ingredients and personal care products, as well as industrial chemicals such as bisphenol A and its substitutes. The lecture will present the sources of these compounds in wastewater and the environment, compare the effectiveness of conventional biological wastewater treatment plants with advanced wastewater treatment processes, and discuss options for limiting harmful pollutants from entering into the environment. The lecture will address the efficiency of model compounds removal, the degradation kinetics of selected pollutants, the formation of metabolic and transformation products and the overall toxicity of residues of these pollutants in the environment.
JSI main lecture hall
JOŽEF STEFAN GOLDEN EMBLEM AWARD CEREMONY
This year the “Jožef Stefan” Institute is again awarding the Jožef Stefan Golden Emblem to encourage young researchers to be even more committed to scientific research, which is also a kind of call to action for the economy to use this knowledge as effectively as possible.
The Golden Emblem is awarded to the authors of the most outstanding doctoral theses in Slovenia in the preceding three years in the natural sciences, mathematics, medicine and biotechnology.
Thursday, 23 March
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JSI main lecture hall
WORKSHOP: FUNDAMENTAL PARTICLE PHYSICS
International Masterclasses 2023
“International Masterclasses” in fundamental particle physics offer a unique opportunity for high school students to learn about the world of quarks and leptons for themselves. They can take measurements on data from experiments at CERN and other research centres around the world, meet researchers and their peers from other countries to review results and exchange opinions.
During the one-day event consisting of presentations and a workshop, in which data collected by the ATLAS and Belle II detectors will be used, students will learn about the fundamental particles and the forces between them, as well as the use of such particles in modern hadron beam radiotherapy treatment. In the morning, researchers from the “Jožef Stefan” Institute, the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics (University of Ljubljana) and the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (University of Maribor) will present the physics of fundamental particles, medical physics and the detectors we use in our research.
A virtual tour will take the participants inside the Belle II detector, where they will also have plenty of opportunities to talk to the researchers about their research and how they spend their time at CERN and in Japan. The participants will also learn about how the study of the structure of the universe and its discoveries are used in medical applications.
The afternoon workshop will be dedicated to the search for unknown short-lived particles using data captured by the ATLAS and Belle II detectors. This will be followed by a simulation of radiotherapy and a radiation treatment plan that will effectively inhibit the growth of a tumour while sparing sensitive organs or surrounding diseased tissue. After the discoveries, we will join students from other research centres around the world for a video conference with the control room.
OPEN WEEK AT JSI: 10:00 – visiting JSI in person, OŠ Kungota (Kungota primary school)
JSI main lecture hall
Prof Marko Robnik-Šikonja, Faculty of Computer and Information Science, University of Ljubljana
Machine learning based on relational and textual data
Most AI systems are based on machine learning, which allows for automatic building of models for predicting, categorising, clustering and interpreting data. The first part of the lecture will present selected machine learning methods for the analysis of relational data and networks, which are based on transforming data into a more efficient tabular form. The second part will provide an overview of selected methods for learning vector representations of textual data based on deep neural network technology. A selection of methods and open source implementations of machine learning algorithms is presented in the monograph Representation Learning: Propositionalization and Embeddings, co-authored by N. Lavrač, V. Podpečan and M. Robnik-Šikonja (Springer, 2021).
EARLY CAREER RESEARCHERS’ GET TOGETHER PARTY
The event is internal and will take place at 18.00 pm at Gallery JSI.
Friday, 24 March
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OPEN WEEK AT JSI: 9:40 – virtual visit to JSI, OŠ Spodnja Idrija (Spodnja Idrija primary school)
JSI main lecture hall
Physical and mental wellbeing: The importance of activity, rest/sleep and nutrition
Although most people seem to be aware of what it is that keeps us healthy and consequently contributes to our longevity, the latest data suggest quite the opposite. Our society is becoming less active, our eating habits are deteriorating, and more and more people are having trouble sleeping. It is as if we have forgotten that regular physical activity, a balanced and healthy diet, proper recovery from sport and good sleep hygiene are the foundations of a healthy and relaxed life. What are the reasons that people are ignoring such simple and literally vital guidelines and instead indulge in bad habits and lounging around? Have all the healthy habits become too complex for modern society? Do we realise that we are inflicting pain, illness and even early death on ourselves? Do we even want a healthy and relaxed life?
Saturday, 25 March
JSI OPEN DAY
in front of the main JSI building, Jamova 39
JSI Reactor Centre in Podgorica (Brinje 40, Podgorica)
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Open Day at Jožef Stefan Institute is intended for the general public – anyone who wants to find out what we are researching at our institute and how this can contribute to a balanced society of the future.
The first programme section of the Open Day will start at 9am (CET) at the Jožef Stefan Institute (Jamova cesta 39). Each programme section starts at the full hour and lasts 1 hour. At 10am, 11am and 12pm, the guidance will also be in English The last presentation will start at 1pm. Parking will not be available at the Jožef Stefan Institute (Jamova cesta 39), but visitors will have an option to park at the parking place near the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics (Jadranska ulica 15). The number of these parking places is limited.
Visits will also take place at the Reactor center Podgorica in a close vicinity of Ljubljana (Brinje 40, 1262 Dol pri Ljubljani) in the scope of programme section 4. Presentations at the Reactor center will start at 9:30am, 10:30am, 11:30am, 12:30pm and 1:30pm. Presentations are possible also in English depending on the wishes of the visitors. Visitors at the Reactor center have to show their ID document (personal ID card or passport) in order to enter. It will be possible to park near Reactor center. Free bus transport will be organized between JSI Jamova cesta 39 and Reactor center Podgorica. The number of available seats on the bus is limited. Bus schedule: relation Jamova – Reactor: 9am, 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm; relation Reactor – Jamova: 9:30pm, 10:30pm, 11:30pm, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, 2:30pm.
