If you are an Undergraduate or Master student and would like to conduct research in Materials Science with us, as part of your final project or as part of the curriculuar work experience internships, here are some of the projects that we offer
FABRICATION OF NANOCARBON-BASED SUPERCAPACITORS THROUGH LASER PROCESSING TECHNIQUES
The aim of the project is to fabricate high performance flexible supercapacitors based on hybrid carbon-metal oxide electrodes by means of laser irradiation methods. Electrodes composed of carbon nanotubes, graphene and metal oxide nanostructures will be obtained. The structural, compositional and functional properties of these systems will be characterized by advanced techniques (electron and scanning probe microscopies, X-ray diffractometry, X-ray photoelectron and Raman spectroscopies, cyclic voltammetry, galvanostatic charge-discharge, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, etc)
LASER SYNTHESIS OF PHOTOACTIVE NANOCOMPOSITES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL APPLICATIONS
We propose in the frame of this project to develop by laser techniques photoactive thin films consisting of transition metal oxide nanoparticles and nano-carbon materials for photocatalytic applications. The surface morphology of the obtained nanocomposite layers surface will be investigated by field emission scanning and high resolution transmission electron microscopies. The chemical composition and crystalline structure of the layers will be studied by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, micro-Raman spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, and selected area electron diffraction. The photocatalytic efficiency of the nanocomposite layers will be evaluated by monitoring the decomposition process of organic contaminants such as pharmaceuticals and organic dyes under UV and UV-visible light irradiation.
INSIGHT INTO THE ATOMIC STRUCTURE AND DEFECT CHEMISTRY OF DISLOCATIONS IN FUNCTIONAL OXIDES
Dislocations have distinct properties (magnetic, electronic, ionic) compared with their host material. Understanding what determines their properties, and eventually transforming them into active functional elements in future nanodevices, requires a deep understanding of their core structure and of the interaction of their strain field with the defect chemistry. Depending on the progress of the work, the candidate will help to design specific dislocation configurations by constructing grain boundaries, and participate in the characterization of their transport properties using local probes (conducting atomic force microscopy) and transmission electron microscopy imaging and associated spectroscopies.
In this project the student will participate in the preparation of smart materials, i.e. materials that can respond to an external stimuli, electrical, light, etc. These materials will be deposited on different type of conductive substrates and the electrical properties will be investigated. The influence of the material electronic structure change upon applying the stimulus will be studied by electrical means.
INTEGRATED FUNCTIONAL OXIDE NANOSTRUCTURES ON SILICON FOR ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL APPLICATIONS
Complex functional oxides display a wide range of properties: from colossal magnetoresistance and high-temperature superconductivity to ferroelectricity and multiferroicity. Consequently, oxides might provide a way to tackle large number of technological challenges including devices with lower energy consumption and transition to renewable sources of energy. Besides, silicon is to-date the most fundamental technological material in the electronics industry. Therefore, integrating high quality epitaxial oxide films and nanostructures on silicon is milestone towards the fabrication of a number of devices based on the functionalities of oxides combined with the traditional Si-based complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technology. The aim of this project is the growth of functional oxide nanostructures and nanowires (ZnO, BaTiO3, (Pb(Zr0.2Ti0.8)O3), La 0.7Sr0.3 MnO3,…) integrated on Si substrates by chemical solution deposition methods, for applications in thermoelectricity, piezoelectricity and solar cells. Some recent references by our group: A. Carretero-Genevrier et al., Journal of American Chemical Society 2011, 133, 4053; Chemical Communications 2012, 48, 6223; Chemical Society Reviews 2014, 43, 2042; Chemistry of Materials 2014, 26, 1019; X. Obradors et al. Chemical Society Reviews 2014, 43, 2200; J. Zabaleta et al. Nanoscale 2013, 5, 2990; APL Materials 2014, 2, 076111.
LIGHT HARVESTING BY FERROIC MATERIALS AND POLAR OXIDE HETEROSTRUCTURES
Photovoltaic devices are used to capture visible light and transform it into electricity. This requires light absorption and the presence of an electric field to drive the light-generated photocarriers towards the electrodes. Polar fields in ferroelectric materials and other polar heterostructures can efficiently contribute to this effect thus allowing to obtain large photo-induced currents. A related principle can be applied to read the information stored in ferroelectric memories, a kind of electronic memories used in some niche applications. We are growing and investigating ultrathin ferroelectric materials, only few nanometer thick, and their photoresponse. The candidate will discover the world behind this cutting edge research (the use of most advanced preparation tools, intensive electric, optic and microstructural analysis) in an international environment of young students and, may be, will be also stimulated towards the adventure of research. Some recent related works can be found at our web site: http://icmab.es/mulfox
SUSTAINABLE TRANSPARENT METALS FOR DISPLAYS AND PHOTOVOLTAICS
Displays are the most costly part of current tablets and smart telephones and some currently employed elements are expensive and rare. Therefore alternatives are required. The candidate will join a running project aiming to explore radically new routes to design and fabricate transparent metals.
