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Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Prof Elvira Fortunato talks about the potential of old materials in new and disruptive applications

On April 17th, Prof Elvira Fortunato, from CENIMAT, visited the ICN2 and offered a talk about the great potential that metal oxides have in the future of electronics and to develop new and disruptive applications. The speaker was introduced by ICN2 Group Leader and ICREA Prof Arben Merkoci who remarked the highlights of her career.

Prof Elvira Fortunato, from the Department of Material Science of CENIMAT/i3N, Universidade Nova de Lisboa and CEMOP/Uninova, Portugal, offered last Friday April 17th, a talk at the ICN2 entitled ‘The Golden age of old materials used for new and disruptive applications’. The speaker was introduced by ICREA Prof Arben Merkoci, Group Leader of the ICN2 Nanobioelectronics and Biosensors Group, who remarked the highlights of her career.

After contextualizing her work, Prof Fortunato started the talk introducing transparent electronics and its development through metal oxides. She remarked that ten years ago it was impossible to use a metal oxide as a semiconductor but now there are companies facing the needs to new generation of devices and that is in this point where the bonds between materials and nanotechnology are strengthen.

Following this brief introduction she went on explaining why metal oxides are outstanding materials for the new electronics applications. Prof Fortunato remarked that the point is to find cheap and abundant materials in conjunction with low cost fabrication methods, associated to an overall increase of electrical performance. Metal oxides are chemically stable, mostly non-toxic and abundant materials, often manufactured by low cost methods, under ambient conditions. Consequently, devices made of metal oxides are inexpensive, very stable and environmentally safe, the three most important requirements for electronics.

These materials are thought to start a new class of electronic materials. On one hand, they can replace the materials used at the moment such as silicon. But they can also be used to make new applications impossible to reach with any other material: metal oxides are better in many properties.

Finally, she reviewed some of the most promising new technologies based on oxide conductors, semiconductors, dielectrics as well as electrochromic devices either in the form of nano-films or nanoparticles, biosensors and she summarized the major milestones already achieved with this emerging and very promising technology. All that was focused on the work developed in their laboratory by showing some examples of paper electronics and other running projects taking place in their facilities at the moment.