Smart Material Group

Group Vision & Themes

Smart Materials Group led by Dr Carlos Garcia Nuñez, is a research group within Microelectronics Lab, dedicated to the systematic investigation of advanced materials, including metal oxides, metal nitrides, and graphene, achieved through the precise deposition techniques of Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD). Within this research domain, the group focuses on four primary research themes:

  1. Energy Materials. The development of energy harvesting devices, exemplified by Triboelectric Nanogenerators (TENG) and Piezoelectric Nanogenerators (PENG), leveraging the exceptional properties of these materials to convert mechanical energy into electrical power.
  2. Energy Sensors. The creation of autonomous self-powered sensors, encompassing pressure sensors, gas sensors, and ultrasound sensors, demonstrating the versatility and sustainability of the materials in sensor technology.
  3. Optical Materials. The fabrication of low-noise, high-reflectance mirror coatings, with a specific emphasis on their utilization in enhancing the sensitivity and precision of gravitational wave detectors.
  4. Hybrid Materials. The exploration of unconventional optical electronics, including tribotronics, tribophototronics, piezotronics, and piezophototronics, showcasing their potential to usher in transformative advancements in electronic interactions, sensing capabilities, and energy conversion.

Through its multidisciplinary and formal research pursuits, the group remains committed to pushing the boundaries of materials science and fostering innovation across various technological frontiers.

Selected Publications
  1. A. Ejaz, M. McKinlay, S. Ahmadzadeh, M. Pelayo Garcia, L. Fleming, P. Mazur, M. Mazur, D. Gibson, C. García Núñez, “Investigation and band gap analysis of pulsed DC magnetron sputtered diamond-like carbon to enhance contact-electrification and durability of triboelectric nanogenerators” Advanced Materials Technologies (2023) 2300450 DOI:10.1002/admt.202300450

  2. E. Keel, A. Ejaz, M. Mckinlay, M. Pelayo Garcia, M. Caffio, D. Gibson, C. García Núñez, “Three-dimensional graphene foam based triboelectric nanogenerators for energy systems and autonomous sensors” Nano Energy 112 (2023) 108475 DOI: DOI: 10.1016/j.nanoen.2023.10847

  3. C. García Núñez, et al., “Amorphous Dielectric Optical Coatings Deposited by Plasma Ion Assisted Electron Beam Evaporation for Gravitational Wave Detectors” Applied Optics 62(7) (2023) B209-B221 DOI: 10.1364/OIC.2022.WB.4

  4. C. García Núñez et al., "A Novel Growth Method To Improve the Quality of GaAs Nanowires Grown by Ga-Assisted Chemical Beam Epitaxy," Nano Letters 18(6) (2018) 3608–3615 DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b007

  5. C. García Núñez et al., “Energy Autonomous Flexible and Transparent Tactile Skin,” Advanced Functional Materials 27(18) (2017) 1606287 DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201606287

Research Projects

Current Projects

[Project 7] 'Investigation of new advanced materials and structures for the development of self-charging hybrid energy systems' funded by UofG (2023-2027)

[Project 6] 'Study of silicon nitride thin films as optical mirror coatings for cryogenic-based gravitational wave detectors' funded by STFC (2023-2027) Grant Ref: ST/X00533X/1

[Project 5] 'Investigation in Advanced Energy Harvesters and Energy Storage Devices for Self-powered' FleEnSys funded by British Council and HEC (2021-2024) Grant Ref: ICRG-165

[Project 4] 'Investigation of doped IV-VI polycrystalline thin films deposited by sputtering methods for high speed and room-temperature mid-infrared photodetectors' funded by UWS (2021-2024)

[Project 3] 'Glancing angle deposition of ZnO nanostructured thin films for enhanced ultrasonic sensing and imaging applications' funded by CENSIS (2020-2023) Grant Ref: S144SFC. 

 Previous Projects

[Project 2] 'Study of the piezo-phototronic effect on zinc oxide based ultrasonic sensors' funded by Royal Society (2021-2022) Grant Ref: RGS\R1\221219

[Project 1] 'Investigation of microwave plasma-assisted sputter deposition of high-performance piezoelectric film-based imaging and sensor devices' funded by Royal Society (2020-2021) Grant Ref: SIF\R1\201013