The Scientific Highlights are the core of our Report. Our Institute is characterized by its high quality research outcomes and by its highly talented people. In this section you will find 10-min videos and the PDF presentations of some of our researchers presenting the main highlights of each of the 5 research lines.
RL1: Sustainable Energy Conversion and Storage System
High throughput screening of organic solar cells
The efficiency of organic solar cells, a type of electronic device that converts light into electricity, has been growing for years thanks to the continuous synthesis and characterization of novel materials. To accelerate the optimization of the materials efficiency and stability, researchers are synthesizing the materials with gradients in the key parameters (such as thickness) in order to get more samples from each synthesis of a material, reducing the amount of time dedicated to fabrication.
Novel photonic architectures by nanoimprinting unconventional materials
Through the use of Soft Nanoimprinting Litography, researchers are finding simpler and more affordable ways to develop light managing strategies for the development of different kinds of devices like solar cells or sensors. This synthesis strategy is compatible with many materials, does not require complex optics and in some cases can be developed outside of a clean room.
Laser fabrication of supercapacitor electrodes containing low dimensional materials
There are many interesting techniques to synthesize the materials necessary for the development of the supercapacitors and batteries in technological films – used in technologies like portable electronics, or electric vehicles. There is a lot of incentive to develop new 2D nanomaterials that have improved properties and also help mitigative some of the drawbacks of current techniques. Laser radiation of materials is a non-conventional but highly versatile way to approach an abundance of processes in a way that is easily transferable to the industrial sector.
Electrolyte and solid electrolyte interphase for Ca Metal Anode Based Batteries
Lithium-ion batteries are stablished as the dominant model in the battery market, but they have, as any other technology, some remarkable drawbacks, like the scarcity of the materials required or the fact that diferent applications demand diferent properties. Researchers are developing calcium-based battery chemistries, using the 5th most common element on the earth’s crust which also shows improvements in some variables like in the anodes used.
by Alexandre Ponrouch, Solid State Chemistry Group
RL2: Superconducting Materials for Emerging Technologies
High temperature superconductors for high-energy physics
Researchers study coated conductors for high-energy physics applications, such as the large hadron collider and future circular collider. The idea is to coat the beam-screen chamber with coated conductors instead of copper, to mitigate synchrotron radiation and avoid the heating of the system. Researchers assess different types of materials under the collider conditions (magnetic field, frequency and temperature).
Functional superconductor and ferromagnetic oxides for energyefficient electronic devices
There are different approaches to modulate and determine the properties of High-Temperature Superconductor materials, making local nanoscale variations to affect their physical behavior or manipulating their charge density to affect their electronic properties. This amount of control over High-Temperature Superconductors can be a great advantage in the development of energy-saving functional materials.
Ultrafast TLAG of high current density superconducting films and coated conductors
Transient Liquid-Assisted Growth brings new opportunities for high throughput scalable and low cost production of coated conductors through chemical solution deposition approaches. Based on a liquid solid conversion reaction with fast atomic diffusion, it is able to demonstrate ultrafast growth rates much beyond 100 nanometers per second and to obtain high performance films compatible with nanocomposites.
Flexible antiferromagnetic FeRh tapes as memory elements
The development of antiferromagnetics for applications as memory elements has been an appealing field due to concerns in the security of the currently used ferromagnetics. Antiferromagnetic memory elements cannot be read through the current standard methods and also show a faster optical writing speed. Researchers are developing these elements based on FeRh due to its more efficient writing and in a flexible format for applications in technologies like credit cards.
Researchers design and synthesize perovskites using oxynitrides instead of only oxides. They study their crystalline structure, the type and presence of defects in their structure, their stability and the enhanced electrical properties they present.
Resistive switching in strontium iridate thin films
Researchers characterize Stronium iridate thin films as a potential material to use in ReRAM memories. These materials showcase resistive switching, changing its resistive state from nearly metallic to a well-defined insulator when a voltage is applied. Stronium iridate shows promising behaviors for this applications, such as the transport properties of the material controlling its switching behavior, which can be used for the tuning of the switch.
While the current standard material for memory devices are ferroelectric perovskites, its complexity calls for potential substitutes that would allow for a faster progress of the technology. Researchers have been able to synthesize films of Hafnium Oxides, a material that is already used in CMOS lines and is fully compatible, in a pure orthorhombic phase that shows room temperature ferroelectricity, making it a potential alternative to the perovskites.
Exploiting the versatile alkyne based chemistry for expanding the applications of a stable triphenylmethyl organic radical on surfaces
Researchers are designing and synthesizing perchloro-triphenyl methyl (PTM) organic radicals, species with an unpaired electron that occupies the highest molecular orbit. These generally unstable species can be chemically and thermally stabilized using bulky chlorine atoms
Metal's type specificity on the de-fluorination of C60F48 dopants used in organic devices
Fluorinated fullerene is being explored as a solid option for p-type doping thanks to its interesting properties, like the apropriate HOMO and LUMO levels, easy sublimation thanks to their good thermal stability, and resistance to interdiffusion, a common issue with the frequently used flat molecules. The high content in fluorine atoms aid in the reduction of conjugation, the increase in band gap, and general lowering of molecular levels. This doping system could help improve organic devices.
Micro-engineering of organic semiconductors: A 'molecular gate' approach
While organic semiconductors present properties that could help face many key challenges of the 21st century, many drawbacks are holding them away from their full potential, like the current production methods presenting a trade-off between achieving a high resolution or high throughput. The synthesis of these semiconductors can be improved and tuned using a molecular gate that allows for an extremely precise doping through a donor compound, as well as laser-patterning chain orientation processes.
RL5: Bioactive Materials for Therapy and Diagnosis
Boron clusters and carbon nanomaterials for bioimaging and cancer therapy
Boron cluster based materials and Carbon nanotubes are presented as interesting materials for biomedicine: Icosahedra boron clusters due to its properties like rigid geometry, chemical stability, high hydrophobicity and low toxicity, are useful for BNCT, as pharmacophores, and bioimaging; Carbon nanotubes have enhanced penetration of cellular membranes, superior flow dynamics, potential high density and double functionality when used as carriers with an external functionalization. All of them are useful for drug delivery and theranostics.
by Rosario Núñez, LMI group, and Gerard Tobias, Solid State Chemistry Group
Bacterial nanocellulose to treat corneal pathologies
Researchers are developing new biologically active nanocellulose dressings to treat wounds in the cornea, since it has characteristics that make it a promising alternative to the currently used materials: it is semi-transparent, has a high water retention capacity (like a hydrogel), it is biocompatible, toxin-free, flexible but very resistant, and can be used as a substrate for cell growth.
Towards biomimetic lymph nodes for cancer immunotherapy
Synthesis of 3D structures that form an hydrogel used for Adoptive Cell Therapy. The hydrogel structures can help grow modified T cells, which are the part of the body’s own inmune system that attack tumoral cells. These cells can be extracted from the body (through a blood sample), and with the help of these hydrogels which simulate the lymph nodes in the body, the T cells can be reproduced and then reintroduced in the body.