The number of visitors will be limited for each programme section with the aim to provide opportunity for a conversation with the researchers in each programme section. All visits are free of charge. Visitors have to follow all epidemiological requirements and recommendations. Indoors is the usage of masks mandatory. Additionally, visitors have to follow all safety instructions provided by JSI staff, especially by laboratory staff.
We kindly ask all visitors to stay in the group of each specific programme section, since visits of laboratories and other places at the Jožef Stefan Insititute without JSI staff is not allowed. Photographing inside and outside the premises at the location of Jožef Stefan Institute is not allowed without written consent. We thank you for understanding.
1. The matter, internet, biotechnology
– presentations at Jamova 39, Ljubljana
Programme section 1.1: Questions about space, life and everything in general
F3 – Department of Thin Films and Surfaces
The research of hard protective coatings is distictively application-oriented, as the main goal is to increase the lifetime of tools in the machining environment. Optimal combination of properties required for hard coatings can only be achieved by an in-depth study in several levels: understanding the process of coating growth, analysis of influence of deposition parameters on coating properties, and analysis of coating wear processes. The topic is distinctively interdisciplinary, encompassing plasma physics, physics and chemistry of surfaces, metallurgy, materials science and mechanical engineering. Beside a targeted development of a coating for specific technological application, the study of above mentioned processes contributes to a general knowledge of deposition and application of hard coatings. The most important materials for hard coatings are transition metal nitrides, but the department is doing research on other materials such as diamond-like coatings, quasicrystals, oxides, etc. The emphasys of characterisation is in mechanical properties, such as micro- and nanohardness, and adhesion. This is not exclusively limited on hard coatings, as we measure these properties on other types of thin films too. Some of the techniques can also be applied for surfaces of bulk materials.
F1 – Department of Theoretical Physics
Research group for theoretical solid-state and statistical physics is studying phase transitions and critical phenomena in ferroelectrics and surface physics, models of strongly correlated electrons, high-temperature superconductivity and quantum dots, and structure and transport in complex networks.
The members of the group for theoretical particle and nuclear physics are engaged in research on nuclear and hadron physics, quantum chromodynamics, effective theories for electromagnetic and weak meson decays, grand unified theories, physics of relativistic membranes, and high precision computations of three body systems in atomic physics.
The group for theoretical biophysics and soft condensed matter is investigating polyelectrolytes, liquid and colloidal crystals, as well as phospholipid and biological membranes.
F5 – Department of Condensed Matter Physics
In the field of disordered and partially ordered matter, our investigations are focused on quasicrystals, incommensurate crystals and complex metallic alloys with gigantic unit cell, which show outstanding combination of material properties. Our investigations also include physics of relaxors and disordered ferroelectrics, materials for spintronics and magnetoelectric materials, multiferroics, organic magnetic materials, electroactive polymers and elastomers, carbon nanofoams and TiO2 nanotubes. New methods of Nuclear Quadrupole Resonance have been developed for the detection of small amounts of explosives.
The investigations of soft matter, surfaces and nanostructures are focused on liquid crystals with a strong emphasis on colloidal self-assembly in 2D and 3D, phase separation and interfacial ordering at surface templates. In the field of nanostructures, we are focused on the synthesis of anorganic nanotubes, nanoropes and belts, and we are studying directed assembly of single atoms and molecules at surfaces. We have recently developed a new method for the single-molecule synthesis, based on the low temperature Scanning Tunneling Microscope. We are succesful in the application of liquid crystals in light shutters and modulators.
Our research programme in experimental biophysics is focused on the physics of cell membranes and transport of biologically active materials across lipid membranes. We are using spin labelling EPR techniques to explored processes and structures of various complex systems including the effects of various bioactive. We are using in vivo oxymetry techniques for the optimization of medical treatment in tumor therapies, as well as the magnetic resonance imaging techniques and mathematical modeling of biological and granular materials with applications in wood science, constrained diffusion and food processing.
The department is among the leading European laboratories for magnetic resonance.
Video presentation of ”Questions about space, life and everything in general” from the virtual Open day 2021 (in Slovenian language)
Programme section 1.2: Small is important
F2 – Department of Low and Intermediate Energy Physics
Fundamental research in nuclear physics is carried out within the Hadron Systems Structure group. At the MAMI laboratory, (Mainz, Germany), Jefferson Lab (Newport News, USA) and the MIT-Bates (Boston, ZDA) laboratory the group’s memebrs participate in the planning, execution and analysis of coincidence experiments with polarised electron beams and polarised targets. At the iThemba LABS in Cape Town, South Africa, we have recently carried out high-energy gamma-ray measurements with the AFRODITE HPGe detector array in order to study radiative nuclear capture of protons on a 208-Pb target. This was a world’s first spectroscopic measurement of 20 Mev photons with high resolution detectors. The resolution was improved by a factor of more than 10 with regard to earlier measurements.
Our Laboratory for Radiological Measurement Systems and Radioactivity Measurements (LMR) is a leading one of its kind in Slovenia and carries out an extensive environmental monitoring program around the Krsko nuclear power plant, whithin the framework of which about 700 samples of water, air, foodstuffs and soil are taken from the plant itself and above all from the surounding areas on a yearly basis in order to determine the specific activites of natural and artificial radionuclides in them and to arrive at a comprehensive assessment of the radoilogical impact of the NPP on the local population and environment. Two similar, but less extensive programs are run on the entire area of the country as well. We also perform gamma-ray spectrometry and liquid scintillation measurements of samples for the indistry and other interested clients. An important part of our activitiy is also research in both methods, with the emphasis of the introduction of the newly devised approaches into everyday practice. We keep constant track of our performance and maintain our proficiency through regular participation in national and internatioal intercomparison exercises.
