The PhD thesis was supervised by Carmen Ocal and Esther Barrena (SURFACES group, ICMAB). The PhD Committee that evaluated the Thesis was formed by Carlos Escudero Rodríguez, CELLS-ALBA (Alba Synchrotron Light Source), (President), Arántzazu González Campo, Institut de Ciència de Materials de Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC), (Secretary), and Dimas García de Oteyza Feldermann, Donostia International Physics Center, (Vocal).
Rogger's PhD thesis was part of the PhD Programme in Materials Science from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB).
Arántzazu González Campo (Secretary), Esther Barrena (Supervisor), Carmen Ocal (Supervisor), Carlos Escudero Rodríguez (President), and Dr. Rogger P. Palacios
Why did you choose the ICMAB for your PhD?
Honestly, I remember it as if it were yesterday, after having been immersed in the area of scanning probe microscopy (SPM) techniques in ultra-high vacuum (UHV) conditions, an area that requires a lot of patience, dedication, optimism, and enthusiasm.
I was considering the possibilities of where to continue my scientific training. In this sense, the Physical Chemistry of Surfaces and Interfaces (SURFACES) Group has extensive experience in research of systems at the molecular and/or atomic level of the structural and electronic properties of self-assembled molecular layers, and systems based on organic materials with relevance as active layers of electronic devices such as organic solar cells and organic field effect transistors where surfaces and interfaces (organic-organic and organic-inorganic) are crucial. All this experience added to the real possibility of being able to access to get to work with a combined equipment of "Scanning Tunneling Microscopy/Frequency Modulation-Atomic Force Microscopy" (STM / FM-AFM), one of the first equipment with its characteristics in Spain, that allows simultaneously obtaining signals from STM and AFM channels. That facilitated my election to do the doctoral thesis at ICMAB.
How would you explain your research to a non-scientific audience?
Organic molecules possess properties that are known as self-organization and self-assembly. Through these properties, the molecules organize themselves spontaneously, without the need for an operation on them. The concept of auto-organization can be defined as the spontaneous formation of complex structures from their constituent subunits.
Auto-organization is the fundamental strategy of nature for forming complex structures. In addition to auto-organization, there is self-assembly. Self-assembly is the ability to spontaneously form structures on the surface of a material. Normally self-assembly gives rise to molecular monolayers.
In actuality, with the development of scanning probe microscopy and vacuum techniques, we have the tools and knowledge necessary to investigate the structural and electronic properties of these systems. Also, we can create nanometric-sized objects (nanoscience), which will be used in the near future to perform a specific function within a device (nanotechnology).
What are the main applications of your research? Could you give us an example?
Self-assembly and auto-organization are the main mechanisms that make the fabrication of molecular structures viable. Since they can be observed and manipulated at the molecular level with nanometric precision, they help to understand the fundamental processes and to develop many applications in the fields of nanoscience and science nanotechnology.
The different organic-organic and organic-metal systems investigated in this thesis serve as guides for obtaining more complex systems that have applications in optoelectronic devices (for example OLEDs or OFETs).
From the lessons learnt here, which one do you value the most?
The opportunity provided to developing professionally until I acquire autonomy, the constant support from everyone, and constant teamwork when addressing specific and/or multidisciplinary issues.
What will you miss the most from ICMAB?
In my case this response is relative, since my second home in recent years, that is, our laboratory (where the STM/FM-AFM is located) is located on the ALBA synchrotron facilities.
From ICMAB, I will miss: my meetings on Fridays, being surrounded by friendly people, who are always ready to help in whatever way and above all, the scientific environment of the laboratory (even if it is not at ICMAB).
How do you think this experience will contribute to your training and to your future?
The experience will contribute in a very wide and diverse way to my training, with many points of view and perspectives of analysis. Emotionally, I believe that writing a thesis prepares you for many situations in your future.
What are your plans once you finish your PhD?
I would like to seek job stability, as much as possibly linked to i + d + i.
What do you wish you had known at the beginning of your PhD, that now you can recommend to the ones who are starting?
My recommendation is that science should always be associated with personal development, this helps to let the mad scientist in us rest (sometimes you even come up with ingenious ideas when you return to work on Monday). And buy yourself a bike, it will help you a lot if you are in my group.
Why did you become a scientist? Which have been your role models?
As a child, I wanted to be an engineer, since I always modified my toys. I put wheels and opened doors to my plastic toys. Then in high school, during my first career counseling talk, I learned that physics encompasses much more than I realized. One of my role models has been my mother, for her constant struggle and her dedication to her profession (that and my constant battle with her, because she wanted me to become a surgeon haha).
Scientifically, I really liked Richard Feynman, although he is a theoretical physicist, he always seemed an unusual and great character, you have to read his biography (if you don't like him at least you will laugh at his antics with science and his occurrences).
Who is your favorite female scientist? And why?
Lise Meitner (Otto Hahn's research partner). It is curious, because Otto Hahn won a Nobel Prize, while Lise Meitner was not taken into consideration by the Nobel Committee.
Describe in 3 keywords…
* Your research: Interesting, Challenging and Multidisciplinary
* Barcelona: Gaudí, Cosmopolitan and "pa amb tomàquet/pan tumaca"
* Your experience at ICMAB: Education, Friendly, Familiar and Warm.
A big hug and good luck to all (“live long and prosper”).