Oxide Nanophysics

Group Leader: Gustau Catalán

Main Research Lines

  • Flexoelectricity and piezoelectricity: fundamentals and devices

  • Ferroelectrics, multiferroics, metal-insulator transitions

  • Electronic and electromechanical properties of oxide thin films

  • Domain wall nanoelectronics

Led by ICREA Research Prof. Gustau Catalan, the Oxide Nanophysics group studies how the properties of oxide materials change at the nanoscale. Properties may be emergent –i.e. more notable at the nanoscale than at the macroscale, such as flexoelectricity or domain walls- or deteriorating –i.e. properties that get worse at the nanoscale due to the presence of size effects, strain or dead layers. The ON group is perhaps best known for its flexoelectric research, having set up Europe’s first specialized laboratory of this topic with the help of an ERC grant. The group is also noted for its work on domain wall properties. More recently, the group has diverted into antiferroelectricity, having discovered the bulk photovoltaic effect in antiferroelectrics and performed the first measurement of flexoelectricity in these materials. Newer research is underway to elucidate the origin of their anomalous (negative) electrocaloric effect. We believe the latter to be relevant for the problem of negative capacitance, a central theme of this research proposal. Besides its broad expertise on the physics of oxides, with emphasis on domain walls and antiferrolectricity, the ICN2 node also brings highly skilled expertise on piezoresponse force microscopy, as well as facilities for the fabrication of thin films and characterization of their structural and functional properties.

Group Leader

Prof. Gustau Catalán, leader of the ICN2 Oxide Nanophysics group

Gustau Catalán

ICREA Research Professor

Prof. Gustau Catalán earned his degree in physics at the Universitat de Barcelona in 1997 and his PhD, also in physics, at Queen’s University of Belfast in 2001. He held research positions at the Institut Mediterrani d’Estudis Avançats in Mallorca (2002-2004), the University of Groningen (2004-2005) and the University of Cambridge (2005-2009). In 2009, he was appointed ICREA Research Professor and joined the ICN2 as leader of the Oxide Nanophysics Group. At the ICN2, with the help of an ERC Grant, he set up one of the world’s first laboratories of flexoelectricity.

Prof. Catalan’s scientific interests cover a variety of physical properties of oxides, from ferroelelectricity to metal-insulator transitions, and from flexoelectricity to domain wall physics, with emphasis on how these properties are affected by reduced size.

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