Gustau Catalán

Institut Català de Nanociència i Nanotecnologia (ICN2)

Experimental Sciences & Mathematics

Gustau Catalán graduated in Physics at the Universitat de Barcelona (1997) and gained his PhD, also in Physics, at the Queen's University of Belfast (2001). This was followed by a one-year round-the-world climbing expedition, the highlights of which were the setting up of a new route in the Dogon country of Mali ("The man with no name", 6c-250 metres, north face of Ouro N'guérou) and the first ascent of a peak in the Himalayas (Draoich Parvat, 6200m, Garwhal, India). Upon returning to research, he worked at the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (2002-2004), at the University of Groningen (2004-2005) and at the University of Cambridge (2005-2009). He joined ICREA in 2009 as a Research Professor and leader of the Oxide Nanoelectronics group at the Institut Català de Nanociencia i Nanotecnologia (ICN2).

Research interests

The main focus of my research is exploring what happens to the physical properties of complex oxides (mostly perovskites) when you make them nanoscopically small. The interest in these materials stems from their combination of structural simplicity with a vast array of interesting electronic properties, including ferroelectricity and piezoelectricity, magnetoelectricity and metal-insulator transitions. Currently the two themes that currently occupy me are the effects of strain gradients on electrical polarization (flexoelectricity, project funded by the ERC) and the physics of domain walls (domain wall nanoelectronics). I am also dipping my toes on photovoltaic properties of ferroelectrics and antiferroelectrics, with notable results regarding the enormous photovoltages that can be achieved in these materials. The research on these subjects is carried out in the laboratory of Oxide Nanoelectronics (ON) at the Institut Català de Nanociencia i Nanotecnologia (ICN2), located in the campus of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona.

Selected publications

– Everhardt AS, Matzen S, Domingo N, Catalan C & Noheda B 2016, ‘Ferroelectric Domain Structures in Low-Strain BaTiO3‘, Advanced Electronic Materials, 2, 1, 1500214.

– Bhaskar UK, Banerjee N, Abdollahi A, Solanas E, Rijnders G & Catalan G 2016, ‘Flexoelectric MEMS: towards an electromechanical strain diode’, Nanoscale, 8, 3, 1293 – 1298.

– Narvaez J, Vasquez-Sancho F & Catalan G 2016, ‘Enhanced flexoelectric-like response in oxide semiconductors’, Nature, 538, 7624, 219.

– Bhaskar UK, Banerjee N, Abdollahi A, Wang Z, Schlom DG, Rijnders G & Catalan G 2016, ‘A flexoelectric microelectromechanical system on silicon’, Nature Nanotechnology,11, 3, 263.

– Perez-Tomas A, Lira-Cantu M & Catalan G 2016, ‘Above-bandgap photovoltages in antiferroelectrics’, Advanced Materials, 28, 9644-9647.

Selected research activities


– ‘A Christmas list from an oxides guy’, TALEM workshop, Toulousse (France).

– ‘To flexoelectricity, and beyond’, Cambridge Workshop on Ferroics at the Nanoscale (UK).

– ‘Switchable mechanical properties of ferroelectric domains’, International Symposium on Ferroic Domains (ISFD-13), Vancouver (Canada).

– ‘Giant flexoelectricity in oxide semiconductors’, European Materials Research Society (E-MRS) Fall Meeting, Warsaw (Poland).

– ‘Multiferroic domain walls and antiferroelectric photovoltaics’, Royal Society International Meeting on ‘Domain walls as new 2D functional materials’ (UK).


– ‘L’ELECTRÓ I EL CAMIÓ’. Talk about nanoscience and smart cities in the context of the “Mes Humans” exhibition at the Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona (CCCB).

– ‘NANOCIÈNCIA: LA PARÀBOLA DE LA FORMIGA I L’ELEFANT’. Talk about big effects at small scales, addressed to undergraduate students in cellebration of Sant Albert (patron saint of science, apparently) at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC).