Skip to main content

Annual Report 2022

Scientific Highlights

  • 1.- ARTICLES

  • 2.- IMPACT

  • 3.- COLLABORATIONS

  • 4.- PUBLICATIONS BY GENDER

Highly cited papers

RL1: Sustainable Energy Conversion & Storage Systems

The high-throughput, measuring-intensive screening methodology based on lateral parametric gradients has been combined with machine-learning algorithms to retrieve quantitative structure–activity relationships, accelerating the development of organic photovoltaic (PV) and thermoelectric (TE) technology. Regarding complex oxides (e.g. BiFeO3) for PV applications, transparent all-oxide devices have been fabricated by scalable atomic layer deposition, achieving high power conversion efficiencies up to 4.5%. Concerning metal halide perovskites, the dispute regarding the existence/absence of ferroelectric domains and their impact on the astounding electronic properties of this class of materials has been finally settled by reinterpreting the observation of domains as due to ferroelasticity.

Noble metal decoration of wideband gap semiconductors (e.g. Au/TiO2) enables the excitation of surface plasmons in the UV-visible range that, upon relaxation, generate hot carriers used for the photocatalytic generation of H2. An alternative strategy towards hydrogen production by photocatalysis consists in using porous 3D graphene-based aerogels supporting Pt/TiO2 nanoparticles.

Regarding thermal transport, a novel contactless frequency-domain thermoreflectance methodology has been developed to study thermal transport in thermally anisotropic materials. The method, which is based on a line-shaped heater produced with a holographic diffractive optical element, has been patented and has led to a proof-of-concept project and the signature of a co-development contract with Linseis. Furthermore, the work on molecular solar thermal energy storage systems, which offer emission-free energy storage of solar power by using photo-switchable molecules that can release the stored heat on-demand, has attracted much attention in the media, reaching 1.2 billion potential readers through 343 news items.

In collaboration with ALBA, techniques based on synchrotron radiation were developed for operando experiments that allow to characterize electrochemical cells during their operation and to elucidate the reaction mechanisms taking place, specifically here for batteries based on multivalent ions (e.g. Ca2+, Mg2+). Prof. Rosa Palacín has been awarded the “Miguel Catalan-Paul Sabatier” prize from the French Chemical Society, among others, for this work. A low-cost procedure with potential for the industrial fabrication of anode materials for high-performance Li-ion batteries has been developed on the basis of a single-step electrochemical liquid-liquid-solid deposition route for growing nanowire-based Ge–Sn nanostructures. Regarding redox-flow batteries, the use of polyoxometalates (POMs) allowed Zn-air batteries to operate at near-neutral pH through multi-electron processes.

Laser-based methodologies for synthesis, reduction, modification and assembly of graphene-based materials have been demonstrated to be a fast, low-cost and energy saving fabrication alternative for energy-related electrodes and devices to be implemented in portable electronics. In addition, highly flexible 3D porous metal–organic frameworks (MOFs) were modified to incorporate conducting polypyrrole to enhance stability and capacitance as electrode material.


Au/TiO2 2D-Photonic Crystals as UV–Visible Photocatalysts for H2 Production

Torras, Miquel; Molet, Pau; Soler, Lluís; Llorca, Jordi; Roig, Anna; Mihi, Agustín
Advanced Energy Materials, 12, 2103733-2103733
10.1002/aenm.202103733
A scalable light-trapping scheme using soft nanoimprinting litography is used to amplify the light-harvesting efficiency of the TiO2 semiconductor beyond the UV region by coupling a 2D-photonic crystal to Au decorated titania to be used as photocatalysts.

Design Rules for Polymer Blends with High Thermoelectric Performance

Zapata-Arteaga, Osnat; Marina, Sara; Zuo, Guangzheng; Xu, Kai; Dörling, Bernhard; Pérez, Luis Alberto; Reparaz, Juan Sebastián; Martín, Jaime; Kemerink, Martijn; Campoy-Quiles, Mariano
Advanced Energy Materials, 12, 2104076
10.1002/aenm.202104076
A combinatorial study of the effect of in-mixing of various guests on the thermoelectric properties of the host workhorse polymer PBTTT. Specifically, the composition and thickness for doped films of PBTTT blended with different polymers are varied.

