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Three ICMAB research projects receive an i-Link+ grant for International collaborations

ICMAB Researchers are collaborating with others around the world. These three projects related to energy applications will receive funding to take their research further than they could before.

17 January 2021
Leonardo Scarabelli, Mariona Coll, and Ignasi Fina, awarded i-Link+ grants
Leonardo Scarabelli, Mariona Coll, and Ignasi Fina, awarded i-Link+ grants

The i-Link+ CSIC program aims to encourage collaborative efforts between CSIC Research Groups with other International institutions in specific shared research objectives. With this program, CSIC intends to increase the competitiveness of its institutions in R+D as well as promoting its Technology Transfer, both with a strong focus in the international context. The i-Link+ projects will both strengthen already consolidated international bonds between research groups as well as create new ones. To do so, the program actively promotes seminars, meetings, and International Fellowships between the cooperating groups.

A total of 25 grants have been given in this edition, amongst which CSIC will distribute more than half a million euros. In that list of groups, we can find three different projects for ICMAB Researchers that will be collaborating with one or more international groups:

Electrocaloric effects in CMOS compatible ferroelectric oxides for cooling applications

Ignasi Fina, Florencio Sánchez, Huan Tan, and Tingfeng Song, from the Multifunctional Thin Films and Complex Structures (MULFOX) group, are joining forces with the Politecnico di Milano and the University of Cambridge to aid in the ongoing efforts in device miniaturization. They are doing so by trying to face one of the main bottlenecks in the process: heating.

As miniaturized devices become more powerful, it becomes more and more important to find solutions to dissipate the extra heat that comes with it. This team is trying to develop solid materials that can refrigerate the device using the electrocaloric effects that are very pronounced in ferroelectric materials. Ferroelectricity has been recently discovered in hafnium oxide, a CMOS compatible material, but its electrocaloric properties are yet to be investigated.

To further study the properties and applications of hafnium oxide films, Ignasi Fina’s group is pitching in their experience in ferroelectric characterization and material development. They will join the University of Cambridge’s group (UK), led by Xavier Moya, who has experience in the characterization of electrocaloric effects, and the one from Politecnico di Milano (Italy), led by Christian Rinaldi, with experience in device fabrication, in order to reduce the heating and power consumption of small devices.

NATOENER: Nanostructures with atomic precision for next generation energy harvesting devices

ICMAB researcher Mariona Coll, from the Superconducting Materials and Large Scale Nanostructures (SUMAN) Group and Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Sevilla researcher Ana Borrás are the CSIC Researchers taking part in this project. They will be collaborating with researchers from Ruhr-Bochum University, Queen Mary University of London, and CEA-LETI.

NATOENER is looking into the development of multisource energy harvesters, devices that can convert energy from a variety of sources, like solar, kinetic, and temperature. Their objective is to achieve the self-powering operation of electronic devices through multiferroic oxide materials.

Anna Borrás and Mariona Coll will focus on the synthesis of 1D-3D multishell architectures with nanoscale control from metalorganic precursors, and the team at Ruhr-Bochum University (Germany), led by Prof. Anjana Devi, will focus on the synthesis of tailor-made metalorganic precursors. The Queen Mary University of London team (UK), led by Prof. Joe Briscoe, will perform multifunctional properties characterization through methods like vibration energy harvester testing, and the one at CEA-LETI (in Grenoble, France), led by Dr. Zineb Saghi, will use Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy to perform structural characterization of the materials.

Chemically Controlled Soft Lithography for Bottom-Up Fabrication of Hybrid Plasmonic Structures: Nanoscale Precision for Energy Applications.

Leonardo Scarabelli and Agustin Mihi, from the Nanostructured Materials for Optoelectronics and Energy Harvesting (NANOPTO) Group, are involved in this project, in direct collaboration with researchers at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU), University of Chemistry and Technology (UCT), and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Their project is trying to make an impact in green technologies through the fabrication and characterization of hybrid plasmonic nanomaterials, trying to address the limitations they normally present (low colloidal stability, the need for multi-step self-assembly, and non-scalable costly lithography).

Through the development of a fully scalable methodology based on bottom-up synthesis and soft lithography, they can implement plasmonic structures directly onto funcional substrates, like transition metal dichalcogenides (TDMs), with single-particle resolution.

Their two year plan is tied to their collaboration with the other international teams. Year 1 will be developed in cooperation with the UCLA team (USA), including Prof. Paul S. Weiss and Gail A. Vinnacombe-Willson, who will help control plasmonic properties in situ, to achieve the proper adaptation of colloidal nanocrystal growth to achieve the direct synthesis of plasmonic nanostructures with well-controlled geometries directly onto polymer substrates.

Year 2 will be developed in collaboration with LMU Researchers Prof. Emiliano Cortés and Matías Herran (Germany), who will Explore hybrid materials targeting efficient hydrogen production and photovoltaics, and UCT’s Prof. Zdeněk Sofer (in Prague, Czechia), who will aid in the process of Coupling TMDs with the plasmonic nanoparticle-decorated substrates. The final objective is to identify relevant candidate materials to be interfaced, and rationally design a plasmonic system to maximize the interaction, promoting photophysical and photochemical phenome such as energy or electron transfer.

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