Research lines

Complex systems. Nonlinear and Statistical Physics

Complex systems, a central paradigm at IFISC, are characterized by emergent and collective phenomena of many interacting units. Fundamental understanding of these systems comes from Statistical Physics together with the Theory of Dynamical Systems, which includes the study of chaos and the effect of fluctuations and random events on systems evolution. Generic phenomena under consideration include synchronization, phase transitions, nonequilibrium instabilities, spatiotemporal pattern formation, or dynamics and evolution of complex networks.

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Quantum physics: photons, electrons and information

Charge densities in nanostructures

Very small systems (nanoscience) and light-matter interaction (quantum optics) share a common background in Quantum Physics. These are subjects of interest in fundamental research and also in view of new technologies, such as quantum devices and quantum computers. In particular, the possibility to overcome the limitations imposed by classical physics leads to new ways to manage the information (quantum information).

The research at IFISC focuses on the theoretical study of specific topics within these timely lines. Charge and spin transport (nanoelectronics and spintronics) are studied in semiconductor nanostructures, including quantum dots and wires. The possibility to control photonic properties, such as quantum correlations and entanglement in light beams, are studied in nonlinear optical devices, cold atoms and lasers. General properties shared by these systems are studied in the context of quantum information, focusing on the identification of entangled states, the characterisation of their degree of entanglement and its creation and dynamical evolution.

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Nonlinar optics and dynamics of optoelectronic devices

Light waves in photonic devices

The general topic of this line is the study of the light-matter non-linear interaction and its consequences and potential for applications in emerging photonics technologies. We study the complex dynamics and the generation of non homogeneous spatial light distributions (pattern formation) in photonic sources such as semiconductor lasers and in optical cavities filled with nonlinear media. Experimental studies include the utilization of complex laser dynamics for encrypted communication, key exchange, generation of random bit sequences and information processing.

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Fluid dynamics, Biofluids, and Geophysical fluids

Lyapunov exponents in the Mediterranean Sea

Fluid flow is a natural process occurring in a huge range of scales, from blood capillaries to atmospheric weather systems. It is also widely spread in technological settings, being its understanding crucial to aircraft design or materials production, for example.

We concentrate in two research directions: on the one hand we study basic processes in fluid flow such as stirring, mixing, chemical or biological reactivity, instabilities, pattern formation, motion of non-ideal tracers, etc. The point of view of chaotic advection is a convenient starting point, and Lyapunov methods are thoroughly used. On the other hand, we apply these concepts and methods to geophysical settings, mostly in ocean dynamics: transport modelling, plankton patchiness, Lagrangian coherent structures, etc. Numerical simulation as well as the output from satellite sensors are the main sources of data used here.

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Biological Physics and nonlinear phenomena in ecology and physiology

Fractal shapes in broccoli

The general topic of this line is the study of some biological systems, mostly under the prism of modern Systems Biology, i.e. from the tenet that most observed behaviors in living systems stem from complex, emergent interactions among its constituents.

Present research topics include modeling and simulation of neuronal systems, with special emphasis in stochastic effects and synchronization properties, drug transport and absorption, population dynamics, phylogenetic networks and ecological structure and dynamics, including growth, aggregation processes and spatial effects, with special focus on clonal plants and savannahs.

Methods of complex network analysis, stochastic simulations, and the theory of nonlinear dynamical systems, such as delayed coupled systems, are used thoroughly.

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Dynamics and collective phenomena of social systems

Consensus and tension during negotiation

Social systems are prominent examples of complex systems. Concepts, tools and models aiming at identifying generic mechanisms underlying collective phenomena in these systems are developed with the use of Game Theory, Statistical Physics, Agent Based Models and Complex Networks Theory. Cooperation, cultural conflicts and problems of social consensus are examples of phenomena under study. New emphasis is on data driven research on socio-technical systems, including the impact of ICT, and in particular online social networks.

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