Despite all the uncertainties and difficult epidemiological situation, the 22nd Annual YUCOMAT Conference of the MRS Serbia was held in Herceg Novi, from August 30 to September 3, where were presented Plenary lectures and Virtual offline presentations of the most eminent scientists from around the world, led by M. Stanley Whittingham winner of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for lithium-ion batteries and Andre K. Geim, for 2010 in Physics for graphene. There was no less interest in the lectures of last year's and this year's winner of the MRS Award for Lasting and Outstanding Contribution in the field of new materials and nanotechnologies, Robert Sinclair and Yury Gogotsi.

Welcome Speech by the President of MRS Serbia

Not a single prior YUCOMAT Conference has been organized with as much uncertainties as this one. Some remember the Third YUCOMAT Conference held right after the NATO bombing of Serbia and Montenegro, which lasted from the end of March 1999 until mid-June that same year. That Conference was held with a single foreign participant- Giovanni Battiston, CNRS, Padua, Italy, who said back then, “I promised that I would come and now I am here”, and it was not clear to any of us how he managed to come despite the lack of diplomatic relations with all NATO countries. Last year was the first one to have a YUCOMAT Conference cancelled, not long before it was scheduled to be held, after it was clear that the risk for the participants would be too large.

As we reached the 100th submission during June and July this year, we decided that the Conference should be organized, hoping that the positive epidemiological situation would continue throughout the summer and that all of us would do it all to respect the measures in place. A number of plenary lecturers had to cancel their lectures and postpone them for the next year (YUCOMAT, August 29-September 2, 2022), considering the travel limitations in many countries.

There were still around 15 plenary lecturers in the Program, some of whom sent their presentations, which have published in the Virtual Offline Session on the MRS webpage, and 3 Invited Plenary Speakers have presented their lectures In person: Yury Gogotsi, Ruslan Valiev i Arben Merkoci. Out of 100 authors who will present their research orally and via posters, the majority are from Serbia, around 30%, followed by participants from Poland, Czech Republic, Slovenia and Russia, accounting for about 40% in total, whereas no other country has more than 3-4 participants. In addition to these, there were held also twenty-two oral and poster virtual lectures. The coronavirus has done its fair share and as a result we have a very different structure compared to earlier years, when the predominant participants were from USA, EU, Korea, Taiwan and the Far East. The lectures of two Nobel laureates attracted the most attention, Stanley Wittingham on the great importance and perspectives of lithium-ion batteries, which was held as a Virtual Offline Presentation, while the lecture of another Nobel laureate Andre Geim on innovations in carbon structures was postponed to next year due to the rapidly worsening epidemiological situation, immediately before the date of his lecture.

After five winners of the Big Award of our Society for the lasting and outstanding contribution to materials science who originated from the region of former Yugoslavia, the last year’s winner was Robert Sinclair, Charles M. Piggot Professor in the School of Engineering at Stanford and the first the win this award after its internationalization and opening to all our members. Robert Sinclair gave a significant contribution to the study of interactions at the atomic level in materials by direct observation by high-resolution electron microscopy methods. As a long-term President of the International Advisory Board and a participant at all recent YUCOMAT Conferences, Robert Sinclair gave a significant contribution to our field and our Society and helped a lot to create a highly intellectual atmosphere. Since the last year’s Conference was not held and was postponed and since Bob could not attend this year’s conference, he sent his talk which we have posted in the Virtual Offline Session, so the certificate and the medal will be given to him next year.

Prof. Gogotsi receives the MRS Award from Prof. Uskoković

This year’s winner of the Award is Prof. Yury Gogotsi, director of the Drexel Nanotechnology Institute, for his contribution to the field of nonoxide materials with a special emphasis on MAXene family of 2D metal carbides and carbonitrides and a long-term successful cooperation with our country through MRS-Serbia and the International Institute for the Science of Sintering. Yury was perfectly connected his education, which he acquired in the former Soviet Union in Kiev, with several postdoctoral education in Germany, Japan and Norway, and he definitely stationed in the USA. It is considered one of the most valuable "scientific transfers" from the East to the United States. The decision for both winners is found in the Program and the Book of Abstracts (https://www.mrs-serbia.org.rs/index.php/book-of-abstracts-2021).

One of the very important activities of our Society since its beginning was the recognition of the young researchers as Conference participants. As of this year, MRS – Singapore, as one of the most active MRS in the world and the one which will be in the next 5 years the headquarters of the International Union of MRS (IUMRS), has joined us in the financial segment of this award. Second day of the Conference was dedicated to this activity and 20 young people were competed for the best oral presentation, whereas in the afternoon 20 of them were competed for the best poster presentation. In both cases we was selected 5 best presenters and their names we have announced on Friday at the Conference Closing, whereas the certificates and the financial rewards will be handed to them at the opening of the first following Conference, August 29, 2022 (https://www.mrs-serbia.org.rs/index.php/yucomat-2021-awards).


This is Tenth YUCOMAT Conference to be held in this Hunguest Sun Resort Hotel. At this very same location, which used to be the Nuclear Center belonging to the Nuclear Commission of former Yugoslavia, starting from 1969, the World Round Table Conferences of Sintering were held, where, just like today, world-renowned scientists from both West and East used to congregate. In the Iron Curtain era, in fact, it was the only place where they could meet, www.iiss-sci.org.

This part of Herceg-Novi is called Topla and some of the most intellectual people from this region have occasioned it. Our famous poet and statesman, Petar II Petrović Njegoš, for example, was educated in a little house near the Church of Saint George, not far from here, whereas directly on the opposite side our Nobel Laureate in literature, Ivo Andric, used to live and work. Our hosts at the Hunguest Hotel maintain the memory of those people and those times by helping us organize these conferences, which have been traditionally held here for more than fifty years and which are traditionally supported. There are numerous examples of their extremely well-intentioned relationships and memorable events in their organization, but certainly the traditional cocktail party held on the first day of the conference opening during all previous years this year was missing, due to the current epidemiological situation.

This year's YUCOMAT Conference was also went well, respecting all epidemiological appropriate measures and we hope that will be worth remembering because we were all happily and healthily returned to our homes from it.

It is very good that the Conference was held both from the point of view of the continuity of the Conference, and that thanks to this year's Program in extremely difficult conditions, a large number of plenary speakers, who were not able to participate in YUCOMAT this year, confirmed their arrival at the next YUCOMAT 2022 (August 29- September 2, 2022, Herceg Novi).

The first list of Confirmed Plenary Speakers are on the our website: https://www.mrs-serbia.org.rs/index.php/confirmed-plenary-speakers-2022.

Prof. Dr. Dragan Uskoković, President of MRS Serbia
Institute of Technical Sciences of SASA, Belgrade

member since 2008