Superconducting Materials and Large Scale Nanostructures, SUMAN department has been active in the field of superconducting materials since the discovery of High Temperature superconductors, more than 20 years ago, it has widely contributed to the field of vortex pinning analysis and materials development for more than 15 years and more recently, since about six years, it has shifted its interests towards the chemical solution approaches to superconducting thin films and coated conductors, due to its high potential in terms of cost-effectiveness for practical applications.
Moreover, the department is contributing to promote and develop the area of nanostructuration through chemical methods. This is a transverse emerging methodology of wide functional interest in which several new breakthroughs have already been achieved recently.
In the area of vortex pinning, we are studying the new ideas of ferromagnetic pinning which appeared quite recently, though already started to be explored in LTS, their capabilities in HTS has not been explored at all.
Overall, the research approach of the department is based on very vast scientific and technological interests which try to combine the generation of new knowledge in several fields (physics, materials, chemistry, nanotechnology) with the development of processes and materials generating industrial outputs (coated conductors, multifunctional oxide nanostructures) at effective costs (chemical deposition methods) and having a very significant attractive for a strategic sector with one of the highest social and environmental concern: the development of a sustainable energy paradigm.
The “Superconducting Materials and large scale nanostructures, SUMAN” group has experience of more than 15 years in the research field of superconducting materials and development of their applications. At this moment the group is constituted by 2 Professors, 1 Research Scientist, 3 Tenured scientists, 1 Ramón y Cajal, 3 postdocs, 2 technicians and 12 PhD students. Since its creation, the group has made a strong evolution in the thematic approaches keeping a large expertise in oxide functional materials, particularly superconductors, and in materials and nanostructures preparation and characterization. A distinctive characteristic of the group is to keep a wise balance among fundamental properties and applied issues, including device development, in collaboration with engineering groups. As indicators of the group we can mention that the group has published more than 250 articles in international journals, many of them in high impact index journals, and 50 publications in books. In the last 5 years, 17 PhD Thesis have been completed, 4 patents have been filed, 70 invited or plenary talks have been given in international Conferences and 1 spin-off company has been created (OXOLUTIA S.L.). Three Prizes have been received: III Premio Durán Farell de Gas Natural to the technological research, Premio Nacional de Investigación Blas Cabrera and the NOVARE-ENDESA prize. Collaborators include over 20 international institutions, 3 technological centers, 10 companies and 9 national research groups.
The recently terminated and present national and European research projects as MAT2008-NANOSUPENERGY, CONSOLIDER-NANOSELECT, MAT2011-SENY, EU-RTN-NESPA and EU- EUROTAPES cover issues related to nanostructure and properties of functional oxides, superconducting thin films and coated conductors; EU-EFECTS and Zenergy industrial contract were related to thin film preparation by Ink Jet Deposition (IJD) and Novare-ENDESA, EU-ECOFLOW and CENIT-AZIMUT projects are strongly linked to the power system development. All of them have contributed to define the SUMAN group as an international leading group in the area of solution based functional oxide films and nanostructures and in particular in high temperature superconducting tapes for power applications.
In recent years, SUMAN has devoted a strong effort to formulations of metalorganic solutions for novel compositions for superconducting nanocomposite films and oxide nanostructures. It is particularly remarkable the innovation associated to the use of ink jet printing (IJP) technology as a standard tool for complex oxide films preparation. Also, the progress achieved in understanding the growth mechanisms of YBa2Cu3O7 superconducting epitaxial layers based on chemical solutions deposition (CSD) and the outstanding results in superconducting nanocomposite films with segregated second phases in the form of nanoparticles. In this latter respect, we have gained outstanding international recognition by correlating strain and vortex pinning in high temperature superconductors (HTS) and proposing a novel pinning mechanism, which has been published in two Nature Materials papers (2007, 2013). Recently, the group has addressed its attention to the synthesis of nanoparticles and their stabilization in superconducting solutions guided by the potentiality of this new methodology in controlling and achieving new breakthroughs. The recently started EU project EUROTAPES-NMP-LA-2012-280432 coordinated at ICMAB (20 M€ total funding, 20 partners) where nanocomposites are foreseen as the solution to generate ultra high field magnets (>15 T, 5K), transmission cables at 77 K and wind generators at 60 K. This topic constitutes our main research line for the next period and will be the basis for this postdoctoral researcher. Also in the same direction of improving performance and understanding vortex pinning mechanisms, SUMAN has always devoted a strong effort in designing and analyzing vortex pinning model systems. In the recent years, the use of nanofabrication techniques (FIB, e-beam lithography, nanoindentation, scanning probe microscopies, …) has given very fruitful results.
This expertise derived in the recent years to widen our interest to other functional oxide films and oxide nanostructures, grown by chemical methods (Chemical Solution Deposition, Atomic Layer Deposition) where self-assembling and assisted self-assembling processes could be controlled. Our group has opened a new methodological avenue which is gaining a strong international recognition due to its innovative character. We have demonstrated that through strain engineering or by using templates, we can prepare in a controlled way, nanodots and nanowires with different shapes, sizes, orientations and functionalities. All these approaches have been undertaken in combination with advanced nanoscale characterization, particularly with Electron microscopies (EELS, STEM, HRTEM), Scanning Proximity microscopies (MFM, AFM, c-AFM, KFM) and synchrotron radiation (PEEM, diffraction). Recently, this topic has initiated research in the area of Resistive Switching phenomena for oxide electronics. In this respect, a formal collaboration with the group of Prof. J. Suñé from the Electronic Engineering School in UAB has been established.
Moreover, we want to mention the effort devoted by SUMAN in directly hosting and organizing international conferences and workshops, i.e. 5 in the last 5 years (International Conference on Coated Conductor for Applications 2009, Transmission Electron Microscopy for advanced materials and nanotechnology (JTEM2010), second-generation HTS wire for Wind Energy applications (2011), HTS Modeling 2012). It is also relevant, the actual participation of some members of SUMAN in co-organization of International conferences hosted in other countries, which includes MRS-symposiums in spring 2012 and 2013, and 2014 (2 symposiums), as well as participation in Program committees or/and session Chairs or/and international advisory boards or/and as editors in International conferences which includes all the following conferences in the last 5 years: Material Research Society spring meetings (MRS), European Conference in Applied Superconductivity (EUCAS), Applied Superconductivity Conference in USA (ASC), International symposium on Superconductivity in Japan (ISS),Microscopy at the Frontiers of Science.