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ICMAB Open Positions

New JAE Intro SOMdM 2021 call for Master Student’s research internships

Deadline: Jun 15, 2021

A new JAE Intro SOMdM 2021 call is now open for Research Fellowships for University Students at Severo Ochoa and María de Maeztu Research Centers. From ICMAB, the call is open to students who will course a Master during the academic year 2021-2022 and who are willing to begin working in the field of research in Materials Science, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Biomedicine and related areas. The application will be open from 14 May to 15 June 2021.

Anna May
13 May 2021

From ICMAB we offer a total of 7 fellowships, to choose among the 19 projects proposed, in the field of Energy Conversion and Storage, Superconductors, Oxides and Complex Structures, Organic Electronics and Bioactive materials for therapy and diagnosis. Take a look at the complete list below.

The fellowships are for 5 consecutive months during the academic year 2021-2022, for a total of 5,000 € (1,000 € per month). The mentored research training period will take place at the ICMAB facilities. The application will be open from 14 May to 15 June 2021 through the CSIC website.

Projects offered by our researchers:

Sustainable Energy Conversion and Storage System

{slider title="High Quality Factor Resonances in Scalable Plasmonic Supercrystals (Agustín Mihi)"}

Metal colloids sustain localized surface plasmon resonances (LSPR), collective oscillations of the free electron cloud of the metal that are exploited in lighting, sensing or heating. The optical characteristics of these LSPR resonances are determined by the size and shape of the nanoparticle and can only be modified at the synthesis stage. The optical losses intrinsic to the metal impose a lower limit in the bandwidth of the resonances, measured by the quality factor (Q = l/ Dl) with typical values below 10. However, these optical loses can be compensated if the metal colloids are disposed in a periodic array. In such ordered configuration, the collective response of the assembly can sustain surface lattice resonances (SLR), with one order of magnitude higher Q factors than isolated colloids thus paving the way to use these structures as cavities for lasing.

So far, these ordered arrays of metal nanoparticles or plasmonic crystals are typically fabricated via top down lithographic processes, thus hindering their implementation in commercial applications. In this collaboration, we will use fully scalable techniques for the fabrication of such plasmonic crystals. We will use elastomeric pre-patterned molds to induce the assembly of metal colloids produced by wet chemistry synthesis. By exploiting the self-assembly of the colloid under templates we will obtain a variety of geometries that will greatly affect the emission characteristics of dyes and nanocrystals placed therein, resulting in highly efficient light emission and lasing.

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{slider title="Machine learning optimization of high temperature superconducting films prepared by drop-on-demand inkjet printing (Albert Queraltó and Teresa Puig)"} High-throughput experimental (HTE) methods are becoming more important in the field of materials science, representing a turning point in the accelerated discovery, development and optimization of materials. The versatility of drop-on-demand inkjet printing allows its implementation with HTE strategies for combinatorial chemistry studies by fabricating complex-shape test compositional gradient films, suitable for parallel characterization of morphological, structural and functional properties. This project will explore such approach together with advanced characterization techniques and the use of machine learning algorithms in order to push forward the optimization in growth and performance of high-temperature REBCO superconducting films, prepared following the recently developed transient-liquid assisted growth chemical solution deposition (TLAG-CSD) route where ultrafast growth rates, above 100 nm/s, are achieved. Altogether, the main aim is to promote the use of high temperature superconductors to reduce the negative impact of fossil fuels and enable the full transition to renewable energy alternatives.

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{slider title="Graphene-based composite integrated platforms for light fuels production (Ana M. López Periago and Concha Domingo)"} The increase in the demand for bio-fuels is expected to reach approximately 760 Mtoe (32 EJ) by 2050. This results in an increase in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere it is predicted to reach 570 ppm by the end of the century. The energy demand results in an urgent imperative to develop efficient technologies for the production of sustainable bio-fuels, and reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Among those, light fuels production is one of these alternatives. In this project we propose the preparation of graphene-materials for the direct conversion of CO2 into light fuels.

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{slider title="Celulosa bacteriana para baterías de gran escala (Dino Tonti)"} La nanocelulosa de origen bacteriana es un material sostenible, barato y seguro, que gracias también a su elevada pureza se puede fácilmente procesar para múltiples aplicaciones. Por su estructura de nanofibras ramificadas y su química superficial son una plataforma ideal para la el transporte eficiente de especies electroactivas en una batería. Este trabajo se propone el procesado de celulosa bacteriana y su uso como componente en baterías larga escala, tipo redox-flow, para conseguir componentes de menor coste e impacto medioambiental.

