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Multifunctional Magnetic Materials and Nanostructures

In the 2002-2013 periods the group substantially increased its scientific output and impact in the international community. The group was able to consolidate access to international large scale facilities within international collaborations in the areas of magnetic and structural characterization (neutron and synchrotron radiation facilities, transmission microscopy), nuclear hyperfine techniques for local probe characterization, pulsed and stable extreme high-field infrastructures. The in-house experimental facilities were used thoroughly in order to produce the critical results to motivate proposals at European and USA facilities which were submitted and approved.

The main scientific achievements involve the highlight of the relative importance of spin-dependent tunneling transport in magnetic tunnel junctions, the discovery of a Griffhits-like phase in rare earth based magnetocaloric Tb5Si2Ge2 compounds and the discovery of multiferroic characteristics in charge-ordered compounds like Pr-Ca manganites. In addition the group was able to start a new local research field in the fabrication, functionalization and integration of custom-made nanoporous media for nanoscience applications. Almost perfect hexagonal lattice over large areas (~20 um2) were obtained. Membranes with pores diameter ranging from 15 nm to 100 nm and interpore distances from 50 nm to 200 nm are now routinely achieved (with thickness from ~500 nm upwards, controlled by the anodization time). The application of these templates in the fabrication of NiFe and Ni magnetic nanowires (NW) directly electrodeposited inside the pores was accomplished. Another application was on the fabrication of silica and manganite nanotubes inside the Al2Omembrane nanopores by a sol-gel method. Work regarding the bio-functionalization of both inside and outside surfaces of the nanotubes is underway. Moreover, the group is now involved in the development and study of metallic nanowire-based metamaterials, using the above bottom-up approach, and their integration in optical fibers for sensors applications. Recently, a new line on the study of magnetic nanoparticles for hyperthermia applications has emerged.

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Polarisable Materials and Magnetoelectric Nanostructures
Research activity in the “Polarisable Materials and Functional Nanostructures”  group of IFIMUP-IN was focused on a diversified study of materials with interesting magnetic, dielectric properties that made them excellent candidates for the processing and development of devices for emerging technologies. Studying those materials has given rise to further new, challenging fundamental questions, whose answers have turned out to be important in gaining better knowledge of the actual physical mechanisms, and in improving their properties with regard to their technological applications. The following topics have been addressed: competitive interactions, Proton-glass state, relaxation processes, relaxors, non-linear rotation quantum dynamics, magnetoelectric effect and multiferroicity, spin-phonon (pseudospin) coupling, ordering in crystalline soft matter, the role of spin fluctuations and hybridisation effects on the electrical properties of R-T metallics.

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Ultrafast Lasers and Magnetodynamic Spectroscopies
The group’s activities in the field of ultrafast laser science and technology are both theoretical and experimental, encompassing the development and application of novel ultrafast light sources and techniques and their application to time-resolved studies of new materials, including low-dimensional magnetic structures, at unprecedented temporal resolutions and wavelength ranges. Recent achievements include the invention of a new method for the simultaneous measurement and control of ultrashort laser pulses dubbed dispersion-scan (d-scan), the demonstration of a unique source of intense laser pulses with a perfectly stabilized phase and record durations of only 3.0 femtoseconds (single-cycle regime), the introduction of new methods for the generation of femtosecond pulses in the deep-ultraviolet range, the first demonstration of broadband ultrafast third-harmonic generation in graphene, and the development of alternative ultrafast pump-probe and high-frequency magnetodynamic techniques.

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Polarisable Materials and Magnetoelectric Nanostructures