Research Groups

To reach the defined objectives, R&D i3N activities will be developed in a matrix-like structure that will cross horizontal Research Groups with vertical Thematic Lines defined in conjunction between the External Consulting Board and the Institute as strategic at both national and European levels. Each R&D project will be connected to a Thematic Line and resources from one or more Research Group will be pooled together so as to maximise the performance of the research and the impact of the project. i3N is organized in three Thematic Lines, each under the coordination of a highly expert researcher and six Research Groups (RG) coming from the 2 Research Units (RU), each one with a leader (PI), with the following structure:

Advanced Functional Materials for Micro and Nanotechnologies

The Advanced Functional Materials for Micro and Nanotechnologies group integrates 75 members [10 permanent, 25 PhD students, 12 post docs, 7 technologists, 12 fellowships; 6 PhD collaborators (3 international)], and several MSc students, whose activity is centered in R&D&I of processing and development of Functional Materials (including chromogenics) to serve the electronics, energy and health fields; processing Nanomaterials (1D and 2D) and inks for printing; design, modeling and simulation of processes, materials and devices for electronics and energy integrated circuits; test and validation of materials devices and systems; for which it is quite relevant the existing microelectronics and nanoelectronics facilities. Besides having conventional equipment for Physical and Chemical materials/devices processing, the group has been focused in developing ptype oxides and low-process-temperature, low-cost and eco-friendly printable techniques on foils as screen-printing, inkjet printing via R2R or S2S, using water as the main solvent. Nanofabrication tools as ALD and nano- imprinting are also used.
Concerning scientific and technical achievements (last 5 years), the members have been involved in:

  1. Supervising 101 Master an d 14/23 concluded/running PhD thesis;
  2. Delivering plenary/invited/Oral/poster talks: 59/99/59/37;
  3. Editing proceeding of conferences: 3; Books: 4; Chapter of books: 12;
  4. Published paper at WOK: 197 (note: 60% published in top 10% of the journals. The average number of group paper cited is around 1450/year);
  5. Organization of Conferences/symposia: 7;
  6. Organizing/Steering

Committees Conf. Members: 8/20. In the same period the members of the group got the following scientific/honors distinctions: 9 International and 14 National, to which we have to ad the awards obtained with the demos/prototypes: 3 International and 6 National. The group also earned 4 ERC grants and 64 projects (39 International, where we coordinate 9) in the total amount of 24.1 M€.


For more information, here.

Nanophtonics and Optoelectronics

The Nanophotonics and Optoelectronics group is currently focused on two main areas, one more oriented towards optical modeling and simulation and other towards fiber nanodevices and applications. The members' expertise combined with the laboratory facilities will allow, during period 2019/22, to pursue the following objectives:

  • Modelling and simulation Light propagation in gas-fil led kagomé hollow core photonic crystal fibres: simulation with different noble gases and establishment of conditions for generation of UV light or supercontinuum. Devices for multicore fibers (spatial division multiplexing) b ased on long period fiber gratings, permanent or reconfigurable. Inscription using CO2 laser irradiation, simulations based on coupled mode theory. Existence and stability of solutions of nonlinear evolution equations in optics: solito ns.
  • Development and application of advanced micro- and nano- optical sensors Fiber sensors based on light intensity modulation, fiber Bragg gratings, micro machined waveguides for microfluidic optical analyses and interferometric (Fabry-Perot, Mach-Zehnder and Michelson) technologies, as well as evanescent field configurations (tapers, whispering gallery mode sensors and surface plasmon resonance) will be explored. Novel optical fiber sensor designs for aroma compounds detection, in partnership with UMa. The main goal will be to develop a lab-on-fiber based prototype, capable of detecting simultaneously multiple volatile organic compounds. In eHealth field, the planned approach involves the design of integrated optic sensors networks in wearable clothes or patches able to monitor health conditions through the observation of biochemical, physiological and physical parameters. Work will also be focused on optimized designs of fiber sensors for additive manufacturing of thermoplastic matri x composites, within consortium of PAC FIBR3D (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-016414).
Physics of Advanced Materials and Devices

The Physics of Advanced Materials and Devices group results from the merging of Semiconductor Physics and Novel Materials and Biosystems groups, pursuing a better integration of complementary expertise and equipment facilities managed by both groups. The new group will center its research activities in the preparation and characterization of advanced materials of different dimensionality, micro- and nano-structured, and in the development of novel devices for applications in the areas of electronics and optoelectronics, photonics, sustainable energy and bio-medical. We aim to achieve a deep understanding of the physical properties (optical, electric, magnetic) relevant to the behaviour of the materials and their intended applications, and develop new prototype devices. A core area is to p roduce and dope semiconductor nanoparticles and study their electronic and optical properties, as well as of their assemblies. We also produce doped inorganic nanoparticles for application as biomarkers or optical devices. The lightning efficiency is the main drive to study wide band gap oxides intentionally doped and low dimensional nitrides structures. LED's based on organic semiconductors are also studied. Nanocarbon structures made from of diamond/graph ite/graphene or their hybrids were produced and developed for different purposes ranging from platforms for cell growth to electromechanical transducers. We explore the different photovoltaic technologies (thin film solar cells; hybrid silicon- nanoparticle/polymer solar cells), to produce novel materials and architectures with improved performance. We also explore ferroelectric oxides and multiferroics for photocatalytic and photovoltaic applications and materials with colossal dielectric constant and perovskites/spinel ferrites materials for devices applications. We develop micro-structured gas d etectors for x-ray imaging for biomedical applications in dosimetry and tomography and for use as radiation detectors in high-energy