Identifying Structure-Absorption Relationships and Predicting Absorption Strength of Non-Fullerene Acceptors for Organic Photovoltaics

Yan, J.; Rodríguez-Martínez, X.; Pearce, D.; Douglas, H.; Bili, D.; Azzouzi, M.; Eisner, F.; Virbule, A.; Rezasoltani, E.; Belova, V.; Dörling, B.; Few, S.; Szumska, A.A.; Hou, X.; Zhang, G.; Yip, H.-L.; Campoy-Quiles, Mariano; Nelson, Jenny
Energy & Environmental Science, 15, 2958-2973
10.1039/D2EE00887D
Absorb more light while using less material: This constitutes one of the most complicated milestones in the field of organic photovoltaics due to its practical implications: improving the efficiency of solar cells, (potentially) their stability and their semi-transparency to the human eye. Now, the achievement of such milestone seems to be closer than ever.

Continuous Carbon Channels Enable Full Na-Ion Accessibility for Superior Room-Temperature Na–S Batteries

Wu, C.; Lei, Y.; Simonelli, L.; Tonti, Dino; Black, A.P. Marini, C.; Lu, X.; Lai, W.H.; Cai, X.; Wang, Y.X.; Gu, Q.; Chou, S.L.; Liu, H.K.; Wang, G.; Dou, S.X.
Advanced Materials, 34, 2108363
10.1002/adma.202108363
Porous carbon has been widely used as an efficient host to encapsulate highly active molecular sulfur (S) in Li–S and Na–S batteries. In this paper, unique continuous carbonaceous pores are tailored, which can serve as multifunctional channels to encapsulate highly active S and provide fully accessible pathways for sodium ions.

Interfaces and Interphases in Ca and Mg Batteries

Forero-Saboya, J.D.; Tchitchekova, D.S.; Johansson, P.; Palacín, M. Rosa; Ponrouch, Alex
Advanced Materials Interfaces, 9, 2101578
10.1002/admi.202101578
The development of high energy density battery technologies based on divalent metals as the negative electrode is very appealing. Ca and Mg are especially interesting choices due to their combination of low standard reduction potential and natural abundance. The state-of-the-art is presented in this review together with a short perspective on the influence of the cation solvation also on the positive electrode and finally an attempt to define guidelines for future research in the field.

Status and challenges for molecular solar thermal energy storage system based devices

Wang, Zhihang; Hölzel, Helen; Moth-Poulsen, Kasper
Chemical Society Reviews, 51, 7313-7326
10.1039/D1CS00890K
Molecular solar thermal energy storage systems (MOST) offer emission-free energy storage where solar power is stored via valence isomerization in molecular photoswitches. These photoswitchable molecules can later release the stored energy as heat on-demand. This review presents the most commonly used and developed devices from a chemical engineering point of view.

RL2: Superconducting Materials for Emerging Technologies

This Research Line is devoted to deploy unique know-how in superconducting materials and their use in emerging areas of energy, efficient ICT, high energy physics and astrophysics. In particular, our effort was concentrated in three main aspects. Firstly, in developing high-throughput, low-cost growth methods for Coated Conductors (CC) with engineered properties to approach theoretical limits. Also, in investigating superconducting electronic functionalities based on controlling properties of cuprates for ICT and impelling ultrasensitive Transition Edge Sensors (TES) as single photon and phonon detectors. Finally, in customizing CC materials for adequate integration in large scale systems (energy and high energy physics).

We recognize the breakthrough in Transient Liquid Assisted growth (TLAG) of cuprates where 1000 nm/s growth rates were demonstrated by in-situ XRD synchrotron investigations and machine learning studies. This fostered the construction of the stable installation at ALBA synchrotron within the TransEner PTI+. In addition, this research has attracted industrial interest with collaboration contracts with Sumitomo since 2021 and a second ERC-PoC were awarded in 2022.

In the investigation of electronic functionalities, nonlinear optical signatures of quantum phase transitions in the high-temperature superconductor YBCO have been investigated through high harmonic generation. Manipulation of the superconducting to insulator phase transition and electromigration effects were explored in cuprates and manganites. In addition, we have started an European CHIST-ERA projectfor efficiently control magnetic fields. On-chip integrated metasurfaces face a very bright future for boosting the sensitivity and efficiency of magnetic sensors and functional devices.

