With Rubicon to Spain

TU Alumnus Dr. Riccardo Frisenda has joined a young nanoscience group at IMDEA, Madrid. A Rubicon grant gives him another two years.

"I choose for the IMDEA Nanoscience Institute because it is a young and dynamic group with a good mix of chemists, experimental and theoretical physicists, all dedicated to nanoscience", said the Italian-national Frisenda over the telephone. "The facilities are nice and new, and the atmosphere is very dynamic. Besides, I liked the idea of going south again after four years in Holland."

Frisenda did his PhD research in Prof. Herre van Zant's group at the Kavli Institute for Nanoscience (Faculty of Applied Sciences). He arrived there from the Sapienza University, Rome in November 2011, where he did his master.

His PhD research was on the determination of the electrical properties of single organic molecules, tethered in between two sharp metallic electrodes. His PhD thesis, published last January, was titled ‘OPE3: a model system for single-molecule transport’.

In Madrid, he is focussing on single atom layers of various materials. Graphene is the best-known example of these so-called 2D-materials, but there are dozens more. Each with their own behaviour.

‘Small is different’ is the slogan at IMDEA nanoscience. That quite literally applies to the molybdendisulfide that Frisenda is currently working with.

"In a big piece with ten layers or more, the material is not optically active. But as soon as you peel it down into a single atomic layer, the material starts behaving like a direct band gap semiconductor that is active in the optical range."

That is promising behaviour for ultra-thin solar cells, photo sensors or electronics.

Although the research is all about fundamental quantum mechanics, Frisenda thinks the applications are not too far down the road. "We are close to real world applications. Nanoscience is coming into society."

Thanks to the Rubicon grant, Frisenda can prolong his contract with IMDEA with another two years, making a three year contract in total.