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Research Projects

Biomorphic materials for energy storage (BioMatStor)




Research head: Joaquín Ramírez Rico
Period: 05-10-2021 / 31-12-2022
Financial source: Junta de Andalucía
Code: P20_011860 - PAIDI 2020
Research group: María Dolores Alba Carranza, Alfonso Bravo León, Manuel Jiménez Melendo, Esperanza Pavón González

Abstract [+]

Biomass derived carbon materials will play a key role in several energy conversion and storage technologies in the future, with application in supercapacitors and batteries, power-to-X systems (fuel cells and electrolyzers), CO2 and H2 storage. Large amounts of biomass waste are generated in local agrofood industries. Among these wastes, the overall estimated production of olive stones in Spain is approximately 1,050,000–1,400,000 tons per year (campaign of 2017). The main use of this byproduct has been as solid biofuel for domestic applications, but given its abundance and low cost, this project presents an opportunity to convert what is considered waste into an added value product.

This proposal’s main objective is to develop tailored carbon materials for applications related to energy and environmental technologies, with a focus on three main applications: i) electrochemical energy storage; ii) catalyst supports in fuel cells and electrolyzers; iii) and gas storage and capture, with a focus on both hydrogen and carbon dioxide storage and separation processes. The main proposed synthesis approach for these materials will be the pyrolysis of biomass precursors, with a focus on biomass waste products such as grain husks, peels, pits and stones and other organic waste. A first objective will be to perform a survey of readily available biomass waste materials from regional agrofood industries. A second objective will be the investigation and optimization of pyrolysis and activation routes to obtain carbon materials with tailored properties for each of the applications targeted in this project. Lastly, a third objective is to assess the applicability and the potential for the application of these materials at commercial scale.

Extensive physical and chemical characterization of the obtained carbon materials will be performed and testing of the resulting materials for the targeted applications will allow us to tailor the processing parameters. A scale-up analysis, with definition of materials integration and systems configurations will be performed by means of simulations, as well as technological and industrial applicability evaluation and assessment of the feasibility of the proposed approach in the large scale. BioMatStor develops R&D at different levels of application: fundamental for materials science characterization and manufacturing, and applied science for energy storage systems modeling and characterization. This Project combines Materials Science and Energy Engineering with the goal of obtaining highly performing materials for a wide range of applications in energy production and storage. Such a proposal requires a multidisciplinary approach, as evidenced in the research team and collaborators. We propose a multidisciplinary approach which has its foundation in scientific excellence, responds to societal challenges and may result in a significant technology transfer to the industry. This project also addresses the socio-strategic goals of Horizon 2020 as it aims to contribute to the improvement of our environment through advanced science and multidisciplinary research. It is fully aligned with the objectives and policies of European Union, the Energy Union Energy, H2020, SET Plan and Andalucía region RIS3 objectives.


Biomass for DEsalination via CApacitive Deionization and Energy Storage, “BioDECADES”




Research head: Joaquín Ramírez Rico
Period: 01-01-2022 / 31-12-2022
Financial source: Junta de Andalucía
Code: US-1380856
Research group: Alfonso Bravo León, Manuel Jiménez Melendo, Julián Martínez Fernández

Abstract [+]

