Our research is about oxide materials, assembled into thin film heterostructuctures that we study to understand the intimate relationship between structural and physical properties, craft to achieve new, artificial properties, or use to define prototype devices. The vast majority of materials that we investigate are perovskites that show a very broad range of properties in the same structural family. This makes it possible to assemble them as lego bricks into multifunctional architectures.

Practically, these heterostructures are grown by pulsed laser deposition, a technique by which a high energy laser pulse impinges onto a ceramic pellet of the material to grow (the “target”), creating a plasma plume containing the atomic/ionic species present in the target that then deposit onto a nearby single-crystalline substrate, usually heated at high temperature (typically 500-900°C). When all growth conditions are properly optimized, the material grows coherently onto the substrate, atomic layer by atomic layer (as in molecular beam epitaxy).

Currently, our research concentrates on Multiferroics (materials that show several orders, such as magnetism and ferroelectricity), Nanoferronics (an emerging area of nanoscience focusing on the interplay between charge and spin currents and ferroic orders) and Oxide interfaces (where novel unexpected electronic phenomena can appear).
(Image credit: J. Huijben, Univ. Twente).