Leonardo Scarabelli is one out of the 30 awardees (out of 282 presented proposals) of the Postdoctoral Junior Leader Fellowships from La Caixa Foundation. This fellowships allow young researchers to start an independent project during 3 years within a Research Unit or Center of Excellence in Spain or Portugal. It is the first time that the ICMAB receives a researcher with this highly competitive grant.
Leonardo Scarabelli's project title is "Tailoring Energy States and Reaction Dynamics of a Molecular System: Towards the Control of Plasmonic Chemistry in the Strong-Coupling Regime at the Single Nanoparticle Level", and he will carry it out within the Englightment Group, led by Agustín Mihi, within the Nanostructured Materials for Optoelectronics and Energy Harvesting (NANOPTO) research group. He will start this project on December 2020, as a continuation of his previous MSCA IF project SHINE, in whcih he has been fabricating strong-coupled hybrid plasmonic materials through the combination of plasmonic colloids and soft-lithography.
Leonardo explains us the concepts behind his project: "Using an optical cavity, light-matter interactions can be strengthened to the point of inducing the formation of new quantum-mechanical states, entering the strong-coupling regime. The created energy levels are called polaritons, and possess hybrid characteristics of both light and matter. The modification of the energy landscape of a chemical system enables very exciting possibilities, opening the doors for the exploration of new chemistry in the strong-coupling regime".
In his project, Leonardo proposes to combine metal nanoparticle colloids and soft lithography to design functional polaritonic materials, exploiting the capability of plasmons of controlling light-matter interaction at the nanoscale. His work can potentially unlock the use of strong-coupling to attain a new level of control over chemical reactivity and optical emission phenomena at the nanoscale, with transformative implications for next‐generation technologies such as ultrasmall light sources, quantum-computing, and advanced optoelectronic and optomechanic devices.
About Leonardo Scarabelli
Leonardo Scarabelli was born in Pavia (Italy) in 1988. After completing his chemistry education at the University of Pavia, he received his PhD at CICbiomaGUNE (Spain) under the supervision of Prof. Luis Liz-Marzán (2016). His thesis was awarded with the IUPAC-Solvay International Award for Young Chemists, and the Spanish Royal Society of Chemistry NanoMatMol Award.
After a three-year postdoc at the University of California Los Angeles (Prof. Paul Weiss), he joined the group of Dr. Agustín Mihi at the Institute of Material Science of Barcelona, where he was awarded first with a MSCA Individual Fellowship (SHINE) and now with the “La Caixa” Postdoctoral Junior Leader Fellowship."ICMAB offers a quite complete platform for research in this area, and we can also count on all the facilities available in the UAB campus. From a personal perspective, coming to the ICMAB allowed me to re-enter in Spain, a country that welcomed me in the best way during my PhD and where I have some of my fondest memories" says Leonardo.
Leonardo has published over 30 peer-reviewed contributions, with more than 2000 citations, and an h-index of 19. His scientific interest resides in the preparation of nanosized plasmonic building blocks, and their integration into complex architectures for the development of functional nanomaterials.
"Becoming a researcher was always a natural choice for me. I like having a job where every day looks different and that allows you to keep learning and move your ideas further. In the next 5-10 years I will have to transition towards a mentor position, which I am quite excited about. I enjoyed the role of student supervisor when I was at UCLA: it allows one to always share and discuss thoughts and `projects with younger minds, which I am sure will keep me mentally young and motivated. I am still not sure where my lab will take shape and roots, but I am sure this grant and project will play a very important part in this transition" affirms Leonardo. In his free time, Leonardo is a rock climber, nature enthusiast, and guitar player.
Leonardo Scarabelli working in the lab with a new optical system.
About Postdoctoral Junior Leader Fellowships –Incoming at research centres of excellence of Spain and Portugal
”la Caixa” Foundation, which firmly believes that scientific progress, research, mobility and professional qualification are key to the development of society, launches this postdoctoral fellowship programme aimed at hiring excellent researchers—of any nationality—who are willing to continue their research career in the STEM area (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), in Spanish or Portuguese territory, at accredited centres with the Severo Ochoa or Maria de Maeztu excellence award, Institutos de Salud Carlos III and units evaluated as excellent by the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia of Portugal.
The candidates should be outstanding experienced researchers in terms of the originality and significance of their contributions in their scientific discipline, as well as having the leadership skills to head their own research group. By means of a complementary training programme, these fellowships are intended to consolidate comprehensive training encompassing scientific, technical and complementary skills that will help them to tap into their potential as independent researchers and leaders of the new generation of researchers.
The Postdoctoral Junior Leader fellowship programme is co-funded by the European Commission through COFUND, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action of the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme.
"It important to realize that Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions do not simply represent a funding agency, but an entire network dedicated to research at the postdoctoral level. You have all kind of support. For example, I recently joined the Marie Curie Alumni Association, one of the many sources available to MSCA fellows" says Leonardo about the MSCA grants.