The LMR laboratory also mantains and runs a mobile radiological unit, equipped and regularly trained for speedy intervention in emergency situation. The unit carries out interventions on a need-to basis, but maintains its operational capability by participating in national and international exercises several times a year.
The National Laboratory for Dosimetry Standards (NDS) was officialy nominated in 2004 by the Slovene Metrology Offfice as the keeper of the Sovene national reference standard for quantities used in radiation protection. The activities of the Laboratory within the Slovene metrological network concentrate on the maintenance of tracebality of secondary radiaiton standards and calibration of personal dosimeters, as required by national and international legislation on the radition protection of radiation workers. In addition to the routine calibration services offered to internal and external customers, research is carried out by the laboratory in radition metrology.
The Laboratory for Thermoluminiscent Dosimetry caters to the needs of internal and external customers in personal and environmental dosimetry and carries out research in the field of radition detection and measurement.
CEMM – Center for Electron Microscopy and Microanalysis
The Center for Electron Microscopy and Microanalysis (CEMM) comprises three scanning electron microscopes (JEOL JXA-840A, JEOL JSM-5800, JEOL JSM-7600F), two transmission electron microscope (JEOL JEM-2100, JEOL JEM-2010F) and equipment for SEM and TEM sample preparation.
All scanning electron microscopes are equipped with EDXS and/or WDXS spectroscopy, enabling the determination of the chemical composition of the investigated materials on micro- scale. JEOL JSM-7600F is additionally equipped with electron backscattered diffraction (EBSD) and electron lithography.
Analytical transmission electron microscope JEOL JEM-2010F is equipped with a FEG electron source. The microscope is equipped with STEM unit (BF, ADF, HAADF detectors) and with EELS. Both transmission electron microscopes are equipped with EDXS and CCD cameras for image acquisition. Ion etching, FIB and tripod polishing techniques are used for TEM sample preparation.
F4 – Department of Surface Engineering
Plasma sources – Low pressure and atmospheric gaseous discharges are applied to generate plasma of desired characteristics. The department has specialized in electrode-less discharges powered with radio-frequency and microwave generators using optimized coupling.
Plasma characterization – Optical emission and absorption techniques as well as mass spectrometry, electrical and catalytic probes are used for characterization of glowing plasma and afterglow. The group has developed original versions of catalytic probes for space-resolved measurements of neutral reactive radicals.
Plasma technologies – Discharge cleaning (removal of organic as well as inorganic impurities from surfaces of two and three dimensional objects), Selective plasma etching of composite materials, Activation and passivation of polymers and polymer composites, Plasma nano-medicine (cardiovascular implants, wound dressings, sterilization, diagnostic methods), Plasma nano-science (quantum dots, nanowires, nanocomposites, complex nanostructures).
Surfaces, interfaces and thin films – Pure and applied surface science, surface characterization using ToF- SIMS, XPS, AES and AFM techniques, depth profiling, reactions on surfaces and interfaces, micro-analyses, structural and compositional modifications of solid materials upon treatment with energetic ions.
Vacuum science and applications – Methods for sustenance different grades of vacuum, vacuum metrology, adsorption desorption and permeation of gases through solids, vacuum optoelectronics, development of vacuum devices and components like cathode tubes, insulation panels and made-to-order vacuum elements.
Video presentation of ”Small is important” from the virtual Open day 2021 (in Slovenian language)
Programme section 1.3: Building a modern world
K9 – Advanced Materials Department
At the Advanced Materials Department, we aim to develop beyond state-of-the-art functional materials by precise control of their synthesis at the atomic and microstructural levels. Material synthesis represents the central research activity and has a key role in the preparation process of ceramics, thin films, and nanoparticles with desired chemical composition, crystal structure, and microstructure. Such ability of control, which is grounded on an understanding of the reaction mechanisms, process parameters, and the related technology, enables us to engineer materials’ intrinsic properties and their extrinsic contributions. Furthermore, by advanced structuring of materials at the atomic and microstructural level we overcome well-established concepts of materials synthesis and achieve new and/or considerably improved functional characteristics. Based on the requested dimensionality materials are synthesized using the solid-state reaction, as well as other contemporary liquid- and vapor-based synthesis methods, like hydrothermal synthesis and pulsed laser deposition technique. Advanced analytical methods, including state-of-the-art electron microscopy, high-resolution X-ray diffraction, and various spectroscopic techniques are used ex situ, in situ, in operando, and in vacuo to follow the course of reactions, crystallization dynamics, stage of structuring, as well as to gain an insight into materials` specific functional response. The as-described methodology represents a new and complex milestone in the field of materials science and has an essential role in the development of future human- and environmental-friendly products and nanotechnologies.
E5 – Laboratory for Open Systems and Networks
Research goals are directed to assurance of scientific, research and developmental results in the field of next generation networks and services and applications based on them. Scientific research is going on to assure important position to Slovenian research achievements in world and European criterion in the field of generic technologies and applications which are the core of knowledge economy. Research contents are focused on key themes of information society technologies and applications.
B3 – Department of Biotechnology
The quality of life of modern man depends on the care for health and environment. Modern concepts in biotechnological sciences ensure both, the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic tools as well as the improvement and monitoring of healthy environment. Plant protein and peptide molecules with protective effect against predators can be used as lead compounds to design therapeutics for man and animals. On the other hand, the knowledge on molecular mechanisms in human diseases may help to prepare molecules with regulatory function in plants. Interdisciplinary approach, including various fields of modern biotechnology has made possible a qualitative lap and resulted in new products which were not available in the past. Various pharmaceutical compounds which are investigated in our laboratory are of plant origin, similarly as sweet proteins, which can be used in food industry.