Water resources, global warming and the decline of fossil fuels are three of the main challenges that we as a society will have to address in the next decade. Solutions to these challenges rely on the development of new technologies that allow the efficient use and reuse of water resources, as well as on new, high power and high energy density storage systems to be coupled with renewable sources. These two seemingly unrelated topics currently rely on one technology: carbon adsorbents and electrodes. Both desalination and purification systems as well as supercapacitors and batteries use materials that are based on carbon, their structure modified through physical and/or chemical processes.  Biomass is a cheap, widely available precursor for carbon materials, which can be obtained by pyrolysis. Both the choice of biomass as well as the actual process will determine the final properties of the carbon electrode, which can be tailored for targeted applications.
Capacitive deionization (CDI) is an emerging desalination technology with tunable salt removal levels, that uses a small voltage applied across two carbon electrodes to remove ions from solution by means of Electrosorption. The small amount of energy required means that such a system can be powered by a solar panel, making this technology useful in portable and deployable systems.  Supercapacitors and batteries also rely on adsorption and/or intercalation mechanisms to store electric charge, in a process that is essentially the same but with a different final target as CDI. Both technologies rely on the use of carbon electrodes, with properties and structure tailored to each of the applications.
This proposal’s main objective is to use biomass residue as a precursor to develop tailored carbon electrodes for electrochemical applications related to energy and environmental technologies, with a focus on two main applications: energy storage in supercapacitor systems and batteries, and desalination via CDI. The main proposed synthesis approach for this electrodes will be the pyrolysis of biomass precursors, with a focus on biomass waste products such as grain husks, peels, pits and stones and other organic waste. In the case of monolithic electrodes, wood and wood-derived fiberboards will be the main focus. Chemical methods will be developed to functionalize the resulting carbons, to improve their capacitance or ion selectivity.
We will build a CDI testing rig to determine desalination behavior, and to correlate this with microscopic information obtained from advanced techniques such as electron microscopy, total scattering diffraction experiments, nitrogen adsorption isotherm, and others. We will test the electrochemical energy storage behavior and correlate it with structural properties and processing conditions. Our goal will be to optimize carbon electrodes derived from biomass for targeted applications, and to develop a menu of biomass derived carbon materials.


Design of advanced CataLyst for H2-free hydrodeoxygenation - a rEVolutionary approach Enabling pRactical BIOmass upgrading: CLEVER-BIO




Research head: Tomás Ramírez Reina
Period: 05-10-2021 / 31-12-2022
Financial source: Junta de Andalucía
Code: P20_00667
Research group: Luis Francisco Bobadilla Baladrón, José Antonio Odriozola Gordón, Laura Pastor Pérez, Anna Dimitrova Penkova

Abstract [+]

CLEVER-BIO proposes a revolutionary approach to synergise bio-oil upgrading and Green House Gases (GHG) emissions abatement, setting the grounds for a sustainable chemical technology: waste to fuels/chemicals. We aim to develop novel biomass-derived routes to produce deoxygenated aromatic hydrocarbons – highly important chemical compounds in the biofuels and biochemical industries – from lignin-derived bio-oil via designing of advanced catalysts for the H2-free hydrodeoxygenation (HDO) process. The urgent problem of global warming and the need to decarbonise the transportation and chemical industry in a circular economy context place CLEVER-BIO in a privileged position to become a pioneering approach to contribute towards the development of sustainable societies. CLEVER-BIO will be delivered in 24 months under a comprehensive research program with strong international cooperation and social-scientific impact


Design of highly efficient photocatalysts by nanoscale control for H2 production NanoLight2H2




Research head: Gerardo Colón Ibañez
Period: 05-10-2021 / 31-12-2022
Financial source: Junta de Andalucía
Code: P20-00156 - PAIDI 2020
Research group: Alfonso Caballero Martínez, Rosa Pereñiguez Rodríguez, Juan Pedro Holgado Vázquez

Abstract [+]

The main objective of this project is the development of heterostructured catalysts based on highly efficient semiconducting oxides (Nb2O5, WO3, TiO2 and Fe2O3) and g-C3N4, with control at the nanoscale level, and potential application in the photoreforming reaction of alcohols for the production of H2.  Furthermore, the aim of this project is to study the optimisation of the catalytic process by means of a multi-catalytic approach, combining thermocatalysis and photocatalysis. The photocatalytic production of H2 is a reaction of great interest from an energetic point of view through the use of a clean and sustainable technology such as photocatalysis. We will try to develop highly efficient systems for hydrogen production. Special attention will be paid to the design of heterostructures that allow the optimisation of the photoinduced process. Likewise, emphasis will be placed on the use of alternative co-catalysts to the traditional noble metals; systems based on transition metals (Cu, Co, Ni), as well as bimetallic structures with noble metals formed into alloys or core-shell. Together with the liquid phase photocatalytic process, the feasibility of a gas phase photoreforming process will be studied, based on recent studies that show the synergistic effect of a photo-thermo-catalytic approach in these processes. In this way, this proposal aims to ambitiously address the increase in efficiency of the photocatalytic process in order to be able to consider this technology on a larger scale. In this sense, in addition to the optimisation studies of the catalysts and the photocatalytic process, its scaling up to a pilot solar plant will be considered as essential.


