Skip to main content

Annual Report 2022

Strategic Priority Actions

Technology Transfer

During 2022, our researchers took advantage of the multiple Proof of Concept calls at regional, national and international level. Those projects will increase the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of our technologies, making them more attractive for companies and investors.

We had 3 Proof of Concept from the Agencia Estatal de Investigación (AEI), 4 Proof of Concept from the ERC, and 6 Proof of Concept from AGAUR (Catalan Agency) awarded, four of them in the “Producte” category and two of them in the “Llavor”. The total funding of the projects was close to 1.5M €.

In 2022, we filed 6 priority patent applications, covering the 3 application lines of the Institute’s research: sustainable energy, low-cost and efficient electronics and smart nanomedicine and health. 

We created one spin-off, Molecular Gate. The company is developing a new technology for patterning organic semiconductor films. Its first product will be an anti-counterfeiting marking system. In 2022, the R+D services and agreements reached a total funding of 410.000€ and we signed 19 NDA/MTAs with different collaborators, companies and laboratories.

One of our technologies was presented in Transfiere 2022, thanks to the Energy for Society Network (XRE4S). We also participated in the Lab-to-Market program of the XRE4S with a new technology to manufacture superconductors, and participated at the FGCSIC-COMTE innovation program with another of our technologies.

We continued our activity as part of the Advanced Materials Cluster (Cluster MAV), organizing, for example, the event on “Materials of the micro and nano worlds” at ICMAB, and also as part of SECPHO and the Energy for Society Network (XRE4S). We also participated in many technology transfer and innovation events, such as Transfiere 2022 or Puzzle X. Finally, we participated in the first TECNIO congress on “technology transfer to generate high-impact innovation”. The president of the TECNIO Association is one of our reserchers, Nora Ventosa.

 

Patents

Ink for the production of superconducting flexible tapes

A new technique to produce superconducting tapes (Coated Conductors, CCs) is developed: the Transient Liquid Assisted Growth-Chemical Solution Deposition (TLAG-CSD). This technique is 100 fold faster than currently used techniques. A key point of the technnique is the production of the solution ink that will create the superconducting layer in the CCs.

Spectral shaper illumination device

We present an innovative device that provides a tunable, focused, spectrally split beam, modulated in intensity and in a wavelength range with respect to the incoming light source. With this new device all the characterizations of optical and optoelectronic devices can be done with a single apparatus.

Lithium filled nanocapsules for cancer treatment

New carbon nanocapsules filled with enriched lithium compounds. These nanocapsules can be applied in Neutron Capture Therapy (NCT) for cancer treatment

Device for vacuum sublimation

Vacuum sublimation methods are used, on one hand, for the purification and recrystallization of molecules, and, on the other hand, to study the reactivity of materials on different substrates. The new sublimator allows the deposition of materials directly onto the desired substrate.

Communication & Outreach

2022 was a year full of communication and outreach activities, especially outreach activities with schools, after two years of not being able to do activities with children and young students due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the safety measures. However, as we had the possibility of doing hybrid events, most of our seminars, workshops, and other activities were done in hybrid mode, using the Zoom platform, to give the possibility to connect online.

2022 was also the year of our YouMaker project: a project funded by the FECYT and our Severo Ochoa project, in which we prepared 10 videos for our YouTube channel and 10 outreach articles for the newspaper El Periódico about 10 of our materials. The idea is to show how science is made from “inside”, and explain the applications and uses of some of our materials for energy, electronics and health. The project had more than 50,000 impacts and was a real success and helped to promote our YouTube channel and other social media.

  • Outreach evolution

  • Social media 2016-2022

  • Social media 2022

Training

During 2022 we hosted many courses, workshops, schools and seminars for our staff, most of them already in-person, but with the possibility of joining online from home or the office. We continued our Mentoring Programme for our PhDs, 33 of which defended their PhD thesis. In addition, many of our researchers attended and organized many internacional scientific conferences all around the world and in different topics. Some of our researchers and staff participate in formal training educational programmes in different universities.


Projects

One of the ICMAB strategic priorities is to lead collaborative research projects. Those include international (mainly from European Commission under its Framework Programmes), national and regional. This allows us to contribute to the research ecosystem, increase our visibility and to have relevant scientific and innovative outputs.

