A Focus on our PhD Students working on Glass – María Eugenia Cruz
I completed my undergraduate training as a chemical engineer at the Universidad Tecnológica Nacional in Argentina. My first contact with the “glass world” was through a Fellowship at a glass factory in the raw materials area, directly connected with the production of float glass. Since that time, I’ve always been working in glass, including a contract in SEGEMAR, a materials institute focused on ceramic and glass.
Arriving in Spain in 2018, I finished a Master degree in Nanoscience, Materials and Processes: Chemical Technology at the Frontier in Universitat Rovira i Virgili (the Public University of Tarragona) in Spain in 2019. I subsequently developed my Master thesis in the GlaSS group of the Instituto de Cerámica y Vidrio (ICV), CSIC in Madrid, working on the preparation of transparent glass-ceramic materials by sol-gel processing. A new route for preparing glassy materials under mild conditions was developed under the supervision of Dr. Yolanda Castro and Professor Alicia Durán.
Nowadays, I am a PhD student in the Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology program, and I continue my research work in the ICV, within the projects MAT2017-87035-C2-1-P/-2-P and FUNGLASS- Horizon2020 Teaming. My PhD thesis, directed by Dr. Yolanda Castro, is focused on the development of new sol-gel routes for the production of oxyfluoride glass-ceramics
(OxGCs) doped with rare earths. The main goal is to maximize the luminescence emission of the OxGCs both in bulk and in thin films, maintaining the chemical and mechanical properties of the glass matrix. These materials have interesting applications for sensors, solar cells, and lasers, among others.
I have developed a new sol-gel route to incorporate high percentages of active nano-crystalline phase – up to 20% – immersed in a silica matrix which can be obtained as a bulk material or in the form of coatings. The previous synthesis of crystalline nanoparticle suspensions facilitates control of the size and morphology of nanocrystals, for improving the luminescent properties and increasing the emission lifetimes. This sol-gel route opens up new opportunities for designing oxyfluoride glass-ceramics with different fluoride phases, as single (LnF3 ) or mixed alkaline (RLnF4 ) materials. My goal is to develop techniques that can be used to obtain a wide variety of doped fluoride crystalline nanoparticles for incorporation in sol-gel systems, which can be deployed at preindustrial scale.