Physics and Engineering of Nanodevices

Group Leader: Sergio Valenzuela

ICN2 Physics and Engineering of Nanodevices Group 2019

Main Research Lines

  • Development of novel nanodevice structures and nanofabrication methods to investigate the physical properties of materials at the nanoscale and their technological relevance

  • Investigation of topological properties and low energy propagation of information in quantum anomalous edge states

  • Spin and thermal transport in 2D systems such as topological insulators, graphene and transition metal dichalcogenides

  • Control of the magnetic state of ferro- and antiferromagnetic systems by means of the spin-orbit interaction and, particularly, the spin Hall effect

  • Coupling in hybrid magnon-phonon-photon systems

In 2019 the Physics and Engineering of Nanodevices Group continued its work under the H2020 Graphene Flagship programme to develop spintronic applications with graphene and related 2D materials. The group has experimentally demonstrated anisotropic spin relaxation and observed tunable spin to charge conversion at room temperature in graphene caused by spin-orbit proximity effects from a transition metal dichalcogenide. We have also continued to make progress in exploring the spin properties of materials with large spin-orbit interaction —in particular topological insulators grown in a dual-chamber molecular beam epitaxial (MBE) system—, in developing spin torque measurements in topological insulator/ ferromagnet structures, and in the study of proximity effects by ferromagnetic insulators and molecules.

Work has also been carried out within the context of the Spintronics in 2-Dimensional Dirac Systems (S2DDS) project, supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness (MINECO), dedicated to the study of the spin Hall effect, of the charge and spin transport properties of graphene, including the growth of CVD graphene, of the electrical injection and detection of hot carriers, and of the spin-to­-charge conversion efficiency in graphene/metal hybrids.

The group coordinates two European projects launched in 2019. The TOCHA project (Dissipationless topological channels for information transfer and quantum metrology, FET-PROACTIVE), funded under the Horizon 2020 EU Research and Development Programme, has the ambition of harnessing topological concepts for future generation of devices and architectures across which information can flow with low losses.

This conceptually simple, yet technologically and fundamentally challenging, requirement is crucial for the development of technologies in fields ranging from information processing to quantum communication and metrology. In each of these areas, the dissipation of information is a key hurdle that leads, for example, to unacceptable thermal loads or error rates.

The 2DSPINMEM project (Functional 2D materials and heterostructures for hybrid spintronic-memristive devices, M-ERA) explores group-IV monochalcogenides (IV-MCs) materials and aims to perform the first ever evaluation of their potential as memristors, as well as to implement graphene-based heterostructures to control graphene spin properties by changing the memristive setting of the chalcogenides.

The group participates in the SpinTronicFactory network to coordinate EU spintronics activities and represents the Bellaterra node of the recently funded MINECO Spintronics Network. It is also working on the study of quantum annealing for quantum computation, in collaboration with researchers at the Institute for High Energy Physics (IFAE).

In 2019, the group has been awarded an ERC Proof of Concept and a MIT-LaCaixa Seed Fund, scheduled to start during 2020.

Group Leader

Sergio Valenzuela

ICREA Research Professor

Prof. Sergio Valenzuela obtained his PhD in Physics in 2001 at the Universidad de Buenos Aires (Argentina) and held research positions at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Since July 2008 he has been an ICREA Research Professor and leader of the ICN2 Physics and Engineering of Nanodevices Group. His research is focused on the unique properties of materials with nanoscale dimensions, motivated by both their intrinsic scientific interest and their potential for advanced electronic applications. His work encompasses spintronics, quantum computation with superconducting circuits and nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS). Together with his collaborators, he has pioneered the use of non-local devices to study the spin Hall effect, of thermopiles to isolate the magnon drag in ferromagnetic materials, and implemented novel qubit control and spectroscopy methods.

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