Oxide Nanophysics

Group Leader: Gustau Catalán

ICN2 Oxide Nanophysics Group 2019

Main Research Lines

  • Flexoelectricity and piezoelectricity: fundamentals and devices

  • Electronic and electromechanical properties of oxide thin films

  • Domain wall nanoelectronics

  • Ferroelectrics, multiferroics, metal-insulator transitions

  • Surface Science of Ferroelectric Materials

An important result achieved by the ON group during 2019 has been the demonstration that flexoelectricity and piezoelectricity make crack propagation asymmetric in polar materials. In lay terms, flipping a ferroelectric upside-down can make it crack more easily. This is the first time that asymmetric fracture has been demonstrated in a crystal, so the discovery is quite relevant for the fundamentals of fracture physics. (K. Cordero-Edwards et al, Physical Review Letters 2019).

Thanks to our extensive international collaborations, this year we could harvest many exciting results. They include the in-situ observation of periodicity-doubling cascades (a pathway to so-called “spatial chaos”) in ferroelectric domains (A. Everhardt et al, Physical Review Letters 2019) and the experimental evidence for 180-degree domain walls acting as barriers for heat transport (E. Langenberg et al, Nano Letters 2019).

This year we welcomed two new members in the group. Dr Ying Liu is a new PRO-BIST postdoctoral fellow who will work with both our group and Jordi Arbiol’s. Her project will focus on characterizing oxide interfaces by novel transmission electron microscopy techniques; her outstanding doctoral research in high-resolution imaging of ferroelectrics won us over, and we look forward to seeing her future achievements while working at the ICN2. Xin Wen is a new doctoral student, funded by the China Scholarship Council and shared between our group and his alma mater Xi’an Jiaotong University, where he has already established himself as a very bright student, having discovered a new flexoelectric phenomenon (flexoelectret effect) and reported it in Physical Review Letters – very remarkable for a first paper as a student. To both of you, we say 欢迎 (welcome).

Group Leader

Prof. Gustau Catalán, leader of the ICN2 Oxide Nanophysics group

Gustau Catalán

ICREA Research Professor

Prof. Gustau Catalán earned his degree in physics at the Universitat de Barcelona in 1997 and his PhD, also in physics, at Queen’s University of Belfast in 2001. He held research positions at the Institut Mediterrani d’Estudis Avançats in Mallorca (2002-2004), the University of Groningen (2004-2005) and the University of Cambridge (2005-2009). In 2009, he was appointed ICREA Research Professor and joined the ICN2 as leader of the Oxide Nanophysics Group. At the ICN2, with the help of an ERC Grant, he set up one of the world’s first laboratories of flexoelectricity.

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