One of the stories of the Latvian Television (LTV1) morning program “Rīta Panorāma” (“Morning Panorama”) on February 21 was devoted to ISSP UL’s research assistant from the Spectroscopy Laboratory, Rihards Ruska, who has just received the Latvian Academy of Sciences Young Scientists Award for his master’s thesis “Visible and infrared luminescence in aluminum nitride materials” (Supervisor Dr. habil. phys. Baiba Bērziņa).
Rihards Ruska’s path to science began in early childhood. At school, he did very well in mathematics, later also in physics, chemistry, and biology. He told Latvian Television that his father taught him multiplication tables when he was still in kindergarten. After school, he chose to study chemistry but later switched to physics. For four years, his workplace has been ISSP UL.
Rihards explains his work in the institute: "I study materials that glow. They are irradiated with one type of light and glow with a different kind of light. Such materials can be used in various sensors. For example, you can put a luminescent sensor in a room with poisonous gases. And then, judging by the color of the material, you can, for example, determine the temperature in the room without entering the room.
Luminescent materials are also used in biology. In the future, they are likely to be commonplace in medicine, leading to more effective medications. Rihards explains that if the luminescent material is added to the drug during animal testing, the study conductor can observe how the medicine travels through, for instance, a mouse. From that, researchers can better understand how exactly drugs work in humans.
Currently, Rihards is working on the development of a new type of luminescent material, which is made of aluminum nitride. Rihards says that usually, luminescent materials are costly. Some very exotic compounds are used. For example, some lamps have elements that are harvestable only in one place in China. The new materials developed by Rihards are cheaper and easier to obtain than the usual ones.
Colleagues describe Rihards as a very talented young scientist and say that the knowledge he acquired in chemistry opens a much broader horizon in physics.
Baiba Bērziņa, the leading r ISSP UL’s Spectroscopy Laboratory researcher, characterizes Rihards as a bright young researcher whose eyes burn for his work, who likes everything he does who does everything with joy. He is also lucky to acquire and learn things fast, which greatly helps.
Laima Trinklere, another Rihards’ colleague from the Spectroscopy Laboratory, points out that Rihards is hard-working, enthusiastically approaches his tasks and work, and shows initiative. Rihards has excellent success in his studies and always wins all competitions he participates in. Laima Trinklere concludes that Rihards is a very gifted researcher.The full story in Latvian