In 1988 I graduated from the Complutense University of Madrid with a degree in Physics. Then I started working as a professor at the Faculty of Physics, where I obtained my PhD in 1991. I carried out researchs in optoelectronic and magneto-optical devices for the following industries: automotive (Alcatel SESA and Alfred Teves), optical fibre (Bayer AG) and lighting (Philips Lighting NV). I was academically active for about fifteen years (full-time/part-time) teaching courses in applied physics and optics, as well as seminars in knowledge management and micro/nanotechnology.
After collaborating for a couple of years as a Prospective advisor at the National Agency for Evaluation and Foresight, at the end of the 1990s I began my research at INTA (National Institute of Aerospace Technology/Ministry of Defence) on the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta satellite and INTA’s NANOSAT 01. In 2003, I joined INTA’s Senior Defence Scientists and we founded the Space Optoelectronics Laboratory, which I directed for a decade. This laboratory participated in low-orbit satellites (NANOSAT 1B and OPTOS) as well as missions to Mars.
In 2012, I was fortunate to start a four-year period as a Seconded National Expert at the European Commission. I took part in the Space Policy and Research Unit where I worked on the design of the Horizon 2020 space work program and led the dialogue on critical technologies with ESA and the European Defence Agency (EDA).
After rejoining INTA in 2016 in the General Sub-Directorate of Space Programmes, in 2019 I asked for a voluntary leave of absence. Then I started a fascinatingnew stage at IMDEA Nanoscience Insitute (Madrid Institute for Advanced Studies) where I lead Strategic Relations and a Laboratory of Concept Tests to enhance disruptive Innovation at IMDEA.
Lastly, I am very excited to say that I have been one of the twelve chosen members for the NATO Advisory Group on Emerging and Disruptive Technologies, this initiative arose in the middle of year 2020. Among other aspects, it covers nanotechnology and the fifth military domain: space.
IMDEA is one of the seven IMDEA foundations that the Community of Madrid created at the end of 2006. A few years earlier, around 2000, the Microsystems and Nanotechnology Innovation Circle (CIMN) was headed by INTA. There carried out an extensive study titled “Nanotechnology in the Community of Madrid’ which highlighted the excellent positioning of researchers and institutions based in Madrid.
Thanks to this report, the managers at that time identified nanoscience as one of the areas in which to focus the research of the Community. Without knowing it, we had contributed to what would later become IMDEA Nanoscience Institute.
Moreover, in 2018 in order to enhance cooperation with the US in Quantum Technology, we received a delegation from the US Navy at INTA that was interested in learning about our capabilities and the nearby centers of excellence. At that moment IMDEA came to my mind and I rediscovered this thriving Institute.
Almost 20 years later, I was once again seduced by the nanoworld to such an extent that I ended up starting a new career path at IMDEA Nanoscience Institute. I believe that their nanoscale frontier research will result in improvements and applications that, in the medium and long-term, could even be revolutionary. And of course, being part of it is very exciting.
IMDEA has three objectives. One is to attract talent, as it was formed to boost excellence research in Madrid. The second one is to provide this talent with the best possible facilities in order to contribute to the advancement of research. The third one is to connect with society and the challenges of industry to offer solutions from nanoscience and nanotechnology and contribute to making our business network more competitive.
My passion for space took me to the concept of nanotechnology. In the 90s, the NASA incorporated it into its strategic planning and finally the space sector began to think about nanotechnology. In those years, the Aerospace Corporation organized conferencesin the US, these were about micro and nanotechnology applied to space, and they eased the new wave of nanotechnology to reach INTA. Although this discipline started decades ago, in those years that it began to gain strength and become widespread.
We implemented some initiatives such as micro/nanotechnology conferences for space in Spain and the launch of the NANOSAT programme. At the same time, we led the Circle of Innovation of the Community of Madrid. It was then that I thought it was appropriate to inform the society and, in particular, the Ministry of Defence, about what this new paradigm would imply.
We wrote Microsystems and nanotechnology for defence, which was perhaps the first book in Spanish about nanotechnology. I was attracted by the need to apply it in space, an area that is on a constant search of the most advanced technologies, to survive in the empty space, temperature changes, radiation… Everything that implies leaving our safe Earth behind!
Nanoscience deals with the basic principles that regulate the nanoscale, the fundamentals that give nanoelements, nanostructures and nanomaterials; as well as their peculiar properties, which are intrinsically linked to the advancement of nanotechnology.
Nanoscience is the equivalent of the fundamental aspects of physics, chemistry, biology, taken to the nanoworld, where the borders between these areas of knowledge disappear and everything begins to intermingle. Nanotechnology is an implementation of these scientific principles and foundations in order to develop certain applications and devices.
The constant quest for knowledge has enabled human beings transcend thousands of frontiers. History has shown us the unpredictability of each of the great milestones achieved in the history of science and technology. In my opinion, talking about nanoscience and nanotechnology nowadays is like talking about physics, chemistry, or biology and the flourishing fields of application of that time.
Nanotechnology is beginning to have a global impact on society and is inherent to its own progress. We are surrounded by nanotechnology everywhere: consumer electronics, communications, materials, coatings, automotive industry, transport, etc.
Not to mention all the chemical, biological and emerging advances in pharmacology and medicine (such as vaccines and tests to combat the current pandemic).This is why I believe that the impact of nanotechnology on society is unpredictable, as it will be the result of the evolution of society.
The decontaminating and antimicrobial nanoparticles applications were proposed more than 20 years ago. Thanks to companies such as NOB166, the goodness and industrial viability of these predictions have been confirmed. They are a clear example of the successful application of nanotechnology.
They have managed to engineer nanoparticles to deploy and fix them where they are needed, as well as increasing their temporary action as they interact with different germs or pathogens, proving to be highly effective.
To sum up, they have the ability to be attached to textiles and many other surfaces, while their antimicrobial efficiency lasts much longer. I believe that the functionalisation of nanoparticles is clearly a future line for antimicrobials.
While antimicrobials are necessary in many sectors (e.g. in ensuring the disinfection of seats in aeroplanes and long-distance trains), in the case of hospitals they are essential. It is worth noting that proliferation of bacteria in hospitals are becoming more resistant and harmful. Therefore, we should make progress in R&D and the use of this type of products.
Nanotechnology technics provides particles encapsulation generating some structures which both progressively release and quench them, over those substrates to become treated. Thanks to nanotechnology, we can improve them and make them adaptable to constant threats like those posed by microorganisms.