Besides, in 2022 we worked on electrothermal modelling and noise analysis of TES for X-ray detection. Also, within a project aimed at developing TESs for low-mass dark matter direct detection we started optimization of W films with very low Tc, and worked on the understanding of the decay processes suffered by the created phonons prior to their detection by the TES.

Our scouting activities in customization of CC has led to define a robust architecture to increase the electrical grid protection by using superconducting devices with surface modified CC. Additionally, we have extended our consolidated collaborations with CERN in the development of low surface impedance superconducting coating for high energy circular accelerators to halloscope cavities for dark matter search.


Chemical and Microstructural Nanoscale Homogeneity in Superconducting YBa2Cu3O7–x Films Derived from Metal-Propionate Fluorine-free Solutions

Saltarelli, Lavinia; Gupta, Kapil; Rasi, Silvia; Kethamkuzhi, Aiswarya; Queraltó, Albert; Garcia, Diana; Gutierrez, Joffre; Farjas, Jordi; Roura-Grabulosa, Pere; Ricart, Susagna; Obradors, Xavier; Puig, Teresa
ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, 14, 48582-48597
10.1021/acsami.2c11414
A versatile and tunable solution method suitable for the preparation of high-performance epitaxial cuprate superconducting films. Disregarding the renowned trifluoroacetate route, we center our focus on the transient liquid-assisted growth (TLAG) that meets the requirement of being a greener chemical process together with ultrafast growth rates beyond 100 nm/s.

Kinetic Control of Ultrafast Transient Liquid Assisted Growth of Solution-Derived YBa2Cu3O7-x Superconducting Films

Rasi, Silvia; Queraltó, Albert; Banchewski, Juri; Saltarelli, Lavinia; Garcia, Diana; Pacheco, Adrià; Gupta, Kapil; Kethamkuzhi, Aiswarya; Soler, Laia; Jareño, Julia; Ricart, Susagna; Farjas, Jordi; Roura-Grabulosa, Pere; Mocuta, Cristian; Obradors, Xavier; Puig, Teresa
Advanced Science, 9, 2203834
10.1002/advs.202203834
Transient liquid assisted growth (TLAG) is an ultrafast non-equilibrium growth process mainly governed by kinetic parameters, which are only accessible through fast in situ characterizations.  With proper control of these kinetic parameters, films with critical current densities of 2–2.6 MA·cm−2 at 77 K and growth rates between 100–2000 nm·s−1 are reached.

Defining inkjet printing conditions of superconducting cuprate films through machine learning

Queraltó, Albert; Pacheco, Adrià; Jiménez, Nerea; Ricart, Susagna; Obradors, Xavier; Puig, Teresa
Journal of Materials Chemistry C, 10, 6885- 6895
10.1039/d1tc05913k
A data-driven methodology that allows us to analyze and optimize the inkjet printing (IJP) deposition process of rare earth cuprate (REBCO) high temperature superconductors precursor solutions

Optimizing vortex pinning in YBa2Cu3O7-x superconducting films up to high magnetic fields

Vallès, Ferran; Palau, Anna; Abraimov, Dmytro; Jarosznski, Jan; Constantinescu, Anca-Monia; Mundet, Bernat; Obradors, Xavier; Larbalestier, David; Puig, Teresa
Communications Materials 3, 45, 2022
10.1038/s43246-022-00266-y

The analysis presented here demonstrates the capacity to artificially modify the pinning landscape with solution-derived nanocomposites due to the benefits of adding small nanoparticles and the relevance of stacking faults and their secondary effects (generation of strained nanoregions, generation of Cu-O vacancy clusters and segmentation of twin boundaries). Furthermore, this study urges the manufacturers to fabricate customized coated conductors for different applications depending on their magnetic field and temperature operation range.

From Electric Doping Control to Thermal Defect Nucleation in Perovskites

Marinković, A. Fernández-Rodríguez, E. Fourneau, M. Cabero, H.W. Ngoc Duy Nguyen, J. Gazquez, N. Mestres, A. Palau, A. V. Silhanek
Advanced Materials Interfaces 2200953, 2022
10.1002/admi.202200953
The main finding of this work is twofold. First, we demonstrate, by means of concurrent optical imaging and electrical characterization, the directional nature of electrically stimulated oxygen displacement in LSMO. Second, we show that at higher applied voltages, an interplay of vacancy ordering, electromigration and thermal effects causes extended changes in both the studied thin film and the STO substrate.