In 2022 we have had an extraordinary success in international, national and regional grant attraction: 5.9 M€ were from European Horizon Europe projects (1.7 M€ more than 2021), 6.7 M€ from MCIN projects (4 M€ more than 2021), 0.8 M€ from CSIC-competitive (2 times 2021 attraction) and 2.2 M€ from the Catalan government (2 M€ more than 2021). In total, we had 35 EU ongoing projects, 11 of them started in 2022, and 114 projects with Spanish funding, 40 of them started in 2022,24 projects with Catalan funding, 18 of them started in 2022.

Among the new European projects, it is worth to mention that four of them were ERC Proof of Concept grants (CELLO, SMS-INKS, VERITASCAN and TARLIT) in our path to bring our innovations and technologies to higher TRLs and closer to the market.

MSCA-COFUND DocFam+

In 2022 ICMAB was awarded with its second Marie Sklodowska Curie COFUND programme. DocFam+ (DOCtoral training programme in Functional Advanced Materials: Towards a Better Future) is a doctoral programme that will recruit 26 extremely talented doctoral researchers to conduct their research at ICMAB and our partner organisations: ALBA Synchrotron Lightsource (ALBA-CELLS), Catalan Institute of Nanoscience & Nanotechnology (ICN2), Catalonia Energy Research Institute (IREC), High Energy Physics Institute (IFAE), the Institute of Microelectronics of Barcelona (IMB-CNM-CSIC) and the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB).

It builds on the success and remarkable outcomes from the original DOCFAM programme, and takes a step further, enhancing the potential and future career perspectives of recruited fellows and consolidating the excellence and outstanding track record of the participating entities. The frontier research programme will be complemented with advanced training aspects in an integrating holistic approach to the training of doctoral fellows through a combination of research-oriented and soft skills.

Our 2 MSCA-COFUND projects (DocFam+ and DOC-FAM) are the only MSCA-COFUND projects that CSIC has as beneficiary.

NFFA Europe

ICMAB is one of the host institutions of the NFFA-Europe (Nanofoundries for fine analysis) project for the synthesis and characterization at the nanoscale across Europe, which started in 2015 and finished in March 2021. ICMAB is also part of the continuation of NFFA-Europe project as NFFA-Europe Pilot (NEP) until 2025.

Severo Ochoa Frontier Interdisciplinary Projects (FIP)

FIPs are an internal call of proposals for researchers of the Institute aimed for the development of both experimental and theoretical frontier interdisciplinary research projects through the exploration of innovative and radical novel ideas and methodologies. The objective is to generate cutting-edge research and innovative technologies in the application areas of the FUNFUTURE Programme: clean & secure energy, smart & sustainable electronics or smart nanomedicine.

During 2022, 17 FIP projects are active. Those projects explore novel ideas and methodologies (Category A), or develop proof-of-concept technologies (Category B). Ten FIP projects were awarded in the second call, during 2022, and seven in the first call in 2021.

Talent attraction and recruiting

One of our main strategic priority actions is to continue attracting scientific talent, in all the stages of the scientific career, and research technicians and support staff. We also aim to continue improving our current training programs, for all our staff, to educate and guide our young researchers through their first years of research live, and to boost our internationalization.

During 2022 we welcomed several postdoctoral researchers, among them, 1 Junior Leader “la Caixa” (Pankaj Bharmoria), 1 Juan de la Cierva Researcher (Elzbieta Pach), 2 new MSCA PF: Cristina Flox and Sergi Riera, and 3 more MSCA PF researchers will start in 2023 (Silvia Damerio, Daniel Martin and Muhammad Ahsan Saeed).

We welcomed 1 visiting scientific professor on sabbatical from Cornell University (New York, USA), Kyle Shen, who was hosted by the MULFOX group.

Many early stage researchers started their PhD with us in 2022, 3 with FPI contracts, and 3 with grants from the China Scholarship Council (CSC), 11 SEVERO OCHOA, 1 AGAUR (Innovadors) 1 Elisabeth Gonzalez Mira.

We received many undergraduate and master students who carried out their bachelor and master research project with us. We had 15 of them with JAE Intro grants.

Our Research Support Unit also grew: Christopher Albornoz and Jose Angel Burriel in the Project Justification area, Artur Martínez in Communication,  Begoña Peña in the Purchases office, Sara Herraiz as Executive Assistant and Elena Santamaria as General Services and Administration.

Incorporation of new technicians (Eduardo Perez del Rio, PTA – MINECO)

Finally, three of our researchers became ad honorem, and we celebrated the Christmas 2022 in their honor: Xavier Granados, Clara Viñas and Francesc Teixidor.