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Slovensko   English2024-06-23

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Aljaž Kavčič and doc. dr. Matjaž Humar from the Laboratory for biological and soft photonics, Department of Condensed Matter Physics, along with dr. Nerea Sebastian from the Department of Complex Matter at the “Jožef Stefan” Institute, in collaboration with colleagues from the “Max-Planck Institute for the Science of Light”, have published an article in Nature titled Tuneable entangled photon pair generation in a liquid crystal. In their work, they, for the first time, demonstrate the generation of entangled photons in liquid crystals and, with this, in any organic material. In addition to the fact that the efficiency of entangled photon generation in liquid crystals is comparable to the best existing sources, their main advantage lies in the tunability of the state of photon pairs. This tunability can be achieved by applying an electric field or by arranging the liquid crystal molecules into the appropriate configuration. The ability to tune the quantum state indicates significant practical potential for numerous quantum technologies. A summary of the research can also be viewed in a short video.

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At the final meeting of the INSPIRES project (EIT RawMaterials), the members of the Nanostructured Materials Department (Dr. Benjamin Podmiljšak, Dr. Tomaž Tomše and Prof. Dr. Spomenka Kobe) in the consortium of 11 partners reported on the goals achieved. In the RIS Slovenia region, we presented a successful example of a circular economy without waste. We focused on motors in household appliances and developed new automated processes for dismantling and recovering magnets. With key industrial partners (Kolektor, Gorenje, Domel, ZEOS, Surovina) we established recycling processes and tested new circular economy pathways. We analysed their sustainable performance in terms of economic and environmental life cycles. In the Slovenian region, knowledge and technologies from non-RIS regions contributed to the refinement (recycling technology was provided by the University of Pforzheim). The Brussels-based partner CEPS (Centre for European Policy Studies) effectively communicated the project results to decision-makers for further action.

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Coworkers of the Department of Complex Matter from Jožef Stefan Institute, Peter Medle Rupnik, Luka Cmok, Nerea Sebastián, and Alenka Mertelj have published a paper in the journal Advanced Functional Materials entitled Viscous Mechano-Electric Response of Ferroelectric Nematic Liquid. They report on mechano-electric transduction phenomena in ferroelectric liquid at room temperature. They show that the actuation of a cell filled with ferroelectric nematic liquid crystal causes changes in electric polarisation structure and consequently electric current is generated. As described the observed phenomena fundamentally differ from the piezoelectric effect, due to their viscous character, i.e. the polarisation changes with flow. This indicates a high technological potential since already a very soft touch leads to electric signals, which depend on the touch strength. Ferroelectric liquids are therefore promising for use in fields from tactile sensorics to energy harvesting at low actuation frequencies.

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In collaboration with co-workers from China, Germany, Australia, and Switzerland, Prof. dr. Tadej Rojac from the Electronic Ceramics Department has recently published a paper in the journal of Advanced Functional Materials titled Piezoelectric properties of BiFeO₃ exposed to high temperatures. The study reports on an unusual phenomenon in ferroelectric bismuth ferrite (BiFeO₃), which has been extensively studied in recent years due to its high Curie temperature (TC = 830°C) and therefore its potential for high-temperature piezoelectric applications. The researchers discovered that the piezoelectric response, which disappeared at temperatures above ~400°C, was recovered upon cooling of the material. In contrast to the commonly assumed explanation related to thermal depoling of the ceramics and thus permanent loss of piezoelectricity, in this case, it is a reversible phenomenon stemming from the thermally activated electrical conductivity of the ferrite. The discovery of this phenomenon has paved the way for optimizing the poling conditions of BiFeO₃, which may have practical significance in the development of BiFeO₃-related environmentally friendly lead-free piezoceramics.

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