The PhD thesis was supervised by Benjamín Martínez and Carlos Frontera, from the ACNM Group, ICMAB-CSIC.
The PhD Committee that evaluated the Thesis was formed by Jacobo Santamaría, Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) (President), Amílcar Labarta, Universitat de Barcelona (UB), (Secretary) and Fèlix Casanova, CIC nanoGUNE, (Vocal).
Doctor Sergi Martín Rio's PhD thesis was part of the PhD Programme in Physics from the Universitat de Barcelona (UB).
Sergi Martín Rio during his PhD Thesis Defense
Why did you choose ICMAB for your PhD?
I was familiar with the ICMAB while studying Nanoscience and Nanotechnology's degree at UAB. I ended up doing my final project there and knowing many people who got a job there. Thus, it was very appealing for me to start a PhD at the ICMAB, and when the opportunity came I didn't hesitate.
How would you explain your research to a non-scientific audience?
We study a kind of currents different from those used in conventional electronics. These new currents are not based on the motion of electron charges but on a different property of electrons called spin. It is possible to transmit, process, and store information using the propagation of spins. Technologically speaking, the main advantage is that their heat dissipation is very small, as opposed to conventional charge currents. This has important implications in today's technology since most of the energy consumed is aimed at cooling the electronic devices, since heat hampers their overall efficiency. In addition, for generating these so-called spin currents, we use a kind of materials named complex oxides which are very appealing from the technological viewpoint since their physical properties can be easily tuned by external stimuli, as opposed to the properties of metals and semiconductors from today's electronic devices, which stay fixed. The combination of complex oxide materials with the properties of spin currents opens the door to the development of high-speed, low-energy consuming multifunctional devices with exciting new capabilities.
What are the main applications of your research? Could you give us an example?
The development of low-energy consuming devices, including low heat dissipation and high speed. In addition, the quest for new functionalities and physical properties arising from the combination of different complex oxide films and their interfaces. Currently, magnetic random access memories (MRAM), which are based on similar spintronics effects, are used in some commercially available devices.
From the lessons learnt here, which one do you value the most?
Perseverance in what you do.
What will you miss the most from ICMAB?
The very friendly working environment and the people.
How do you think this experience will contribute to your training and to your future?
Besides the specific knowledge acquired in my particular reasearch field, I would say that I now have a broader vision of the main problems and research lines of my field. In addition, I believe that this experience as a whole will contribute to the further development of my professional career.
What are your plans once you finish your PhD?
I will intend to do a Postdoc abroad.
What do you wish you had known at the beginning of your PhD, that you can recommend to the ones who are starting?
Don't be afraid to ask what you don't understand, no matter how basic it may seem to you.
Why did you become a scientist? Who have been your role models?
I wanted to be a scientist for the sake of curiosity, and I found that this curiosity could only be satisfied with the tools of math, experience and scientific reasoning.
Let us know who are your favourite scientists (man and woman). Why?
Computer scientist and founder of Sci-hub Alexandra Elbakyan, for her inestimable contribution to the free distribution of scientific knowledge wordwideup.
Sergi Martín Rio at UB