We are used to charge currents and the well-known Hall effect, which is related to charge accumulation. In the same vein, during last years it has become clear that spin currents bear some similitudes to charge currents and spin Hall effects has been observed and exploited to make radically new magnetic devices. We are exploring new materials to discover spin currents and fully characterize and exploit their intriguing physics. Candidate will learn on electronic and structural measurements of thin films grown at ICMAB
In principle ferroelectric memories can be built and designed to mimic some learning aspects of neuronal networks. The candidate will learn about how to fabricate ferroelectric memories and test them with the vision to determine their potential performance.
Reversible resistive switching (RS), i.e. the change in resistance between two well-defined resistance states in a reversible manner, has been observed in several materials and, in particular, in complex oxides. This phenomenon offers a clear paradigm for the implementation of low consumption two-terminal memory devices however, in spite of the work already done several problems are still to be solved. The student will participate on the preparation of complex oxide thin films and on the study of RS phenomena by using conducting atomic force microscopy.
TUNNELING ANISOTROPIC MAGNETORESISTANCE IN COMPLEX OXIDES
Other alternative for the implementation of memory cells is the use of magnetic tunneling junctions. However, in spite of the intense work already done some technical challenges, such as the uniformity of the magnetic properties of the electrodes, the insulating barrier uniformity or the thermal stability, are still not fully resolved. The use of tunneling anisotropic magnetoresistance (TAMR) phenomena may allow surpassing these challenges because the requirement of two magnetic layers can be suppressed. The student will participate on the preparation of complex oxide thin films and on the study of TAMR phenomena by transport measurements as a function of temperature and magnetic field.
DEVELOPMENT OF NEW PROCEDURES, BASE DON COMPRESSED CO2, FOR THE PREPARATION OF BIOACTIVE-NANOVESICLE CONJUGATES WITH INTEREST IN NANOMEDICINE
The integration of therapeutic biomolecules, such as proteins and peptides, in nanovesicles is a widely used strategy to improve their stability and efficacy. However, the translation of these promising nanotherapeutics to clinical tests is still challenged by the complexity involved in the preparation of functional nanovesicles and their reproducibility, scalability, and cost production. Students choosing this topic will develop simple one-step methodologies based on the use of CO2-expanded solvents to prepare multifunctional nanovesicle-bioactive conjugates. They will investigate the vesicle to vesicle homogeneity in terms of size and lamellarity, batch-to-batch consistency, and reproducibility upon scaling-up. Importantly, the procedure is readily amenable to the integration/encapsulation of multiple components into the nanovesicles in a single step and yields sufficient quantities for clinical research. The simplicity, reproducibility, and scalability render this one-step fabrication process ideal for the rapid and low-cost translation of nanomedicine candidates from the bench to the clinic.
The project will be directed to develop multi-material nanometric particles with the aim of coupling in one particle the various functionalities provided by the different components. In addition, the opportunity of anchoring the particles in novel porous scaffolds will be investigated. The resulting systems will be studied by X-ray diffraction, particle size analysis techniques, spectroscopies, magnetometry and electron microscopies (SEM, TEM). Applications in nanomedicine or environment are envisaged.
TOWARDS SWITCHES AND RECTIFIERS: PREPARATION AND NANOSCALE STRUCTURATION OF BISTABLE DONOR-ACCEPTOR SYSTEMS
Bistability is a phenomena, that offers the possibility to switch a molecular material between two stable states upon application of an external stimulus opening the way to molecular switches and memories. The student will work with a family of D-A dyads based on bistable multifunctional system with magnetic, electric and optical properties that can be switched between two different states just by playing with the temperature, pressure or electric field, thanks to the presence of cooperative intermolecular electrostatic interactions. Performing this work the student will be able to learn about the preparation and the nanoscale structuration and characterization of D-A systems on surfaces using different techniques (Mössbauer, PM-IRRAS, AFM, XPS, Tof-SIMs, electrochemistry, etc…). Once fully characterized, the bistability phenomena will be analyzed.
ORGANIC FIELD-EFFECT TRANSISTORS: TOWARDS HIGH MOBILITY AND PROCESSABILITY
Due to technological limitations associated with the use of silicon, substantial efforts are currently devoted to developing organic electronics and, in particular, organic field-effect transistors (OFETs). Indeed, the processing characteristics of organic semiconductors make them potentially useful for electronic applications where low-cost, large area coverage and structural flexibility are required. The work here will entail the preparation and characterization of OFET devices for potential applications in large area electronics. The student will have the opportunity to handle a variety of multidisciplinary techniques (wet chemistry methods, materials characterisation, electrical measurements, etc) and join a group which is highly involved on large European projects related to organic electronics.
