JAE INTRO ICU Fellowships

Open application process

The JAE Intro ICU calls are calls for introductory research grants for students with a high level of academic performance. The grants are awarded on a competitive basis and in accordance with the principles of transparency, objectivity and publicity.

The training plan derived from the award of these grants will be developed at the Instituto de Nanociencia y Materiales de Aragón, under the direction of its researchers/professors, making it possible that this training plan is oriented to the subsequent development of the doctoral thesis at the Institute.

It is recommended that in order to be eligible for the JAE Intro ICU scholarships at the Institute of Nanoscience and Materials of Aragon (CSIC – UNIZAR), students should contact directly the research groups or researchers who develop scientific tasks related to their interests and they will inform them of the different plans and programs offered.


Reference: Plan de formación INMA-01
Research personnel: Milagros Piñol
Group: Cristales Líquidos y Polímeros (CLiP)
Training program title: Design, synthesis, processing and evaluation of new functional organic materials.

Organic materials, whether molecules or polymers, are highly adaptable, allowing the creation of functional materials with specific properties for applications such as nanomedicine or optical technologies. These advanced applications require a comprehensive approach that includes synthetic design, processing, structural characterization and precise application-oriented evaluation of their properties.

The successful applicant will be able to choose a specialized training program from the following:

EoI#1: Drug delivery systems based on stimuli-responsive polymeric hydro- and nanogels.
Objective: Preparation of macromolecules by spontaneous click reactions in aqueous phase to access nanogels and hydrogels with the ability to conjugate or encapsulate antibiotics, analgesics or anesthetics.

EoI#2: Thermoresponsive amphiphilic block copolymers for use as drug nanocarriers.
Aim: Obtaining block copolymers using controlled polymerizations and click chemistry reactions combined with self-assembly fabrication techniques such as nanoprecipitation or polymerization-induced self-assembly (PISA).

EoI#3: Self-assembled DNA nanostructures for cardiotherapeutic microRNA delivery
Goal: Develop advanced DNA nanotechnology-based materials to promote cardiac regeneration through gene therapy.

EoI#4: Dendrimer-based nanoparticles for cancer diagnosis by fluorescence spectroscopy.
Objective: To modify the chemical characteristics of dendrimers to obtain nanoparticles with different surface functionalization, which will determine their interaction with blood serum proteins and their application as cancer diagnostic probe.

EoI#5: Functional nanostructures by nucleobase self-assembly
Aim: To study the formation of supramolecular organizations with molecules derived from nucleobases (adenine, thymine, etc) capable of forming hydrogen bonds, and giving rise to 1D nanostructures when suitably functionalized.

EoI#6: Functional supramolecular materials based on bent-core type units.
Objective: Preparation and characterization of new bent-core functional organic molecules and novel supramolecular materials: thermotropic and lyotropic liquid crystals, ionogels and 3D printing materials.

Reference: Plan de formación INMA-02
Research personnel: Miguel Ángel Laguna
Group: Materiales para la energía y el medioambiente (MEM)
Training program title: Processing and characterization of materials for energy and environmental applications

The successful candidate will be involved in one of the areas of the department related to the development of new materials for energy efficiency and environmental conservation. Specifically, the candidate may be involved in one of the following lines:
1) Development of highly efficient membranes for molecular separations in gas (CO2 capture) and liquid (pervaporation) phase. The main objective of this line is the preparation of polymeric and mixed membranes (composed of MOF-type porous nanostructured materials and polymer) that present good mechanical and thermal properties and that are sufficiently robust in operations of industrial interest. For this purpose, the fabrication of supported thin film membranes that allow higher permeations is proposed.
2) Development of nanomaterials for use in different devices related to clean energies. The synthesis of colloidal nanocrystalline semiconductors for their use in different devices related to clean energies will be addressed. This type of materials can constitute the active layer of a photovoltaic solar cell, can be used as photocatalysts for hydrogen production or pollutant removal and can be part of electrodes in energy storage systems (sodium-ion batteries or supercapacitors).
3) Nanostructured Flexible Substrates for their Application in Surface Amplified Raman Spectroscopy. The nanoimprint lithography (NIL) technique will be used for the replication of periodic structures with nanometric dimensions on thermoplastic surfaces by pressure and temperature effect. The work is aligned with the development of methodologies for the preparation of homogeneous substrates in transparent thermoplastic materials in a reproducible way, at a reasonable cost and with a uniform SERS (Surface Amplified Raman Spectroscopy) response.

Reference: Plan de formación INMA-03
Research personnel: José María de Teresa
Group: Física de Materiales y Nanosistemas (FMN)
Training program title: Theoretical and experimental studies of the physics of materials and nanosystems.