RL3: Oxides for New Generation Electronics

The research line has progressed in the understanding of ferroelectric phases of epitaxial HfO2 thin films, a key material in the spotlight of the memories industry. Researchers of the RL3 have reported on the coexistence of monoclinic (paraelectric) and orthorhombic (ferroelectric) phases in doped HfO2 films [1]. The relative amount of both phases can be controlled by substrate selection and, interestingly, the presence of monoclinic grains results in more resistance to ferroelectric fatigue and greatly improved endurance.

In the context of flexoelectricity, the interaction of spin and curvature is attracting increasing interest, because of implications for controlling chirality and topological order in two-dimensional magnets. Using first-principles theory, RL3 researchers have determined the flexomagnetic coupling coefficients in real systems. This has been applied to monolayer CrI3, where, by varying the curvature, a crossover is found between a magnetization normal to the surface to a cycloidal state [2].

Light-matter interactions may be a gateway to enhanced functionality in materials. In this regard, we have investigated the bulk photovoltaic effect (BVE) in h-LuMnO3 crystals [3], bringing new insights to the different physical mechanisms contributing to the light polarization-direction effect on the photoresponse of ferroelectric materials. In the same vein, we have proved that electromagnetic fields can be used to probe and manipulate spin-orbital mixing in manganites, paving new routes to optical control of correlated many-electron states.

Potential high-temperature spiral multiferroics have been investigated based on YBaCuFeO5 [4]: frustration (disorder) was tuned across its full phase diagram, unveiling the impact of Cu/Fe disorder on the stability, magnetic modulation, extraordinary tunability (0-to-370 K) and detailed features of the chiral magnetic ordering. Our research discloses a radically new mechanism for stabilization of cycloidal (spiral) orders in which frustration has no geometrical or electronic origins but it is based on chemical disorder. The novel “spiral order by disorder” mechanism paves new avenues towards chiral functional magnets at normal working temperatures

Researchers in the line have investigated alternative ways to achieve frustration in materials. More specifically, we have reported on MnTa2N4, the first ternary nitride spinel containing only transition metals [5]. Here strong magnetic frustration results from the competition between superexchange and direct magnetic interactions between Mn2+ ions, which is enabled by the spinel structure of these materials. These findings open new avenues toward the design of quantum materials.

Finally, RL3 has investigated transition metal oxides for spintronics. In this regard, it has been demonstrated the feasibility spin of using a manganite as spin injector by studying spin pumping processes in manganite/Pt bilayers [6]. Interestingly, researchers in the line have demonstrated that, in spite weak spin-orbit coupling, 3d transition metal oxides can be also used to detect spin injection in oxide heterostructures, which may offer a new path towards energy friendly and material’s sustainable spintronic devices.

 


MnTa2N4: A Ternary Nitride Spinel with a Strong Magnetic Frustration

Trócoli, Rafael; Frontera, Carlos; Oró-Solé, Judith; Ritter, Clemens; Alemany, Pere; Canadell, Enric; Palacín, M. Rosa; Fontcuberta, Josep; Fuertes, Amparo
Chemistry of Materials, 34, 6098-6107
10.1021/acs.chemmater.2c01240
The engineered magnetic interaction design and synthesis of the new ternary nitride MnTa2N4 with a normal spinel structure, where the magnetic cations Mn2+ occupy exclusively the tetrahedral sites forming a diamond lattice is reported.

Curved Magnetism in CrI3

Edström, Alexander; Amoroso, Danila; Picozzi, Silvia; Barone, Paolo; Stengel, Massimiliano
Physical Review Letters, 128, 177202
10.1103/physrevlett.128.177202
Curved magnets attract considerable interest for their unusually rich phase diagram, often encompassing exotic (e.g., topological or chiral) spin states. We demonstrate how noncollinear-spin polarized density-functional theory can be used to determine the flexomagnetic coupling coefficients in real systems.