Gasification and ENergy Integration for User Sustainability (GENIUS)




Research head: José Antonio Odriozola Gordón
Period: 05-10-2021 / 31-12-2022
Financial source: Junta de Andalucía
Code: P20_00594
Research group: Luis Francisco Bobadilla Baladrón, Laura Pastor Pérez, Anna Dimitrova Penkova, Tomás Ramírez Reina

Abstract [+]

GENIUS proposes an innovative approach to transform biogenic residues into a valuable bioenergy carrier. The proposal is based on the combination of modified mature technologies, e.g. gasification, with first-time approached solutions as the continuous aqueous-phase reforming of tars that compromises downstream processes, usually the bottlenecks for upgrading catalytic processes.
The combination of microchannel reactor technologies with state-of-the-art multifunctional catalysts will provide a path to increase the wealth of rural communities on proposing a decentralized approach allowing territory-based solutions for agricultural residues or marginal lands production.
ENIUS focus in the system perspective demanded in HORIZON EUROPE keeping in mind the Objectives for Sustainable Development and industry decarbonisation. GENIUS will be delivered in 24 months under a comprehensive research program with strong international cooperation and social-scientific impact


Integrated nanoscopies and spectroscopies for the analysis of novel functional materials at the nano-scale




Research head: Asunción Fernández Camacho
Period: 05-10-2021 / 31-12-2022
Financial source: Junta de Andalucía
Code: P20_00239 - PAIDI 2020
Research group: M. Carmen Jiménez de Haro

Abstract [+]

The current development of nanomaterials and functional materials in general, as well as their nanotechnological applications, are determined to a large extent by the current capacities on  the characterization of microstructure, composition and even properties of the materials at the nano-scale. The project is proposed to promote an innovative research in the microstructural characterization of materials. The nanoscopic and spectroscopic techniques linked to the electron microscopes (electron beam probe), will be integrated together with techniques associated with photon beam (X-rays) and ion beam (IBA techniques) probes. This characterization will be associated with selected functional materials, also within advanced research lines of high current interest, in the topic of coatings and thin films in which the work team has strong experience.

The development and application of the available techniques with multiple probes will be a first central objective, both in the ICMS and in other centers of the Universities of Seville (CITIUS, CNA) and Cádiz (TEM central services). Likewise, through collaborations and measurement time applications, access to other international facilities will be achieved. In the project, selected materials will be available in two emerging technologies: i) Nanoporous  thin films and coatings that stabilize gases at ultra-high density and pressure. ii) Catalysts for hydrogen storage and on demand hydrogen generation through the use of liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHCs). The advanced characterization proposed in the nano-scale will contribute to the fundamental understanding of the synthesis-microstructure-properties relationships with the final objective of achieving a rational design of new functional materials in the selected priority lines. The project has a direct impact on enabling or emerging technologies such as "nanotechnology" and "advanced materials", as well as on the Andalusian societal challenges and RIS3 objectives in relation to the storage of renewable energies "Topic: Hydrogen and fuel cells".


New multimodal contrast agents for medical diagnostic imaging




Research head: Ana Isabel Becerro Nieto
Period: 05-10-2021 / 31-12-2022
Financial source: Junta de Andalucía
Code: P20_00182 - PAIDI 2020
Research group: Manuel Ocaña Jurado, Nuria O. Nuñez Alvarez, María Luis García Martín

Abstract [+]

The project aims to design multimodal contrast agents (CAs) for medical diagnostic imaging. The CAs will consist of lanthanide-based inorganic nanoparticles with properties suitable for different bioimaging techniques. The CAs developed will allow obtaining a more rigorous medical diagnosis without the need to inject the patient with several technique-specific CAs. An additional advantage of the proposed probes over commercial CAs is that they allow control of the residence time in the body and their biodistribution, and thus reduce the doses needed, resulting in a clear benefit for the patient. Specifically, dual magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) CAs will be developed with additional functionality as contrast agents for X-ray computed tomography (CT) and luminescence imaging in the near-infrared (NIR) region known as the biological window (650-1800 nm), where radiation is not harmful to tissues and has high tissue penetration power. Several compositions will be tested: phosphates, vanadates, molybdates, and volframates of lanthanide elements such as Gd, Dy, and Ho, which will provide the magnetic functionality and whose high atomic number is optimal for CT. Doping all of them with Nd3+ will allow luminescent imaging in the NIR. The applicability of these probes to medical imaging will be explored by in vivo imaging in mice.


