INPhINIT 2021 Doctoral Fellowships: The opportunity you are looking for may be at ICMAB
Two modalities are open, with two deadlines:
- Doctorate INPhINIT Incoming: Candidates must have resided or carried out their main activity in Spain for less than 12 months in the last 3 years. Deadline for application: February 4, 2021.
- Doctorate INPhINIT Retaining: Candidates must have resided or carried out their main activity in Spain more than 12 months in the last 3 years. Deadline for application: February 25, 2021.
ICMAB-CSIC is one of the “Severo Ochoa” centers selected, and offers in this year's call 10 projects under the INPhINIT doctoral programme in excellent research groups to perform challenging and stimulating research.
The doctoral fellowship programme INPhINIT “la Caixa” is devoted to attracting talented Early-Stage Researchers—of any nationality—who wish to pursue doctoral studies in Spanish or Portuguese territory. Sponsored by ”la Caixa” Foundation, it is aimed at supporting the best scientific talent and fostering innovative and high-quality research in Spain and Portugal by recruiting outstanding international students and offering them an attractive and competitive environment for conducting research of excellence.
This programme is divided into two different frames:
- Doctorate INPhINIT Incoming: 35 PhD fellowships for researchers willing to carry out their PhD project in research centres accredited with the Spanish Seal of Excellence Severo Ochoa, María de Maeztu or Health Institute Carlos III and Portuguese units accredited as “excellent” or “exceptional” according to the evaluation of the Fundação de Ciência e Tecnologia. This frame is addressed exclusively to STEM disciplines: life sciences and health, experimental sciences, physics, chemistry and mathematics.For doing their research in Spanish institutions, candidates must have resided or carried out their main activity in Spain for less than 12 months in the last 3 years while for Portuguese institutions, candidates must have resided in Portugal for less than 12 months in the last 3 years.
- Doctorate INPhINIT Retaining: 30 PhD fellowships for researchers willing to carry out their PhD project in any research domain and any university or research center in Spain or Portugal.Candidates must have resided or carried out their main activity in the same country, either Spain, or Portugal, more than 12 months in the last 3 years.
The doctoral INPhINIT fellowships offer a highly competitive salary and complementary opportunities for training on transferrable skills (through the collaboration of leading entities such as Vitae and Oxentia), temporary stays in industry, incentives upon completion of the thesis, among other elements that make these fellowships some of the most attractive and complete in Europe.
Vortex physics in the overdoped state of High Temperature Superconductors (Teresa Puig)
Superconductivity is a macroscopic quantum phenomenon based on the formation of a condensate at the energy ground state by electron-pairing (Cooper pairs), with outstanding properties and impact in many applications. Since high temperature superconducting (HTS) cuprate materials were discovered 30 years ago, many additional applications were envisaged since large currents without losses could be expected at liquid nitrogen temperatures, however they had to face unknown science and new materials engineering complexities. HTS are strongly correlated systems, showing unconventional superconductivity with a d-wave pairing symmetry and their microscopic theory is still unidentified. In addition, they need to be doped to be superconductors, they are Mott insulators in the underdoped state where also a pseudogap develops. Novel vortex phases and behaviour also appear, mainly associated to the higher thermal fluctuations, larger crystalline anisotropy and nanometric nature of the HTS superconducting parameters. Disorder is a strong enemy for the superconducting state of HTS, but if properly designed, it can be used as an outstanding source for vortex pinning. Beyond the still unsolved questions, nowadays, the international community is able to fabricate HTS materials for high current energy efficient applications (high power cables, wind generators, electrical aviation) and large scale infrastructures (fusion, circular colliders, NMR beyond 1 GHz).
The project aims at studying the physical properties of nanostructured HTS films with special emphasis in the understanding of the strain-disorder vortex pinning mechanism and their consequences in the condensation energy of the overdoped state, to approach theoretical physical performance values. The research group is very international and interdisciplinary, with more than 20 years of experience in superconductivity. The supervisor holds an ERC Advanced and a Proof-of-Concept Grants.
