Information and Communication Technology


line coordinator

Maria Rute de Amorim e Sá Ferreira André



Thematic Strand 1 comprises the development of materials for application in information and communication technologies. These materials have a wide range of chemical compositions and are studied as powders, thin films (crystalline and amorphous), nanoparticles and their composites, porous matrices and extended crystalline lattices of organic-inorganic hybrids. Much attention is devoted to green photonics, new approaches for the synthesis and processing of nanomaterials with optical, electric and/or magnetic effects, and to the study of nanoscale phenomena with impact on sensing and multiferroic devices.


Development of phosphors as organic-inorganic hybrids (undoped and doped with Ln3+ ions), composites incorporating metal coordination compounds or nanoparticles, and inorganic and metal-organic porous frameworks (MOFs) doped with Ln3+ ions, processed as films (e.g., spin-coating, ink-jet printing, electrospinning) or used in the colloidal form. The hybrid and composite matrices investigated offer a good compromise between processing temperature (compared to ceramics) and stability (compared to organic polymers). Examples of materials investigated are hybrids based on bridged silsesquioxanes matrices doped with Eu3+ ions, luminescent nanoparticles/Ln complexes coupled to colloidal silicas and graphene oxide, porous frameworks of zeolitic type and metal-organic extended lattices.


Non-invasive sensors (e.g., for molecules, pH and temperature) working at the micro and nanoscale with high spatial resolution have emerged over the last years as an active field of research. In the new generation of markers/sensors, the new materials must enable the growth of the technological trends of integration, sub-micron miniaturization and low-detection levels. Thus, MOFs for molecular sensing are produced by green synthesis that can be applied/processed in a variety of forms including nanoparticles, thin films, membranes, porous fibers and composites.
Plasmonic nanoparticles (Au, Ag) and derived hybrid structures are used as surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) substrates for the detection of analytes of biological and environmental interest with low detection levels and high selectivity.


The development of low-cost optical components for the extensive dissemination of a fiber-to-home structure, required by today's ever-increasing demand for high-bandwidth data, is required to face the evolution of the telecommunication world. Ureasil hybrids are investigated in order to fabricate long haul/metro (in the IR range) and access/indoor (essentially in the visible) low-cost components for the new generation of optical telecommunications.


Device operation requires a thorough understanding and control of the materials interfaces, compatibility, stability and their dynamic modification in operation. Multidisciplinary combinations of techniques and approaches are required for the efficient development of materials and processes. Particular attention is given to textured microstructures, all-oxide or metal/oxide heterostructures thin films and bias induced interfaces, which are probed, imaged and modified down to the nanoscale.


The increasing interest on ferroic/multiferroic materials is motivated by the development of multifunctional devices and electronic systems able to bring multistate memory into logic, beyond CMOS technologies and incorporating new concepts related to existing ordered phases. Materials, structures and processes understanding pose new challenges, particularly on the role of interfaces and incorporation of 2D materials (graphene or topological insulators).
Developments on transversal integration and applications are also envisaged by using organic, molecular-based, ferroics or by adding thermal management functionalities.


main objectives


  • Develop efficient light emitting diode wavelength conversion using luminescent organic-inorganic hybrid phosphors featuring: (i) high quantum yield and brightness, (ii) stability in time and under irradiation, and (iii) possibility of excitation with inexpensive light sources.
  • Develop photoluminescent nanomaterials containing lanthanide complexes for hybrid materials fabrication, including polymer-based composites, merging the functionalities of the components. The materials will comprise inorganic matrices (e.g., silica and metal oxides) or polymers coupled to the optical active units (e.g., lanthanopolyoxometallates, fluorescent nanoparticles).
  • Fine-tune the luminescence behaviour of porous frameworks doped with lanthanide ions via chemical approaches and theoretical modelling.


  • Develop MOFs with molecular sensing capabilities using a variety of methods, including green syntheses.
  • Study the nanoscale phenomena occurring in various types of active SERS substrates (colloids and polymer composites) and the implications for analyte detection and molecular sensing, namely by considering further processing, versatility of the application context and analyte detection levels.
  • Develop nanothermometers based on lanthanide-bearing materials that act as luminescent self-referencing nanothermometers with sub-micrometer spatial resolution, to be used in the form of nanoparticles or as thin-films for sensing in microoptics and microelectronics.


  • Fabricate ureasil hybrids for green photonics, towards the next generation of optical networks. In the new generation of optical telecommunications, both for long haul/metro and access/indoor components, the materials must fulfil: (i) attenuation values <1 dBcm-1, (ii) easy and large refractive index tunability, (iii) photosensitivity, allowing direct-writing, and (iv) ability to incorporate large amounts of active centres (e.g., Ln3+) contributing to the photostability and enhancement of their emission features.
  • Fabricate and optimize low-cost splitter/filters and thermal- and electrical-actuated Mach-Zehnder modulators for application in all-optical networks.
  • Produce Ln3+-doped hybrid optical fibers UV self-patternable.
  • Develop optical amplification (visible range) in hybrid optical fibers providing an all-integrated hybrid solution.
  • Fabricate out-fiber amplification components (visible range) for commercial PMMA plastic optical fibres using the synthesized Ln3+-based hybrids.


  • Develop the electrophoretic deposition of dielectric metal oxides for high-frequency application devices.
  • Produce all-oxide or metal/oxide heterostructures by thin-film RF sputtering deposition.
  • Understand and develop bias induced processes at interfaces, artificial junctions and properties control.
  • Scanning probe imaging and mapping of mechanical, electric, magnetic and thermal functional responses
  • Develop studies on oxygen migration barriers at interlayers. Improve buffer and connection layers.
  • Develop lithographic device manufacture and integration.


  • Study the multiscale electric-magnetic-structural coupling in ferroic/multiferroic materials, composites and heterostructures. Stronger focus on oxide materials, ceramics, bio-organic and metallic films.
  • Investigate the effect of the structural transitions, doping effects, defect chemistry and ferroic domains on the material's properties. Study the role of 2D surface properties and coatings on device response.
  • Develop sustainable materials for devices with tuneable performance. Multifunctional properties integration.
  • Develop materials and processes for thermoelectric and ferrocaloric applications (magneto-, electro- or elastocaloric).
  • Perform theoretical and modelling studies of ferroel