Soft and Biofunctional Materials Group

The Soft and Biofunctional Materials Group focused its activities in the following main i3N research areas:

  1. Nanostructures, nanodevices and microsystems;
  2. Structural functional and smart material;
  3. Photonics and Flexible electronics. The group studies concerned cellulose nano objects, liquid crystalline cellulose and liquid crystal based soft systems, colloids, macromolecular systems, elastomeric Janus particles, biomaterials, composite materials and devices. Considering these types of complex fluids and soft materials the group was much involved in the study of their molecular structure, dynamics and flow behavior in collaboration with UA (PhD student). The techniques, which are under the responsibility of the group, were: polarising optical microscopy (POM), tensile testing, rheometry (without and under applied electric fields), Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), Rheo- NMR, solid state NMR, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and diffusometry, wettability measurements, thin films production (including Langmuir-Blodgett technique) and electrospinning. Nano/bio-materials are used in the development of hybrid materials for b iomedical applications: multifunctional magnetic nanoparticles for cancer theranostics, controlled drug delivery systems, bio-batteries and scaffolds for tissue regeneration, which involve the UA and other groups of CENIMAT. The SBMG focuses its activity on biomimetic c ellulose-based materials with stimuli-responsive properties allowing the control and detection of chirality at the micro- and nanoscale. The group also performs research on fundamental properties of liquid crystals, their instabilities and applications in close collaboration with International partners and CENIMAT groups. The SBMG NMR lab is equipped with a 300 MHz spectrometer, Bruker Avance III, focused on solid state and soft matter analysis. The NMR apparatus can couple rheometry with NMR (Rheo-NMR), as well as to perform micro-imaging and diffusion measurements.


For more information, here.

Structural Materials

Concerning advanced functional materials, continuing work will be undertaken in order to obtain functionally graded shapememory alloys and composite/heterogeneous materials. Additive manufacturing and localized processing methods shall be used (collaboration UNIDEMI, FCT/UNL), as well as severe plastic deformation processes (in collaboration with Romania, India and Brazil). The large experience of the group with synchrotron radiation will be the basis to develop in situ characterization strategies for complex thermo-mechanical cycles, including through the use of 3D-XRD (collaboration with France, Germany and India). The development and characterization of rare-earth doped glasses for photonics has been performed under the scope of ERANET projects. Based on different glass matrixes, which were doped with different rare-earth oxides, bulk glasses and glass films have been prepared using the adequate methodologies. The produced glasses were further investigated in terms of structural characteristics (FTIR and Raman spectroscopies) and optical characteristics (UV-Vis transmittance and photoluminescence) and in terms of chemical durability and micro-hardness. The developed glasses may have different applications as sensors. The SMRG acquired high skills in the characterization of materials for historical and technological interpretation. These competences involve studies of composition, structure, degradation, origin, circulation and authentication. Research focus on obtaining metals and alloys from different ores and extraction conditions; authentication based on composition of coins and metal objects; medium and long-term corrosion mechanisms and their material consequences; origin and technologies for the production of ancient glasses by the speciation of chromophore elements, modifiers and vitreous network formers; biogenic action in stone, glass and mortars; cements and mortars and their compatibility with modern materials.


For more information, here.

Theoretical and Computational Physics Group

The Theoretical and Computational Physics (TCP) group of the I3N institute comprises 13 PhD researchers, two of which are full professors, one associate professor, three lecturers, four senior researchers and four post-doctoral fellows. Four PhD students are currently developing their work in the group areas. The TCP group also includes several BI researchers (only one of them is a PhD holder). The research carried out by this group aims at the understanding and prediction of material/device behaviour through modelling and simulation as well as at the understanding of complex systems that have multiple interacting simple components.
The modelling of materials is focused on:

  1. Ab-initio modelling of dopants in nanostructures, vibrational properties of semiconductor alloys, electronic structure of semiconductor surfaces, and defects in the bulk of semiconductors and insulators;
  2. Novel transport phenomena and topological effects that arise due to the interplay of electronic correlations, low dimensionality, lattice geometry and peculiar density of states;
  3. Numerical calculations of thermodynamic properties of materials and on studies of phase transitions in equilibrium and nonequilibrium systems using Monte Carlo and Molecular Dynamics methods.

The main research activities on complex systems focus on the statistical mechanics of complex networks and random graphs. This includes structural organization and architectures of complex networks, their function, cooperative phenomena in diverse systems of agents on the top of the networks, and processes and spreading phenomena on these networks. The results of the foundational research on complex networks, theoretical and computational, are applied to real-world network systems: neural networks, including brain networks, cellular networks in molecular biology, the Internet and WWW, information networks, transportation, and social networks.