THEORETICAL MODELING OF PHONON TRANSPORT IN NANOSTRUCTURED SEMICONDUCTORS
Riccardo Rurali, Electronic Structure of Materials Group
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.
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 consequences in conventional electronics —where heat dissipation at the nanoscale is a major issue— or in devising efficient thermoelectric materials. The student will learn how to study heat transport with state-of-the-art computational techniques, including molecular dynamics and density-functional theory.
Keywords: Simulation, Materials, Phonon transport, Electronics, Physics
LASER FABRICATION OF GRAPHENE-BASED HYBRID SUPERCAPACITORS
Angel Pérez, Laser Processing Group
Supercapacitors (SCs) are energy storage devices used in electronic systems that require high power and fast charge / discharge cycles. SCs exhibit high robustness as well as large specific capacitance, and they are often used as energy storage elements in phones, tablets, watches, sensors, etc. They are also used in high power systems like electric and hybrid vehicles or renewable energy management systems. The objective of the proposed project is to fabricate high performance SCs based on hybrid nanocarbon-metal oxide electrodes by means of advanced laser processing. Solid state devices composed of graphene flakes coated with complex metal oxide nanostructures will be developed. The structural, compositional and functional properties of these systems will be characterized by several techniques (electron microscopies, X-ray and electron diffraction, Raman spectroscopy, electrochemical analyses, etc). Website: https://icmab.es/laserprocessing
Keywords: Laser, Supercapacitors, Energy, Energy storage, Carbon materials
COMBINATORIAL SCREENING OF HIGH TEMPERATURE SUPERCONDUCTING FILMS BY DROP-ON-DEMAND INKJET PRINTING
Teresa Puig and Albert Queraltó, Superconducting and Large Scale Nanostructures Group
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 pieces with locally-uniform and graded compositions, suitable for parallel characterization of morphological, structural and functional properties. This project will explore such approach together with advanced characterization techniques in order to push forward the optimization in 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, up to 100 nm/s, are achieved. Alltogether, 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.
Keywords: Superconducting materials, Combinatorial chemistry, Thin films
FLEXIBLE AND CRYSTALLINE OXIDE MEMBRANES FOR HIGH-EFFICIENCY PHOTOVOLTAIC CELLS
Mariona Coll, Superconducting and Large Scale Nanostructures Group
The preparation of epitaxial thin film materials with attractive properties such as magnetism, ferroelectricity, superconductivity or even photoresponse, as flexible membranes is envisaged to transform society. The aim of this project is to prepare flexible membranes of photoactive materials with atomic precision for highly efficient photovoltaic textiles. The student will learn how to prepare thin films and membranes by cost-efficient chemical methodologies, characterize their structure, chemical composition and surface morphology. Eventually he/she will be able to study the functional properties. The project will be carried out in a multidisicplinary group devoted to prepare innovative materials for photovoltaics.
Keywords: Photovoltaics, Oxides, Magnetism, Ferroelectricity, Materials
GREEN CHEMICAL SOLUTION GROWTH OF FUNCTIONAL OXIDE THIN FILMS FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Narcís Mestres, Superconducting and Large Scale Nanostructures Group
Complex oxides are materials of strong interest because they present a breadth of functional properties with a huge potential range of applications covering from energy harvesting to spintronics. Complex oxide thin films are usually prepared by high vacuum techniques that are complex and expensive, in contrast chemical routes are much more easy, versatile and environmentally friendly. The objective of this project is to prepare complex oxide epitaxial thin films and heterostructures by environmentally benign and energy saving aqueous precursor solutions and to investigate the suitability of these materials for energy harvesting and spintronic applications.
Keywords: Complex oxides, Physics, Materials, Spintronics
DESIGN AND PHYSICOCHEMICAL CHARACTERIZATION OF ASYMMETRIC-CURCUMINOIDS FOR SENSOR APPLICATIONS
Arántzazu González-Campo and Núria Aliaga-Alcalde, Functional Nanomaterials & Surfaces Group
Lineal and conjugated organic molecules are attractive as functional systems that can act as active components in advanced devices. In this sense, symmetric Curcuminoids (CCMoids) are great candidates with a versatile chemistry. In general, CCMoids can be used as molecular platforms capable to (i) attach to electrodes, functioning as nano-wires in nano-transistors, (ii) contact metal centers, for the creation of coordination polymers (CPs) or MOFs, and (iii) emit, depending on the functional groups that form part of the molecule studying the influence of light on their luminescent response.