Positive effect of parasitic monoclinic phase of Hf0.5Zr0.5O2 on ferroelectric endurance

T. Song, S. Estandía, H. Tan, N. Dix, J. Gazquez, I. Fina, and F. Sánchez
Advanced Electronic Materials 2021, 2100420
10.1002/aelm.202100420
This work investigates fatigue in epitaxial Hf0.5Zr0.5O2 (HZO) instead of polycrystalline samples. Using different substrates, the relative amount of orthorhombic (ferroelectric) and monoclinic (paraelectric) phases is controlled. Epitaxial HZO films almost free of parasitic monoclinic phase suffer severe fatigue. In contrast, fatigue is mitigated in films with a greater amount of paraelectric phase.

Bulk photovoltaic effect modulated by ferroelectric polarization back-switching

Sheng, Yunwei, Ignasi Fina, Marin Gospodinov, and Josep Fontcuberta
Applied Physics Letters 120, 24, 2022
10.1063/5.0094837
Short-circuit photocurrent due to bulk photovoltaic effect displays an oscillatory dependence on the polarization state of light. Here, we explore how the ferroelectric polarization direction in h-LuMnO3 crystals affects the oscillating short-circuit photocurrent. It is shown that after prepoling the crystal at saturation, at remanence, the direction and amplitude of photocurrent oscillations are no longer dictated by prepoling voltage but are largely modulated by polarization back-switching, here ruled by the imprint field.

Helimagnets by disorder: Its role on the high-temperature magnetic spiral n the YBaCuFeO5 perovskite

Arnau Romaguera, Xiaodong Zhang, Oscar Fabelo, Francois Fauth, Javier Blasco, and José Luis García-Muñoz
Physical Review Research, 4, 043188, 2022
10.1103/PhysRevResearch.4.043188
Most of the spiral magnetoelectric multiferroics investigated in recent years are geometrically or exchange-frustrated magnets, where the presence of triangular or other frustrated spin networks produce low magnetic transition temperatures. This critically limits their potential uses. The exceptional stability of the spiral magnetic order (at TS) in the layered structure of the YBaCuFeO5 double perovskite involves a nonconventional mechanism: spiral order by disorder. In this work the influence of disorder (and only disorder) on the magnetic phase diagram is studied on a quantitative basis extending the range of previous studies

Spin to charge conversion in chemically deposited epitaxial La0.9MnO3 thin films capped with Pt

Sergi Martin-Rio, Alberto Pomar, Carlos Frontera, Hailin Wang, Ramón Manzorro, César Magén, Lluis Balcells, Narcis Mestres and Benjamin Martinez
J. Mater. Chem. C, 2022,10, 5914-5921
10.1039/d2tc00048b
This paper analyzes spin to charge conversion processes in LMO/Pt bilayers, were the LMO epitaxial layer has been prepared by using PAD method in a broad range of temperatures. It is shown that PAD allows obtaining LMO films of excellent crystalline and surface quality. Additionally, it is also shown that an excellent LMO/Pt interface can be obtained using ex situ deposition of the Pt layer

RL4: Tuneable and Low Cost Molecular Electronics

In RL4 efforts have been placed towards the development of novel electronic platforms based on molecular materials.

The conducting polymer PEDOT has been doped with metallocarborans in order to tune its electrochemical properties. This has led to materials with synergetic properties that behave as efficient electrocatalysts in water oxidation.

Further, a series of lanthanide based metal-organic fameworks using a highly hydrophobic ligand has been synthesized. Tunable emission from green to red and time-dependent emission have been reported together with an outstanding increase in the quantum yield. Remarkably, these materials can be printed from water inks for potential applications such as anti-counterfeiting and bar-coding.

Efforts have also been placed in gaining new insights into the transport properties of single molecules by integrating them in molecular junctions. For instance, the single molecular conductance in metalloporphyrin-based supramolecular devices has been significantly modified by slightly tuning the axial coordinating linkers. In addition, light switchable molecular junctions measured by EGaIn have also been demonstrated.

Work has also been placed on the development of low-cost large area devices based on printed semiconductors. The spin-off company Molecular Gate has been created, which exploits the printing of organic semiconductors tuning their optical properties to be applied as anti-counterfeiting of pharmaceutical products.

Doping methodologies have been applied in organic semiconductors in order to reduce the contact resistance and, hence, improve the device mobility. This has been realized by using cocrystals of organic semiconductors or by using iodine as dopant. Insights into the impact of the doping methodologies on the electrical and structural properties of the materials/devices have been elucidated.

