Attending the XV Surface and Vacuum conference

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Attending conferences is important to communicate the progress of our research and to do networking with students and researchers in our fields. This time the International Conference on Surfaces, Materials and Vacuum (ICSMV) took place in Puerto Vallarta, Mex. This means we can enjoy the sunsets of a beautiful Mexican beach after a whole day of presentations.

This year I am presenting the advances of my postdoctoral project founded by Conacyt, Here, I am developing thin film solar cells on stainless substrates at CIDS-BUAP with the help of my technical advisor Dr. Roman Romano. This collaboration has the intention to bring the experience of developing photovoltaic (PV) technology from CEMIE-Sol. P35 to the BUAP community. The first stage is to develop silver antimony chalcogenides (AgSbS2 -AgSbSe2) as the absorber layer of the solar cell and then to build all the PV structure over metal substrates (like CIGS solar cells).

The science which is not shared is not science

Quote I read years ago at CENIDET (Jesús Capistrán)

How to find the right conference for thin films and solar cells?

This time I listen to my advisor, and he recommends this conference because most of his colleagues use to attend this event. However, if you are a new student you should follow your principal advisor to the best possible event. Here in Mexico, one of the best conferences related to thin films and solar cells are the IMRC (Material Research Society) and the Vacuum and Surface international conference.

However, if you want to get the best of the best in thin films you should look at the abroad international congress:

The graphical abstract of my research work

Air-annealing selenization of Silver Antimony Sulfide thin-films deposited on stainless steel substrates

Yes, selenization is important in the development of AgSbS2 solar cells because we required an optical band gap with 1.5 eV to compete with the top CdTe, CIGS, and emerging Perovskite solar cells. The aim of this work is to develop solar cells with the potential to achieve high efficiencies as the top thin-film solar cells (23% of conversion efficiency). Therefore, my personal project has been to modify the popular antimony sulfide (Sb2S3) or the antimony selenide (Sb2Se3) by adding silver atoms to turn the material from an orthorhombic crystal structure (anisotropic) to a cubic (isotropic) lattice similar to the halide Perovskite material.

If you want to know the base of my research please read the following two papers (We are open to collaboration):

  1. J. Capistrán-Martínez, M.T.S. Nair, P.K. Nair, Silver Antimony Sulfide Selenide Thin‐Film Solar Cells via Chemical Deposition, Phys. Status Solidi A. 218 (2021) 2100058.
  2. J. Capistrán-Martínez, P.K. Nair, Photoconductive thin films of AgSbS2 with cubic crystalline structure in solar cells, Physica Status Solidi (A) Applications and Materials Science. 212 (2015) 2869–2876.

The poster presentation

You can find the poster presentation here on my personal webpage; please comment with any doubts you have after seeing the work. I am open to collaboration to develop solar cells by chemical deposition. If you have the infrastructure for doing grain growth of metal chalcogenides and recombination analysis of photogenerated carriers, let me know. I am highly interested in doing this kind of research.


Certificate : Surface, Materials and Vacuum 2022

The certificate arrives by e-mail 8 days after the event

Pros and Cons of the 2022 ICSMV conference

Finally is time to analyze the pros and cons of this conference. Take in mind this is the first time ICSMV is having an in situ conference after the COVID-19 lockdown (Pandemia). And yes, there are more Cons than Pros. But I am making the best of this conference. I will keep doing science communication through social networks and attending a virtual conference in the USA or Europe where people who are doing thin film solar cells of antimony chalcogenide are presenting.


  • The plenary lectures were one of the best parts of the conference because the researcher showed applications of semiconductors, thin films, nanostructures in medicine, bio-sensing, and gas sensing.
    • Matteo Cargnello – Understanding and Engineering Catalytic Materials Using Nanocrystal Precursors
    • Eduard Llobet – Gas sensing properties of CVD-grown tungsten oxide nanowire films
    • Eden Morales Narváez – Nanophotonic materials for (bio)sensing.
    • Karim Sapag – Adsorption and Nanoporous Materials for Energy, Environment, and Health Applications
    • Thomas Webster – 25 Years of Commercializing Nanomedicine: From Tissue Engineering to Fighting COVID-19
  • The poster presentation was the best part of the conference.
  • WHOVA platform as Agenda works incredibly
  • Videos of the oral presentations were streamed through the WHOVA app. Note: They should allow us to watch the recorded videos for the next 15 days.


  • If you want to interact with students and researchers, please avoid this conference in hybrid mode. The WHOVA platform in combination with the Zoom app usually gives audio or video errors. Therefore, all the virtual attendees had a poor-quality event.
  • The poster presentation was the best part of the conference. However, the students and researchers who attend the conference at Vallarta do not pay attention to the virtual platform.
  • Postdocs are considered researchers then the payment for them is $6700.00 Mexican pesos ( ∼333 USD), they should offer us a student discount – Note: Postdocs do not have any financial support at their respective universities because we are not researchers nor students.
  • The conference is fragmented into 15 symposia but it can be reduced to:
    • Vacuum deposition: Thermal evaporation, Sputtering, Plasma treatments, ALD
    • Materials for renewable energy applications: Solar cells, batteries, H2, etc.
    • Nanostructures: Luminescence, nanoparticles, coatings, etc.
    • Thin films: Metal oxides, Metal chalcogenides,
    • Theory and simulations: DFT, SCAPS, etc.
    • Other applications: MEMS, Magnetic
  • The requirements for the on-site poster presenters are not adequate. We should design the poster, present the poster, record the oral presentation in video and attend to the video request (Too much).
  • They only offer a pen and notebook with the registration (333 USD).
  • There are no Prices for Oral and Poster presentations.
  • They only offer coffee, bread, and water all day.
  • Some presentations were out of focus.


Doing science communication is important for pushing forward your science field. However, you should find a budget from your university because attending an international conference is expensive. Finally, look for the right community to share your work with because the purpose of a conference is to seek future collaborations.

You can take a break (vacation) but the goal of this event is to learn from your peers.

Your coffee will support my scientific research.

Photo gallery of the event

Jesus Capistran

Developing thin-film solar cells

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