Now, our next purpose is the creation of asymmetric CCMoids toward the creation of molecules that could add extra functions and therefore behave as multifunctional materials in solution, solid state and on surfaces. This project relates to the synthesis and characterization of such types of CCMoids, where the student will learn synthetic procedures as well as plenty of techniques to characterize the systems together with the study of the final properties, which aim is the use of the molecules as sensors and/or switches.
Keywords: Organic chemistry, Synthesis, Functional groups, Surfaces
PREPARATION AND IMMOBILIZATION OF RESPONSIVE MATERIALS ON SURFACES
Arántzazu González-Campo and Núria Aliaga-Alcalde, Functional Nanomaterials & Surfaces Group
Preparation of supramolecular organic frameworks based on curcumin; Curcumin and its derivatives (curcuminoids) present interesting biological properties. Moreover, there is a huge interest in the developent of new materials using curcuminoids thanks to their versatile properties. The student will study the preparation of supramolecular materials based on the interactions host-guest with curcuminoids to control their properties. Moreover, their immobilitzation on surfaces will be also explored. The student will perform synthesis of the precursors as well as the characterization of the assemblies using different techniques such as ITC, AFM, SEM and TEM
Keywords: Supramolecular organic frameworks, Curcuminoids, Chemistry
BACTERIAL CELLULOSE: AN EMERGING POLYMER WITH EXCITING APPLICATIONS
Anna Roig and Anna Laromaine, Nanoparticles & Nanocomposites Group
Bacterial nanocellulose (BNC) is produced by bacteria strains like K. xylinus. BNC is obtained as highly pure cellulose and its properties such as high water holding capacity and porosity, tunable morphology, mechanical strength, and biocompatibility make it a unique material. As a result, BNC has attracted interest in the paper and food industry, biotechnology, photonics, and optoelectronics.
Keywords: Bacterial nanocellulose, Biotechnology, Biopolymer, Materials, Applications
BIOEVALUATION OF MATERIALS ON C. ELEGANS
Anna Laromaine, Nanoparticles & Nanocomposites Group
Currently a large variety of nanomaterials and polymers exist potentially useful in medicine, food industry and cosmetics. Although mechanisms to design, produce and characterize those materials are efficient and quick, it takes 11-15 years and € 350-550 million for a product to arrive to the market. Therefore, 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. 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.
Keywords: Biology, Toxicology, Biopolymers, Nanoparticles, Biotechnology
SPIN PUMPING IN COMPLEX FUNCTIONAL OXIDES
Alberto Pomar, Advanced Characterization and Nanostructured Materials Group
Spintronics, is a potential alternative to develop a multifunctional electronics that combines logic operations, data stor:age and transmission with an improved energetic efficiency. Spin currents can be generated in different ways, one of them is spin pumping (SP) from a precessing magnetization in a ferromagnetic material. The pure spin current detection can be realized through the inverse spin Hall effect (ISHE) that transforms a pure spin current into a charge current. The interconversion spin-charge is completed by the spin Hall effect (SHE). Exploration of all these phenomena is now possible because of the high degree of sophistication reached by thin film growth techniques, allowing preparing complex oxide heterostructures with atomic-sharp interfaces.
The student will participate on the preparation and characterization of complex oxide thin films and in experiments for the generation, by spin pumping, and detection of pure spin currents in complex oxide heterostructures aimed to the implementation of spin devices.
Keywords: Spintronics, Oxides, Spin currents, Physics
FIRST-PRINCIPLES MODELING OF FLEXOELECTRICITY
Miquel Royo, Electronic Structure of Materials Group
Flexoelectricity is the ubiquitous property of insulating materials of sustaining a macroscopic polarization under a strain-gradient deformation, such as the one induced by bending. This electromechanical coupling is strongly enhanced at the nanoscale, wherein it has demonstrated great potential as the driving mechanism towards designing nano-typewriters, flexoelectronics or flexo-photovoltaics. In our group, we have developed a first-principles theoretical formalism based on the density-functional theory, and implemented it in a computational package, to calculate the key quantity in flexoelectricity, the flexoelectric tensor.
The aim of this project is to exploit this powerful tool to investigate the flexoelectric properties of entire families of materials which remain completely unexplored today. Special emphasis will be given to effects derived from nanostructuring or from phase transitions triggered by temperature or pressure changes. The student will learn how to use and develop frontier electronic-structure methods incorporated within the capabilities of ABINIT, a public software with hundreds of users among the academia and industry.
Keywords: Electronics, Flexoelectricity, Physics, Simulations, Density-functional theory, Nanostructures, Modeling
NEW MATERIALS FOR THE UPCOMING WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS
Martí Gich, Nanoparticles & Nanocomposites Group
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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