The central activity of the group is directed towards epitaxial film growth and properties of complex oxide materials. We address this activity from the process, properties and device perspective. We are specialized in low cost chemical synthesis of epitaxial film growth, namely chemical solution deposition, including metalorganic decomposition and polymer assisted deposition (PAD), Atomic layer deposition (ALD) and synthesis of nanoparticles from solvothermal synthesis using thermal, microwave and autoclave synthesis. We are guided by the fundamental knowledge on materials and science and we are presently investigating the physical phenomena of novel vortex pinning and defect engineering in superconducting films, Resistive Switching in oxide perovskite Mott insulators, ferromagnetic tunnel barriers and ferroelectric perovskite oxides for photovoltaics. Our strong expertise in growth methods, advanced physical properties, Electron Transmission Microscopy, XPS, SPM and advanced XRD have been fundamental for getting consolidated internationally.
We visualize our activity with a knowledge transfer approach, therefore we are prompt to utilize low cost screening techniques also for deposition (ink jet printing with combinatorial chemistry). In 2010, the group created a spin-off company, OXOLUTIA S.L., now participated by La Farga and Victoria Venture Capital, with the mission to develop scalable continuous processes for the deposition and growth of superconducting tapes and printable oxides. At present, Dr. Albert Calleja (a previous RyC member of our group) is the CEO and two former Doctorates from the group are leading the technological actions. Finally, we close the cycle with an important activity in materials integration into devices in collaboration with external engineering groups and industries.The prime research line of the group, and the one with most funding, is still that on high temperature superconductors, addressed towards the scientific challenge SC1: Nanocomposite HTS Coated Conductors for Energy Efficiency, where we are international leaders in the growth of superconducting nanocomposite films through chemical solution deposition methods, and vortex pinning understanding and correlation with (nano)microstructure. This activity has raised by its own, in the last 5, years 9 M€ (including a FP7 large integrating project EUROTAPES, H2020 ERC Adv Grant, H2020 collaborative project FASTGRID, CERN collaborative project, 2 MINECO RTC industrial projects). Nowadays this research is the core of one of the 5 research lines of the SEVERO OCHOA action of ICMAB and we are recognized worldwide leaders in the field. We have established several international collaborations, and we are common users at Synchrotron facilities and High magnetic field installations. We have collaborated with Bruker GmbH, Nexans, Theva, D-Nano, Gamesa, Chimigraf, La Farga, Endesa, in the integration of high temperature superconducting materials into devices (high power cables, fault current limiter, wind generators, …). We also are presently active in a collaborative project with CERN together with ALBA, IFAE and UPC for the study of integrating HTS materials in future high energy circular accelerators, and we are involved in Fusion Reactors, through the EUROFUSION actions. In addition, we participate in European associations and forums as European Energy Research Alliance (EERA) and European Fusion Development Agreement (EFDA).
During the last 5 years, the group expanded to other oxide functional materials where chemical solution deposition methods could bring innovation. This is addressed in our second challenge SC2: Oxide perovskite films for Green Oxide electronics, where the full knowledge acquired by the group is directed to innovative approaches on RRAM, MRAM, fluxonics and photovoltaics using complex oxides with Mott insulator, ferromagnetic, superconducting, ferroelectric properties. This action was funded partially by 2 national projects from the Materials program (1M€) and was also included in the ICMAB strategic actions, SEVERO OCHOA- FUNMAT 2016-2019 coordinated by Prof. X. Obradors (member of this group) with an overall funding of 4 M€. We have been able to boost innovation and excellence in this new area due to our complementary expertise in Chemical solution deposition, PAD, ALD growth processes and fundamental knowledge on functional oxides, as exemplified with our publications in the field. In the more applied research we have a collaboration with ETSE-UAB, and the Optoelectronics group of ICMAB