Young scientists meet Millennium Tech Prize winners in Singapore

The Global Young Scientists Summit once again unites Millennium Technology Prize and Nobel Prize winners with some of the best young scientists from all over the world in late January. Technology Academy Finland sends five Finnish scientists to this high-level summit taking place in Singapore.

“This summit will definitely be one of the highpoints of my career so far. Meeting many Nobelists and Millennium Technology Prize winners at a single function is a once in a lifetime chance”, says researcher Katja Väyrynen from the University of Helsinki.

The five-day Global Young Scientists Summit hosts two Millennium Technology Prize winners this year, alongside Nobel Prize, Fields Medal and Turing Award winners. Michael Grätzel, inventor of dye-sensitized solar cells and winner of the 2010 Millennium Technology Prize, has participated in the summit for several years. Tuomo Suntola will attend the summit for the first time since being awarded the 2018 Millennium Technology Prize.

ALD technology developed by Suntola in late 70s’ is the corner stone for the work of all five Finnish scientists participating in the summit, and they are looking forward to meeting the biggest name in their field.

“ALD-films are at the centre of my research, and without Tuomo Suntola my field of science probably wouldn’t exist. There is an endless sea of new questions and answers to be discovered”, says Sami Kinnunen from the University of Jyväskylä.

Today, Suntola’s innovation of nano-scale thin films is in use in countless scientific fields and applications such as computers, mobile phones, solar cells, LED lights, lithium batteries, optical devices and medical instruments and implants. The contingent of Finnish scientists going to Singapore are a prime example of the profound impact of his innovation. Their research fields include, for example, black silicon solar cells and sustainable micro-batteries. New applications emerge all the time.

“I am eager to meet Dr. Tuomo Suntola and discuss with him the various uses and future prospects of the atomic layer deposition technology”, says Toni Pasanen from Aalto University.

For Arto Hiltunen from Tampere University, the summit is quite a rare opportunity, as in his work he combines the fields of the two Millennium winners speaking at the summit, Michael Grätzel and Tuomo Suntola.

“In my PhD thesis work, I fabricated the photoactive part of the dye-sensitized solar cell using ALD. Therefore, the works of both Technology Prize winners Suntola and Grätzel have been personally very important for me”, he says.

 

Katja Väyrynen, Arto Hiltunen, Juho Heiska and Toni Pasanen will be sent to Singapore’s GYSS summit by Technology Academy Finland. The fifth of the group, Sami Kinnunen, is not on the photo.

 

Learning from the best

The Global Young Scientists Summit is an exceptional conference, as it brings together about 20 speakers of the highest possible calibre with some of the best young scientists in the world. All five scientists from Finland have high hopes that the summit will inspire their work and help them advance in their careers.

“I’m most excited about hearing the opinions and suggestions of such high-profile scientists. I hope to gain new insight into what they think are the most prominent research questions. If given the opportunity I would also love to have feedback on my own ideas and concepts”, says Juho Heiska from Aalto University.

Sami Kinnunen from the University of Jyväskylä is most interested in each speaker’s unique stories.

“I don’t think there is one correct way to do research or come up with great discoveries. It will be interesting to hear how these brilliant scientists have come up with their revolutionary ideas”, he reflects.

In addition to learning from the big names of the scientific world, young Finnish researchers very much look forward to getting to know their peers from around the globe.

“I hope to have plenty of fruitful discussions with bright people and to return home with my mind full of novel and crazy ideas”, Juho Heiska says.

“Doing research can be hard work and from time to time frustrating, so a summit like this will definitely make me feel that I am a part of something bigger and will boost my motivation to pursue my academic goals”, Sami Kinnunen adds.

 

Text: Laura Manas, Technology Academy Finland
Photos: Technology Academy Finland

 

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The next Millennium Technology Prize will be awarded on 26 May 2020 in Helsinki, Finland.