Research is supported by the Scientific Equipment Platforms that provide shared access to specialized and cross cutting equipment, services and expertise for the advanced technological preparation and characterization for all kinds of materials at different levels. It is made up of nine technical facilities run by specialized technicians. These are open to external uses either from academia and industry, with conditions tailored to meet customer technology demands. The Scientific Coordinator of the Services is Prof. M. Rosa Palacín, also Deputy Director of the Institute.
Low Temperatures and Magnetometry Service: During 2017 a new PPMS was installed, and the helium recovering and liquefaction system was installed. Liquid helium is used at the Low Temperatures and Magnetometry Service in all the magnetometry measures, which are carried out at extremely low temperatures (approximately at -269 ºC (about 4 K)!). Once the liquid helium is used, it is lost in the atmosphere in its gaseous form, since it evaporates really quickly. The new equipment acquired, the ATL 160 (Quantum Design), is used to recover the helium used in the experiments and to liquify it. Therefore, the lliquid helium is available for its reuse in subsequent magnetometry measures. A total of 9,692 hours have been devoted to measures, divided into the different equipment: 4,847 on the PPMS and 4,845 on the SQUID. A total of 602 internal and 23 external services have been carried out.
X-ray diffraction lab: A new versatile installation was acquired for the X-ray diffraction lab: D8 Advance A25. This equipment is funded by the ERC project from Dr. Alexander Ponrouch, “Calcium and Magnesium metal anode based batteries (CAMBAT)” project. The diffractometer has the following characteristics: it combines two configurations, the Bragg-Brentano geometry with copper radiation, which has the possibility to carry out measures of powder diffraction in an electrochemical cell to perform in situ measurements; and a the Debye-Scherrer geometry, with molibdene radiation, Johansson monochromator focused on the detector to carry out powder diffraction measures in a capillary. Both configurations work with a high efficiency linear detector. The second geometry, allowing the measurements inside a capillary, is very useful when only a small amount of powder is available, such as for those performing research in materials for new cathodes or anodes for batteries. In total, in 2017 the service ran a total of 3,898 hours (taking into account the Siemens D-5000, GADDS and D8 Discover diffractometers). A total of 4,200 samples were analyzed.
Spectroscopic Techniques Laboratory: In 2017 a new FT-IR was purchased at the Spectroscopic Techniques Lab, the JASCO 4700 LE, which has a higher acquisition range than the previous one, from 200 to 7800 cm-1 (instead of 400-400 cm-1), a higher resolution and the incorporation of a database KnowItAll to determine the spectrum bands. During 2017, the users of the FT-IR have been mainly students and researchers from 22 project IPs, the users of the UVVisNIR were students from 21 project IPs, the EPR users from 5 project IPs, and the optical microscopy users from 16 project IPs. The service counts with external institutions users, from other research centers, hospitals, spinoffs or other companies: ICN2, IMB-CNM-CSIC, Hospital Universitari Vall d’Hebron-Institut de Recerca (VHIR), Nanomol Technologies, Bioiberica S. A., and NFFA project users, who have mostly used the EPR and the UVVisNIR.
Nanoquim Platform: During 2017 two new equipment were acquired at the NANOQUIM platform: a microwave for chemical synthesis and digestion (FlexiWAVE, Milestone), and a mini tubular furnace to work with an oxygen flow at a maximum temperature of 450 ºC.
Preparation and Characterization of Soft Materials: Many public institutions and private companies used the SoftLab service during 2017. Public centers: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Institut de Biotecnologia i Biomedicina (IBB), Centro Nacional de Microelectrónica (IMB-CNM), Institut Català de Nanociència i Nanotecnologia (ICN2), Institut de Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentàries (IRTA), Vall d´Hebron Research Institute (VHRI), Instituto de Biomedicina de Sevilla, Institut de Química Avançada de Catalunya (IQAC), Institut d´investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Centro Investigación Cáncer, Hospital de Salamanca, Centro de Cirugía de Mínima Invasión Jesús Usón, Universidad de Salamanca, Hospital de Sant Joan de Dés and Institut Quimic de Sarria (IQS). Private companies: Aidimme, Nanomol Technologies, Thermal Spray Center, Tecnalia, Spherium Biomed, Peñoles, BCN-Peptide and Carburos Metálicos.
Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM): Thanks to a collaboration with the CNRS, the service has incorporated an amplifier (Zurich Instruments HF2LI) that will be available for four years. A new atomic force microscopy technique, named “Direct Piezoelectric Force Microscopy” has been developed for the study of ferroelectric and piezoelectric materials, which has resulted in a European patent. In 2017 a total of 9,664 images were taken, in 1,600 hours of equipment used, and four NFFA users used the service (45 AFM Unit of Actions).
The Cell growth Laboratory, a shared facility between the ICN2 and the ICMAB, was still under construction, and the HRTEM facility, to be built at ALBA Synchrotron, and shared between ALBA Synchrotron, BIST, CSIC, ICN2 and ICMAB is still pending of confirmation.