Foreword of the Director

ICMAB has been a very active and enthusiastic research center in advanced materials during our already long history, more than three decades.

Xavier Obradors
ICMAB Director

Welcome to the ICMAB Annual Report 2017!

This is the second year of our recognition as Severo Ochoa “Center of Excellence” label based on our Research Program “Smart FUNctional MATerials for social grand challenges” (FUNMAT). This Research Program established scientific and technological priorities which should address three social “Grand Challenges”: Clean and secure energy, Sustainable and low cost electronics and Smart nanomedicine. In order to focus our R&D activities we identified 5 different Research Lines (RLs) where several of our 8 Research Groups contribute. RL1: Sustainable energy conversion and storage systems; RL2: Superconductors for power applications; RL3: Oxide electronics; RL4: Molecular electronics; RL5: Multifunctional nanostructured biomaterials.

The objective of nurturing new research ideas through interdisciplinary collaborations has been strongly incentivized in the scope of FUNMAT. Both, through the internal high risk exploratory “Frontier Interdisciplinary Projects” (FIPs), or through our talent attraction programs (SO fellowships, COFUND PhD and postdoctoral calls, INPhINIT - la Caixa PhD fellowships, etc.), we have been able to attract young scientists and to generate many new internal and external outstanding collaborative projects fully integrated into our FUNMAT Research Program. In 2017 we granted 9 new FIPs, including a new “proof-of-concept” category.

During 2017 our R&D activities have been already fully engaged in the 9 ERC Grants allocated up to now to ICMAB researchers and, additionally, we were awarded with several new outstanding European research projects. Particularly, ICMAB coordinated the first COFUND project allocated to any CSIC Institute devoted to “Functional Advanced Materials” and having the participation of the Institute of Microelectronics of Barcelona (IMB-CSIC), the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2), the Catalonia Institute for Energy Reserach (IREC) and the Synchrotron ALBA. Other prestigious EU or international projects were also achieved: CARBAT (FET-Open); SMART-4-FABRY, FASTGRID and KARDIATOOL (LEIT) and a CERN project.

Overall, at the end of 2017 a total of 34 European or international projects were alive (15 new projects in 2017) which provide to ICMAB a total budget of 25.5 M€. Actually, in 2017 we reached the highest ever percentage of our budget on competitive funding: 64 % from a total budget of 13.7 M€. Within the 7.6 M€ raised on research projects, 56 % came from Europe or international sources. We envision our progress in the success of attracting competitive funds to the decisive support of FUNMAT to build up a Strategic Project Managing Unit.

Concerning the FUNMAT priority “Training and talent attraction” we can stress that our Master and PhD Fellowships programs have been extremely successful in attracting the interest of young researchers from all around the world (26 countries). Our enhanced international visibility as an excellence research center is also helping to attract PhD students from China (8 Chinese PhD students in the first two years of FUNMAT). At the end of 2017 we had a total of 97 PhD fellows (46 % from abroad) and 58 postdocs (50 % from abroad). Overall, after two years of FUNMAT the ICMAB has more than 50 additional researchers (increase of approx. 40 %), together with 41 undergraduates that worked at ICMAB during 2017. Also 16 of our PhD students completed the thesis. These numbers are a clear evidence of our enhanced attractiveness as an excellent research center which required an additional effort to make available laboratory and office spaces, mainly through the agreement achieved with MATGAS to extend the use of their neighbouring building.

The scientific production of ICMAB researchers continues to be diverse and of high quality, a total of 201 articles were published (89 % (SJR) of them in Q1 journals) with an average impact factor of the journals of 5.7 in 2017. We continue to increase the total number of citations (> 133.000 at the end of 2017) and our researchers are widely selected to lecture in international conferences as reference speakers.

You will find in this report a selection of highlights corresponding to outstanding publications of the different Research Lines. They cover contributions from novel materials, methodologies and devices for a transition to a more efficient energy paradigm (thermoelectrics, superconductors, batteries, solar cells) to inorganic and organic electronic or photonic materials and devices (ferroelectrics, antiferromagnets, piezoelectrics, multiferroics, photodetectors, transistors) or nanomaterials for diverse therapy, diagnostics and tissue repair challenges in nanomedicine (radiotherapy and cancer treatment, nanovesicles for bioimaging, biological evaluation of nanoparticles, electrodes for neural repair).

You will also find in this report a thorough description of our efforts to invigorate the communication, outreach and technology transfer actions, including at all steps our efforts to implement an effective gender action plan. It is particularly worth to notice that the number of outreach activities and the ICMAB activities related to Communication Scientific culture have been strongly increased during this year linked to the incorporation to the ICMAB staff of our Communication & Outreach Officer.

The international evaluation of the ICMAB activities by our Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) was celebrated through a second edition which focused particularly this year on the Research Lines “RL1: Sustainable Energy conversion and storage systems” and “RL3: Oxide electronics”, where they appreciated the high quality and excellence of the research being performed. The other three RLs are scheduled to be evaluated in the SAB edition of 2018. The overall evaluation about the implementation of the FUNMAT Severo Ochoa action and the enthusiasm of the ICMAB personnel was very positive.

In conclusion, we are very proud that the ICMAB has increased its vibrant vitality, both concerning the scientific activities and the warm atmosphere of ICMAB’s life as an international center of excellence. I’m sure that you will, at least partly, feel this ICMAB environment and enthusiasm all through this report. If you want to still have more information about the ICMAB activities you can access to the website version of our report (

Enjoy the tour!

Xavier Obradors

ICMAB Director

Institut de Ciència de Materials de Barcelona
Campus de la UAB 08193 Bellaterra, SPAIN
Tel: +(34) 935 801 853
Fax: +(34) 935 805 729
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