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Tuesday, 21 July 2020

5 projects selected for the ICN2 Severo Ochoa Seed Funding

The awardees are Maria Soler, Leyre Gómez, César Moreno and Emigdio Chávez, Ramon Garcia, and Adriana Figueroa, Alexander Block and David García. The selected projects will facilitate new knowledge about nanobiosensors, photonic sensors based on porous metal-organic polyhedra, engineering of nanoporous graphene, intra-cortical probes and spintronic devices. 

The SO Seed Funding programme was designed to support the development of novel and exploratory concepts that take excellence in new, emerging directions in research and/or original applications that bring value to European industry.

The selection committee of the SO Seed Funding programme has selected 5 projects out of the 16 excellent proposals that were submitted. The selected projects, that will be funded with up to 20.000€, are aimed to generate preliminary data or take first steps to proving the interest/validity of an idea while contributing to institutional Severo Ochoa objectives of the ICN2.

The awarded projects are (in alphabetical order):

-        DIANA (All-Dielectric Nanobiosensors for On-chip Live Cell Analysis)

IP: Dr Maria Soler (Nanobiosensors and Bioanalytical Applications Group, led by Prof. Laura Lechuga).

The main objective of this project is to develop a new enabling nanotechnology that facilitates and simplifies cell analysis, improving and accelerating the production of immunotherapies and boosting their global implementation. This proposal will investigate, fabricate, and characterize novel biosensors based on dielectric materials, mainly Si, that ensure high biocompatibility and optimum sensing features.

-        ESENS-MOP (Detection of Environmental Priority Pollutants Recognized by Photonic Sensors based on Porous Metal-Organic Polyhedra)

IP: Dr Leyre Gómez (Supramolecular NanoChemistry and Materials Group, led by ICREA Prof. Daniel Maspoch, and NanoBiosensors and Bioanalytical Applications Group, led by Prof. Laura Lechuga).

This project aims to provide a novel photonic chemical sensor using a bimodal waveguide interferometer, whose working principle is based on nanoscale local shifts of the refractive index, using as specific chemical receptor molecular porous materials. Precisely, rhodium(ll)-based Metal-Organic Polyhedra, nanoscale discrete molecular cages which exhibit permanent porosity and can adsorb or host analyte molecules selectively.              

-        GAPING (Strain-controlled gap engineering of nanoporous graphene)   

IP: Dr César Moreno (Atomic Manipulation and Spectroscopy Group, led by ICREA Prof. Aitor Mugarza) and Dr Emigdio Chavez (Phononic and Photonic Nanostructures Group, led by ICREA Prof. Clivia M. Sotomayor-Torres).

Strain engineering is regarded as one of the most promising approaches to tune the properties of 2D materials. This project will focus in the experimental demonstration of the strain-controlled electronic band gap modulation of semiconducting nanoporous graphene, which would constitute a cornerstone for the implementation of nanostructured 2D materials in straintronics. This project  will undoubtedly have a strong impact in a wide range of optoelectronic applications such as strain-sensors, flexible transistors or photodetectors. 

-        MULTIPLEX-NEURO (Multiplexed intra-cortical probes for wide bandwidth neural sensing)
IP: Ramon Garcia (Advanced Electronic Materials and Devices Group, led by ICREA Prof. Jose A. Garrido).
Sensor arrays used to detect electrophysiological signals from the brain are of great importance in neuroscience and biomedical engineering. Intra-cortical neural probes, which penetrate into the brain cortex, are essential for the reliable detection of action potentials. This project plans to stablish the foundation to demonstrate a thousand channel graphene-based array consisting of 16 shanks with 64 sensors each, which would outperform any state-of-the-art intra-cortical neural probe.

-        THESPIN (TeraHertz Emitters with SPINtronic devices)

IP: Dr Adriana Figueroa (Physics and Engineering of Nanodevices Group, led by ICREA Prof. Sergio O. Valenzuela), Dr Alexander Block (Ultrafast Dynamics in Nanoscale Systems Group, led by Dr Klaas-Jan Tielrooij) and Dr David Garcia (Phononic and Photonic Nanostructures Group, led by ICREA Prof. Clivia M. Sotomayor-Torres).
The Terahertz (THz) range refers to a frequency band in the electromagnetic spectrum where many important dynamical processes occur. The research to improve THz emitters and detectors has intensified in recent years. This project suggests the development of an intense, broadband, and low power driven THz emitter based on thin topological insulator/ferromagnetic metal heterostructures. Such devices should have the potential to become the next generation of low-cost THz sources.

From the ICN2 we would like to congratulate the awardees and wish that the best possible results come out of their exciting ideas. It is worth noting that a second call of the SO Seed Funding Programme will be launched during the upcoming months. Stay tuned!