An important part of our research are natural enzyme inhibitors of plant and fungi origin and recombinant proteins and peptides, produced in various expression systems by means of recombinant DNA techniques. On the same way the molecules involved in metabolism of lipids and synthesis of cholesterol have been developed. Important targets for inhibitors are proteases, which are associated with the progression of diseases, for example cancer. We investigate also the role of inhibitors and lectins in regulation of processes of immune response. Nevertheless, we have developed also systems for delivery of peptides and oligonucleotides to the site of their action to control their release and to improve the biological effectiveness and transport through the barriers.
Video presentation of ”Building a modern world” from the virtual Open day 2021 (in Slovenian language)
2. Biology, chemistry, physics
– presentations at Jamova 39, Ljubljana
Programme section 2.1: From atom to molecule, from molecule to life
F7 – Department of Complex Matter
Dynamics of complex systems – We investigate relaxation processes in strongly correlated electron systems. The dynamics of photoexcited electrons is studied in several systems, including superconductors, CDW systems, manganites, heavy fermions, MgB2 and systems with electonically driven transitions.
Theory of complex systems – The discoveries of novel functional dynamics in new complex materials requires fundamentally new theoretical approaches for reaching an understanding of the underlying physics. The dynamics of charged complex systems with correlated electrons, particularly high-Tc superconductors and related functional materials is investigated using a variety of phenomelogical and numerical methods.
Nanomaterials: MOSIx, nanowires, fullerene magnetism … – The synthesis of novel nanomaterials is mainly focussed on transition metal cluster nanomaterials such as MoSI nanowires. The research includes synthesis, basic characterisation, measurement of physical properties and functionalisation on the nanoscale.
Applications of nanomaterials and nanotechnology – MOSI nanowires promise a variety of possible applications, ranging from monomolecular substrates for biomolecular sensors to fillers in advanced composites. Other applications include field emission devices and tribological composites.
Soft matter research – Soft matter research includes several different systems, from confined liquid crystals (in planar, cylindrical, spherical geometries or even HPDLCs) and observations of surface effects, to self-assembly of guanosine and investigations of polymeric aligning layers using optical methods.
Biophysics and Biomedical optics – Biophysics research at our department includes experimental studies of molecular motors and protein manipulation with optical tweezers and investigation of electron dynamics in DNA using optical spectroscopy. Biomedical optics and engineering involves studies of laser-tissue interaction and development of novel laser-based diagnostic and therapeutic applications.
Nonlinear optics – In Nonlinear optics laboratory we study new materials and their interaction with laser light. We are especially interested in new materials which promise new applications in the following highly competitive fields: optical data storage, optical processing and telecommunications, especially in the form of integrated optics. We are also interested in compact laser sources in the eye-safe wavelength region of 1550 nm. We cooperated with a laser company Fotona from Ljubljana and with the National Institute for Materials Science in Tsukuba, Japan, studying the optical properties of domain engineered LiTaO3 crystals with Mg doping and various degrees of stoichiometry. These crystals are especially suited for optical parametric conversion from the Nd:YAG wavelength to the eye-safe region.
B2 – Department of Molecular and Biomedical Sciences
The core of our department is the program group “Toxins and Biomembranes”, one of the internationally recognized research groups in the field of toxinology. Our major research topic is focused on secreted phospholipases A2 (sPLA2s), both those from animal toxins and those endogenous to humans. We are interested in the molecular mechanisms of action of toxic sPLA2s, particularly those with presynaptic neurotoxicity, anticoagulant activity and myotoxicity, as well as the roles of endogenous sPLA2s in pathological and physiological processes in mammals. We are examining the function of these proteins in different cell processes, such as neuronal apoptosis and neurodegeneration, cell proliferation and carcinogenesis, particularly in breast cancer, activity of mitochondria and inflammation, e.g. in rheumatoid arthritis. Our group is also involved in investigating the biological roles of products of the enzymatic activity of sPLA2s, fatty acids, lysophospholipids and their metabolites, as well as pathologies connected with lipid metabolism, such as cardiovascular diseases, obesity and ageing. Our approach is to identify and characterize constituents of animal toxins with interesting pharmacological activities, potentially useful in medicine and as molecular tools to address research problems in physiology. One of our interests is also structural and evolutionary dynamics of eukaryotic genomes. Our research is conducted in close collaboration with a number of international and national research groups, on the basis of both formal and informal relations. The department is focused on the latest technologies in the fields of genomics, lipidomics and bioinformatics. We are also the only group in Slovenia and its close neighborhood equipped with the knowledge and skills for the analysis of synthetic genetic arrays (SGA).
K3 – Department of Physical and Organic Chemistry
The department is focused on the investigation of physicochemical processes on the surfaces of solids, such as corrosion and heterogeneous catalysis, as well as the synthesis of new compounds. The synergy of these two fields is created in the studies of corrosion protection and functionalization of materials. We exploit an integrative approach where we combine:
- organic and inorganic synthesis of new compounds and environmentally friendly coatings,
- electrochemical studies of corrosion and electrochemical properties,
- materials and molecular modeling based on first principles.
The goal is to gain new insights and understanding of mechanisms of protection and degradation of materials in different environments. We direct our knowledge to new research and design of advanced sustainable solutions in the protection of materials and the development of new catalysts.