NIR Optofluidic device for liquid analysis




Research head: Francisco Yubero Valencia
Period: 01-12-2021 / 30-11-2023
Financial source: Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación
Code: PDC2021-121379-I00 - Proyectos I+D+i "Prueba de Concepto"
Research group: Juan Pedro Espinós Manzorro, Ramón González García, Victor J. Rico Gavira, Agustín R. González-Elipe

Abstract [+]

NIRFLOW is a R+D+i Project for the realization of a Proof of Concept in which it is aimed to develop a pre-commercial prototype for the optical analysis in the near infrared of fluids in flow conditions in relevant industrial environments. The project is based on several innovations that are not implemented in conventional NIR apparatus in the market so far. First, to substitute the conventional NIR optics mainly operated by spectrometers based on diffraction gratings or Fourier optics by a selection of the wavelength of analysis based on combinations of continuously variable short and long pass filters designed to tune a NIR passband (regarding center and width). Second, to develop an optofluidic cell, operated in transflectance mode, characterized by a tunable optical pathlength to optimize the info obtained by the different overtones of the characteristic molecules present in the fluid under analysis. This innovation will offer the possibility of more robust statistical analysis than conventional NIR spectroscopy operated with single optical pathlength. Finally, the prototype will be developed within a microfluidic approach with automate analysis concept, for its operation within a wireless remote technology. This three innovations make NIRFLOW a R&D+i project in which part of the knowledge and one of the developments done in previous research project from the Spanish Plan Estatal (MAT2016-79866-R), partially protected by a patent claim, is aimed to be transferred to the society through the development of a precomercial prototype that showed ability of analysis in industrial operational environments, in particular to follow the evolution of fermentation processes linked to wine production.


Validation in a relevant environment of solar-calcination/carbonation reactions for thermal energy storage




Research head: Luis A. Pérez Maqueda y Pedro Enrique Sánchez Jiménez
Period: 01-12-2021 / 30-11-2023
Financial source: Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación
Code: PDC2021-121552-C21 - Proyectos I+D+i "Prueba de Concepto"
Research group:

Abstract [+]

Spain is one the European countries with the largest solar irradiation and world leader in concentrated solar power (CSP). A significant advantage of CSP technology is its ability to store thermal energy to be used when there is no irradiation. Last generation CSP plants include a storage system based on molten salts (Sensible Heat Storage) that show certain limitations: maximum temperature limited by thermal degradation, storage at high temperature to prevent solidification, corrosion, costs. In our CTQ2017 project we investigated on thermochemical energy storage by calcination (carbonation reactions, calcium looping (CaL) process, using limestone, which is abundant, cheap, non-corrosive, and allows high temperature operation, increasing the thermoelectric efficiency of the plant. Its energy density (~1 MWhr/m3) is larger than that of salts (0.25-0.40 MWhr/m3). A limitation of CaLfor energy storage is the deactivation of CaO with the increasing number of cycles. In our project CTQ20, we proposed several imporvement strategies for achiving high performance: (i) change of calcination/carbonation conditions (calcination temperature decrease and carbonation temperature increase) and (ii) proposal of other carbonates different from limestone, use of additives, use of wastematerials (slags) and low-cost synthetic materials. These lab results are of great interest for its application in CSP, but it requires of validation in a relevant environment. In this project we propose the scale up of the lab results by tests in a pilot plant, the test of a new solar calcinator and the evaluation of the technical-economic feasibility of the technology on an industrial scale. Furthermore, a proof of concept of a novel solar power based cyclone type heat exchanger/reactor will be achive within the project. The concentrated solar radiation will reach the cyclone-type solar calciner through a beam-down system (secondary solar concentrator) from the solar field, made up of 14 heliostats with a total area of 30 m2 from the pilot plant built within the framework of the H2020 SOCRATCES project, in which most of the members of the research team of the coordinated project have participated. The study and development of this proof of concept will make it possible to establish the viability of the design and demonstrate their interest to companies in the energy and cement sectors with a view to a future integration of solar energy in search of a reduction in costs and CO2 emissions. It is based on studies at the concept level developed in the CTQ2017 project with a level of technological maturity TRL 4, and it is estimated that it will advance to levels TRL 5-6. An analysis of the economic viability of the implementation of the new concepts proposed in the framework of the CTQ2017 project will be carried out and a transfer plan will be drawn up. This plan will include the actions to be carried out to favor an effective transfer to the industrial sector. In addition, given the potential for patentability of the technology object of the project, once tested on a relevant scale (proof of concept), a plan for the exploitation and protection of intellectual rights will be developed