Finally, organic transistors have been exploited in sensing devices. X-ray detectors with an unprecedented sensitivity and showing high potential in medical imaging have been fabricated.


Charge-Transfer Complexes in Organic Field-Effect Transistors: Superior Suitability for Surface Doping

Babuji, Adara; Cazorla, Alba; Solano, duardo; Habenicht, Carsten; Kleemann, Hans; Ocal, Carmen; Leo, Karl; Barrena, Esther
ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, 14, 44632-44641
10.1021/acsami.2c09168
We demonstrate the key role of charge-transfer complexes in surface doping as a successful methodology for improving channel field-effect mobility and reducing the threshold voltage in organic field-effect transistors (OFETs), as well as raising the film conductivity.

Water-Stable Carborane-Based Eu3+/Tb3+ Metal–Organic Frameworks for Tunable Time-Dependent Emission Color and Their Application in Anticounterfeiting Bar-Coding

Li, Zhen; Núñez, Rosario; Light, Mark E.; Ruiz, Eliseo; Teixidor, Francesc; Viñas, Clara; Ruiz-Molina, Daniel; Roscini, Claudio; Planas, José Giner
Chemistry of Materials, 34, 4795-4808
10.1021/acs.chemmater.2c00323
We design and synthesize MOFs using a highly hydrophobic ligands. The new materials are stable in water and at high temperature and have potential applications, among which anticounterfeiting and bar-coding have been selected as a proof-of-concept.

How to switch from a poor PEDOT:X oxygen evolution reaction (OER) to a good one. A study on dual redox reversible PEDOT:metallacarborane

Maria Xavier, Jewel Ann; Fuentes, Isabel; Nuez-Martínez, Miquel; Kelemen, Zsolt; Andrio, Andreu; Viñas, Clara; Compañ, Vicente; Teixidor, Francesc
Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 10, 16182- 16192
10.1039/d2ta02079c
Here we show electrochemically made, intimately blended, dual redox reversible materials incorporating PEDOT and metallacarboranes. The dual redox reversible system has been extensively characterized and has been shown to be a promising candidate for the water oxidation reaction.

Chemical Doping of the Organic Semiconductor C8-BTBT-C8 Using an Aqueous Iodine Solution for Device Mobility Enhancement

Li, Jinghai; Babuji, Adara; Temiño, Inés; Salzillo, Tommaso; D'Amico, Francesco; Pfattner, Raphael; Ocal, Carmen; Barrena, Esther; Mas-Torrent, Marta
Advanced Materials Technologies, 7, 2101535- 2101535
10.1002/admt.202101535
Chemical doping is considered to be a promising key enabler for improving OFETs performance, although there is a limited number of established doping protocols as well as a lack of understanding of the doping mechanisms. Here, a very simple doping methodology based on exposing an organic semiconductor thin film to an aqueous iodine solution is reported.

X-ray detectors with ultrahigh sensitivity employing high performance transistors based on a fully organic small molecule semiconductor/polymer blend active layer

A. Tamayo, I. Fratelli, A. Ciavatti, C. Martinez-Domingo, P. Branchini, E. Colantoni, S. De Rosa, L. Tortora, A. Contillo, R. Santiago, S. T. Bromley, B. Fraboni, M. Mas-Torrent, L. Basirico
Adv. Electr. Mater. 2022, 8, 2200293
10.1002/aelm.202200293
The implementation of organic semiconductor (OSC) materials in X-ray detectors provides exciting new opportunities for developing a new generation of biocompatible devices with high potential for the fabrication of sensitive and low-cost X-ray imaging systems. Here, the fabrication of high performance organic field-effect transistors (OFETs) based on blends of 1,4,8,11-tetramethyl-6,13-triethylsilylethynyl pentacene (TMTES) with polystyrene is reported. The work highlights the potential exploitation of high performance OFETs for future innovative large-area and highly sensitive X-ray detectors for medical dosimetry and diagnostic applications.

