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Principal investigators of the MASSENA project:

Naoufal Bahlawane

PictureNaoufal Bahlawane is a Lead Research and Technology Associate at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology. He graduated in Physicochemical Analysis and received a PhD in Materials Engineering from Claude Bernard University, Lyon, France. He was awarded the JISTEC and AvH fellowships to perform research at Kyushu National Industrial Research Institute in Japan and at Bielefeld University, Germany. As a research group leader at Bielefeld University, where he obtained a habilitation and Venia Legendi in Physical Chemistry, Naoufal Bahlawane has investigated aspects related to the chemistry of deposition and the interplay between the materials’ structure-properties and surface reactivity. His current research activities rely on surface chemistry for the design of functional and smart coatings with tunable physicochemical properties to address specific needs as those associated with optics, thermal management and energy storage.

Nicolas Boscher

PictureDr. Nicolas Boscher research activities focus in the fields of Materials Science and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD), with particular emphasis on Atmospheric-Pressure Plasma-Enhanced CVD (AP-PECVD). He combines original CVD approaches with a great variety of precursors/monomers to provide the most innovative solutions towards functional coatings. His aim is to gain a fundamental understanding of the mechanisms driving the CVDs of thin films to tailor new smart materials for device fabrication.

Phil Dale

PictureDr Phillip Dale has been working with thin film semiconductors for solar cells since 2004 and heads the Laboratory for Energy Materials. A thin film solar cell at its heart consist of two oppositely doped semiconductors, an n-type and a p-type. The power conversion efficiency of light to electricity is normally determined by the quality of the p-type layer. From a practical view point the conversion efficiency should be as high as possible, and the cost of production should be as low as possible. Our group focuses on novel low cost synthesis routes to make high quality p-type semiconductors for thin film solar cells as well as to understand how they work. Our research is multi-disciplinary covering the fields of (electro)chemical synthesis, kinetics, thermodynamics, nano fabrication, and device physics.

David Duday

PictureDD’s research interests lie at the interface between plasma discharges, biomaterials, nanomaterials and medical applications, with a particular interest for the design and fabrication of smart scaffolds and patches for tissue regeneration. In this framework, DD is also involved in the design of sensors to follow the tissue regeneration or the illness status at the origin of the scaffold or patch’s use. This latter goal is achieved through the fabrication of biocompatible or/and flexible biosensors to be integrated in the smart scaffolds/patches. This interest is motivated by the fact that the combination of nanomaterials, biomaterials and plasma discharges could lead to new families of scaffolds, patches and sensors for regenerative medicine. DD’s main research objective is to acquire a broad knowledge of the interaction of plasma reactive species, nanomaterials, biomaterials and living cells and biological tissues in order to propose new therapeutic approaches for regenerative medicine and more generally for all living tissue/cells regeneration or inhibition. DD’s expertise in the interaction of reactive species and nanoparticles with nanomaterials, biomaterials and biological objects lies specifically in the study and understanding of the following processes and mechanisms: a) plasma polymerization and functionalization at atmospheric pressure by using dielectric barrier discharges (DBD); b) synthesis of novel carrier for drug delivery by wet chemistry; c) design and synthesis of biosensors; d) interaction of plasma with organic molecules, polymers and liposomes in liquids; e) interaction of plasma and/or nanoparticles with living cells; d) interaction of plasma and/or nanoparticles with biomaterials/scaffolds. Within these vast fields, DD is recognized as an expert in the synthesis and analysis of organometallic DBD thin films, in the synthesis and analysis of metallic oxide and nitride thin films, in the inactivation of E. coli bacteria in aqueous liquids using a DBD microplasma jet, and in the interaction of plasma effects with liposomes in aqueous liquids using a DBD microplasma jet.

Emmanuel Defay

PictureMy current research is on piezoelectric thin films and devices. I am mostly interested in inkjet printing technique to deposit standard piezoelectric films like Pb(Zr,Ti)O3 (PZT) but also lead-free materials like (Ba,Ca)TiO3 in order to fabricate functional devices as micro-sensors or actuators. I am also very much interested in the electrocaloric (EC) effect occurring in ceramics and polymers, which triggers a variation of temperature in any EC material when a voltage is applied. More generally, I am interested in developing materials exhibiting energy coupling.