Atmospheric Pressure Gliding-Arc Plasmas for Sustainable Applications [FIREBOW]




Research head: Ana María Gómez Ramírez
Period: 01-09-2021 / 31-08-2024
Financial source: Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación
Code: PID2020-114270RA-I00 - Proyectos I+D+i "Retos Investigación"
Research group: José Javier Brey Sánchez (US), José Cotrino Bautista, Paula de Navascués Garvín, Manuel Oliva Ramírez, Antonio Rodero Serrano (US)

Abstract [+]

The need to promote an effective transition from an economy based on the intensive use of fossil fuels to another where the development criteria are based on sustainable processes that do not involve the generation of CO2 makes it necessary to develop new processes using the electricity generated from renewable sources as primary source of energy. The project "Atmospheric Pressure Gliding-Arc Plasmas for Sustainable Applications", FIREBOW hereinafter, aims at developing atmospheric plasma technologies that use electricity as a direct energy vector to induce chemical processes that are currently carried out through catalytic techniques (i.e., at high pressures and temperatures, with low yields and harmful by-products). Specifically, FIREBOW pursues the development of a Gliding Arc Atmospheric Plasma reactor (GA) to induce three processes of great industrial and environmental impact, such as the synthesis of ammonia (NH3), the production of hydrogen (H2) and the decontamination of water. Ammonia is the main source to produce fertilizers, which are used in agriculture with an increasing demand according to the increasingly higher needs of foods at global scale. In the case of hydrogen, it is well-known that the path to an economy based on this fuel is one of the challenges of the 21st century. Research in novel techniques for water purification is also increasingly necessary, due to its scarcity and the increase in emergent contaminants, polluting substances such as pesticides, compounds derived from the pharmaceutical and chemical industry, microorganisms and even personal hygiene products that conventional methods are unable to remove completely. FIREBOW proposes, in a first stage, to develop the GA technology through the design, construction, modelling and commissioning of a GA reactor. Possible modifications on the current GA reactors will be explored, considering the effect of the incorporation of piezoelectric materials to induce phenomena of secondary emission of electrons, the modification of the electrode surface materials or the geometry of the system in order to improve the performance of the analysed processes with respect to the current state of the art. The complexity of the basic mechanisms involved in this type of reactors will require a fundamental study of their electrical response and the phenomena of mass and charge transport, as well as an exhaustive characterization and diagnosis of the plasma as a function of operating parameters such as gas flow, interaction between excited species, residence time and other basic operating conditions. Both the experimental and theoretical characterization of the reactor, the latter carried out using computational methods, will be crucial for its correct operation and for the optimization of the proposed processes. In a second stage, the study of the reactions to obtain H2 and NH3 will be approached, with the aim of maximizing the energy efficiency, as well as that for the case of the purification of water. The scientific-technological developments proposed in FIREBOW are of the outmost interest to different socio-economic sectors and in the project they are considered knowledge-transfer actions to companies and entities that have already shown their interest in the proposal.