Video presentation of ”From atom to molecule, from molecule to life” from the virtual Open day 2021 (in Slovenian language)
Programme section 2.2: From the Higgs boson to the greatest challenges of modern society
B1 – Department of Biochemistry and Molecular and Structural Biology
The major goals of our research are to characterize the individual proteases (primarily from the cathepsin family) and their inhibitors (stefins, cystatins and related proteins) and to unravel the molecular mechanisms of processes leading to programmed cell death or regulating the immune response of the organism. In addition, our research is focused towards understanding the roles of proteases in various pathological processes, such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, and different neurological disorders (Huntington disease, …). An important area of research is also formation of amyloid fibers. For a better understanding of these processes a number of tools are needed, and therefore we are developing production of various antibodies and recombinant proteins (proteases and their inhibitors). We also participate in the development of activity-based probes for proteases suitable for work in cellular and in vivo models, and for testing pharmacologically-relevant compounds. In addition, we have a key role in establishing a center for proteomic research, which would cover the needs of whole Slovenia.
One of the important areas is also understanding of the 3-D structures of biological macromolecules and their complexes at the atomic level, thereby linking the sequencing information with the mechanism of molecule action. In this way, the research is focused in target identification and validation, which are key areas of research in the field of biomedicine in connection with biotechnology.
F9 – Experimental Particle Physics Department
Experiment ATLAS at LHC studies processes occurring at collisions of protons with energy of 13 TeV and tests the predictions of the Standard Model like the existence of Higgs boson proven by the experiments at the LHC. Equally important are searches for processes which would points toward new physics, not described by the Standard Model. In the ATLAS experiment researchers from the department F9 are involved in maintenance and operations of detector system during data taking and in analysis of collected data.
Experiments Belle and Belle II, operating at the electron positron collider KEKB / SuperKEKB in Tsukuba, Japan, belong to the group of the so-called intensity frontier experiments in the experimental particle physics. The aim of such experiments is a search for processes and particles not included in the Standard Model (SM), commonly addressed as New Physics (NP). To do so, extremely precise measurement results are confronted to predictions of the SM. While the latter is considered as a very successful effective theory, it is believed that NP must exists and is responsible – among else – for the observed matter – antimatter asymmetry in the universe.
The Pierre Auger Observatory detects ultra-high-energy cosmic rays with energies beyond 1018 eV. In Earth’s atmosphere such particles form shower of secondary particles. Properties of primary particles like energy, arrival direction and the particle type can be estimated from the shower. High energy particles are very rare therefore the detectors of the Observatory are installed over a huge detection area of 3000 km2 located in the western Mendoza Province, Argentina.
The distributed computing centre is mostly dedicated to simulation and reconstruction of data produced with the ATLAS detector and for Monte-Carlo simulation of the Belle II detector. The computing resources of SiGNET Tier-2 are 6500 CPU cores and 4.PB of storage space while the throughput of the international link to LHCONE network was 30Gb/s in 2017. General purpose NSC cluster at Jožef Stefan Institute and computing centre of ARNES are transparently included in distributed computing infrastructure within WLCG collaboration and EGI infrastructure. The system enables job submission to Slovenian computing centre and a quick processing of 100 TB data in few hours.
Detector development is oriented in several directions: silicon monolithic CMS detectors, detectors with few tens of picoseconds timing resolution and diamond detectors for operation in high radiation environments in hadron collider experiments. Another direction is development of detectors for Cherenkov photons for Belle II and high precision timing detectors for medical imaging. Development of detectors for annihilation photons for PET and development of system for multichannel readout of micro-dosimeters are also devoted to applications in medicine.
K7 – Department for Nanostructured Materials
In the program the connection between nanostructural constituents and final properties are studied interactively. We investigate intermetallic magnetic materials, quasicrystals, natural and synthetic materials (amorphous and crystalline nanoparticles), ceramic sensors, the consequences of mechanical wear, neutron radiation, etc. (amorphous and crystalline precipitates), SiC, Si3N4, ZnO varistors (nano-amorphous layers in polycrystalline ceramics), thin films, hetero-layered structures – spintronics, polytypic sequences (grain boundaries between various phases), perovskites, functionally gradient materials like the ceramic parts for hip-joint prostheses, thick coatings (gradients of the structure and chemical composition). Various approaches are used for processing, e.g., powder metallurgy, high-energy milling, HDDR processing, pulsed-laser deposition, processing in aqueous and non-aqueous suspensions, forming from suspensions, building layered structures on different substrates, and layers with various thicknesses (electrophoresis, electrodeposition).
The final goal of our research is to gain the knowledge that will enable us to tailor the properties of various ceramic and metallic materials. This includes improving the final properties of functional materials that we have studied and developed until now, as well as the research and development of new materials with new processing methods.
Video presentation of ”From the Higgs boson to the greatest challenges of modern society” from the virtual Open day 2021 (in Slovenian language)
Programme section 2.3: Where robots play and miracles happen
E1 – Department of Automatics, Biocybernetics and Robotics
Research within our department combines the fields of robotics (including intelligent control, robot learning, humanoids, exoskeletons, cognitive robotics, and industrial robotics), factories of the future, biomechanics, kinesiology, ergonomics and environmental physiology. By combining engineering and life sciences, we were able to make significant contributions to the development of new methods for robot skill learning, human-robot physical interaction including shared control in exoskeletons, a planetary habitat simulation facility, advanced humanoid and reconfigurable robotic systems, and manikins enabling the evaluation of protective garments for industry and recreation. Our aim is to create robots that are capable of acquiring new knowledge through learning and can collaborate with people in a natural way, which is essential for bringing robots to new application domains.
K1/ŠEK – School of Experimental Chemistry
The research work of the Department of Inorganic Chemistry and Technology includes the following fields: a.) Synthesis of inorganic compounds, b.) Inorganic materials with special properties, c.) Technological research for sustainable development and d.) Popularization of natural sciences through additional education in chemistry.
