On Monday, the 13th June, Year 12 Chemistry and Physics students had the wonderful opportunity to visit the MTA EK MFA Research Centre for Natural Sciences. Students went on a guided tour around the Research Centre, which was built in the 1950’s, complete with its own nuclear reactor. The tour was organized by Zoltán, one of the researchers at the site, but we met many individuals throughout the day, each explaining an area of science they explore within the institute.
At 8:45am, all the Chemistry and Physics students filed into mini-buses, which drove them to the Research Centre. Once there, we were escorted into a room, where we were given an insightful presentation by Professor István Bársony, the Director of MFA. He introduced us to MFA, and the practices and investigations carried out there. He even went through the list of employees, emphasizing that a PhD is favored over 'just' a master’s degree in this science institute. He also mentioned that scientists work at incredibly small scales. A nanometer, a unit of measurement, is one billionth of a metre. To put this into perspective, imagine a football being compared to the size of planet Earth.
After the presentation, we were split into groups, and toured the research campus. We also had lunch provided by the Research Centre between the tours. We were given interesting presentations on the following topics, by the researchers in charge of them:
· Ellipsometry: measuring a change in polarization as light reflects or transmits from a material structure.
· Hypoallergenic implant materials in orthopedics.
· Sensors: production of sensors and their role in everyday life (car accelerometres, implantable cardiovascular sensors, new development of blood test for heart attacks and strokes using sensors).
· Nano architecture: how nanotechnology is evolving rapidly, and how nano architecture is observed in butterfly wings (changing colour due to an interaction of vapor in the air).
· Nuclear reactor: heavily controlled chain reactions with water used as a coolant and moderator to slow the neutrons during the process. The complex includes a box which is insulated from radiation completely, as it was constructed from steel of the Elisabeth Bridge.
Overall, it was a fantastic experience, even though it was quite a rainy day. We learned many new things, as well as seeing high-tech equipment we wouldn’t normally be able to see in a school science lab, like electron microscopes. One last thing that was emphasized during the various presentations: Not all research makes it into production, but what is important is perseverance, the ability to follow through and make new discoveries which have the capacity to change the world.
Nastasja (year 12)