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Annual Report 2022

Scientific & Technical Services

  • Bioservice

    The Bioservice Platform is open to the different research groups working in the area of biomaterials. The service carries out biological studies, both with cells and bacteria, of the new materials and devices developed. Experiments are proposed by the users, agreed with the research group and performed by our technician.
  • Electron Microscopy Service

    The electron microscopy service is equipped with a transmission electron microscope (TEM), scanning electron microscope (SEM) and optical microscope (MO), which are operated by two technicians who serve internal and external users.

    In 2022 the optical microscope camera has been renewed and replaced by an Olympus D74 camera, specially indicated for working in fluorescence mode as white light.

    In 2022, the following internal service have been carried out: 424 hours of TEM, 755 hours of SEM and 61 hours of MO service. In addition, the following external service were carried out: TEM (18.5 hours) and SEM (38 hours). Public institutions and private companies have received it, including the following: Institut de Química Avançada de Catalunya (CSIC), Geociencias Barcelona (CSIC), Universidad de La Laguna,  Paperdopx, Leitat, Cubiq Food, Mapa Spontex  Iberica-Newel Brands and Duke Chem.

    The service has contributed to 35 scientific publications and has participated in numerous scientific dissemination activities such as the "Programa Argó" (UAB), (28/06/2022-14/07/2022), "Jornada Divulgativa Serveis Cientificotècnics" (29/06/2022) , "Festival 10alamenos9 de Nanociència i Nanotecnologia" (31/05/2022), "Un investigador a l'aula" (18/11/2022) and several visits of primary and secondary school students, such as the students of the “Programa Joves i Ciència” and the visit of the students of the Màster de Enginyeria Biològica i Ambiental, imparted at the Escola d'Enginyeria de la UAB.

  • Laboratory of Molecular Beam Epitaxy

    The L-MBE is always operated in self-service mode backed up by the expert users, Dr. M. Garriga and Dr. M. I. Alonso. In 2022, the equipment was used in projects connected to three research subjects in the “NANOPTO” group. The service time was divided among research in photonic structures based on high refractive index materials (Si, Ge), thin Ge films for thermal transport studies, and Si structures for harvesting infrared solar energy.

    Publication in 2022:

    • Efficient infrared sunlight absorbers based on gold-covered, inverted silicon pyramid arrays
      Jinhui Hu, Luis A. Pérez, Juan Luis Garcia-Pomar, Agustín Mihi, Miquel Garriga, M. Isabel Alonso and  Alejandro R. Goñi
      Mater. Adv., 2022,3, 2364-2372
  • Low Temperatures and Magnetometry

    On july 2022, the Low Temperature and Magnetometry Service has been expanded with the installation of a new ICE Oxford 16T cryostat. The new system will allow to characterize samples at extreme conditions of temperature, magentic field and applied current for large sized samples. The main characteristics of the system are:

    • Temperature range: 1.5K - 300K
    • Magnetic field range: 0 to +- 160kOe
    • Maximum applied current to the sample: 300A pulsed current

    The large magnet bore and the maximum field intensity make the system almost unique in South Europe.

    The Service has participated in the “Programa Argó” 2022 training some highschool students during summer 2022. In addition, the service has had a UAB student doing an internship between October 2022 and January 2023.

  • Nanoquim Platform

    Nanoquim Platform is a 10000 class cleanroom (ISO7) that belongs to the ICMAB’s Scientific & Technical Services The facility is equipped with over 30 physico-chemical equipments that allow
    researchers develop a variety of processes related with:

    • Controlled growth of nanomaterials, physical and chemical deposition, selective etching of layers or compounds
    • Chemical synthesis
    • Device fabrication
    • Characterization of nanomaterials
    • Photolitography

    In a low-particle index environment and controlled humidity and temperature conditions.

    Total experiment: 1574
    Public center: 8
    Private center: 7
    PRUAB: 18
  • Preparation and Characterization of Soft Materials

    In the Soft Materials Service, users can perform their experiments assisted by technicians or as auto-service. The service usage is split between 10 ICMAB research groups, 38 external research groups from other research facilities and universities and 11 groups from different companies

    The service was used in several research projects financed by public institutions and contracts with private companies. Below are given some significant ones:

    • TAG-SMARTLY, Smart multifuncitonal GLA-nanoformulation for Fabry disease, CIBER, 2020-2022.
    • MOL4BIO, Procesamiento de moléculas para crear materiales híbridos estructurados jerárquicamente para aplicaciones biomédicas (PID2019-105622RB-100), Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación de España, 2021-2023.
    • Phoenix, Pharmaceutical Open Innovation Test Bed for Enabling Nano-pharmaceutical Innovative Products (953110-Phoenix), European Comission, 2021-2025.
    • Micro4Nano, Multifunctional nanocarriers for nonlinear microscopy: new tools for biology and medicine (H2020-MSC-RISE-2020-101007804), European Comission, 2021-2026.
    • Naniomoc, Nanopartículas fluorescentes para cirugiada guiada de imagen aplicada a cancer de ovario (PDC2021-121481-I00). Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación de España, 2021-2023.
    • NANORESIST, Engineering Novel Nanodelivery Systems against Antimicrobioal Resistance (TECSPR19-1-0065). EU-ACCIO TECNIO Spring Industry, 2021-2023

    The service was used in the frame of the following Phd Thesis:

    • Lídia Ballell i Hosa. “Translation of DELOS nanovesicles formulations into new pharmaceutical candidates” supervised by Lidia Ferrer and Nora Ventosa at 22/07/2022, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)

    Publications in which the service has been involved:

    • Martinez-Miguel; M. Castellote-Borrell; M. Köber; A. R. Kyvik; J. Tomsen-Melero; G. Vargas-Nadal; J. Munoz; D. Pulido; E. Cristobal-Lecina; S. Passemard; M. Royo; M. Mas-Torrent; J. Veciana; M. I. Giannotti; J. Guasch; N. Ventosa*; I. Ratera*. Hierarchical Quatsome-RGD Nanoarchitectonic Surfaces for Enhanced Integrin-Mediated Cell Adhesion. ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 2022, 14 (42), 48179–48193, doi: 10.1021/acsami.2c10497
    • Morla-Folch; G. Vargas-Nadal; E. Fuentes; S. Illa-Tuset; M. Köber; C. Sissa; S. Pujals; A. Painelli; J. Veciana; J. Faraudo; K. D. Belfield; L. Albertazzi; N. Ventosa, Ultrabright Foster Resonance Energy Transfer Nanovesicles: The Role of Dye Diffusion, Chemistry of Materials, 2022, 34 (19), 8517-8527, doi: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.2c00384
    • Battista, S; M. Köber; P. Bellio; G. Celenza; L. Galantini; G. Vargas-Nadal; L. Fagnani; J. Veciana; N. Ventosa; L. Giansanti, Quatsomes Formulated with L-Prolinol-Derived Surfactants as Antibacterial Nanocarriers of (+)-Usnic Acid with Antioxidant Activity, ACS Appl. Nano Materials, 2022, 5 (5), 6140-6148, doi: 10.1021/acsanm.1c04365

    Course for the CSIC staff called: “Técnicas de caracterización de materiales particulados”

    New equipment acquired during 2022:

    • Micropalte Reader with fluorescence modul which includes an extended fotomultiplier (PMT) in UV and IR that gives measurements in the 280 to 850 nm wavelength and fluorescence measurements at resolved time (TRF).
    • Freeze dryer Lyomicron 85. Coolvacuum, it is specially designed for meeting research and development phase freeze drying requirements in the increasingly demanding R&D centres.
    • Tangential flow filtration (TFF) is a process of separation widely used in bio-pharmaceutical and food industries


  • Scanning Probe Microscopy Laboratory

    The SPM Lab offers 2.300 hours yearly of SPM related experiments to people inside and outside the ICMAB, without including maintenance, development of new equipment, setups, calibration and implementation of new modes.

    The ICMAB groups who use the service are:

    • Superconducting Materials & Large Scale
    • Nanostructured Molecular Nanoscience and Organic Materials (NANOMOL)
    • Multifunctional Oxides and Complex Structures
    • Molecular Chirality
    • Surfaces and Nanomaterials
  • Spectroscopic Techniques Laboratory

    In 2022, a new UV-Vis-NIR Jasco V-770 equipment arrived to the spectroscopic service, financed through the “Fondo de Apoyo Exceptional a los Servicios Científico Técnicos FAS2021”. The Service has participated in the following scientific dissemination activities: i) In the "Programa Argó" 3-week stay of high school students organized by the Institute of Education Sciences (ICE) of the UAB. ii) In the “Joves i Ciència” program with one high school student during the one-month stay. iii) Participation of the Service in the "Open Doors of our Scientific Equipment Platforms" at the ICMAB.

