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PhD Theses

Congratulations to Dr. Arpita Saha, new ICMAB graduate!

Congratulations to Dr. Arpita Saha for successfully defending her PhD Thesis on "Tuning the properties of quantum nanocrystals and magnetic nanoparticles using spherical ligands: carboranes and metallacarboranes". If you want to know more about Arpita and her stay at the ICMAB, read more below!

19 September 2019

Why did you choose the ICMAB? 

I had come for my Masters dissertation thesis for 6 months to ICMAB in 2015, under the supervision of Prof. Francesc Teixidor, as my university had an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with ICMAB. During that time, I had a lot of fun in ICMAB and was impressed by the research done here by my group and the others. It was a good place to work too and so I applied for the FI grant by the Generalitat de Catalunya for pre-doctoral studies. Thankfully I was awarded the grant and so I joined ICMAB for my Ph.D. as it seemed to be the right decision. ICMAB is one of the most reputed institutes in Europe for material science research so there was no doubt in my mind regarding it.

arpita garden

How would you explain your research to a non-scientific audience?

My research here at the ICMAB during my Ph.D. has been mainly focused on magnetic nanoparticles and quantum nanocrystals. In a non-scientific term, I have done research with materials that shine due to their small size and change colour on changing their size. They can form films with polymers that can be used for display devices. Further I have worked with small magnetic materials that can penetrate cells of bodies and can be used for cancer therapy by using thermal radiation. Also, these magnetic particles can be used in sensors by modifying their properties.

What are the main applications of your research? Could you give us an example?

Firstly, I worked in aqueous quantum dots with carboranes which showed a unique luminescence phenomenon of fading and shining again upon application of kinetic energy. This quantum dot stores anions in the traps and has cations on the surface thus making it act like a molecular capacitor. Furthermore, we can change the luminescence range by changing the anions of choice.

Also, I worked with magnetic nanoparticles with carboranes which were used for cancer therapy using radiation therapy of boron neutron capture therapy. It was done with Vall d’Hebron Research Institute and collaborators from Italy. It was even tested in vivo by injecting a mouse with these nanohybrids and the mice showed no toxicity or adverse effects and its efficacy in reducing the cancer cells was also established. From the lessons learnt at ICMAB, which one do you value the most?Ans- To be punctual, regular, tenacious and work till you succeed.

What will you miss the most from ICMAB?

The atmosphere and the ambience. 

How do you think this experience will contribute to your training and to your future? 

I think whatever I have learned in these four years will help me in my research in the future to draw conclusions, to understand the science better and improve things for propagating good research. 

What are your plans once you finish your PhD?

I hope to work in the Industrial sector after this.

What do you wish you had known at the beginning of your PhD?

The amount of paperwork everything requires and how to go about them. This is probably for me because I am from outside the European Union and needed a lot of paper work for everything and I would have liked to know about all the procedure from before and also how to manage it rather than come here and struggle with it all.

Why did you become a scientist? Which have been your role models?

Being a scientist would help me contribute to the society in some way. I always felt a person should have some responsibility and obligation to the planet as well as the society they live in and I think being a scientist helps you to understand your surrounding better and as a consequence help in improving the things. My role models have always been: Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin.

Which is your favourite female scientist?

Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin.

Describe in 3 keywords… 

  • Your research: novel materials, state-of-the-art, small is beautiful
  • Barcelona: exciting, vibrant and picturesque
  • Your experience at ICMAB: enjoyable, enlightening and memorable 

Thank you, Arpita! And Congratulations!

arpita sala

Thesis title: Tuning the Properties of Quantum Nanocrystals and Magnetic Nanoparticles using Spherical Ligands: Carboranes and Metallacarboranes

by Arpita Saha, Inorganic Materials and Catalysis Laboratory, ICMAB-CSIC

Date: Thursday, 12 September 2019
Time: 11 am
Venue: Seminar Hall ICN2


A new architecture of QDs has been designed using Carboranyl phosphinate ligands in water which shows a unique luminescence phenomenon called Kinetic Fluorescence Switching (KFS). It has never been reported before and was possible due to the spherical ligands. Further QDs have been synthesized which combines the advantage of organometallic synthesis and aqueous synthesis in one method using a new design set-up. Also, for the first time QRods and QRings have been synthesized in water and their luminescence properties were studied using photo or electric excitation.

Magnetic nanoparticles have also been used along with borane clusters to form new nano-hybrids which have been tested for Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT) for cancer treatment. In-vitro and In-vivo studies were done using these new nanohybrids. Also, new kind of magnetic nanocomposites were formed as part of the European Horizon 2020 project KARDIATOOL using MWCNTs, magnetic nanoparticles coated with silica and functionalized with different functional groups which were further rused to form non-bonded complex with H[COSAN] for sensing layers in biosensors.


  • Francesc Teixidor, ICMAB-CSIC
  • Clara Viñas, ICMAB-CSIC

PhD Committee:

  • President: Joan Bausells, IMB-CNM-CSIC, Spain
  • Secretary: Miquel Sola, Universitat de Girona, Spain
  • Vocal:  Abdelhamid Elaissari, University of Lyon-1, CNRS, Villeurbanne, France
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