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    nanoscience and nanotechnology: small is different

Advanced laboratory services

The R&D Service Units of IMDEA Nanociencia provide a wide range of scientific services (LABORATORY  SERVICES) geared to positioning its activities with the highest quality standards. At IMDEA Nanociencia we encourage the training and preparation of our technical staff to make our services competitive. Our highly qualified personnel use state of the art, innovative technology and equipment to support research groups and private sector companies. To this end, a ‘service profile’ has been drawn up listing all of the characteristics related to each laboratory, allowing to identify one by one the utility that the services provided by the laboratories below can deliver to prospective customers:


This lab is equipped with an Ultra High Vacuum (UHV) chamber that houses a Low Temperature Scanning Tunneling Microscope (LT-STM) which allows experiments in a temperature range that goes from 4.5 ºK up to 300 ºK. In this experimental setup it is possible to deposit ultra thin films of different materials a well as molecular layers and study them by means of scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy. This combination allows us to study the electronic properties at atomic resolution. We can address new problems such as surface diffusion of individual atoms and molecules, catalytic processes at surfaces, the study of standing waves and charge density waves, the study in real space of quantum well states, the magnetic domain structure of surfaces with atomic resolution and the interaction between individual molecules and their vibrational modes.

The Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) lab at IMDEA Nanoscience offers a facility for structural, magnetic or electrostatic surface characterization of different nature (insulator, metallic, proteins, bacterium...). The surface characterization can be performed in contact or tapping mode in air or liquid media. For that purposes, we have two different AFM equipment:  1) JPK Nanowizard II which combines fluorescence and atomic force microscopies providing multitude of applications in Soft Matter and Life Science research, 2) Nanotec Cervantes AFM system which integrates different units for contact and tapping measurements in air or liquid media which enables to probe I-V, magnetic, and electrostatic characteristics on any surface or indentation hardness on biomolecules


This lab specializes in optical spectroscopy and microscopy, in particular spectroscopy at low temperatures with high spectral and also temporal resolution (picoseconds). Some of the techniques employed are, for example, pump-probe spectroscopy in the nanosecond to millisecond time range, spectral hole burning (SHB), time-correlated single photon counting (TCPS), Raman spectroscopy, confocal optical microscopy, and near field optical microscopy. Another focus of our work is phase-sensitive ultrasonic probing of the mechanical properties of nanometric objects, including organic and inorganic thin films, in the MHz to GHz frequency range.

The complete photophysic characterization of conjugated materials (organic, inorganic and also biologic materials) and optoelectronic devices can be accomplished in this lab equipped with spectroscopic techniques that cover the entire spectrum, from UV to mid-infrared are available: transmission and reflection spectroscopies, fluorescence and phosphorescence spectroscopies with a resolution between 2 ps and milliseconds, photoinduced absorption spectroscopy time resolved in a regime ranging from 30 fs to milliseconds, electroabsorption spectroscopy, a femtosecond laser equipment, and other electromodulación techniques. Equipment is optimized to detect signals at low optical intensity, as in photovoltaic devices (due to low solar radiation) and molecular electronics (due to low number of molecules). Measurements are made in environmentally controlled or high vacuu, at room temperature or down to 1.5 ºK. The samples studied are samples in solution, in films of varying thickness and optoelectronic devices, being in the latter case possible to test the optical properties during operation. 

This lab includes the following Advanced Characterization Services:

  • Steady State Electroabsorption spectroscopy. This technique is a useful tool to characterize anionic and cationic features in organic semiconductors. In addition it is a very helpful technique for understanding degradation mechanisms in organic light emitting diodes. Field induced electroabsorption studies allow to elucidate the built-in field across the device active area which is intrinsically related to the work-function difference between cathode and anode. Formation of oxide at the electrodes or chemical impurities at the organic-inorganic interface can therefore be revealed by the associated change in built-in field. 
  • Photoconductivity measurements. Characterization of the spectral response of photodetectors and solar cells is another activity that can be provided by our laboratory. We can also provide a range of different services such as measuring the monochromatic spectral response, determination of the external quantum efficiency and current-voltage characteristics. 
  • Transient absorption measurements. We can monitor dynamics of long-lived excited states such as unrelaxed polarons or triplet states. The temporal window detection of this experiment expands from 1 ns to 100 ms. These type of studies are for instance relevant for characterization of photosensitizers in photodynamic therapy, studies of light harvesting biological complexes and characterization of charged states in organic disordered systems. 
  • Pump-probe spectroscopy. The early dynamics (30 fs – 1ns) of excited states in semiconductors can be probe with this technique. The nature of these states as well as their main decay mechanisms are unravelled by probing across the visible and near infrared. Upon exciting at high fluences it is possible to reveal the presence of annihilation processes which are intrinsically related to the exciton mobility. In molecular materials charged excitations (polarons) can be spectrally distinguish from Frenkel excitons. Monitoring polaron absorption provides information on polaron mobility and recombination processes, of crucial importance for optoelectronic devices


This lab focuses on the study of the properties of artificial magnetic nanostructures of both organic and inorganic materials, including ultrathin films, multilayers, ordered networks (generated by lithographic processes and self-organization) and nanoparticles, with particular emphasis on the magnetization reversal processes. The nanostructures are grown in ultra-high-vacuum (UHV) by molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) and characterized with standard surface science tools. A more specific organic-MBE system for developing well-controlled organic and hybrid (organic-inorganic) ultrathin film and multilayer nanostructures, has been set-up, towards molecular spintronic. 

Two home-made high resolution magneto-optic based magnetometers are available for the magnetic characterization at room temperature. One in reflection (v-MOKE vectorial Magneto-Optic Kerr-Effect magnetometry) and other in transmission (tr-MOFE time-resolved Magneto-Optic Faraday-Effect magnetometry), dedicated for opaque and semi-transparent magnetic nanostructures, respectively. In both set-ups, the magnetic measurements can be performed at different applied field angles (in the whole angular range with an angular resolution better that 0.5º) and with a wide range of dynamic frequencies (i.e., field sweep rates ranging from 1x10-6 T/s to 1x107 T/s). Two new magneto-optic Kerr set-ups are in development: M(R)OKE (dual Magneto-(R)resistance and Magneto-Optic Kerr effect magnetometry) will allow us to study simultaneously the magneto-resistive response and the magnetization reversal processes in magnetic nanostructures at room temperature; LT-vMOKE (Tristan), in which by using a prototype He-cryostat system with in-vacuum rotatory sample motion we could perform the magnetic characterization down to 5 K and up to 500 K


A new Nanofabrication Centre is now under construction withis IMDEA Nanociencia building, which will provide advanced services consisting of the manufacturing of tailored nanomaterials, custom nanostructures and sample devices. This Center will operate the new Clean Room.  This is a shared facility of the International Excellence Campus UAM+CSIC which will offer a fee-based service laboratory open to outside users and provides highly reduced fee access for academic users. The cleanroom is being equipped for most nano-fabrication needs.