The important parts of the research in the field of the syntheses of inorganic compounds are: synthesis and characterization of new coordination compounds with fluoride ligands, e.g. XeF2, XeF4, KrF2, AsF3, HF etc., synthesis of ternary fluorides with metathetical reactions and the use of photochemical reactions and elemental fluorine for the preparation of new and also known binary and ternary fluorides with transition element in high oxidation state.
In the group of inorganic materials with special properties the research in the following fields should be mentioned: synthesis and characterization of carbon fluorides and intercalated graphites which are used as materials for the anodes in lithium batteries, synthesis of new fluorinated fullerenes, preparation and characterization of surface active inorganic materials based on oxides, oxide-fluorides or fluorides with corresponding morphology, texture and surface and mechanical properties. In this case acidic heterogeneous catalysts are thought which are potentially useful in some important industrial reactions. Here the structural characterization of ionic liquids should be mentioned. They could be used as electrolytes and catalysts.
Important fields of the technological research for sustainable development are: cleaning of waste gases with emphasis on flue gas desulphurization, formation prevention and removal of pollutants produced at waste incineration, the use of wastes as raw materials, risk assessment because of accidents with dangerous chemicals, the use of chemometric methods at the analysis of environmental data, at the analysis of the processional parameters and at the preparation of hybrid models. Specific pollutants are monitored in the environment and in the food chain.
The popularization of natural sciences includes different demonstration activities and work with primary and secondary school students in the frame of the School of experimental chemistry.
E8 – Department of Knowledge Technologies
Our goal is to advance cutting-edge research and applications of knowledge technologies, including data, text and web mining, machine learning, decision support, language technologies, knowledge management, and other information technologies that support the acquisition, management, modelling and use of knowledge and data.
Department members have authored and edited numerous scientific books, and chaired international conferences and workshops. We currently participate in about twenty FP6 and FP7 EU projects, one of which we also coordinate.
Our technologies have been successfully applied to many practical problems, including earthquake prediction, selection of applicants for loans of the National Housing Fund, analysis of UK traffic accidents, medical diagnosis, analysis of the Slovenian public healthcare system, scientific digital editions of Slovene literature, improving the functionality of Microsoft Internet Explorer, and analysis and visualization of European IST research projects.
Video presentation of ”Where robots play and miracles happen” from the virtual Open day 2021 (in Slovenian language)
3. Knowledge, systems, materials, environment
– presentations at Jamova 39, Ljubljana
Programme section 3.1: Are we the smartest?
E9 – Department of Intelligent Systems
The mission of the Department of Intelligent Systems is achieving scientific and technological excellence in the wide area of theoretical and applied computer science. Covering a wide spectrum of artificial intelligence fields, the Department successfully participates in preparing and realizing complex research and applied projects. Evolutionary computation is a research area dealing with computer problem solving based on natural evolution. Programs designed according to these principles are known as evolutionary algorithms and are being successfully applied in optimization, for example, in production scheduling and process parameter tuning.
Web mining makes it possible to extract knowledge from the documents accessible on the Internet. Our research of semantic web is aimed at upgrading current representations of data on the Internet and overcoming the imperfections of automated text categorization. This research successfully builds upon the constructed ontologies, i.e. graphs of semantically related concepts encoded in a computer readable form.
Game playing is a traditional research area in artificial intelligence with a long history. Its impact is significant because it deals not only with game-playing rograms, but also with search algorithms in general, planning, decision support, etc. Intelligent agents and multiagent systems are a more recently developed area. With the rise of the Internet it has gained the ability to analyze and solve complex problems. Distributed and independent agents can cooperate to achieve goals beyond the reach of single agents. Speech synthesis is another field where we are extending the capabilities of computers by enabling them to generate Slovene speech from text.
Educating and guiding young researchers are among the highest priorities of the Department of Intelligent Systems. Students at various levels and postdoctoral researchers are provided with stimulating research environment and advanced equipment, and get the opportunity to collaborate with established experts on challenging tasks.
K8 – Department for Material Synthesis
Nanoparticles – Nanoparticles are one of our interests, as an individual entity or as the basic units of bulk and complex nanomaterials. We are developing new methods for the controlled synthesis of nanoparticles and coupling strategies for the synthesis of hybrid materials and nanocomposites. For this purpose, we focus on the design of nanoparticles’ surface chemistries, which determine their properties and applications. We also study the effect of the final size of nanoparticles on their chemical (structure, stability, catalysis) and physical (magnetic, electric, optic, rheological) properties. Anisotropic magnetic nanoparticles can mediate a magnetic-to-mechanical energy transfer under a low-frequency magnetic field. The effect is useful in technical areas (e.g., stirring) and medicine (magneto-mechanical cancer treatment), while magnetic nanoplatelets are the basic constituents of ferromagnetic fluids and, currently, the only existing liquid magnets. The shape of the nanoparticles can be controlled by the synthesis route. We study particle-growth mechanisms and their effects on the nanoparticles’ shapes, and the assembly of isotropic nanoparticles into anisotropic structures.
Multifunctional materials – Multifunctional materials combine the different functional properties of the constituent materials. The basic ingredients are various types of nanoparticles that are physically or chemically coupled. Examples are magnetic catalysts, and magneto-optic and magneto-electric composites. Nanoparticles are incorporated into various bulk matrices through a careful design of their surface chemistry to make magneto-optic polymers and ferromagnetic liquid crystals. An alternative approach is the synthesis of core-shell nanoparticles, for example, exchange-coupled bi-magnetic nanoparticles, and the synthesis of Janus nanoparticles.
Magnetic materials for micro- and mm-waves – Magnetic materials for micro- and mm-waves suitable for the absorbers of electromagnetic waves and for non-reciprocal ferrite devices are being developed. These studies involve synthesis, the chemistry of materials, and the characterization and correlation of the chemical and physical properties of materials. Ceramics and composites based on ferrites are studied for microwave applications, and a new method for the preparation of magnetically oriented thick hexaferrite films is under development for mm-wave applications.