Massimiliano Esposito

PictureRecent developments in experimental techniques significantly improved our ability to build and manipulate systems at the nanoscale. The driving force behind these achievements is the enormous impact of artificial nanodevices on modern technologies. They are used, for example, to convert and transfer energy, to perform logical operations, and to store memory in an efficient and compact way. Current strategies to design new nanodevices or enhance their current performance remain largely system-specific and often empirical. This lack of general (i.e. system-independent) guiding principles largely results from the inability of traditional thermodynamics to deal with the effects of strong fluctuations, which are ubiquitous in nanodevices, and with the fact that these systems often operate far from equilibrium. Our goal is to further develop the newly discovered theory, called stochastic thermodynamics, which incorporates these characteristic features of nanodevices.

César Pascual García

PictureMy research interest revolves around nano-enabled electro-chemical sensing technologies for medicine. In particular I look to the field of diagnosis and sensing of complex molecules like DNA and peptides. Our focus is centred on providing sensors with high throughput that would allow multiplexing large assays, and improving the methods for the point of care. Our starting point is the development of advanced nanomaterials for the transduction of molecular events, but it also includes other disciplines like device fabrication and integration, bio-chemistry and electronics to develop a lab-on-a-chip.

Torsten Granzow

PictureThe focus of research is on the behavior of non-centrosymmetric polar oxide materials under different external stimuli such as electric and magnetic field, mechanical stress or illumination from the visible spectrum to the microwave range. Subject of the investigations are typically single crystals or polycrystalline materials based on oxygen-octahedral structures, as they comprise a most extensive and diverse group of functional polar materials. Particular interesting topics are ferroelectricity, piezoelectricity, relaxor phase transitions, dielectric and electrooptic tenability, and light-induced charge transport. Within this topical range, the concepts of ‘basic research’ and ‘application-oriented research’ are not a dichotomy, but usually complementary: a deeper understanding of scientific principles will lead to new and improved functionalities and applications.

Mael Guennou

PictureMy research interests are linked to various aspects of phase transitions in ferroic oxides, mostly with the perovskite structure ABO3: structural instabilities, phase transitions, ferroelectric and piezoelectric properties, domain structures and domain walls, with a strong focus on pressure–temperature phase diagrams of model ferroelectric and ferroelastic compounds using diamond-anvil cell techniques and temperature-electric field phase diagrams. More recently, I have started investigated the optical properties of ferroic materials by means of photoluminescence studies and resonant Raman spectroscopy.

Jorge Íñiguez

PictureI am a theoretical and computational physicist working at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology. Most of my work involves quantum-mechanical simulation methods that have developed extraordinarily in the past few decades, and which today constitute a unique tool to predict and understand the structural and electronic properties of complex materials. In particular, I study functional oxides, including ferroelectrics, magnetoelectric multiferroics and compounds undergoing metal-insulator transitions. Such materials attract much interest because of both their striking physical properties and the many existing and prospective device applications, ranging from memories, sensors and transducers to materials for energy harvesting or catalysis. I study bulk compounds as well as nanostructured composite systems in which interfacial and surface phenomena have a great impact in (and sometimes allow to tune) the properties. In MASSENA, I will investigate a novel and intriguing family of ferroelectric oxides -- based on hafnia (HfO2) -- that, among other unique features, can be easily integrated in Si-based devices. These materials are quite different from the best-studied ferroics, and there are still many unanswered questions about their behavior and potential performance as ferroelectrics and piezoelectrics. In collaboration with experimentalists at LIST and elsewhere, the PhD student funded by MASSENA will unravel the physics and possibilities of these promising compounds.

