Gustau Catalán Bernabé

Gustau Catalán Bernabé

Institut Català de Nanociència i Nanotecnologia

Experimental Sciences & Mathematics

Gustau Catalán graduated in Physics at the Universitat de Barcelona (1997) and obtained 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 Himalayas (Draoich Parvat, 6200m, Garwhal). Upon returning to research, he has worked at the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (IMEDEA, 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), where he remains. His research centres on the physics of oxides at the nanoscale, with emphasis on ferroics.

Research interests

A common denominator of my work is the search for emerging physical phenomena at the nanoscale. Much of my better-known research concerns the coupling between electrical polarization and strain gradients (a phenomenon known as flexoelectricity) which happens to be very large at the nanoscale. Over the last decade, and with the help of an European Research Council (ERC) grant, I set up in Barcelona one of the world's first specialized laboratories specifically dedicated to this phenomenon (there are a number of them now). Prominent discoveries in this area from our group have been the large flexoelectricity of semiconductors, the existence (and important physiological role) of flexoelectricity in bones, and the identification of the participation of flexoelectricity in fracture physics. In parallel, I have also worked on other nanoscale phenomena in oxides: metal-insulator transitions, the physics of domain walls, antiferroelectricity and photovoltaic effects of polar materials.   

Selected publications

- Spasojevic I, Santiso J, Caicedo JM, Catalan G & Domingo N 2023, 'Tunable Molecular Electrodes for Bistable Polarization Screening', Small, 19, 30, 2207799.

- Roleder K, Catalan G, Glazer AM, et al. 2023, 'Weak low-temperature polarity in a PbZrO3 single crystal', Physical Review B, 107, 14, L140102.

- Liu Y, Niu R, Majchrowski A, Roleder K, Cordero-Edwards K, Cairney JM, Arbiol J & Catalan G 2023, 'Translational Boundaries as Incipient Ferrielectric Domains in Antiferroelectric PbZrO3', Physical Review Letters, 130, 21, 216801.