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{slider title="Fabricación laser de supercondensadores híbridos basados en grafeno (Enikö György)"} En el marco de la colaboración proponemos sintetizar mediante técnicas laser materiales híbridos de grafeno y nanoparticulas de óxidos de metales de transición, para dispositivos de almacenamiento de energía. La morfología, estructura y composición, así como las propiedades funcionales de los materiales sintetizados se estudiarán a nanoescala, mediante técnicas de análisis complementarias. Los nanocompuestos se utilizarán como electrodos para supercondensadores de alta densidad de energía y potencia superior a los valores característicos para dispositivos de almacenamiento convencionales.

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{slider title="Porous Carborane-containing Metal Organic Frameworks for Energy and Environmental Applications (José Giner)"} Los Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) son materiales cristalinos formados por ligandos orgánicos (basados en carbono) e iones metálicos, dando lugar a redes cristalinas porosas que presentan un amplio rango de propiedades, entre las que destaca el almacenamiento y/o separación de gases. El presente proyecto tiene como objetivo introducir al estudiante en el campo de la nanotecnología y la ciencia de materiales, de la mano de la química, como herramienta de síntesis. Para ello, se sintetizarán ligandos que incorporen unidades Carborano (clústeres C2B10H12) que se utilizarán posteriormente en la preparación de MOFs y el estudio de sus propiedades.

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{slider title="Synthesis of metal-doped oxide nanoparticles and its assembly into porous structures for catalysis (Pablo Guardia)"} The water oxidation reaction is currently considered a major bottleneck in the development of electrochemical energy conversion and storage systems because of its sluggish kinetics and complex reaction. The candidate will work on the synthesis of novel metal-doped oxide nanoparticles to catalyze the water oxidation reaction. In particular, the candidate will synthesize Ni-, Co-, Cu-, or Ru-doped Mn3O4 nanoparticles and gels. The nanoparticles will be synthesized using a microwave assisted colloidal approach. The gels will be produced by the assembly of the nanoparticles into a porous structure by means of a controlled-destabilization process in solution. The materials (nanoparticles and gels) will be tested in several oxidation catalytic reactions such as water, methane or carbon monoxide oxidation reactions. The project will be carried out at the N&N group.

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{slider title="Phononic diodes and transistors (Riccardo Rurali)"} 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 heat is normally regarded as a source of loss. We aim at reversing this viewpoint and move to a new paradigm where heat can be used to transfer energy, thus information, in a controllable way. Additionally, learning how to modulate the heat flow will have also important consequences in conventional electronics or in devising efficient thermoelectric materials.

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Oxides for New Generation Electronics

{slider title="Metallic Functional Oxides for neuromorphic computing (Anna Palau)"} Computers can process a large amount of data with high precision and speed. However, compared to the brain, they still cannot approach a comparable performance considering cognitive functions such as perception, recognition and memory. Neuromorphic computing devices, based on new material concepts and systems, may dramatically outperform conventional digital base technology. Creating the architectural design for brain inspired computing, with the ability to learn and adapt, requires an integrative and interdisciplinary research at different levels. The first step, is to find materials and engineering breakthroughs to build devices with the desired functionalities to mimic brain learning skills and processing capabilities. This project will be focused on the design, fabrication and characterization of multi-functional devices, based on metallic perovskite oxides, able to implement all the basic brain-inspired functions used in a neuromorphic computer (neurons and synapsis). The main objective is to demonstrate the capability to implement biological functionality of both heterosynaptic plasticity and basic spiking neuron processes, in flexible and robust devices based on the modulation of a metallic-insulator phase transition. The proposed project will give to the applicant a complete interdisciplinary knowledge on solid state physics, materials science and nanotechnology. The host institution has a wide experience in disciplines and the required experimental techniques for a successful advance of the project. The training the student will acquire include the growth of thin films and multilayers, the fabrication of nanometric devices and their physical characterization.

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{slider title="Voltage control of spintronic memory devices (Can Onur Avci)"} Spintronics aims at using electron spin (instead of charge) to manipulate and process digital data. This revolutionary concept is believed to create efficient (energy, speed, capacity) memories to be used in computers, cell phones, etc. This project will explore hybrid thin film structures combining magnetic insulators and metals to create novel spintronic devices and optimize their spin transport properties by applying gate voltage at their interfaces. The student will be involved in both thin film preparation and state-of-the-art optical and electrical characterization of micron-scale devices.