Jens Kreisel

PictureProf Jens Kreisel is the Director of the "Materials Research and Technology Department" at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) and honorary professor at the University of Luxembourg. Before moving in 2012 to Luxembourg, he has been Director of Research at the French CNRS in Grenoble. JK's research interests lie at the interface between Materials Physics and -Chemistry, with a particular interest for phase transitions and the coupling between different physical properties in functional materials, and how such functionalities can be translated into technology. This interest stems from the fact that many interesting, intriguing and useful physical phenomena are directly related to phase transitions and coupling in the solid state. Most functional materials used in electronic applications display specific properties that can be optimized/tuned, which is mainly due to the presence of phase transitions. JK’s main research objective is to acquire a broad knowledge of phase-transition- and coupling-related phenomena of functional oxides aiming to discover new general concepts. Current efforts concentrate on so-called ferroic materials, which regroup ferroelectric, ferroelastic and magnetic properties.

Sivashankar Krishnamoorthy

PictureResearch interests of Sivashankar Krishnamoorthy center on fabrication and investigation of nanostructured interfaces in application to biomedical sensing, imaging and therapy. His work has extensively engaged in establishing process-nanostructure-property correlations, and has shown them applied to plasmon- enhanced spectroscopies, molecular sensing and model cell?substrate interactions. His work has shown fabrication and functionalization of surfaces down to molecular resolutions (<10nm), with complex size and shapes, with desired functionality, with high homogeneity and integrity across full wafers. Selected publications: Nanostructured Sensors for Biomedical Applications- A Current Perspective, Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 2015, 34, 118; Hierarchically built Hetero Superstructure Arrays with Structurally Controlled Material Compositions, ACS Nano, 2013, 7(9), 7513; Nanoparticle Cluster Arrays for High-Performance SERS Through Directed Self-Assembly on Fla t Substrates and on Optical Fibers, F. L. Yap, P. Thoniyot*, S. Krishnan and S. Krishnamoorthy*, ACS Nano, 2012, 6 (3), 2056-2070; Engineering 3D Nanoplasmonic Assemblies for High Performance Spectroscopic Sensing, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 2015, 7 (50), 27661; Controlled fabrication of plasmonic nanoparticle arrays for SERS by Nanoimprint Lithography using self-assembly derived high-resolution molds, ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, 2011, 3(4), 1033; ‘Wafer-level self-organized copolymer templates for nanolithography with sub-50nm feature and spatial resolutions’ Advanced Functional Materials, 2011, 21(6), 1102; Confinement induced enhancement of antigen-antibody interactions within binary nanopatterns to achieve higher efficiency of on-chip immunosensors, Adv. Mater., 2008, 20(14), 2782

Jan Lagerwall

PictureThe Experimental Soft Matter Physics group is exploring liquid crystals, colloids and polymers in an interdisciplinary context, connecting fundamental physics questions concerning ordered self-assembly, topological defects and nematic and polymer elasticity, with application relevant problems in a variety of fields. We have a particular interest in the effects of curvature on liquid crystal ordering, primarily in fibers (produced by electrospinning) and shells (produced in a microfluidic pathway). We make soft actuators (artificial muscles) with unconventional shapes from liquid crystal elastomers, we spin liquid crystal-functionalized fibers for responsive textiles, and we study liquid crystal ordering in suspensions of cellulose nanocrystals, sustainably produced nanorods from one of the many abundant cellulose sources on Earth, e.g. wood or cotton. Together with collaborators with complementary expertise we explore various avenues to apply the materials and phenomena we investigate, from soft robotics to wearable technology, from security research to biosensing.

Damien Lenoble


Renaud Leturcq

PictureDr. Renaud LETURCQ is a senior researcher in solid state physics with 16 years of experience in the field of fabrication and electronic properties of semiconductor nanostructures. During the last 10 years, he has been leading teams and projects on semiconductor nanowires (mainly from III-V and II-VI semiconductors) from synthesis (MOCVD, MBE, chemical bath synthesis, in particular focusing on doping), device fabrication, and material and device characterization. He has joined the LIST in February 2014 as lead R&T associate on transparent electronic materials and devices. He is leading activities on functional transparent layers based on metal oxides for sensing and optoelectronic applications.