One of these two training plans will be carried out, at the student’s choice:
1) Title: “Fabrication of metallic electrical contacts and electronic gate contacts (insulator-metal) using organometallic films and charged particle irradiations”. The main problem identified in the current technology for the fabrication of metallic and gate contacts is that the existing processes are slow because several lithography steps and complex material growth are needed. The alternative strategy we propose here is the use of organometallic films, such as palladium acetate, which in combination with focused ion and electron irradiation allow the creation of metal contacts by ion irradiation and gate contacts by electron and ion irradiation. The advantages of these strategies are the high speed of the process, no need for resins and the potential for scaling to wafer level. The student will work towards the goal of creating gate contacts on high electron mobility two-dimensional devices, receiving training in a wide range of experimental techniques including: organometallic film preparation, focused ion and electron beam irradiation, materials characterization (SEM, TEM, AFM, XPS) and electrical measurements.
2) Title: “Analysis and deposition of redox proteins at the nanoscale by atomic force microscopy”. In recent years it has been seen the great importance that quantum and mechanical properties have in biological processes. To understand these phenomena it is necessary to characterize them using spectroscopic or microscopic techniques. These studies not only provide insight into novel facets of living systems, but are also used for the development of quantum technologies. In this line, electron or redox exchange proteins are studied by electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The two objectives proposed here are achievable in parallel with AFM and redox proteins: a) Analysis of the enzymatic mechanism of important flavoenzymes determining association pattern, conformational dynamics and intermolecular forces by ligand binding and catalysis. b) Development of a platform for ultrasensitive detection of redox proteins by EPR-on-chip. Dip pen AFM will be used.

Reference: Plan de formación INMA-04
Research personnel: Valeria Grazú
Group: Bio-nano-medicina (BNM)
Traininh program title: Biological and biomedical applications of biomaterials and nanoparticles

INMA’s NanoBiomedicine Department is dedicated to research in the development of innovative nanoparticles and micro- and nanostructured materials to address unsolved challenges in various biological, biotechnological and biomedical applications. The successful applicant will be able to choose from the following specialized
specialized training program from among the following:

EoI#1: Stimulation of E-cadherin-dependent intracellular pathways with magnetic nanoparticles. OBJECTIVE: to use magnetic particles functionalized with different fragments of E-cadherin to generate a mechanical force that activates an important intracellular signaling pathway essential in cell proliferation and differentiation. This will allow activation of pathways involved in wound healing in a selective and distant manner.

EoI#2: Intracellular glucose depletion by combined therapy with bacterial extracellular vesicles (OMVs) and catalytic nanoparticles (NPs) as antitumor therapy. OBJECTIVE: Use of OMVs as a therapeutic agent against tumor cells via glucose depletion.

EoI#3: Fluorescent intracellular nanothermometry. OBJECTIVE: Development of intracellular nanothermometer for thermal study of cell physiology and cancer therapy by local magnetic hyperthermia.

EoI#4: Construcción de antenas fotónicas basadas en péptidos para fluorescencia de molécula única. OBJETIVO: Desarrollo de arreglos de nanopartículas de oro mediante enlazadores peptídicos para mejorar las medidas dinámicas de molécula única mediante microscopía de fluorescencia de reflexión interna total.

EoI#5: Macroanfífilos basados en híbridos polioxometalato-polipéptido. OBJETIVO: preparar una serie de materiales híbridos polioxometalato-polipéptido con propiedades
antimicrobianas sinérgicas.

Reference: Plan de formación INMA-05
Research personnel: Cristina Piquer / Irene Calvo
Group: Radiación Sincrotrón y Materiales: Investigación Básica y Aplicaciones (RASMIA)
Training program title: New synchrotron radiation-based microscopies for the study of magnetic materials of technological interest

This project combines the learning of an innovative technique of coherent X-ray microscopy generated in synchrotron [1], with the study of new photosensitive semiconductor materials of great technological impact [2]. It is born from the collaboration between Miguel Anaya (ICMS, CSIC – University of Seville) and Irene Calvo (INMA, CSIC-UNIZAR), who will supervise the student.
The program focuses on the development of a mathematical algorithm to extract the structural information contained in diffraction patterns generated by the scattering of the CX beam by the crystalline object. To do this, the student will start with a literature review to become familiar with both the new photosensitive semiconductors and the use of CX to observe nanoscopic objects in 3D. In order to establish his new knowledge, the student will simulate the coherent diffraction patterns produced by halide perovskite crystalline grains of the order of 200-600 nm in size around different Bragg reflections by adapting a simulation software developed by I. Calvo. The second step will be to design the algorithm, from existing schemes in the research group of I. Calvo [3], to reconstruct such grains from the simulated data. Finally, the student will apply the developed algorithm to real diffraction patterns measured at the European X-ray free electron laser facility (XFEL , Germany).

The program includes the opportunity to attend experiments both at the XFEL and at several synchrotrons, including the European synchrotron ESRF (France). Finally, emphasis will be placed on developing the student’s oral communication skills: presentation of ideas and results to the collaborative group or in workshops and specialized schools such as Science with coherent X-rays at 3rd and 4th generation synchrotron sources or Ultrafast X-ray summer school. In addition, the student will learn the scientific language through the writing of a scientific paper. Thus, the student will be provided with skills at the frontier of knowledge in materials science as well as in processing and analysis of large amounts of data, creating a very interesting profile for a future in both academia and industry.
[1] C. Atlan et al., Nat. Mater, 22, 754, 2023.
[2] J. Ferrer Orri et al., Adv. Mater, 34, 2022.
[3] I. Calvo-Almazán, et al. Sci. Rep. 9, 2019.

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