We expect our research, conceived as interdisciplinary, coordinated and synergic work, will contribute to explore the potential applications of materials modified at nanoscale and help to the understanding of interaction of nanomaterials with biological systems and develop novel nanotechnological solutions to solve industrial issues.
Exotic electronic states of low dimensional materials
Low dimensional materials refer to those systems in which electronic state wave function is confined (generally in the range from 1 nm to 100 nm). In these materials, spatial constraints give rise to quantum size effects, which can significantly alter their electronic properties and deeply modify their behavior, as compared to their bulk counterparts. Those systems have shown a bunch of intriguing phenomena and exotic electronic, optical, thermal and chemical properties.
In particular we explore the synthesis and characterization of the local electronic structure of two-dimensional and topological materials, such as graphene, nanostructured topological insulators, chalcogenides and dichalcogenides.
We found unique electronic signatures in Bi2Te3 topological insulator nanostructures such as phase separation of Dirac electrons and the evolution from heavily n-type to lightly n-type surface doping as the spatial limit is approached (Nano Letters 17, 97, 2017; J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 9(5), 954, 2018).
We work on the synthesis of topological Weyl semimetals and the characterization of their intriguing local electronic properties, which are important due to both the fundamental interest to explore new quantum phenomena and the potential application of a new generation of electronic devices.
Nanostructured coatings for microbial corrosion passivation and antifouling applications.
Corrosion of materials can be induced, facilitated or increased by the presence of biofilms, leading to a complex type of environmentally-assisted corrosion known as microbial corrosion. With a multidisciplinary team from UTFSM we are conducting a novel approach for passivation of microbial corrosion of metallic materials using highly impermeable nanostructured coatings, such as graphene and boron nitride. This framework is based in the fact that all critical processes involved in this phenomenon occur within the nanoscale/microscale dimensions.
Biofilms extraction in water transportation pipes in Minera Los Pelambres facilities (Salamanca, Chile). Metagenomics sequencing allowed the identification of bacterial species responsible of microbial corrosion inside the heterogeneous biofilm community.
At our monitoring station installed in the breakwater of Valparaíso Port, thanks to collaboration with Chilean Navy, antibiocorrosive and antifouling performance of nanoscale modified materials in marine environment is studied.
High efficiency nanostructured electrodes for microbial fuel cells and mining applications.
Performance of cells (whether it be for microbial fuel cells or electro-winning cells) depends on the electrochemical properties of the anode material. We study nanoscale improvements in the structure of electrodes for microbial and electrochemical cells that translate to better cell efficiency.
In the case of microbial fuel cells, which exploit the metabolism of bacteria in order to generate electricity, biofilm formation is required, leading to a different approach which looks for biocompatible nanostructured electrodes with high conductivity.
One of the key challenges that mining industry is facing is increasing energy efficiency in their production processes. Our nanostructured materials for Cu electrowinning applications have demonstrated to substantially decrease energy consumption
Control of biofilm formation by material surface modification at nanoscale
Microbial corrosion of concrete and metals are caused by the presence of biofilms. Among the engineered applications of nanomaterials studied in our group, we explore the development of bulk and surface materials (ceramic, cementitious, polymeric, and metallic) modified at nanoscale to control aspects relevant for biofilm formation, and therefore for microbial corrosion. Among these features, tuned at nanoscale, we found surface energy, electrostatic interaction, surface roughness and functionalization.
Graphene and h-BN coatings are able to considerably reduce biofilm formation on glass and polymer surfaces. Change in physico-chemical surface properties when introducing nanomaterials leads to modification of the interaction between bacteria and materials
Nanoscale-modified metallic alloys and foams with improved mechanical and anti-biocorrosion performance.
Corrosion in biological fluids, known as biocorrosion, affects medical devices and implants reducing their lifespan and causing deterioration of patient condition. Our work pursues to develop biocompatible nanoscale-modified metallic alloys and foams that present an improved anti-biocorrosion and mechanical performance.
Ti- and Cu-based foams with nanostructured additives have been design and develop in order to improve their performance under biocorrosion conditions
Concrete resistant to microbial corrosion
Biogenic corrosion of reinforced concrete sewer pipes is a global problem costing billions of dollars annually. This phenomenon is caused by the diverse metabolic activities of biofilms that lead to specific interactions and chemical reactions with concrete matrix, dissolving calcium paste and causing biodeterioration. One of our research lines is focused on developing cement with nanostructured additives that improved concrete performance under this aggressive scenario.
Different type of nanomaterials have been incorporated to cement paste to improve its resistance to microbiologically influenced corrosion in anaerobic conditions
Nanostructured Lithium Batteries
A new generation of lithium batteries based on nanostructures electrodes is expected to maximize their electriochemical performance. In this line we have been working on developing novel composites with controlled architecture based on MoS2 and nanomaterials, where a synergetic effect is expected. We address the fundamental problems of electrode chemical and mechanical instabilities that have slowed development of affordable, high-performance batteries.
Our goal is to develop and study new advanced materials based on MoS2 and nanomaterials for lithium-ion battery electrodes.