New strategies to fabricate 2D materials for energy and environmental applications (Carmen Ocal)
The success of organic semiconductors (OSCs) in photovoltaic devices boosts optimization of OSC properties for operation as photo-electrodes in solar energy conversion to electricity or chemical energy. These materials are also extremely promising for gas storage, catalysis, sensing and environmental applications (e.g. reduction of CO2 and photo-degradation of pollutants). A new alternative for miniaturized model OSC systems relies on two-dimensional covalent organic frameworks (2D-COFs) where different π-conjugated molecules are covalently bonded to form 2D layers. Because the large choice of available commercial and synthetic molecules (building blocks), COFs have an enormous chemical versatility and modularity, in which functionalization and tunable pore size can be used to control their physical and chemical properties. The limiting factors are the difficulties to have COFs as well ordered, oriented and continuous thin films. However, improved control over film formation may be possible using the innovative bottom-up synthesis on surfaces.
This strategy (see “On-surface synthesis: a guide for explorers”) uses small precursors that confined on a surface react to form single molecular layers. The project focus on the study of the electronic and structural properties of molecular architectures formed at metal surfaces by assembly and covalent bonding of building blocks. A double approach based on two innovative techniques to build and study organic systems of interest for sensing and molecular electronics: deposition of molecular precursors from liquid and on-surface induced chemistry to obtain hierarchical growth following sequential thermal activation.
Thermal transport in multiferroic perovskites (Riccardo Rurali and J. Sebastián Reparaz)
The goal of this project is providing a theoretical and experimental framework aimed at understanding and controlling the manipulation of heat flux within multiferroic perovskites. The successful candidate will perform numerical simulations in order to devise realistic approaches for the engineering of thermal transistor, the fundamental building block of phononics, where the thermal conductivity can be dynamically manipulated. From the experimental perspective, the candidate will measure high resolution thermal maps based on optical reflectivity and on Raman scattering in order to test conceptual samples which can effectively lead to novel concepts in thermal engineering.
In electronics information is transferred with charge carriers, whose motion can be easily controlled with external fields. This is not the case of phononics, where phonons —the basic particles that carry heat— have no mass or charge: this is why we live in a world of electronic devices and heat is normally regarded as a source of loss. The goal of this project is reversing this viewpoint and move to a new paradigm where heat can be actively used to transfer energy, thus information, in a controllable way.
Multiferroic perovskites present multiple advantages over other materials, mostly due to their rich phase diagrams, the permanent electrical dipole moment and, in some cases, a coexisting permanent magnetization, allowing manipulation of the lattice with external fields and thus being ideally suited for these applications. This approach allows envisaging a truly zero-power analog of electronics, as in our world heat is indeed ubiquitous and phononics circuits will effectively need no power supply. Additionally, learning how to modulate the heat flow will have also important for heat dissipation at the nanoscale and to design efficient thermoelectric materials.
The activity of the group of Theory and Simulation of Materials is equally shared between the development of new algorithms and methods for the calculation of properties of materials and nanostructures and applications in various cutting-edge areas of materials science, particularly. Most of the work activities will be done in collaboration with the Experimental Nanoscale Thermal Transport division within the Nanostructured Materials Group, which will provide the necessary feedback to advance with the design and simulations.
MATERIALS AND NANOTECHNOLOGY
Transparent metals: the hidden bottleneck of photovoltaics (Josep Fontcuberta i Griñó)
Transparent metals are fundamental ingredients of photovoltaic panels, active screens in displays and even cockpit windows in planes. Current technologies involve the use of doped semiconductors, where Indium (In2O3) plays a crucial role. The scarcity, access risks and tremendous environmental costs of Indium urges the search of alternative materials. SrVO3 is an example of metallic and transparent oxide, potential candidate to substitute In2O3. The rare combination of metallic character and transparency, which is at odds with common metallic mirrors, is intriguing. It is currently believed that transparency in the visible range is due to the fact that electrons in this metal are dressed with an electron cloud (electron-electron correlations) that enhances their mass and as a consequence they cannot respond to the high frequency waves of visible light.
