Physics and Engineering of Nanodevices

Group Leader: Sergio Valenzuela

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

  • Quantum circuitry and quantum transduction

In 2021 the Physics and Engineering of Nanodevices Group (PEN) continued its work under the H2020 Graphene Flagship programme to develop spintronic applications with graphene and related 2D materials. The group has experimentally investigated the presence of proximity-induced spin orbit fields and magnetic exchange by means of spin transport methods. It has also continued making 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—, and has developed multilayer all-2D spin torque devices, demonstrating magnetization switching down to a few monolayers, in part funded by an ERC Proof-of-Concept project. Related work will continue with the support of a FLAG-ERA JTC 2021 Project: 2D MagNEtic meMOries: Scalable growth and hYbrid electrical operation (MNEMOSYN).

Work has also been carried out within the context of the new project Engineering the Spin and Thermoelectric Properties the Nanostructured Two-Dimensional Materials (ENGINE2DM), 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, 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 (TOCHA and 2DSPINMEM, described below) and participates on the newly launched quantum initiative, coordinated by ICFO, to develop quantum transduction approaches. It is also a member of the SpinTronicFactory network, established to coordinate EU spintronics activities, and represents the Bellaterra node of the Spanish Spintronics Network.

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.

A new EIC-Pathfinder Project Phase-sensitive Alteration of Light colorAtioN in quadri-parTIte gaRnet cavity (PALANTIRI), coordinated by Spintec (France), was awarded to develop quantum coherent frequency upscaling.

Group Leader

Sergio Valenzuela

ICREA Research Professor

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 quantum metrology. Together with his collaborators, he has pioneered the use of non-local devices to study the spin Hall effect and of thermopiles to isolate the magnon drag in ferromagnetic materials, and he has implemented novel qubit control and spectroscopy methods.

Prof. Valenzuela was awarded the 2001 Giambiagi Prize and the 2009 IUPAP Young Scientist Prize in Magnetism for his contributions to the field of spintronics, as well as an ERC Consolidator Grant in 2012. He has authored over 70 articles (Nature, Science, Reviews of Modern Physics, Nature Materials, Nature Physics, Nature Nanotechnology, Physical Review Letters, among others), four patents, and five books or book chapters.

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