CO2 recovery through catalytic and thermophotocatalytic processes: reduction of emissions and obtaining methane and other light hydrocarbons (CO2MET)




Research head: Alfonso Caballero Martínez y Gerardo Colón Ibáñez
Period: 01-09-2021 / 31-08-2024
Financial source: Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación
Code: PID2020-119946RB-I00
Research group: Juan Pedro Holgado Vázquez y Rosa María Pereñiguez Rodríguez

Abstract [+]

This project will carry out various studies and developments related to the CO2 hydrogenation reaction for Synthetic Natural Gas (SNG) and light hydrocarbons production. Thus, methanation and the so-called modified Fischer-Tropsch to olefins (FTO) reactions are becoming very interesting processes under an economic, energy and environmental point of view. Furthermore, the use of green hydrogen as a reducing agent, obtained in turn from renewable sources, represents, in addition to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, a way of storing energy from renewable sources, many of which are intermittent and therefore difficult to match with consumption needs.
With all this in mind, this project pursues a multi-catalytic approach comprising thermal-catalysis and thermal photocatalysis in order to achieve high performances, high sustainability and with the lowest costs of production, oriented in all case to a final industrial application. On the other hand, development and optimization of the catalytic materials, considering new heterogeneous catalytic systems based on Ni, Fe, Co, Ru, Au, Pd among other metals, which have shown great potential for this hydrogenation reactions in recent years. Regarding to the catalytic materials, micro and mesoporous supports of variable composition (zeolites, SBA-15, etc.) will be selected, as well as others based on oxides and ABO3 perovskites. For this purpose, a series of recently described preparation techniques will be used (microwave crystallization, autocombustion process, mesostructuring by nanocasting and hierarchical porosity) that allow to obtain high specific surface systems and controlled nanostructure. The combination of different elements in positions A and B of the perovskite structure, which act both as promoters of catalytic systems and as precursors of metal alloys in reduced catalytic systems, will make it possible to obtain materials with tunable, highly varied and versatile catalytic properties.


Formic acid as energetic vector: from biomass to green hydrogen




Research head: Miguel Angel Centeno Gallego y Svetlana Ivanova
Period: 01-09-2021 / 31-08-2024
Financial source: Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación
Code: PID2020-113809RB-C32 - Proyectos I+D+i "Retos Investigación"
Research group: Leidy Marcela Martínez Tejada, María Isabel Domínguez Leal

Abstract [+]

This project is part of the ENERCATH2 coordinated project that aims to integrate a multi reaction catalytic strategy for green-hydrogen and energy related vectors production and use from biomass in order to contribute to the development of sustainable energy technologies that replace current ones derived from fossil sources. Specifically, ICMS project focuses on the production of formic acid as hydrogen related vector Formic acid is a liquid chemical compound with a high gravimetric energy density, which can be safely stored, transported and manipulated using existing hydrocarbon distribution infrastructure.

The main objective of the project is formic acid generation from lignocellulosic biomass and its subsequent dehydrogenation to green hydrogen. For this purpose, it will be intended to develop a series of novel catalysts, preferably based on biomass-derived carbons and/or on non-noble transition metals (V, Ni, Cu, Co etc), active, selective and stable for i) direct and selective oxidation of lignocellulosic biomass, using glucose as representing molecule, either towards the massive production of formic acid, or towards the production of a mixture of formic and co-product levulinic acid, which serves as a starting point for the generation of intermediate platform products and commodities of industrial interest in the production of fuels and polymers and for ii) the dehydrogenation of formic acid, both in liquid and gas phase, for the production of CO-free hydrogen streams.

After the stages of preparation-functionalization and reaction, the catalysts will be structurally and chemically characterized using a wide variety of techniques available by the whole consortium (XRD, XPS, SEM, HRTEM, Raman, DRIFTS, TPR/TPD, TGA, UV-Vis, Textural Analysis). These results, in addition to the in-situ/operando DRIFTS and ATR spectroscopic ones will give us fundamental information of the reaction mechanisms, allowing to establish structure-activity relationships for the studied reactions. The knowledge of these relationships will contribute to the understanding and optimization of the designed catalysts, and the catalytic process involved on the production of sustainable energy vectors proposed in the project.