However, this simple picture is challenged by recent experiments. New data suggest that this amazing combination of properties may involve two formerly unexpected actors: electrons can be dressed by a lattice deformation moving with them, and the low dimensionality (2D character) of the Fermi Surface. Implications of this novel view go beyond transparent metals. It may reveal a fundamental electron-phonon (polaron) coupling of the highest importance in condensed matter physics including high temperature superconductivity. We aim at contributing to this research by exploring electrical and optical properties in metallic oxides having 2D Fermi surfaces, adjustable electron-phonon coupling and near zero permittivity. The candidate will be integrated into MULFOX Laboratory. A research group with a long expertise on oxide-based thin film nanotechnologies with applications in electronics, magnetics and photonics. MULFOX has excellent records of scientific production, impact and recognition and access to all necessary facilities.
Website: MULFOX group
Optimizing Ti-oxide surfaces grown on switchable polarization ferroelectric films for water photocatalysis (Xavier Torrelles Albareda and Felip Sandiumenge)
Sunlight induced photocatalytic water splitting is receiving nowadays a lot of interest as a clean energy production technology. However, the efficiency of one of the most promising catalysts, TiO2, is largely reduced by fast recombination velocities of the electron-hole pairs produced during illumination. In this context, ferroelectric (FE) BiFeO3 films with spontaneous polarization, exhibiting an open-circuit photovoltage under illumination, can drive charge carriers to opposite surfaces (bulk photovoltaic effect). The direction of the spontaneous polarization component can be modified depending on the lattice mismatch between the substrate and the film, so, in-plane, out- of-plane or a combination of both components are achievable. The FE-field can thus be used in TiO2/FE heterostructures to create spatially separated sites for the reduction and oxidation water reactions yielding H2 and O2, respectively. In this way, the recombination of the photogenerated carriers can be reduced, thus enhancing the photocatalytic efficiency.
The main objective of this proposal is the analysis of the influence of the FE- polarization on the enhancement of the photo-catalytic efficiency and correlate catalytic effects with structural and electronic surface/interface cross-properties. To this end, special interest will be paid the domain configuration of the FE substrate, and to catalyst/FE interfacial effects, such as formation of screening charges, structural distortions and defect chemistry. These effects will be mainly assessed by state of the art Transmission Electron Microscopy imaging and spectroscopic techniques, and synchrotron Photo-Electron Emission Microscopy. CMEOS-research group provides the platform and expertise for sample preparation (thin films by PLD), conventional characterization: X-ray diffraction, local probe and electron microscopy (SEM/TEM). UHV sample characterization in ALBA partner laboratory and advanced techniques using synchrotron facilities.
New Batteries for “Internet of Things” Devices (M. Rosa Palacin)
The Internet of Things (IoT) market is gradually transitioning to “cable-free” “no-maintenance” devices. The energy needed to cover their continuous operation cannot be generated by harvesters alone and an additional power source is mandatory to avoid operating in sporadic mode. Batteries are currently the best choice in terms of energy stored, efficiency and cost. While load circuits and most harvesters operate at low voltages, batteries usually operate at high voltage (> 3 V for Li-ion). Thus, the use of voltage converters between harvester & battery and between battery & circuits is nowadays compulsory despite resulting in enhanced complexity and significant energy losses which penalize the overall device energy efficiency.
The project aims at developing batteries operating at uncommonly low voltages (0.5 V - 1 V) and suitable for integration in self-powered autonomous IoT devices without the need of converters. This will be achieved through (i) identification of suitable electrode materials with moderate redox potentials coupling crystal chemistry and solid state electrochemistry (ii) electrochemical testing of all potentially interesting positive/negative electrode combinations and (iii) assembly of coin cell prototypes with the most performing combinations to be tested in conditions mimicking real field operation.
Research will be carried out at the Solid State Chemistry Research Unit at ICMAB-CSIC under the supervision of Prof. M. Rosa Palacín, in close collaboration with Prof. Clare Grey’s group at Cambridge University (UK). Both groups have complementary expertise and recognized excellence in the field of solid state chemistry and electrochemistry applied to battery materials, with ICMAB-CSIC having stronger activity in new battery chemistries and Cambridge being worldwide leaders in NMR spectroscopy applied to energy related materials. Both teams are active members of the ALISTORE European Research Institute devoted to battery materials research.
