This first event was a success, said Enric Garcia Caurel, a researcher at the PICM laboratory. The first Workshop on Advanced Polarimetric Instrumentation organised by the laboratory on 7, 8 and 9 December at Ecole Polytechnique was well received by a public of around a hundred people who proved to be highly interested in their visit to the laboratory. But the success is also that of the European NanoCharM project which financed the event and the aim of which is, firstly, to coordinate research activities focusing on the characterisation of materials using polarised light (polarimetry) and, secondly, to develop communication initiatives to make scientists, decision-makers in the broadest sense of the term, industrialists and students aware of the various applications of polarised light, he added.
And the stakes were high: as a result of the workshop's success, the European project coordinators, supported by the officers responsible for managing the NanoCharM project in Brussels, have assured the PICM laboratory that it could form part of a network of excellence that would enable it to put on other events and continue to promote its work on light polarisation internationally.
A meeting place for professionals
After a first successful event in March 2009 focusing on polarisation-sensitive optical techniques applied to biology and medicine, the laboratory decided that this time it would do things on a bigger scale: We felt that we were freer and more open to professionals from very different domains, said Enric.
In talking to participants over the three days, he continued, I realised that the success of the workshop depended mainly on our ability to define an area of mutual interest between people whose culture, profession and centres of interest were very different
So what was this mutual interest? The use of polarised light, which is the cause of a great deal of research and study in a variety of fields, such as astronomy, telecommunications, defence, medicine, electronics, material science, metrology and many more. The workshop was therefore organised around six themes: imaging, astronomy and satellites, biomedics, data analysis, diffractometry for the metrology of nanostructures, and new developments in planimetric instrumentation.
The workshop was attended by European and American scientists: We invited well-known researchers from all over the world and formed constructive relations with them, said the researcher. The PICM did not choose its guests by chance: Polarimetry is a vast area of study, he emphasised.
But the laboratory also needs to collaborate with these professionals to provide
responses to the problems that have emerged from its own research themes, explained the researcher: I'll give you two examples: in biomedics, a group medical project on the early detection of cancer via imaging is under study, and the help of astronomers and opticians is invaluable in studying light propagation in diffusing environments. In photovoltaics, there are some interesting synergies between the different communities for finding solutions to improve the coupling and absorption of light by photovoltaic cells, which leads to an increase in their energy production output!
Dialogue and discovery
Enric had two aims in mind in organising the event. First of all, dialogue, which took place quite naturally during the breaks between working sessions; these were times when participants could meet and an ideal opportunity for making contact, he said, without losing sight of his second aim of informing and creating interaction between professionals who did not know each other.
Talking is the best way of getting people to communicate, said Enric. So, despite some very busy days (twelve to fifteen presentations a day, plus poster sessions), the workshop organiser was keen not to hold back dialogue. As a result, in addition to coffee breaks, all workshop participants were invited to a welcome cocktail party at Ecole Polytechnique at the end of the first day's work. On the last evening they had a combined dinner and Paris discovery tour. The meal on the Tuesday was one of the workshop's most popular events. The idea of dinner on a boat really thrilled the foreigners who had travelled to Paris for the event, said Enric.
Delighted with this meticulous and much-commended organisation, would like to thank the people responsible for the NanoCharM program, the various departments of the Ecole, his colleagues and the PICM laboratory administrative staff, without whom the project would not have been such a success. And a great success it was for the PICM as the event helped to add to the laboratory's visibility and international influence. And when you can combine a scientific event with a cruise on the Seine and an experience of French gastronomy, you're bound to be successful!
All the oral presentations are available online at this address: http://www.nanocharm.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=category§ionid=8&id=66&Itemid=106