Author: Anna May

Anna May in a course about Science and Media at the RTVE studios

Anna May has participated this week in the course El científico ante los medios de comunicación organized by Fundación Dr. Antonio Esteve, Indagando TV, Instituto RTVE and CSIC, with 25 other scientists of different fields. The course took place at the RTVE (Radio y Televisión Española) studios, in Sant Cugat del Vallès. 

This experience of two days gives the opportunity to scientists to see the dynamics of working in the media, with the aim that they learn to master the everyday situations, such as TV interviews, news writing, and press conferences, and learn to communicate science. 

Apart from the audiovisual media, the course is also dedicated to radio programs, institutional communication, science communication agencies and science outreach on the Internet

Some of the professionals that give the course are Graziella Almendral (Indagando TV), Ana Montserrat Rosell (Tres.14), Miguel Ángel Martín (Instituto RTVE), Marta Cáceres (Para todos La 2), Juan Antonio Senante (RTVE), Isidre Ramos (RTVE), Jaime Pérez del Val (CSIC), Pablo González Batista (M80), Adeline Marcos (Agencia SINC), Pere Buhigas (Lab24), and Marc de Semir (Fundación Bertelsmann).

More information:

Mihaela Popovici from IMEC is visiting the ICMAB this week

Mihaela Popovici, Senior Researcher at the Semiconductor Technology and Systems Unit at IMEC (Interuniversity MicroElectronics Center, Leuven, Belgium)  is visiting the ICMAB this week, invited by Anna Roig

On Monday she gave an ICMAB Seminar at 12 pm at Sala d’actes “Carles Miravitlles”, entitled “Crystalline phase dependency of the electrical performance of oxide dielectrics for semiconductor applications”.

Short abstract:
Continuous dimensional downscaling of dielectrics and metals
in semiconductor industry requires improved, non-defective metal-dielectric interfaces in order to preserve the intrinsic properties of the nanomaterials at thicknesses ranging between 5 and 10 nm. For such thin films, atomic layer deposition (ALD) is nowadays envisaged as the most suited deposition technique to deliver conformal layers in high aspect ratio structures. The crystalline phase often determines the dielectric constant and the bandgap energy and consequently electrical characteristics such as capacitance and leakage current density in metal-insulator-metal capacitors. Other specific properties like ferroelectricity seems to be driven by the presence of a particular phase (e.g. orthorhombic) with potential applications in ferroelectric field effect transistor fabrication.

Graphical Abstract from: Understanding the EOT–Jg degradation in Ru/SrTiOx/Ru metal–insulator–metal capacitors formed with Ru atomic layer deposition (Microelectronic Engineering, 147, 108-112, 2015).

Short Bio:
Mihaela Popovici is a Senior Researcher in the Semiconductor Technology and Systems Unit at IMEC, Belgium. She received her PhD in Materials Science and Engineering in 2004, at the Politehnica University of Timisoara, Romania. She had a Marie Curie fellowship at ICMAB in 2002-2003 in the field of magnetic aerogels and was post-doctoral fellow at Philips Research Eindhoven in Photonic Materials and Devices during 2005-2007. She has been working for almost a decade at the nano-electronics R&D center of IMEC in Leuven, Belgium on memory chip scaling. At present she is the technical leader of the metal-insulator-metal capacitor project for DRAM applications. Her main expertise resides in dielectric oxides and metal thin films development, physical and electrical characterization and design of complex materials stacks with applications in nano-electronic devices.

Welcome to Olatz in the NN Group, and farewell to Dani and Valentin

In this week’s Group Meeting we welcomed Olatz Arriaga, an undergraduate student from the Basque Country. Olatz is studying “Nanoscience and Nanotechnology” at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), and will do her Final Bachelor’s Project under the supervision of Anna Roig, working in the synthesis of gold and titanium oxide nanoparticles.

We also said goodbye to Dani Beltran and Valentin Natarov, who are leaving this week the ICMAB. Dani will continue his Master in Biomedical Engineering at UB-UPC, and Valentin will go back to Belarus to continue his Master in Chemistry at Belarusian State University.

They both gave a very nice presentation on the work they have been doing in our group, about stabilizing non-stable polymorphs in mesoporous silica, and synthesizing iron oxide and silica nanocomposites for biomedical applications, under the supervision of Martí Gich and Anna Roig

Accepted Manuscript in Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics on hyperthermia

The article Anticipating hyperthermia efficiency of magnetic colloids by a semi-empirical model: a tool to help medical decisions(Marcela B. Fernández van Raap, Diego Fernando Coral Coral, Siming Yu, Guillermo Arturo Muñoz, Francisco Sánchez and Anna Roig) has been just accepted in Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics (RSC) DOI: 10.1039/C6CP08059F and is now available online. 