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{slider title="Capas delgadas de óxidos funcionales: crecimiento por química verde y caracterización física (Carlos Frontera)"} El objetivo principal del trabajo es introducir al estudiante en el crecimiento de capas delgadas epitaxiales de óxidos multifuncionales mediante métodos químicos sol-gel (deposición asistida por polímeros). Éste realizará el crecimiento de capas de óxidos funcionales, lo que implica la limpieza de los sustratos, preparación, estabilización y deposición por centrifugación (drop casting) de las soluciones, y tratamientos térmicos en atmósfera controlada para producir el crecimiento epitaxial de las capas. El estudiante también realizará la caracterización estructural de las capas, mediante rayos X y microscopía de fuerzas atómicas.

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{slider title="Spintronics in Oxide Heterostructures and Quantum Wells (Gervasi Herranz)"} We investigate the properties of oxide quantum wells where transport is confined in two dimensions, displaying two-dimensional superconductivity, phototransport and strong spin-orbit coupling. The objective is to understand the fundamental physical properties of these quantum wells, with the aim of controlling the spin by either light or electric fields for applications in classical and quantum computing. Our methodologies embrace nanodevice fabrication, optical characterization, low-temperature magneto-transport, and modelling transport and photonic properties using numerical tools.

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{slider title="Emerging materials for energy efficient neuromorphic computing (Ignasi Fina)"} Von Neumann architecture is ubiquitous in nowadays computers. For neuromorphic data processing applications, Von Neumann architecture result in large computing times and, concomitantly, great power consumption. Thus, new architectures are envisaged. Currently, there is vast family of materials, which are good potential candidates to form the building blocks for the future neuromorphic computing architectures. From this vast family of materials, ferroelectric oxides might present several advantages, mainly in terms of power consumption and reliability. However, the knowledge on good ferroelectric oxide materials integrable in industrial processes is limited. The project aims on the study of new industrially compatible ferroelectric oxides using an important palette of different techniques, ranging from those aimed to characterize the materials at the nanoscale to those used to characterize prototype memory devices.

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{slider title="Automatización de un sistema de crecimiento de nanomateriales a alta temperatura (Lluís Balcells)"} El objetivo es rediseñar un equipo de crecimiento de capas delgadas mediante pulverización catódica, instalar un nuevo calefactor y modificar la geometría del sistema para que sea más flexible y versátil. El estudiante aprenderá los principios del funcionamiento de un sistema de pulverización catódica y desarrollará modificaciones del diseño, montaje y automatización de dicho equipo. La mayor parte de su trabajo estará dedicada al control y automatización de equipos electrónicos vía un software especializado tipo LabView.

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{slider title="New Materials for the Upcoming Wireless Communications (Martí Gich)"} The interaction of magnetic materials with electromagnetic waves in the GHz range is highly relevant for the new generations of wireless communications (5G and beyond). We are developing functional magnetic oxides for designing devices to enable these communications. Crucial steps in this process are characterizing the materials responses at high frequencies and fabricating proof-of-principle devices. The student will participate in this research doing simulations of sample fixtures, measuring setups and devices using the COMOSOL multiphysics RF module.

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Tuneable and Low Cost Molecular Electronics

{slider title="Funcionalización de superficies con interruptores moleculares para el transporte e interacción de (bio)moléculas (Arántzazu González)"} En este proyecto se quiere funcionalizar superficies conductoras (planas o nanopartículas) con interruptores moleculares derivados de sales de bipridinio o ácidos borónicos para el transporte de diferentes cargos y el estudio de su interacción con diferentes (bio)moléculas mediante la formación de ensamblajes supramoleculares. Una vez funcionalizadas las superficies se estudiará su respuesta con diferentes estímulos externos como redox o pH. La correcta funcionalización de las superficies se caracterizará utilizando diferentes técnicas como microscopia de fluorescencia, FT-IR, UV-Vis y cálculo del ángulo de contacto.

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{slider title="High-emissive luminescent materials for optical applications (Rosario Núñez)"} The project will deal with the development of new luminescent materials based on boron clusters and organic fluorophores of high efficiency and stability for potential opto-electronic and bioimaging applications. Their luminescence will be tuned by inducing smal modifications to the cluster. The master student will synthesize, characterize and analyze the photophysical properties of the new materials both in solution and sòlid state. The student will use spectroscopy techniques (IFT-IR, NMR) UV-vis, fluorescence, thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), among others. Some relates papers from the group: Mater. Chem. C, 2018, 6, 11336; Biomat. Sci., 2019, 7, 5324.

