Gustau Catalán

Institut Català de Nanociència i Nanotecnologia

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, Ouro N'guérou) and the first ascent of a peak in the Indian Himalayas (Draoich Parvat, 6200m, Garwhal). 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 Nanophysics group at the Institut Català de Nanociencia i Nanotecnologia (ICN2).

Research interests

The main focus of my research are the physical properties of oxides at the nanoscale. The interest in these materials stems from their combination of structural simplicity with a vast array of exciting and often unique electronic properties, including ferroelectricity and piezoelectricity, magnetoelectricity, magnetoresistance or metal-insulator transitions. A common denominator of my work is the search for original physics and emerging effects at the nanoscale.

Recently, most of my research has focused on the effects of strain gradients on electrical polarization (flexoelectricity, project funded by the ERC). In parallel, I have also worked on the physics of domain walls (domain wall nanoelectronics), antiferroelectricity and giant photovoltaic effects in polar materials.


Selected publications

– Zubko P, Lu H, Bark C-W, Martí X , Santiso J, Eom C-B, Catalan G & Gruverman A 2017, ‘On the persistence of polar domains in ultrathin ferroelectric capacitors‘, Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter, vol. 29, pp. 284001

– Domingo N, Farokhipoor S, Santiso J, Noheda B & Catalan G 2017, ‘Domain wall magnetoresistance in BiFeO3 thin films measured by scanning probe microscopy’, Journal Of Physics-condensed Matter, 29, 33, 334003.

– Cordero-Edwards K, Domingo N, Abdollahi A, Sort JCatalan G 2017, ‘Ferroelectrics as smart mechanical materials‘, Adv. Mat., vol.29, p. 1702210.

Selected research activities

  • Invited talks:
    – International Conference on Advanced Materials and Devices (ICAMD), Jeju (Korea): “Bending Oxides”
    – Trans-pyrenean Encounter on Advanced Materials (TEAM1), Sete (France): “Flexoelectricity: from semiconductors to memory devices”
    – MANEP School on Quantum Materials at the Nanoscale, Saas Fee (Switzerland): “Functional Oxides and Their Physics”
  • The discovery of semiconductor flexoelectricity was shortlisted among the top-8 scientific highlights of the year for the Spanish “La Vanguardia de la Ciencia” award. The PhD thesis containing this discovery, written by Dr Jackeline Narvaez and supervised by Prof. Gustau Catalán, won the prize to the best PhD thesis in Experimental Solid State Physics in Spain (Premio GEFES a la mejor tesis doctoral de 2016).
  • Article in La Vanguardia: El Rector Copión y la Mancha España.