Group news

In a recent paper [Nanoscale 11, 13832 (2019)], E. Díaz et al synthesize AuNPs of different sizes to assess their influence on the luminescence of UCNPs. They find that strong luminescence quenching due to resonance energy transfer is preferentially achieved for small AuNPs, peaking at an optimal size. A further increase in the AuNP size is accompanied by a reduction of luminescence quenching due to an incipient plasmonic enhancement effect. This enhancement counterbalances the luminescence quenching effect at the biggest tested AuNP size. The experimental findings are theoretically validated by studying the decay rate of the UCNP emitters near a gold nanoparticle using both a classical phenomenological model and the finite-difference time-domain method. Results from this study establish general guidelines to consider when designing sensors based on UCNPs–AuNPs as donor–quencher pairs, and suggest the potential of plasmon-induced luminescence enhancement as a sensing strategy.

On 26 June 2019, Marta Saiz successfully defended her PhD Thesis entitled

Electronic and Thermal Properties of Graphene Nanostructures


Marta Thesis

In a recent paper [Carbon 149, 587 (2019)], M. Saiz-Bretín et al argue that twisted graphene nanoribbons subjected to a transverse electric field can operate as a variety of nonlinear nanoelectronic devices with tunable current-voltage characteristics controlled by the transverse field. Using the density-functional tight-binding method to address the effects of mechanical strain induced by the twisting, they show that the electronic transport properties remain almost unaffected by the strain in relevant cases and propose an efficient simplified tight-binding model which gives reliable results. The transverse electric field creates a periodic electrostatic potential along the nanoribbon, resulting in a formation of a superlattice-like energy band structure and giving rise to different remarkable electronic properties. They demonstrate that if the nanoribbon geometry and operating point are selected appropriately, the system can function as a field-effect transistor or a device with nonlinear current-voltage characteristic manifesting one or several regions of negative differential resistance. The latter opens possibilities for applications such as an active element of amplifiers, generators, and new class of nanoscale devices with multiple logic states.

In a recent paper [Physica E 113, 213 (2019)], F. Domínguez-Adame et al present an overview of key experimental and theoretical results concerning the thermoelectric properties of nanowires. The focus of this review is put on the physical mechanisms by which the efficiency of nanowires can be improved. Phonon scattering at surfaces and interfaces, enhancement of the power factor by quantum effects and topological protection of electron states to prevent the degradation of electrical conductivity in nanowires are thoroughly discussed.

In a recent paper [Physical Review B 95, 165428 (2019)], M. Saiz-Bretín et al argue that graphene nanorings attached to two leads show increased phonon scattering while keeping good electron transport. Using a density-functional parametrized tight-binding method combined with Green’s function technique, they show that the lattice thermal conductance is largely reduced as compared to that of graphene nanoribbons. At the same time, numerical calculations based on the quantum transmission boundary method, combined with an effective transfer matrix method, predict that the electric properties are not considerably deteriorated, leading to an overall remarkable thermoelectric efficiency. They conclude that graphene nanorings can be regarded as promising candidates for nanoscale thermoelectric devices.

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