Nucleation and growth mechanisms on piezoelectric surfaces under acoustic excitation in plasma/vacuum environments




Research head: Alberto Palmero Acebedo
Period: 01-09-2021 / 31-08-2024
Financial source: Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación
Code: PID2020-112620GB-I00 - Proyectos I+D+i "Generación de Conocimiento"
Research group: Rafael Alvarez Molina, Victor J. Rico Gavira, Agustín R. González-Elipe

Abstract [+]

This project aims at studying atomic nucleation and thin film growth phenomena on piezoelectric surfaces under acoustic excitation in vacuum/plasma environments. Piezoelectric materials are characterized by a non-zero polarization vector when subjected to mechanical deformation and the reverse, a mechanical deformation when subjected to an electrical excitation. While piezoelectric surfaces under acoustic excitation are being used for numerous applications, e.g. raindrop sensors, touch-sensitive screens, or handling of liquids at the microscale, among others, a systematic survey of the literature reveals that only a seminal work published by the research team addresses the effect of acoustic waves in nucleation and growth processes in a plasma environment. There, we demonstrated a strong correlation between the features of the acoustic wave, the associated polarization pattern on the piezoelectric material and the structural features of a surface grown in the presence of a plasma, suggesting that this interaction can be employed as a new methodology to tailor the film nanostructure. Two main sources of interaction are analyzed in this project: i) the mechanical influence of the propagating acoustic wave on the surface-induced mobility processes of ad-atoms, ii) the interaction between the polarization wave on the piezoelectric and the plasma electric field lines, that may affect the transport of charged species and their impingement on the piezoelectric material during growth. In this way, this project focusses on the description, development and understanding of a new phenomenology, and on the provision of the fundamental and theoretical framework to describe this interaction. It is expected that acoustic waves activation and its effect on surrounding plasmas represents a radically new procedure to activate thin film growth and nuclei formation and that the proposed methodology goes beyond any present paradigm in the field of surface physics, envisaging new routes of nanostructuration. Similarly, in the field of plasma dynamics, the possibility of modulating the plasma/surface interaction by acoustic waves is an option that may open alternative procedures for the operation of advanced microplasmas devices or flat plasma displays.


Optimized photonic design of ligand-free perovskite quantum dot based optoelectronic devices




Research head: Hernán R. Míguez García y Mauricio E. Calvo Roggiani
Period: 01-09-2021 / 31-08-2024
Financial source: Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación
Code: PID2020-116593RB-I00 PN2020 - Proyectos I+D+i "Retos Investigación"
Research group: Gabriel S. Lozano Barbero, Juan F. Galisteo López

Abstract [+]

The motivation of the FreeDot project is three-fold. First, to propose solutions to the specific drawbacks hindering further development of perovskite optoelectronic technology (instability, durability, environmental sensitivity, etc.) by developing nanostructured solar cells and LEDs based on novel porous scaffolds that permit the synthesis of ligand-free nanocrystal assemblies, which show dot-to-dot charge transport while, simultaneously, minimizing their exposure to degrading environments. Second, to prove that improved power conversion efficiency, in the case of solar cells, and enhanced outcoupling and control over the spectral and directional properties of the emitted light, in the case of LEDs, are achievable through the optimization of the optical design also for quantum dot based devices. Finally, the synthesis of ligand-free nanocrystals opens the possibility to study fundamental photophysical properties of quantum dots, which are hindered by the presence of organic cappings in colloidal nanocrystals.


steppiNg towards CIrcular EConomy: REcycling bio-waste into heavy tRansport BIOFUELS (NICER-BIOFUELS)




Research head: José Antonio Odriozola Gordón y Tomás Ramírez Reina
Period: 01-09-2021 / 31-08-2024
Financial source: Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación
Code: PLEC2021-008086
Research group: María Isabel Domínguez Leal, Laura Pastor Pérez

Abstract [+]

NICER-BIOFUELS aims to create a unique knowledge infrastructure that supports the decentralised, sustainable and cost-efficient conversion of biowastes and textile residues to sustainable Heavy Transport Biofuels (HTB) to contribute towards full transport system decarbonisation. The project targets the development of disruptive technologies that overcome critical technological barriers, increase process efficiency and reduce marginal costs in the bio-waste to HTB conversion process. Following the spirit of circular economy, the overriding idea of NICER-BIOFUELS is to combine CO2 emissions with bio-waste as a carbon pool to produce the next generation of HTB. Such an ambitious goal will be achieved by integrating advanced gasification strategies, unique catalytic technologies and digital tools to deliver fuel processors which are adaptable to feedstock input and HTB demands


icms