RL5: Bioactive Materials for Therapy and Diagnosis

With the objective to increase the selectivity, efficiency and safety of the nanomedicines and also generate a better understanding of their interaction with biological entities, RL5 has generate scientific and technological knowledge through the design, synthesis and processing of new materials of interest to biomedical companies and clinical groups for improved diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

Materials engineering and biointeraction
: RL5 has designed and engineered new materials platforms and control their interaction with biological systems for selected applications. Specifically; RL5 has i) developed highly Aligned Bacterial Nanocellulose Films Obtained During Static Biosynthesis in a Reproducible and Straightforward Approach with high thermal conductivity for cell culture applications or cellulose based devices and ii) developed a methodology to obtain in one-step a double network hydrogels based on photocurable monomers and bacterial cellulose fibers with high biocompatibility and increased stiffness as potential candidates for vascular and cartilage tissue implants.

Therapy:
RL5 has generated new effective materials targeting specific functions to find solutions in different illnesses, that are currently acquiring epidemic dimensions with a focus on cancer, infections, and tissue regeneration.
For cancer, RL5 specifically has developed: i) stable nanovesicles with tunable pH sensitiveness constituting an attractive platform for the efficient delivery of miRNAs and other small RNAs with therapeutic activity and their exploitation in the clinics. The nanovesicles are prepared by a green, GMP compliant, and scalable one-step procedure, which are all unavoidable requirements for the arrival to the clinical practice of NP based miRNA therapeutics. QS protect miRNAs from RNAses and when injected intravenously, deliver them into liver, lung, and neuroblastoma xenografts tumors; ii) Riboflavin–citrate conjugate multicore superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) with enhanced magnetic responses and cellular uptake in breast cancer cells. MRI and MH responses of the coated Rf-SPIONs were tested demonstrating it is an excellent platform for theranostic applications in breast cancer; and also iii) inverse opal hydrogels for Enhanced human T cell expansion required for adoptive cell therapies.
For infections, RL5 has developed new antimicrobials or innovative tools for the prevention of infectious agents (i.e., water soluble organometallic small molecules based on anionic metallacarborane as promising antibacterial agents have been developed representing a promising tool to treat infectious intracellular bacteria).
For tissue regeneration, RL5 has used fluid nanovesicles as a novel template to achieve hierarchical nanostructures of RGD peptides. In comparison with substrates featuring a homogeneous distribution of peptides, the novel platform dramatically enhanced cell adhesion, despite lower overall RGD molecules on the surface. These findings open new methods for the hierarchical immobilization of biomolecules on surfaces using fluid nanovesicles as a robust and novel tissue engineering strategy.

Bioimaging. RL5 has developed materials for new methods of diagnosis. RL5 has: i) Studied the role of dye diffusion in liquid-like membranes to develop ultrabright Föster Resonance Energy Transfer Nanovesicles resulting in optimized nanoprobes that are 120-fold brighter than QDot 605 and exhibit >80% FRET efficiency with vesicle-to-vesicle variations that are mostly below 10%. This research will allow improving the resolution and signal-to-noise ratio of current fluorescence imaging techniques; ii) used o-Carborane-based fluorophores as efficient luminescent systems as water-dispersible nanoparticles for bioimaging applications.
RL5 also counted with transversal key enabling technologies for the development of the proposed objectives, such as the in-vivo C.elegans models, theoretical models and atomistic simulations, cell culture lab and a soft material lab belonging to the ICTS NANBIOSIS. The spin-off company Nanomol Technologies have participated in the upscaling of some of the developed nanomaterials (e.g. nanovesicles for drug delivery).


Highly Aligned Bacterial Nanocellulose Films Obtained During Static Biosynthesis in a Reproducible and Straightforward Approach

Murugarren, Nerea; Roig-Sanchez, Soledad; Antón-Sales, Irene; Malandain, Nanthilde; Xu, Kai; Solano, Eduardo; Reparaz, Juan Sebastian; Laromaine, Anna
Advanced Science, 9, 2201947
10.1002/advs.202201947
This work takes advantage of natural bacteria biosynthesis in a reproducible and straightforward approach. Bacteria confined and statically incubated biosynthesized Bacterial nanocellulose (BNC) nanofibers in a single direction without entanglement.

