Mega Science and Universities: Quoted Speech of the SUSU Rector Aleksandr Shestakov

In 2021, a Priority 2030 program for the support of universities was launched, which is focused on the connecting universities to the economic and social spheres of life in our country. This is the fundamental difference between Priority 2030 and Project 5−100, which preceded it and aimed at increasing the weight of the Russian higher education in the world. Namely the focus on the international collaboration has encouraged many universities to engage in Mega Science projects and to write scientific papers jointly with foreign colleagues. The Atomic Expert journal has asked the heads of the leading Russian universities about how these universities will benefit from their participation in the “Big Science” projects, and whether they plan on expanding this direction in the nearest future.

New Non-conventional Materials is one of our strategic projects within the Priority 2030 program. Creation of non-conventional materials for mechanical engineering, as well as of self-validating sensors and composite materials is a niche, which SUSU can fill. Sure, it is impossible to implement such projects single-handed. That is why we have established a consortium with the Kurchatov Institute. They have unique equipment available, in particular, at the Kurchatov Complex for Synchrotron and Neutron Investigations.

The Kurchatov Complex for Synchrotron and Neutron Investigations will allow to conduct fundamental and applied research on the matter structure, develop new technologies of the synthesis and diagnostics of nanostructured and hybrid materials, and synthetize materials with new crystal and magnetic properties. We are planning on studying the structure of composite materials with pseudoplasticity by using the methods of computer vision and artificial intelligence to analyse the data obtained from the synchrotron. In addition, we would like to significantly improve our expertise and obtain results in the field of self-validating and self-calibrating sensors.

The synchrotron radiation facility of the Kurchatov Institute will allow to more accurately determine the position of the replaced atoms in the material structure, the dependence of the properties on this position, as well as to control the properties of new materials while performing a detailed analysis of the crystal lattice structure.

Among the key advantages of the university’s participation in Mega Science projects is the development of competences of our scientists. Only with joint effort it is possible to achieve serious results. That is why more and more projects are being implemented within the consortium by the effort of universities and scientific organisations from Russia and across the globe. Mega Science projects will allow to enrich our knowledge about atomic nucleus, new nanomaterials, genetic engineering, as well as in the field of quantum physics.

I may say that the most productive years in my scientific career were the ones when major national projects were being implemented. Thus, in the 1980s we were creating the ground complex for testing the control system of the BURAN reusable space shuttle. The research laboratory of our university was performing this work. Only with such experience it is possible to grow as professionals. Now we are getting on with such experience and are trying to participate in big-scale projects of national and international levels.

Today, I think that the Kurchatov Institute’s specialized source of synchrotron radiation of the fourth generation is one of the most promising Mega Science projects. This installation makes it possible to obtain fundamentally new results in the field of nanotechnology.

I believe that long-shot Mega Science projects will be funded jointly by universities, scientific organisations and companies operating in the global market, and from many countries too. The implementation of such projects will allow to create fundamentally new technologies.

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