This paper is the result of a collaboration with the Instituto de Física La Plata (IFLP- CONICET) at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata (UNLP) in Argentina



Magnetic hyperthermia, a modality that uses radio frequency heating assisted with single-domain magnetic nanoparticles, is becoming established as a powerful oncological therapy. Much improvement in nanomateriales development, to enhance their heating efficiency by tuning the magnetic colloids properties, has been achieved.

However, methodological standardization to accurately and univocally determine the colloids properties required to numerically reproduce specific heating efficiency using analytical expressions still holds.Thus, anticipating the hyperthermic performances of magnetic colloids entails high complexity due to polydispersity, aggregation and dipolar interaction always present in real materials to a more or lesser degree.

Here, by numerically simulating experimental results and using real biomedical aqueous colloids, we analyse and compared several approaches to reproduce experimental specific absorption rate values. Then, we show that relaxation time, determined using a representative mean activation energy consistently derived from four independent experiments accurately reproduces experimental heating efficiencies.

Moreover, the so-derived relaxation time can be used to extrapolate the heating performance of the magnetic nanoparticles to other field conditions within the framework of the linear response theory. We thus present a practical tool that may truly aid the design of medical decisions.


Anna Laromaine at the NANO TECH 2017 exhibition in Tokyo

Anna Laromaine will be at the International Nanotechnology Exhibition and Conference (NANO TECH 2017) within the CSIC Scientific Representation.

The CSIC will be one of the exhibitors, presenting novel products in nanotechnology: new functionalized composites of nanocellulose and fibrous clays, biosensors for simultaneous detection of several biological samples in solution, nanostructured networks for applications in energy, optical devices, microelectronics, etc., or devices to induce hyperthermia in cells through magnetic nanoparticles, among others.

NANO TECH 2017 will take place in Tokyo (Japan), at the Tokyo Big Sight, from 13-15 February 2017. 

Tokyo Big Sight

Some of the members of the N&N Group at the JIPI conference in Barcelona

UB paranimf

Today at the Paranimf of the Universitat de Barcelona there is the Jornada d’Investigadors Predoctorals Interdisciplinària” (JIPI) -Interdisciplinary Meeting of Predoctoral Researchers-, from 8.30 am to 8 pm. 

The JIPI is a meeting point for PhD researchers in Catalonia, where they can present their work and meet researchers of different fields.

Apart from the flash talks, divided in different topics (Applied sciences, Social sciences, Life sciences and Humanities), and given by 1, 2 or 3 speakers together, the attendees can participate in a speed-networking session, and in interesting debates. The topics of the debates of this year are “Women in research”, “Doctors and the private sector” and “Education in science”.

Irene, Ma Zheng, Sole, Júlia, Pengmei Yu and Alex

Irene Anton, Sole Roig and Ma Zheng from the N&N Group have attented the conference. From ICMAB, Júlia Jareño and Alexander Stangl, who presented the talk “Hot future for cold superconductors”, won the award of their session. Congrats!

Ma, Sole and Irene sitting in the left-background.
Alex and Júlia 

You can follow the #JIPI2017 activities on twitter at @jipi_bcn and see the abstracts of the flash-talks and more information at their webpage and facebook page

Accepted paper in Acta Biomaterialia on testing gold nanoparticles in vivo using C. elegans

The paper In vivo testing of gold nanoparticles using the Caenorhabditis elegans model organism” has been publised in Acta Biomaterialia (Available online 1 February 2017; doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2017.01.080). 

The authors of the paper are Laura González-Moragas, Pascal Berto, Clara VilchesRomain Quidant, Androniki Kolovou, Rachel Santarella-Mellwig, Yannick Schwab, Stephen Stürzenbaum, Anna Roig, and Anna Laromaine

The paper is a result of a collaboration between the NN Group at ICMAB (González-Moragas, Roig and Laromaine), the ICFO-Institut de Ciències Fotòniques (Berto, Vilches and Quidant), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, EMBL in Heidelberg, Germany (Kolovou, Santarella-Mellwig, Schwab) and King’s College London in UK (Stürzenbaum).  



Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) are present in many man-made products and cosmetics, and are also used by the food and medical industries. Tight regulations regarding the use of mammalian animals for product testing can hamper the study of the specific interactions between engineered nanoparticles and biological systems. Invertebrate models, such as the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), can offer alternative approaches during the early phases of nanoparticle discovery.

Panels B and C are optical microscopy images of B) 11-nm and C) 150-nm AuNPs treated worms. 11-nm AuNPs appear pink, and 150-nm AuNPs appear blue.