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Bioactive Materials for Therapy and Diagnosis

{slider title="Bioevaluation of materials on C. elegans (Anna Laromaine)"} Currently a large variety of nanomaterials and polymers exist potentially useful in medicine, food industry and cosmetics. Reliable and fast models to screen potential drugs, food and cosmetic additives to save money and time are in need. For this purpose, we use the 1 mm-long nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as an animal model to test the toxicity of the materials we design. The use of simple non-mammalian model organisms minimize the cost associated with in vivo experiments in the early stages of discovery and yields highly informative results such as survival rate, growth effects, reproduction toxicity and changes in the metabolism. Moreover, we can study how the materials are transformed by characterizing them after their pass through the organism. The project will consist on: A) Production and characterization of polymer or nanomaterials B) Evaluation of them in vivo using C. elegans as an animal model. The survival rate, growth effect and reproduction will be the primary endpoints that will be studied. C) Identification of metabolic changes produced by them. The student will have the opportunity to get experience in an international research environment. We, the group of Nanoparticles and Nanocomposite group at ICMAB, are chemists, physics and biotechnologists from all over the world focused on the rational synthesis of functional nanomaterials. The student will learn about a broad range of techniques of synthesis and characterization techniques. We are looking for a highly motivated student, matured and with interest to work in an interdisciplinary field.

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{slider title="Polymeric nanocapsules as drug delivery carriers (Anna Roig)"} Polymeric nanoparticles are widely studied in nanomedicine for drug delivery uses. PLGA is being validated for this purpose since it allows extensive functionalization, undergoes biodegradation in physiological medium and has been approved by the FDA and EMA agencies. The project will be fabricated PLGA nanocapsules endowed with medical imaging modalities and containing therapeutic cargoes (proteins, growth factors, microRNA). The candidate will collaborate with medical end-users of the nanocarrier platform. Please check Zhang et al. Nanoscale 12 (8), 2020, 988, Pharmaceutics 12 (1), 2020, 16.

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{slider title="Ratiometric nanothermometers based on radical excimers for bioimaging applications (Imma Ratera)"} Nanothermometry is becoming a fundamental issue in several technological and scientific fields. The work will be framed in the interdisciplinary field of molecular nanostructured materials with optical properties for biological applications and will consist on the design, synthesis and characterization (SEM, TEM, AFM, DLS, spectroscopic techniques, etc…) of molecular multifunctional materials based on organic radicals with tunable properties for the preparation of organic nanoparticles (ONPs) for bioimaging applications. The candidate will prepare and characterize ONPs doped with organic radicals looking for an enhancement of the Luminescence Quantum Yield, in the biological window (Red/NIR region). The known dependence of temperature of the luminescence of such ONPs in a ratiometric manner will be exploit to determine its performance as nanothermometers (i.e. to sense the internal temperature of cells).

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{slider title="Mechanobiology of the lymph nodes for cancer immunotherapies (Judith Guasch)"} This project consists of studying the mechanical properties of the lymph nodes and mimicking them with different biomaterials, ranging from nanostructured surfaces to 3D hydrogels, to produce organoids. These structures will be used to develop new cancer immunotherapies, which have already obtained remissions of patients with advanced cancers. The student will be involved in producing and characterizing the biomaterials by rheology and AFM, as well as to study the effect of the mechanical properties on primary human T cell culture through flow cytometry, ELISA, and microscopy.

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{slider title="In vitro validation of nanovesicles for photodynamic therapy (Nora Ventosa and Mariana Köber)"} The project is based on the development of new highly stable nanovesicles for photodynamic therapy (PDT) against cancer. Using nanovesicles as a vehicle, it is possible to load many photosensitizing molecules in a small volume and further target cancer cells. The work of the master student will be focused on the preparation and physic-chemical characterization of fluorescent nanovesicles and their subsequent in vitro validation.

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For more information about the project topics, you can contact each one of the researchers. 

Who can apply?

The call is for students who have finished their degree and who are enrolled on a Masters for the academic year 2021-2022 in the fields of Materials Science and Technology, Physics, Chemistry, Biology or Biomedicine. Applicants should have an average grade equal or higher than 7.5/10.  The objective is to initiate students in the research activity in the diverse scientific areas, and to enable them to be in contact with the ICMAB research center and its researchers. Candidates should select up to three projects of the ones listed in this website, in which they are willing to participate.

How to apply?

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