Complex functional oxide thin films by green and sustainable chemical methods for new spintronic devices (Benjamín Martínez and Narcís Mestres)
Recently, research on transition metal oxides (TMOs) is flourishing since in these materials several energies scales are competing (Hubbard’s interaction, Hund’s coupling, spin-orbit coupling (SOC), crystal field and electron kinetic energy) revealing a rich family of behaviors. Moreover, SOC is at the heart of manipulating spin solely by electric fields, an attractive pathway for designing electronic devices, in particular magnetic random access memories with reduced energy consumptions. Additionally, these materials are also ideal for the generation of pure spin currents by spin pumping. Furthermore, the trend nowadays is the development of solution-based processes that are low cost and environmentally friendly. In this framework of rich fundamental physics and big-market applications our project aims to the preparation of high quality epitaxial thin films and heterostructures of TMOs by using an environmentally friendly, green and sustainable technique such as Polymer Assisted Deposition (PAD), and the generation and detection of pure spin currents, using the spin pumping technique, for potential use in spintronic devices. We will use epitaxial control to tune the competing interactions and final performances in perovskite-based thin films and multilayers.
The “Advanced Characterization and Nanostructured Materials” (ACNM) group at the Materials Science Institute of Barcelona (ICMAB), has a long-standing record of high quality publications in the field of functional oxide materials for novel technologies. Our research is both of basic and applied character since it is aimed not only to investigate the relation between the microstructure and properties but also its potential application for the design and fabrication of novel magnetoelectronic devices.
Website: ACNM group
Development of high magnetic anisotropy ferrites for millimeter wave wireless communications (Martí Gich Garcia and José Luis Garcia Muñoz)
Research in functional oxides is driven by the aspiration of exploiting its complex structure-property relationships in novel devices. In the near future, information technologies are to be revolutionized with the development of a new generation of wireless communications based on shorter wavelengths in the millimeter range. A current challenge to this evolution is the lack of convenient functional materials for non-reciprocal devices such as circulators and new concepts such as time modulation are being investigated to overcome this issue.
However, the dynamic nature of this novel approach makes it unattractive from the point of view of power consumption. Recently discovered transition metal oxides with very large magnetic anisotropy are called upon to be instrumental in millimeter wave communications by providing no-reciprocal functionalities at zero power consumption. Moreover, the mm-wave control of the magnetic state of such materials has been recently demonstrated, opening up new possibilities in magnetic recording. The objective of this project is developing new high magnetic anisotropy oxides, taking ε–RhxFe2-xO3 and SrCax/12Fe12-xAlxO19 as a starting point with the aim of understanding the structural features controlling magnetic anisotropy and providing new functional magnetic oxides for applications at mm-waves.
Website: NN group
New photosensitizers with effective antimicrobial activity triggered by visible light (Rosario Núñez)
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) has been well-established as a treatment for certain cancerous and pre-cancerous lesions. Nowadays, owing to the increasing resistance of bacteria towards antibiotics and the rise of new infections, the photodynamic inactivation (PDI) of bacteria, fungi, and viruses (i. e. SARS-COV-2), is gaining considerable attention. PDT is one suggested technique to eliminate bacteria and viruses using light at a specific wavelength and a light sensitive molecule known as photosensitizer, which is activated by light. Photodynamic Inactivation (PDI) can treat localized infections and yet is without the problems associated with drug resistance. PDI employs photosensitizers capable of producing singlet oxygen, a highly reactive, oxidative and cytotoxic molecule, on excitation with visible light. In this project we propose to develop new carborane-based photosensitizers with the aim to enhance the antimicrobial activity of the new systems by suppressing π-π interactions, reducing the aggregation and improving the photophysical properties. Notably, icosahedral boron clusters are non-toxic and biocompatible, which make them excellent candidates for large number of medical applications. Thus, these clusters represent a new area for exploration within the PDI field towards their use as antimicrobial agents activated by visible light. The main objectives are (i) to synthesize and characterize a series of carborane-based photosensitizers by coupling porphyrinoids to boron clusters; (ii) to delineate their role in the photophysical process of singlet oxygen production under light; (iii) in vitro evaluation of the antimicrobial activity as PDI agents.
