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Safe to grow

The resources of the Infrastructure Program improved the working conditions of the Ferroelectric Ceramics Group of UFSCar. With the remodeling, it was possible to divide up the laboratory space to fit the eighteen people who were working there. Study benches were lacking and there were no cabinets where studied material could be kept as well as the samples used in the experiments. Since the construction did not allow for building an adequate division for each activity, the solution found was to build partitions, separating off the experimental rooms from reading rooms, and the interpretation of the data of the study areas. The building of new benches also helped to save space, accommodating the equipment in a more rational and safer manner.

Another fundamental point for the well being of the laboratory, was the construction of the electrical, refrigeration and gases circuits. Today, tubes run all over the walls of the laboratory and guarantee the working of dozens of pieces of equipment. Before the renovation, especially the furnaces where the ceramics materials are roasted to a high temperature, and the hot press used in the preparation of transparent ceramic materials, were cooled with running water, which didn't guarantee adequate cooling and even provoked large wastage since the water was not re-used.

The new gas network, currently with dozens of feeding points, guarantees the continuous supply of compressed air, argon, nitrogen and oxygen, necessary during various phases of the experiments. The electrical circuit also had to be re-dimensioned. “Today the laboratory has enough available energy to switch on all of the equipment and we'd still have some left over that will allow us to install more new pieces of apparatus.” he underlines.


The safety angle was not forgotten. In the furnace room, an exhaust system is in charge of the elimination of the toxic gases released through the burning of some types of ceramic materials. The vacuum chambers that had been switched off through lack of bench space, could now enter into operation. Thus, lots of material prepared with inflammable and toxic solvents have begun to be dried at low temperature and under vacuum, avoiding the risk of intoxication. Also, in the chemical preparation of mixtures, the work became safer. Now the laboratory has two fume cupboards and a water shower in case of accident with chemical products.

“Thanks to the Infrastructure Program we could not only install various pieces of equipment that had recently arrived at the laboratory, but also we prepared all of the physical infrastructure for the installation of new pieces of apparatus that are being purchased through research projects already approved by FAPESP”, says Dulcinei. This is the case of RF Sputtering, a piece of equipment for the manufacture of fine films made from a ferroelectric ceramic, used in the construction of sensors and actuators. The research has as its objective the study and development of membranes suitable for the production of gas sensors and is being carried out in partnership with the Federal University of Recife.

The ceramics Group of UFSCar, which already has a tradition in basic research into ferroelectric materials, has shown more and more prominence in the area of the development of applied research. In partnership with the Brazilian Farming Research Company (Embrapa), it has developed a piece of equipment to measure the amount of fat in a herd of pigs. Another piece of successful work was the development of a sensor for measuring vibrations in corrective processes in conjunction with the Center of Advanced Manufacturing (Numa) in Campinas. The partnerships, as it can be seen, add up to competency. “We're aiming to develop better materials and we're associating ourselves with other groups with experience in the development of products”, explains Eiras.