Engineering pH-Sensitive Stable Nanovesicles for Delivery of MicroRNA Therapeutics

Boloix, Ariadna; Feiner-Gracia, Natalia; Köber, Mariana; Repetto, Javier; Pascarella, Rosa; Soriano, Aroa; Masanas, Marc; Segovia, Nathaly; Vargas-Nadal, Guillem; Merlo-Mas, Josep; Danino, Dganit; Abutbul-Ionita, Inbal; Foradada, Laia; Roma, Josep; Córdoba, Alba; Sala, Santi; de Toledo, Josep Sánchez; Gallego, Soledad; Veciana, Jaume; Albertazzi, Lorenzo; Segura, Miguel F.; Ventosa, Nora
Small, 18, 2101959
10.1002/smll.202101959
A study on new nanovesicles, known as quatsomes, which have been successfully engineered to encapsulate and deliver microRNAs for the treatment of tumors. These nanovesicles are produced by a simple GMP compliant process, an unavoidable requirement for the clinical use of new drug candidates.

Multifunctional Switch Based on Spin-Labeled Gold Nanoparticles

Lloveras, Vega; Elías-Rodríguez, Pilar; Bursi, Luca; Shirdel, Ehsan; Goñi, Alejandro R.; Calzolari, Arrigo; Vidal-Gancedo, José
Nano Letters, 22, 768-774
10.1021/acs.nanolett.1c04294
First demonstration of a surface molecular switch based on gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) decorated with persistent perchlorotriphenylmethyl (PTM) radicals. The redox properties of PTM are exploited to fabricate electrochemical switches with optical and magnetic responses, showing high stability and reversibility.

Ultrabright Föster Resonance Energy Transfer Nanovesicles: The Role of Dye Diffusion

Morla-Folch, Judit; Vargas-Nadal, Guillem; Fuentes, Edgar; Illa-Tuset, Sílvia; Köber, Mariana; Sissa, Cristina; Pujals, Silvia; Painelli, Anna; Veciana, Jaume; Faraudo, Jordi; Belfield, Kevin D.; Albertazzi, Lorenzo; Ventosa, Nora
Chemistry of Materials, 34, 8517-8527
10.1021/acs.chemmater.2c00384
We have developed Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based nanovesicles at different dye loadings and investigated them through complementary experimental techniques, including conventional fluorescence spectroscopy and super-resolution microscopy supported by molecular dynamics calculations. They could be used as contrast agents.

One-step double network hydrogels of photocurable monomers and bacterial cellulose fibers

Roig-Sanchez, Soledad; Kam, Doron; Malandain, Nanthilde; Sachyani-Keneth, Ela; Shoseyov, Oded; Magdassi, Shlomo; Laromaine, Anna; Roig, Anna
Carbohydrate Polymers, 294, 119778
10.1016/j.carbpol.2022.119778
Double network (DN) hydrogels composed of polyacrylic acid (PAA) and bacterial cellulose nanofibers (BCNFs) fabricated by one fast UV photopolymerization step could be used as potential candidates for vascular and cartilage tissue implants.

Hierarchical Quatsome-RGD Nanoarchitectonic Surfaces for Enhanced Integrin-Mediated Cell Adhesion

Marc Martínez-Miguel, Miquel Castellote-Borrell, Mariana Köber, Adriana R Kyvik, Judit Tomsen-Melero, Guillem Vargas-Nadal, Jose Muñoz, Daniel Pulido, Edgar Cristóbal-Lecina, Solène Passemard, Miriam Royo, Marta Mas-Torrent, Jaume Veciana, Marina I Giannotti, Judith Guasch, Nora Ventosa, Imma Ratera
ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2022, 14, 42, 48179–48193
10.1021/acsami.2c10497
Quatsome-based hybrid self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) opens up many possible pathways for the understanding of cell behavior, which is not limited just to 2D surfaces but could also be applied to 3D scaffolds, improving the performance of clinical applications like implants and tissue engineering.

o-Carborane-based fluorophores as efficient luminescent systems both as solids and as water dispersible nanoparticles      

Sinha, Sohini; Kelemen, Zsolt; Humpfner, Evelyn; Ratera, Imma; Malval, Jean-Pierre; Piers Jurado, Jose; Vinas, Clara; Teixidor, Francesc; Nunez, Rosario      
Chemical Communications, 58, 25, 4016, 4019              
10.1039/d1cc07211k
This article is part of the themed collection: Boron Chemistry in the 21st Century: From Synthetic Curiosities to Functional Molecules. This study demonstrates that water insoluble o-carborane-based fluorophores can be dispersed in water by preparing nanoparticles unprecedentedly, in a controlled manner.