    The number of users, internal and external percentage of each equipment of the Service have been the following:
    FT-IR: Number of users: 68; % Internal use: 97.9% (25 ICMAB PIs); % External use: 2.1%.
    UV-Vis-NIR Jasco V-770 and V-780: Number of users: 72; Internal use: 98.3% (27 ICMAB PIs); External use: 1.7%.
    EPR: Number of users: 14; Internal use: 77.5% (5 ICMAB PIs); External use: 22.5%.

  • Thermal Analysis Laboratory

    The Thermal Analysis Lab is formed by Thermal Analysis Service and Surface Area Analysis Service. During the 2022 the Laboratory worked with one  TGA (thermogravimetric analysis) and one DSC (diff erential scanning calorimetry) for the Thermal Analysis and with one Brunauer–Emmett–Teller (BET) for the Surface Aera Analysis. During the last quarter of the year we have started up a second TGA. Thanks to its incorporation we have improved the delivery times of the results.

    Regarding the TGA, we analyzed a total of 178 samples (356 experiments, because each sample is done twice), 67 % of them belong to internal users from the ICMAB, and 33 % from external users. The DSC equipment has been used to analyse 67 samples, 43 % belong to internal users and 57 % to external users. Regarding the BET Analysis, we analyzed 336 sample, 74% from ICMAB users and 26% from external users.

    The service has participated in the Programa Argó with UAB during the year.


    Composites of porous carbon and copper-based nanoparticles for the electrochemical analysis of chemical oxygen demand
    W. Duan, M. Torras, A. Roig, C. Fernández-Sánchez, M. Gich
    Materials Today Chemistry 24 (2022) 100899,


    Magnetic Mesoporous Silica Nanorods Loaded with Ceria and Functionalized with Fluorophores for Multimodal Imaging
     Jan Grzelak, Jaume Gázquez, Alba Grayston, Mariana Teles, Fernando Herranz, Nerea Roher, Anna Rosell, Anna Roig, and Martí Gich
    ACS Applied Nano Materials 2022 5 (2), 2113-2125

    Riboflavin–citrate conjugate multicore SPIONs with enhanced magnetic responses and cellular uptake in breast cancer cells
    Wid Mekseriwattana, Pablo Guardia, Beatriz Torres Herrero, Jesus M. de la Fuente, Chutima Kuhakarn, Anna Roig and Kanlaya Prapainop Katewongsa
    Nanoscale Adv., 2022,4, 1988-1998

    Oxalic Acid, a Versatile Coformer for Multicomponent Forms with 9-Ethyladenine
    Mónica Benito, Miquel Barceló-Oliver, Antonio Frontera, Elies Molins
    Crystals 2022, 12, 89

    Dielectric behavior of curcuminoid polymorphs on different substrates by direct soft vacuum deposition
    Daniel Riba-López, Rossella Zaffino, Daniel Herrera, Roc Matheu, Francesco Silvestri, Jesse Ferreira da Silva, Eva Carolina Sañudo, Marta Mas-Torrent, Esther Barrena, Raphael Pfanner, Eliseo Ruiz, Arántzantzu Gonzáles-Campo, Nuria Aliaga-Alcalde
    iScience 25, 12, 105686

  • Thin Films Laboratory

    The techniques of Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD) and dc magnetron Sputtering are available at the Service of Thin Films. PLD has been extensively used, mostly for epitaxial growth of complex oxides with varied functionality as ferroelectricity, ferromagnetism, superconductivity, etc.

    Complex epitaxial heterostructures combining different functional oxides have been also fabricated. The Service has also integrated epitaxial oxides with silicon wafers. Some processes have involve the use of reflection high-energy electron diffraction, either in real time or as post deposition characterization. Sputtering has been also widely used, either for epitaxial growth of metals or for deposition of top metallic electrodes, using generally stencil masks.

    Selected publications

    Large enhancement of ferroelectric polarization in Hf0.5Zr0.5O2 films by low plasma energy pulsed laser deposition
    T. Song, R. Solanas, M. Qian, I. Fina, F. Sánchez
    Journal of Materials Chemistry C 10, 1084-1089 (2022)

    Bulk photovoltaic effect modulated by ferroelectric polarization back-switching
    Y.W. Sheng, I. Fina, M. Gospodinov, J. Fontcuberta
    Applied Physics Letters 120, 242901 (2022)

    Control of up-to-down/down-to-up light induced ferroelectric polarization reversal
    H. Tan, G. Castro, J. Lyu, P. Loza, F. Sánchez, J. Fontcuberta, I. Fina
    Materials Horizons 9, 2345 - 2352 (2022)