PURE SPIN CURRENTS: A TOGGLE FOR ENERGY-EFFICIENT CONTROL OF MAGNETIC MEMORIES
In the context of technology, a big challenge of our society is to develop low-energy consuming and efficient, computing systems, which are critically needed in health, security, transport, communication, and big data management. We aim at exploring the use of spin currents rather than charge currents, because the former do not suffer from Joule dissipation. Pure spin currents can be induced by a number of means and used to create spin accumulation at sample edges that may switch the magnetization of a neighboring magnetic layer (writing). Within this project we aim at contributing to this challenging research by exploring affordable materials, engineer devices that efficiently can produce spin currents, and demonstrate that they can be used to store and read magnetic information (data).
FROM WASTE HEAT TO ELECTRICITY USING ORGANIC THERMOELECTRICS
Heat is an ubiquous, yet untapped source of energy. Indeed, there is plenty of waste heat coming from human activities or from the sun (solar cells only use the visible and NIR part of the sun spectrum). Imagine that you could harvest a good fration of that energy using low cost carbon based materials. The aim of this project is precisely that, investigate new combinations of polymers and carbon nanotubes that will enable high thermoelectric efficiency. The student will fabricate the samples and characterize their electrical and thermal properties, with the final aim of building a proof of concept generator.
DESIGN OF AN INNOVATIVE SYSTEM TO PREPARE COATINGS OF MONOATOMIC LAYERS
The possibility to prepare new materials based on monoatomic layers has opened up a novel arena in the fabrication of materials, offering the opportunity to prepare materials that were not possible to fabricate before. The aim of this project is to design and build a new system to prepare materials based on the deposition of monoatomic layers . The student will develop a system with advanced control that will allow the combination of a wide vary of materials with high impact on the semiconducting and photovoltaic industry. The project will be carried out in a multidisicplinary group devoted to prepare materials with novel functionalities.
OPTICAL METASURFACES RESPONSIVE TO EXTERNAL STIMULI
Artificial metamaterials can exhibit extraordinary electromagnetic responses that transcend the properties of natural materials. We are currently researching confined electromagnetic modes in multifunctional metasurfaces for applications in optical communications. The metasurfaces under study incorporate magnetic or ferroelectric materials to achieve responsiveness to electrical or magnetic external fields. For the research project, the successful candidate will have access to all required laboratories, all located within ICMAB premises. In particular, he/she will access our advanced optical laboratory, which includes optical spectroscopy and high-resolution imaging tools. The student will be acquainted with state-of-the art techniques that allow real-space mapping of optical responses with diffraction limitation and with spectroscopic analysis from near-IR to near-UV frequencies. The candidate can be also trained in finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) calculations to simulate nanophotonic systems. For more information: https://gervasi-herranz.blog/
SYNTHESIS OF COORDINATION COMPOUNDS TOWARD THEIR USE IN MOLECULAR ELECTRONICS
Our research bases on the design of molecular and/or polymer systems coordinated to transition metals or lanthanides and their study on surfaces and nanodevices. Our purpose is to organize such systems on surfaces and take advantages of their luminiscent, electronic and/or magnetic behaviors at the nanoscale to acchieve reliable molecular components for electronic devices as for example detectors. Students will learn different synthetic methodologies and characterization techniques (to identify the final compounds) including standard (IR, NMR, UV-Vis) as well as specialized techniques (electrochemistry, fluorescence, magnetic experiments) together with surface deposition techniques (soft lithography) and characterization of the samples on the substrates (SEM, TEM, AFM).
PREPARATION OF NANOSTRUCTURED POROUS MATERALS USING COMPRESSED FLUIDS
Porous materials are very important materials in several high impact sectors (aerospace, automotive, and biomedical) due to their lightweight structure, mechanical endurance, and biomimetic properties. In this project the candidate will work in the synthesis and characterisation of either Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) or Graphene noxide (GO) aerogels using a sustainable technology based in supercritical CO2.
The FLOWBAT network, supported by the Spanish Research Council (CSIC), is developing flow battery technology for large scale energy storage. The ICMAB team is looking for a Postdoctoral Researcher on flow battery electrolytes.
The Superconducting Materials and Large Scale Nanostructures (SUMAN) group and the University of Girona are looking for a PhD candidate for a project on "Advanced thermal analysis characterization towards ultrafast film growth" in the framework of the ERC Adv. ULTRASUPERTAPE project.
If you would like to come to ICMAB with a Ramón y Cajal Tenure Contract or Juan de la Cierva Postdoctoral Grant (Training or Incorporation) from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation, please take a look at the calls that are open from mid December 2020 until mid January 2021, and contact our researchers to be a candidate!