The candidate will incorporate in the Inorganic Materials and Catalysis Laboratory (LMI) at ICMAB-CSIC. Our group has leading expertise in the development of boron cluster derivatives and their applications in material science, medicine and energy. To date 50 doctors have been graduated and more than 400 articles published in high impact journals.
Fluorescent nanovesicles for the early diagnosis of cancer (Nora Ventosa Rull)
Nanotechnology is playing a crucial role in the generation of medical solutions both for therapeutics and diagnostics. In the particular case of cancer disease, the use of fluorescent organic nanoparticles (FONs) for diagnostics promises enhanced sensitivity, shorter turnaround- time, and increased cost-effectiveness, allowing imaging and early diagnosis at the molecular level. In this line, Indocyanine green (ICG) has emerged as an attractive fluorescence imaging probe since this dye was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a NIR clinical imaging agent. However, its broader clinical use is limited by concentrationdependent aggregation, aqueous instability, and rapid degradation. The use of nanoparticles (NPs) to encapsulate ICG is a promising strategy to overcome these limitations. However, the translation of medicinal products, based on NPs, into the clinic is following a slow process where the majority of nanoformulations are not even reaching the in-vivo pre-clinical evaluation. The low reproducibility and the difficulty to scale-up the production (required for clinical applications) are among the main reasons of this difficult translation.
In this frame, the proposed research project aims to develop advanced fluorescent NPs for early cancer diagnosis and tumor imaging, taking advantage of the recognized know-how of Nanomol Group of ICMAB-CSIC in preparation, characterization and scale-up of NP-based medicinal products. In particular, Nanomol group has recently developed new highly bright fluorescent organic NPs for bioimaging applications. During the project the PhD student will develop biocompatible ICG-loaded NPs for in-vivo imaging, its characterization, and functionalization with specific targeting units.
How to apply
How to apply
Once you have chosen the project, and you are sure to fulfill all the eligibility criteria, click here to create your personal account and fill in the on-line “la Caixa” application form to apply for the fellowship.
INPhINIT aims to recruit excellent Early-Stage Researchers with very solid theoretical backgrounds, with curiosity and ambition; with incipient skills to express themselves clearly and defend their ideas with creativity, independence and originality. Researchers may be focused on the academic side or be more industry-oriented. The evaluation criteria and scores defined to achieve this goal are:
PHASE 1 – Remote evaluation:
- Qualifications and Curriculum Vitae (weight 50%): academic and/or professional curriculum in relation to the stage of the candidate’s career;
- Motivation and statement of purpose (weight 30%): the originality, innovation and potential impact of the proposed statement of purpose, and the choice of the Research Centre and/or research line will be assessed;
- Letters of reference (weight 20%): reference letters supporting the candidacy will be assessed taking into account the specificity of the content with regard to the candidate as well as the profile of the people who sign them.
PHASE 2 – Face-to-face selection:
- Candidate’s potential (weight 40%): in order to have a general perception of the candidate’s potential, experts will pay attention to “soft” skills, ability to present easily a complex reasoning, team working; and capabilities such as independent reasoning, originality, entrepreneurship, leadership, among others.
- Motivation and statement of purpose (weight 30%): experts will assess the impact of the statement of purpose for the candidate and the society; innovation, originality and feasibility; and candidate’s capabilities with regard to the scope of the statement of purpose.
- Academic and professional background (weight 30%): experts will assess the consistency of the candidate’s academic background and CV in the area chosen to carry out the PhD.
The INPhINIT programme is co-funded by the European Commission through COFUND, which is one of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie initiatives of the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme. As with all activities funded by the European Union, ethics is given the highest priority and is seen as crucial to achieve real research excellence. The research carried out in the framework of the INPhINIT programme must comply with ethical principles and relevant national, EU and international legislation, such as the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the European Convention on Human Rights.
Applications that may involve ethical issues will be sent to the Ethics Committee to verify that the proposals do not contravene fundamental ethics principals or relevant security procedures. Check the Ethics Principles & Assessment Form.
The INPhINIT programme will be open to Early-Stage Researchers (ESR) of all nationalities. In order to be accepted, candidates must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Experience: At the call deadline, applicants must be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and not yet have been awarded a doctoral degree.