Semiconducting ceramics – Mastering the composition and properties of grain boundaries in certain semiconducting ceramics (ZnO, BaTiO3) allows us to prepare materials with an electrical resistivity that is voltage dependent (varistors) or temperature dependent (resistors with PTCR = posistors). We are developing lead-free high-temperature PTCR resistors. As an alternative to the classic PTCR materials based on BaTiO3, we are developing new PTCR materials, i.e., composites of an insulating ferroelectric phase in a conductive matrix. These new materials are distinguished by a significant jump in the electrical resistivity at the operating temperature.
E2 – Department of Systems and Control
Control and optimization of complex systems – Most systems and processes could be well controlled with relatively simple and well known control procedures. However, there is a range of processes which are more difficult to tackle because of their nonlinear dynamics, complex structure and interactions between subsystems, and stochastic behavior. The emphasis of our research is on modeling methods, on control and optimization based on process models, in particular Gaussian processes, on methods for model predictive, nonlinear and adaptive control, as well as on tuning of industrial controllers. The fields of application are industrial processes, control of machines and devices and biological wastewater treatment plants.
Detection and localization of faults in technical systems and processes – Continuing quality control of devices, processes and products has become a necessity. For that purpose, the research field of fault detection and localization is being extensively developed and has a great potential for actual applications. Our research and development encompass the use of mathematical models for fault detection, the design of new algorithms that take into account the modeling error in decision making, and the application of advanced signal processing algorithms. The application areas are industrial processes and rotation engines.
Computer integrated production – Production in modern enterprises requires interconnection and coordination of control activities on different levels, i.e. on physical, production and business level. The integration of different levels is still a key problem. Our research is devoted to the methodology for decision support in the production process based on key performance indicators, to production scheduling and to non-technical (economic, social, organizational and human) aspects of control and IT systems introduction.
Support and implementation technologies for control systems – The prerequisite for successful control applications is also research and development of new and acquisition of existing technologies that enable efficient implementation of control systems. This mainly includes computer aided tools and building blocks. The emphasis of our work is on the development of specially designed computer modules, on the development of software building blocks, on the design of development environment for the application of more complex control algorithms, and on research of methods and tools for efficient development of software for industrial controllers.
Device and product development – The department has a long tradition and many references in the development of various systems and devices. This includes systems for control and supervision of processes that are used in industry, custom designed measuring systems that are used in research, and also high-technology products that are sold on the market. Also in future, this activity will deserve a great attention.
Video presentation of ”Are we the smartest?” from the virtual Open day 2021 (in Slovenian language)
Programme section 3.2: Life in chips, chips for life
K5 – Electronic Ceramics Department
The development of electronic components aims towards decreasing dimensions, higher efficiency and reliability, increased complexity of electronic components and a lower impact on environment. We can reach these aims by developing the materials with improved properties and by implementing the technologies which yield complex miniature structures and devices. The investigated materials include lead-based perovskites with ferroelectric, relaxor or anti-ferroelectric compositions, environment-friendly lead-free materials based on alkaline and earth-alkaline niobates and tantalates with ferroelectric, relaxor or anti-ferroelectric compositions, conducting materials based on complex perovskites and materials for solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC). The phase equilibria studies are a constituent part of our research. We work on the synthesis of (nano) particles with complex chemical composition, chemical solution deposition of thin films and thick film processing.
The multifunctionality can be reached by integrating different materials into structures with a suitable geometry (2D and 3D structures). Both physical and chemical interactions of materials influence functional properties of the devices, therefore we need to enhance compatibility, diminish possible reactions between constituent materials, and to understand the difference between layered structures and bulk materials. We investigate the elements and technologies for processing of thick-film pressure sensors and ceramic electromechanical structures (Ceramic MEMS).
E6 – Department of Communication Systems
- Telecommunication systems and networks
- Communication protocols, services and applications
- Software tools for testing, modelling and simulation of communication systems
- Parallel and distributed systems
- Formal methods for the modelling, analysis and synthesis of discrete systems
- Computer modelling and simulations in medicine
- Measurements and processing of bio-signals
- Wireless sensor networks
- Modular platform VESNA for Wireless sensor networks deployment
F6 – Department of Gaseous Electronics
- Science of gases and gaseous discharges
- Plasma nanoscience
- Processing and synthesis of nanomaterials
- Plasma chemistry
- Plasma electrochemistry and catalysis
- Plasma biomedicine and biotechnology
- Gas sensors
- Research on field emission in nanostructured materials
- Vacuum science
- Design of vacuum systems
- Vacuum thermal insulation
Video presentation of ”Life in chips, chips for life” from the virtual Open day 2021 (in Slovenian language)
Programme section 3.3: The junction of natural and digital
O2 – Department of Environmental Sciences
The multidisciplinary research of the Department of Environmental Sciences focuses on the combination of physical, chemical and biological processes that influence the environment, man and human activities. Therefore, the work is based on three main areas: development, optimisation and validation of analytical methods, study of geochemical processes that influence cycling and transformations of substances and elements, and environmental impact assessment which evaluates the risk that human activities present for human health and for the environment. Within the Department there are also two infrastructural centres: the Centre for Mass Spectrometry and the Centre for Radon, as well as the Ecological Laboratory with a mobile unit. The Department is involved in a number of national and international research projects and directly with the users of applied research. In order to stay abreast of the constant advances in science, much effort is put into development of knowledge and modernisation of scientific equipment.