Andreas Michels

PictureThe research of the Nanomagnetism group is centered around the technique of magnetic small-angle neutron scattering (SANS). On the one hand side we employ SANS for experimentally studying the spin structures of magnetic materials, e.g., Nd-Fe-B-based permanent magnets, shape-memory alloys, or magnetic nanoparticles, and on the other hand side we carry out theoretical and simulation work in order to understand and develop the fundamentals of magnetic SANS. More specifically, we use the continuum theory of micromagnetics for computing the magnetic SANS cross sections of real materials, which are determined by microstructural-defect-induced spin misalignment. The Nanomagnetism group is regularly present at the major neutron facilities worldwide such as the ILL, MLZ, ANSTO, or PSI.

Jerome Polesel

PictureI'm working at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) as Senior Researcher on materials for Sensors and Energy Harvesting systems. My present topics of interest concern the design of inorganic materials (ceramics, glass) as bricks to prototype highly sensitive strain sensor with piezotronics effects, and triboelectric generators. My skills concern materials physics, microfabrication, prototyping and instrumentation. Concerning my background, I've worked in academic research (CEA Saclay (France), ETH Zürich (CH), CNRS-CEMES Toulouse (France), King's College London (UK), LAAS-CNRS Toulouse (France)), in RTO as CSEM SA Neuchâtel (CH), and in industry with R&D for mass production (TEFAL-Groupe SEB Rumilly (France)).

Giusy Scalia


Thomas Schmidt

PictureI am interested in the theory of mesoscopic systems. Mesoscopic systems occupy the middle ground between our everyday world, in which objects obey the rules of classical physics, and the realm of elementary particles and atoms, which are governed by quantum mechanics. As the size of a macroscopic object is reduced, quantum mechanical effects become important and often lead to significant changes of its physical properties. Famous quantum effects in mesoscopic systems include conductance quantization, Coulomb blockade, the integer and fractional quantum Hall effects, and the Aharonov-Bohm effect. Our group is interested in quantum mechanical effects in modern mesoscopic systems. The systems we are currently looking at are mainly topological insulators and superconductors, one-dimensional quantum systems, and nanomechanical systems in the quantum regime.

Susanne Siebentritt

PictureSusanne Siebentritt's research interest is focussed on thin film solar cells. She develops new materials and efficient devices. Her main interest is the electronic structure of semiconductors and solar cells. She has various deposition chambers available, as well as range of optoelectronic characterisation methods. Photoluminescence and capacitance spectroscopy, together with standard solar cell characterisation, are the main tools to study materials and devices.

Jean-Sébastien Thomann


Alexandre Tkatchenko

PictureWe develop advanced quantum-mechanical first-principles methods and apply them to achieve increasingly reliable description of complex molecules and materials. Our long term vision is to bridge the accuracy of quantum mechanics with the efficiency of force fields, enabling large-scale predictive quantum molecular dynamics simulations for complex systems containing 1000s of atoms, and leading to novel conceptual insights into quantum-mechanical fluctuations in nanoscale systems. Our research pushes the boundaries of possible applications and our developed methods pave the road towards having a suite of first-principles-based modeling tools for a wide range of realistic materials, such as biomolecules, nanostructures, disordered solids, and organic/inorganic interfaces. This challenging goal is achieved by unifying concepts and combining techniques from many-body physics, quantum chemistry, density-functional theory, statistical mechanics, and machine learning.

Ludger Wirtz

PictureThe macroscopic properties (such as colour, hardness, electrical and thermal conductivity) of materials are determined by the movement of atoms and electrons on the microscopic scale. A detailed quantitative understanding of the atomic and electronic structure is therefore necessary for the design and use of novel functional materials. In our group we investigate semiconducting and nanostructured materials (graphene, nanotubes, nanocrystals) that have potential use in light-harvesting and light-emitting devices as well as in nano-electronics. We use ab-initio approaches (Density-Functional Theory and Many-Body Perturbation Theory) and semi-empirical (Tight-Binding) approaches for the calculation of electronic band structures. Electronic and vibrational excitations are calculated for the quantitative analysis of different spectroscopy methods such as optical absorption, luminescence, and Raman spectroscopy.

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