  • X-ray Diffraction Laboratory

    Aim of the X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) Service is the acquisition of diffraction data in order to obtain information on the crystal structure and the microstructure of the analyzed material allowing a better understanding of its properties. One important technical task of the Service is the improvement of X-ray diffraction data collection procedures (especially for thin film charaterization, texture

    Scientific equipment available:
    • Siemens D-5000
      Identification and characterization of polycrystalline samples including quantification, crystallinity estimation and crystal structure determination & refinement.
    • Bruker D8 Advance (GADDS) with VANTEC-500 area detector
      Identification and characterization of powders and thin films: Texture measurements, reciprocal space mapping and microdiffraction analyses.
    • Bruker D8-Discover
      X-Ray diffraction instrument for thin film characterization equipped with four motorized axes stage. Main applications in XR Reflectometry, Rocking measurements, RSM measurements and structural phase identification.
    • Bruker D8 Advance A25
      In two different configurations: Bragg-Brentano geometry (flat sample holders) and Debye-Scherrer geometry (for samples included in capillaries and other measurements in transmission mode).
    • For Powder Diffraction: PDF-4+  – ICDD database; Sieve+ –  PDF-4+ Support Software  (Search and Identify);  EVA – Phase identification and quantitative phase analysis; TOPAS – Profile analysis, quantitative analysis, structure analysis
    • For Materials Research: MULTEX –Texture analysis; LEPTOS – Thin film analysis/Residual stress
    Use of the service:

    In 2022, 3668 samples (amounting a total of 4956 hours) were analyzed by the XRD Service. The principal users were the research groups of Superconducting Materials and Large Scale Nanostructures, Crystallography, Solid State Chemistry, Multifunctional Thin Films and Complex Structures, Advanced Structural and Functional Characterization, and, finally, the Smart Molecular Inorganic and Hybrid.

    The external users during 2022 include various companies: Nanomol Technologies, Leitat Technological Center, Applus, Bioibérica and other research centers (CNM, GEO3-BCN, UAB).

    Outreach, publications and projects in which the service has participated

    The XRD service has played an active role in many science education activities including the visit to The Library Biblioteca L'Escorxador in Sant Celoni to commemorate the International Day of Women and Girls in Science with “Vine a descobrir les propietats sorprenents dels materials” activity for families and for kids, the activities at EspaiCiència (Saló de l’ensenyament) with interactive  experiments to attract visitors and increase their interest and curiosity in science and technology , the Science Faire at the EU Researchers' Night in CosmoCaixa with "Discover ICMAB: a research center on advanced functional materials" where centers presented their research and experiments for the general public and to celebrate the Science Week 2022 we went to different schools to give some workshops.

    Last year the XRD service attended and participate in the “17th European Powder  Diffraction Conference” congress  in Croatia and  “5ª Reunión de Personal Técnico y Responsables de Servicios de Difracción” in Bilbao.

    The service has participated in many publications and projects of the center:
    • Extending the novel |ρ|-based phasing algorithm to the solution of anomalous scattering substructures from SAD data of protein crystals.
      Rius, J. & Torrelles, X. (2022).  Acta Cryst. A78, 473–481.
    • Extending the novel vertical bar rho vertical bar-based phasing algorithm to the solution of anomalous scattering substructures from SAD data.
      Rius, Jordi, and Xavier Torrelles.  ACTA CRYSTALLOGRAPHICA A-FOUNDATION AND ADVANCES 78 (2022): 473-481.
    • Oscillatory patterns in redox gradient materials through wireless bipolar electrochemistry. The dynamic wave-like case of copper bipolar oxidation.
      Fuentes-Rodríguez, L.; Pujades, E.; Fraxedas, J.; Crespi, A.; Xu, K.; Abad, L.; Casañ-Pastor, N. Mater. Chem. Front. 2022, 6, 2284– 2296,  DOI: 10.1039/D2QM00482H 
    • Elucidation of the redox activity of Ca2MnO3.5 and CaV2O4 in calcium batteries using operando XRD: charge compensation mechanism and reversibility. 
      Ashley P. Black, Carlos Frontera, Arturo Torres, Miguel Recio-Poo, Patrick Rozier, Juan D. Forero-Saboya, François Fauth, Esteban Urones-Garrote, M. Elena Arroyo-de Dompablo, M. Rosa Palacín, Energy Storage Materials, Volume 47, 2022, Pages 354-364 .
    • Improved polarization and endurance in ferroelectric Hf0.5Zr0.5O2 films on SrTiO3(110).
      T. Song , H. Tan , S. Estandía , J. Gàzquez , M. Gich , N. Dix , I. Fina and F. Sánchez , Nanoscale, 2022, 14 , 2337 —2343