Innovation in Photochemistry and Drug Synthesis: Shaping a Sustainable Future

The Project

Understanding nature and its mechanisms at a fundamental level provides us with knowledge and tools that can be used to face global issues. In this regard, chemistry plays a crucial role, together with other fields of science and technology, in the design and preparation of new appealing materials with relevant applications in the field of sustainable energy, industry and medicine. Our research project intends to show how research in chemistry is performed and how it impacts society. You will have the opportunity to delve into three of the most relevant topics in chemical research:

  • Medicinal Chemistry: Have you ever wondered how a drug is created? How is the active principle synthesized? Which tests should a medicine pass before being commercialized? These topics and more will be discussed in this section. Furthermore, the concept of synthetic chemistry will be introduced and the students will be able to synthesize, purify and characterize their own medicaments in the laboratory.
  • Renewable Energies: One of our priorities as a species is to transition towards a more sustainable system to obtain the energy that we consume. Renewable energies stand as a promising alternative to the current fossil fuel-based system, but they present drawbacks such as intermittency, capacity or difficulty to storage. One of the approaches to overcome these limitations is the use of green hydrogen as an energetic vector. In this section, you will enter the fields of photo and electrochemistry in the context of hydrogen production. You will build your own electrolyzers by preparing the electrodes based on Nickel foam adorned with metallic oxides (NiOx, NiFeOx, CoOx or MnOx). A visit to a medium size electrolyzer is also planned. Finally, you will be able to understand the physical and chemical principles behind the solar cells and prepare Grätzel cells which will be used to produce green hydrogen using the electrolyzer previously created.
  • Quantum Dots: To celebrate the recent laureation of quantum dots with the Nobel Prize in chemistry (2023), we dedicate a section of the program to this topic. In this part, you will learn about the quantum physics behind these nanomaterials and will synthesize different samples to observe their optical properties. With this project, we aim to boost your enthusiasm for science and research in a multidisciplinary environment. We want to consolidate and expand your knowledge in chemistry through direct contact with experimentation, as well as to introduce novel technologies and methods within the field.
Matching profiles

This project is addressed to students interested in Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, Medicine, Nanomaterials

Learning objectives
  • To discover photo and electro and synthetic chemistry.
  • To explore material science and quantum physics. 
  • To learn about automation, research methodologies in experimental chemistry.
  • To familiarize with how to work in a laboratory.
  • To introduce to green and sustainable chemistry.
Required materials

Laptop, Lab coat

Coordinators of the project

Laura Hernández Eguía

  • Bachelor Degree in Chemistry from the University of Vigo in 2006.
  • She studied a Master in Nanoscience and Nonatechnology at University Rovira i Virgili, and developed her PhD thesis in Supramolecular Chemistry at ICIQ in 2010.
  • In 2011 she was involved in a research project in Geneva (Switzerland) as postdoctoral researcher and until 2013 she was working as researcher in biosensors at the Electronic Engineering Department of the URV.
  • For more than four years she was working as freelance author and editor of scientific educative contents for different editorial companies.
  • In 2018 she came back to ICIQ to work as a Solid State Chemistry researcher, participating in projects with pharmaceutical companies
  • Since 2021 she is the researcher-manager in charge of ICIQ’s scientific outreach programme.
  • She is interested in science education, and research in supramolecular chemistry, catalysis and renewable energies.



Joan Guillem Mayans Peñarrubia - ICIQ

Joan Guillem Mayans Peñarrubia

  • He got the bachelor degrees in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering from the universities of Valencia (Spain) and Strasbourg (France), respectively.
  • He studied the Master of Molecular and Supramolecular Chemistry from the University of Strasbourg and then move to ICIQ (Tarragona, Spain) to undergo his PhD in gold catalysis (2016-2021).
  • In 2021, he joined the Scientific Outreach Department at Univeristat Rovira i Virgili (Tarragona, Spain) and shortly after he enrolled ICIQ as a science disseminator.
  • To date, he is working in the Scientific Education and Outreach unit at ICIQ and he is interested in bringing science closer to the general public while arousing passions.
Associated researchers

Santi Gené

  • Degree in Thecnical Industrial Engineering speciality Industrial Electronics from the University Rovira I Virgili of Tarragona in 2001.
  • Bachelor Degree in Industrial Electronics and Automation Engineering from the University Rovira I Virgili of Tarragona in 2012.
  • He completed a Master in Electronics Engineering from the University Rovira I Virgili of Tarragona in 2014.
  • Since 2015 he is the Laboratory Engineer in the group of Prof. Emilio Palomares at ICIQ.
  • His work covers multiple different areas and projects such as synthesis of quantum dots, Silica nanoparticles and light-emitting particles; characterization of these materials (measurements by UV-Visible, Photoluminescence and Time Correlated Single Photon Counting methods); preparation of materials for CO2 sequestration and separation; fabrication and characterization of Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells; etc.
Felipe Garcés BIYSC ICIQ

Felipe Garcés

  • Bachelor's Degree in Chemistry from Universidad del Quindio in Colombia (2008).
  • Completed a Ph.D. in Chemistry with a focus on semiconductors at the Universidad Nacional del Litoral in Argentina (2013).
  • Participated in a research project at Sao Paulo University (Brazil) as a postdoctoral researcher in 2014, continuing until 2015.
  • Worked as a researcher in new materials for tribology applications at the MAHLE-Leve Brazil-group until 2015.
  • Since 2015, has been a senior scientist at ICIQ in the group of Professor Galán Mascarós, specializing in energy harvesting and material sciences.
The center
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The Institute of Chemical Research of Catalonia (ICIQ) started its research activities in 2014.