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Thematic Vectors

Quantum Materials 

With the first thematic vector on Quantum Materials, IFIMUP aligns its strategy with the EU new flagship project to promote quantum technologies (QT) over the next decade. In this respect, IFIMUP, in collaboration with UM and INL, is instituting the new QuantLAb, a CoLab initiative, to prepare for the newest EU flagship program.

Profiting from IFIMUP expertise in strongly correlated electron systems, and facilities in magnetic, electronic, structural and ultrafast dynamics techniques, such action is seen as a natural pathway. Our research embraces two main activities:

Strongly correlated systems for room temperature cross coupling effects

Tailoring physical properties and symmetry in strongly correlated electron systems aiming to induce/explore new states of matter. Our strategy relies on:

-adjusting oxygen octahedra distortions to create acentricity in layered perovskites enabling room temperature multiferroic phases with high magnetoelectric coupling or negative thermal expansion (NTE);

-creating spatially-selective defects by ion irradiation, towards photonic/phononic structures and metamaterials using magnetic/polar Mott insulators;

-using ultrafast laser pulses to induce and control metal-insulator phase transitions, melt charge/orbital ordering and band-gap control;

-nanostructuring R-Si-Ge and Heusler ternary compounds (R=rare earth) to tailor large magnetostriction/magnetocaloric and shape memory effects or NTE.

Low-dimensional electronic/magnetic systems

We intend to develop and improve the necessary tools and know-how to produce and study low dimensional systems and contribute to a new paradigm of magnetic/electronic systems using quantum degrees of freedom.

Here, Van der Waals (vdW) hetero-structuring and magnetic nanopatterning will be platforms for such new device concepts. In particular we will focus on Berry phases and topological non-trivial spin textures, by studying and exploring:

-skyrmions and their arrays in 3d magnetic metals, at room temperature and zero magnetic field;

-higher order vortex gyrotropic modes in nanopatterned elements as the next generation spin-torque oscillators.

-development of a ultrafast pulse measurement and control device using the high conversion nonlinear third-harmonic generation in graphene or vdW coatings, as proposed in a recently approved EU project.

Advanced Energy Materials

The second thematic vector on Advanced Energy Materials directly engages the Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy societal challenge. One aims to develop disruptive technologies to harvest environmental (thermal, triboelectric and solar) energy, which will be key for the ongoing Internet of Things (IoT) revolution. On this, IFIMUP further aligns with regional and national economy-needs, collaborating with both Portuguese and World companies.

We aim to deepen the Institute’s engagement towards Secure, Clean and Efficient Energy, embracing two main activities:

Energy harvesting systems in remote and harsh environments

Based on the recent development of the energy harvesting (EH) field at IFIMUP and our expertise on extreme conditions, we will develop novel EH-concepts based on triboelectric and thermoelectric devices working in remote and harsh conditions aiming to place IFIMUP as a mature international player in the field. We will particularly target the water, combusting and oil & gas industries, following the close links secured with regional (Lipor, Waters of Porto) and international (Repsol) companies. Our strategy relies on:

-the development of novel triboelectric solutions for harsh environments (T>200ºC and pressure up to 700 bar), as Triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) offer power densities above 500 W/m2 at room temperature.

-implementation of TENGs for wireless energy transference. Wireless power delivery is critical for IoT applications where the harvested power is not sufficient to feed devices and where battery replacement is impossible.

-production of novel thermoelectric (TE) nanomaterials to work at high temperature (up to 600 ºC) based on oxide thin films and nanoparticles, using screen printing. Phononic confinement to increase the TE-figure of merit is foreseen.

-assembling self-powered sensing systems, using the produced EH modules and maximum power point tracking circuits to send data wireless for the Industrial IoT.

-demonstrating the developed technologies at an industrial level. Transference of the developed technology to the industrial sector.

Integration of plasmonic and concentration systems in photovoltaic cells

Photovoltaics is a promising technology for large-scale electrical generation, fostering efforts to develop new low cost devices with high efficiency. Plasmonic energy conversion using both localized surface plasmons and surface plasmon polaritons concentrates and guides light into the semiconducting layer, enhancing the solar-cell efficiency.

Profiting from IFIMUPs expertise on the preparation and characterization of efficient and stable photoanodes for solar cells, a new generation of photoanodes integrating nanoplasmonic materials will be developed. Our strategy relies on:

-developing novel plasmonic and magneto-plasmonic nanostructured materials with controlled and tunable behaviors, using sustainable materials such as Al, Cu and/or core-shell metal/oxide.

-photoanode Integration of plasmonic and magnetoplasmonic materials, offering a new kind of plasmonic based solar-cell with enhanced performance and active plasmonic devices.

Vibrational and ultra-fast laser spectroscopies for Biomedicine

The third thematic vector is an opportunity to commit to Health and Life Sciences, supported from strong in-house expertise in molecular vibration, GHz spectroscopies and Ultrafast lasers allied with experience in drug delivery magnetic liposome nanocarriers, cancer detection through Raman spectroscopy and the increasing number of MSc/ PhD Medical Physics students. The participation in Raman4Clinics, Biobrillouin, and MAGNAMED EU networks further supports this action.

Spectroscopic techniques are being extensively applied in Biomedicine due to their sensibility to cancer cells and biomarkers. This research vector will profit from IFIMUP’s expertise aiming to develop three complementary spectroscopy techniques for biomedicine applications: i) stimulated Raman Spectroscopy (RS) with highly increased acquisition speeds compatible with present clinical practices; ii) Brillouin Scattering Spectroscopy (BSS) to probe mechanical properties in the GHz range, offering a new spectral window to study biomechanical processes; iii) Broad spectrum and high-peak power few-cycle (7 fs) lasers for real-time and multi-labeled fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy measurements. Our strategy relies on:

- implementing fast-stimulated Raman system using ultrafast lasers yielding very low acquisition times and fluorescence filtering, allowing normal/malignant tissue contrast and spotting other diseases, e.g. Alzheimer; developing a photonic crystal fiber endoscope coupled to a Raman system to detect digestive and lung cancer;

- performing studies on pathological samples to achieve the practical feasibility and reproducibility of BSS for effective diagnosis in diverse medical conditions, namely in the non-invasive early diagnosis of various cancers and neurodegenerative diseases.

- improving few-cycle lasers, using d-scan-method, for easy transport and use in multiple medical setups. Use broadband excitation of both endogenous and markers to denote the metabolic state of living cells when exposed to anti-cancer drugs and drug delivery nanoparticles, towards therapeutic agents in real-time;

- combining plasmonic nanoparticles (PNP) with Raman and ultrafast lasers spectroscopies for surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy and photothermal therapy, respectively. PNP will use core-shell metal/oxide sustainable materials.