A significant part of the basic and applied research of the Department is performed by the Environmental Technologies Centre of Excellence, partially funded by the EU Structural Funds, which connects the scientific excellence of the Institute with industry. Collaboration with the Slovenian water technology platform is also aimed at making our knowledge available to industry, agriculture and people through the institutions that are responsible for water management and protection in Slovenia.
E3 – Department for Artificial Intelligence
The Department for Artificial Intelligence has employees and students with an international background and with expertise in different areas of artificial intelligence. Besides research results reported in international publications, they have also developed several software tools for multimodal data analysis. Among others: Text-Garden, a suite of text mining tools; OntoGen, a tool for ontology learning; Document-Atlas, a tool for complex visualization; AnswerArt, a system for semantic search on large databases; Enrycher, a system for semantic enrichment of textual data; SearchPoint, a portal for visual and contextualized Web browsing; Contextify a tool for contextualized e-mail and contact management.
In collaboration with the Department of Communication Systems (E6) and Centre for Knowledge Transfer in Information Technologies (CT3) we have established a cross-department laboratory for wireless sensor networks. The goal is to combine technologies for (a) sensor data acquisition, (b) communication between sensor devices, (c) statistical real-time data analysis, (d) semantic technologies, and to enable a wide range of research and development in different application areas, such as energy, ecology, transport, security, and logistics.
The Department for Artificial Intelligence puts special emphasis on the promotion of science. Activities on several projects related to women in science are presented at the Web portal ScienceWithArt. In collaboration with the Centre for Knowledge Transfer in Information Technologies (CT3) we are developing the VideoLectures.NET educational portal and organizing the national ACM competition in Computer Science.
The Department for Artificial Intelligence has a well-established collaboration with a number of academic and commercial organizations, some members of the department are involved with Stanford University, University College London, Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School and companies Quintelligence, Cycorp Europe, LifeNetLive, Modro Oko and Envigence.
E7 – Computer Systems Department
The research in high-level synthesis is focused on hardware implementation and optimization of algorithms in different applications, such as cryptography, 3D-data compression, intelligent sensors, etc. Our expertly qualified members give lectures and participate as mentors at Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School in the areas of processor architectures, embedded systems, and design and test.
In our research we frequently meet with hard combinatorial and numerical problems in various domains of theoretical interest and practical applications. For their solutions we apply bio-inspired algorithms including genetic algorithms, neural networks and ant-colony optimization. These methods have been successfully applied to real-world problems, such as minimization of the power losses of a universal electro-motor, optimization of an electro-motor casing with reduced production costs, optimization of the coolant flow settings for the continuous casting of steel, and dietary menu planning.
Video presentation of ”The junction of natural and digital” from the virtual Open day 2021 (in Slovenian language)
– presentations at the Reactor Center (Podgorica pri Ljubljani)
Programme section 4.1: ICJT – Milan Čopič Nuclear Training Centre
Milan Čopič Nuclear Training Centre (ICJT) is called Izobraževalni Center za Jedrsko Tehnologijo or ICJT in Slovenian language. It is part of the Jožef Stefan Institute, the leading research institution in Slovenia. The main activities of the ICJT are training of future nuclear professionals and informing general public about nuclear technologies. The vision of the IJCT is to become a reliable and a high quality source of knowledge about nuclear technologies.
Video presentation of ”Nuclear technology” from the virtual Open day 2021 (in Slovenian language)
Programme section 4.2: F8/RIC – Reactor Physics Department and RIC Research Infrastructure Centre TRIGA MARK II
Reactor Physics Division is situated at Reactor Centre Podgorica. Research is mainly directed into modelling and study of neutron transport and neutron – induced reactions. We also work on charged particles dosimetry and plasma physics.
Video presentation of ”Nuclear technology” from the virtual Open day 2021 (in Slovenian language)
Programme section 4.3: R4 – Reactor Engineering Division and O2 – Department of Environmental Sciences
The Department for Reactor Engineering focuses on research, education, consulting and expertise in the field of nuclear engineering and nuclear safety of fission reactors (generations 2, 3 and 4) and fusion reactors. The research carried out by the Department belongs to the broader field of nuclear technology and safety. Interdisciplinary research connects thermohydraulic, strength and probabilistic safety analyzes and experimental results of THELMA’s own laboratory. We also worked on modeling the spread of COVID-19 in Slovenia.
The multidisciplinary research of the Department of Environmental Sciences focuses on the combination of physical, chemical and biological processes that influence the environment, man and human activities. Therefore, the work is based on three main areas: development, optimisation and validation of analytical methods, study of geochemical processes that influence cycling and transformations of substances and elements, and environmental impact assessment which evaluates the risk that human activities present for human health and for the environment.
Video presentation of ”Nuclear technology” from the virtual Open day 2021 (in Slovenian language)
Programme section 4.4: F2 – Department of Low and Medium Energy Physics: Accelerator
Our researchers perform a basic and applied research in the low and medium energy physics. The first is relates to the work in the atomic physics while the second contributes to the knowledge of the nuclear physics. We deal with radiological environmental protection mainly concerned with the monitoring of environment in the vicinity of nuclear power plant and with the monitoring of the radioactivity in the food.
An ion beam accelerator Tandetron with 2-MV maximum terminal voltage operates at the Microanalytical Center MIC which is in the frame of the department and provides the ion beam current for several analytical methods: PIXE, ERDA, NRA. These methods are used to determine the average elemental concentrations in the bulk as well as the to do the depth profiling and lateral mapping on the um scale with our ion microbeam. Recently, our x-ray detectors were equipped with the polycapillary to set-up for the first time the 3D-PIXE technique. We study aerosol samples, degradation of historical ink manuscripts and do the micromachining with the proton microbeam. M=F6ssbauer spectroscopy is used to study the iron compounds.
Video presentation of ”Nuclear technology” from the virtual Open day 2021 (in Slovenian language)