- Studies pursued: At the time of recruitment, candidates must comply with one of the following options:
- To have completed the studies that lead to an official university degree adapted to the European Higher Education Area awarding 300 ECTS credits, of which at least 60 ECTS credits must correspond to master level.
- To have completed a degree in university not adapted to the European Higher Education Area that gives access to doctoral studies. The verification of an equivalent level of studies to the ones mentioned above will be made by the university when the admission procedure starts.
- Level of English: Candidates must have a demonstrable level of English (B2 or higher).
- Complete applications: Only candidates whose applications meet all the requirements of the call may be accepted.
- Geographic mobility:
For candidates applying to Spanish centres or units: Candidates must not have resided or have carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Spain for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the call deadline.
For candidates applying to Portuguese centres or units: Candidates must not have resided or have carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Portugal for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the call deadline.
Short stays, such as holidays, done in a country other than their country of usual residence (where they carried out their main activity), will be considered as time spent in their country of usual residence.
For candidates applying to Spanish centres or units: Candidates must have resided or have carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Spain for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the call deadline.
For candidates applying to Portuguese centres or units: Candidates must have resided or have carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Portugal for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the call deadline.
Short stays, such as holidays, done in a country other than their country of usual residence (where they carried out their main activity), will be considered as time spent in their country of usual residence.
Candidates who obtain a fellowship must carry out their PhD at a university or research center where they have not studied their bachelor degree.
No projects or additional documentation can be presented outside the deadlines established in the rules of the call for applications.
4 February 2021: Deadline for applications
18 February 2021: Deadline for submitting the language certificate
22 April 2021: Notification of the shortlist results
25, 26, 327 May 2021: Face-to-face interviews in Barcelona
7 June 2021: Publication of the final list of selected candidates.
From 7 to 30 June 2021: Matching research centre – fellow.
September-November 2021: Start of the fellowships
25 February 2021: Deadline for applications
11 March 2021: Deadline for submitting the language certificate
21 May 2021: Notification of the shortlist results
14, 15, 16 June 2021: Face-to-face interviews in Barcelona
30 June 2021: Publication of the final list of selected candidates.
September-November 2021: Start of the fellowships
Download the INCOMING programme rules, and the RETAINING programme rules.
Download here the list of projects offered by CSIC centers, including ICMAB.
For details of the grant, applications and selection criteria process, and other general questions, please visit the INPhINIT programme website.
The Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB) is an internationally renowned research center in Advanced Functional Materials and Nanomaterials that belongs to the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). The Institute has been recently awarded with the Severo Ochoa label of excellence by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competiveness. Our mission is to generate new knowledge in Materials Science through excellent scientific research useful for the society and for the European industry, economy and employment, consolidating our recognition as international reference center on Smart functional materials through five mission-oriented Research Lines associated to three societal grand challenges (Clean Energy, Smart and Sustainable Electronics and Smart Nanomedicine).The Institute is located in a favorable research environment, concentrating one of the largest capabilities in Spain and Southern Europe (UAB Campus near Barcelona). Recently, our facilities have been significally expanded to accommodate 500 m2 of laboratories and offices.
ICMAB competitiveness can be inferred from the high percentage of our yearly budget raised from competitive funds. A sizable fraction of these funds are secured from our participation in EU projects. Our publications receive at present ~11.200 citations/yr, with ~220 articles published per year. Our leadership position in Catalonia, Spain and Europe is also recognized by the number of active ERC grantees (10), a figure which only a few excellent research centers exhibit in Spain. Our researchers are internationally competitive in several materials science domains, including energy storage & conversion, superconducting materials, multifunctional oxide thin films, theory & simulation, solid state chemistry or multifunctional molecular and supramolecular materials. The training of the future generations of researchers represents also an essential part of the overall mission of ICMAB, with ~15 PhD theses defended per year. We provide trainees with both a solid fundamental background in materials science and a practical mindset to facilitate their adaptation to academic and industrial environments.If you are looking for an opportunity to develop your research career and skills in a multicultural and friendly environment, ICMAB is the place for you.
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