Here, we thoroughly evaluated the biodistribution of 11-nm and 150-nm citrate-capped AuNPs in the model organism C. elegans at multiple scales, moving from micrometric to nanometric resolution and from the organism to cellular level. We confirmed that the nanoparticles were not able to cross the intestinal and dermal barriers. We investigated the effect of AuNPs on the survival and reproductive performance of C. elegans, and correlated these effects with the uptake of AuNPs in terms of their number, surface area, and metal mass. In general, exposure to 11-nm AuNPs resulted in a higher toxicity than the larger 150-nm AuNPs. NP aggregation inside C. elegans was determined using absorbance microspectroscopy, which allowed the plasmonic properties of AuNPs to be correlated with their confinement inside the intestinal lumen, where anatomical traits, acidic pH and the presence of biomolecules play an essential role on NP aggregation. Finally, quantitative PCR of selected molecular markers indicated that exposure to AuNPs did not significantly affect endocytosis and intestinal barrier integrity.


Participation in the International Day of Women and Girls in Science – 11 February

Selfie before the show!
This week ICMAB participates actively in the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, which is on February 11.

The activities in Spain are gathered under the name “11febrero” and can be found in the webpage

Anna Roig, Anna Laromaine and Anna May, from the NN Group, participate, together with other women* from ICMAB, in the play “Madame Châtelet and her Instagram followers”, in which different scientific women meet at Madame Châtelet’s palace and explain their live and their discoveries.

Anna May, Anna Roig, Anna Laromaine
Anna May, Anna Roig, Anna Laromaine

The play will be performed at IES Pere Calders Highschool and at the L’Escoleta School, both at Campus UAB. 

The scientists that appear are: Émile du Châtelet, Hypatia, Trota of Salerno, Beatriu de Pinós, Maria Sibylla Merian, Ada Lovelace, Nettie Stevens, Rosalind Franklin, Vera Rubin and Margarita Salas. The piano player is Hildegard of Bingen

Other scientists mentioned in the play include Caroline Herschel, Mary Anning, Lise Meitner, Irène Joliot-Curie, Barbara McClintock, Dorothy Hodgkin, Maria Goeppert-Mayer, Rachel Carson, Gertrude Elion and Rita Levi-Montalcini

Did you know any of these scientists?

Selfie with the audience!

You can follow this initiative in the Instagram account @madamechatelet2017

*The other women from ICMAB are: Mariona Coll, Marta Vendrell, Carmen Ocal, Arántzazu González, Rosa Palacín, Núria Aliaga, Esther Barrena, Rosario Núñez, Joana Martínez and Susagna Ricart.  

Heavy metals sensor platform developed during the COMMON SENSE project

From left to right: Pablo Fanjul (DropSens), Cesar Fernández (CNM), Martí Gich (NN Group), Carla Navarro (DropSens), Anna Roig (NN Group), Margaret McCaul (DCU)

A sensor platform to detect heavy metals has been developed within the COMMON SENSE project and presented during its final event, last Friday 27th January.

The partners that participated in the development of this sensor platform are Dublin City University (DCU), DropSens, National Center of Microelectronics (CNM-IMB) (CSIC), and the Nanoparticles and Nanocomposites Group (NN) at ICMAB (CSIC)

Highlights of the heavy metals sensor platform (photo):

  • Autonomous system for the detection of cadmium (Cd2+), lead (Pb2+), copper (Cu2+) and mercury (Hg2+) ions at trace level.
  • Modular design.
  • Adjustable flow control for heavy metals detection.
  • No pre-treatment of samples necessary.
  • No pre-concentraton of samples necessary. The sensor directly operates on-site and pre-concentrates the heavy metals on the surface of the electrode.
  • Complete mixing of the sample and buffer in a microfluidic chip.
  • Storage container for reagent waste designed for easy on-site maintenance. 
Heavy metals sensor platform, with a TRL=7

Apart from this sensor, in which the NN Group has participated, the COMMON SENSE project has developed prototypes of other in situ next generation marine monitoring sensors:

  • Microplastics analyser
  • Underwater noise sensor
  • Eutrophication sensor
  • Autonomous pH and pCO2 sensors
  • Innovative temperature and pressure sensors

For more information, please visit the COMMON SENSE project website or contact the leader of the Dissemination and Knowledge Management Work Package, Cliona Ní Cheallachain ( 

The COMMON SENSE project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program (Ocean 2013-2) under grant agreement no 614155.

新年快乐! Happy Chinese New Year! We start now the year of the Rooster!

Today (January 27) is Chinese New Year’s Eve (除夕), and as we have many Chinese people at ICMAB, and in our group, we wanted to celebrate it! 

Qianzhe, Ma, Yajie and Luo are very happy; it is a big feast in their country! But, unfortunately, they will have to work during the Chinese holidays…

Each year, in Chinese astrology, is associated with an animal sign. From tomorrow (January 28), Chinese New Year’s day (初一), it will be a Rooster year. There are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac cycle, and the Rooster is the 10th of it, after Monkey and before Dog. 

In addition, each year is not just associated with an animal sign, but also with one of the five following elements: Gold (Metal), Wood, Water, Fire, or Earth. In this case, we will start a Fire Rooster year!

Are you a Rooster? You can check it out in this fantastic webpage, where you will also find more information about the Fire Rooster year. 

We wish everybody a Happy Chinese New Year!