Gonzalo Murillo (32 years old) was received recognition by the Spanish edition of the MIT Technology Review for the development of new materials which make use of environmental energy to permanently charge small independent sensors, with no need for batteries. These piezoelectric materials make use of the mechanic energy which dissipates into the environment - produced by undesired vibrations, brakes or buffers - and converts it into electrical energy.
One of these materials is nanostructured zinc oxide, which through a technique also developed by Murillo, can grow in a controlled manner over flexible materials or a silicon wafer, allowing it to be integrated into an electronic circuit which in turn is incorporated into the sensor. Murillo also conducts research on the more robust and flexible piezoelectric polymers which can be used to obtain vibrational energy.
These materials offer numerous and immediate applications, mainly in the field of IoTs (Internet of Things) and in intelligent environments. “It will become more common to have small interconnected devices all around us and it is therefore necessary to develop solutions which can substitute batteries for other everlasting and energetically more efficient elements”, explains Murillo. Another application field he is working on is cell biology and the development of potential electronic nanodrugs.
Training, Research and Entrepreneurship on Campus
The young researcher conducted his training at the UAB campus, where he moved to from his home town of Granada after graduating in Electronic Engineering in 2007, to enrol in a PhD programme in Microelectronics at the UAB. He earned his PhD in 2011 with a Doctor Europaeus mention. After several research stays in international centres, in 2013 he began working at the National Centre for Microelectronics (CNM-CSIC) located on the UAB campus.
“I've had the opportunity to learn in a favourable environment for someone interested in working in research”, Gonzalo explains. In addition to working on the European projects of Synergy and EnSO at the CNM, he collaborates in research projects conducted by the departments of Cell Biology and Electronics Engineering and by the university's Institute of Neurosciences.
Gonzalo Murillo also shows interests in entrepreneurship. In fact, he is working on a design kit with a generator based on polymeric materials which anyone can incorporate it into the sensor of their choice, and which he aims to commercialise through the creation of a start-up company. With his eye put on entrepreneurial projects such as this one, he enrolled in 2012 in the “University to Business” course offered by the UAB, which “became very important in motivating me to carry on activities in innovation and entrepreneurship”, he assures.
MIT Technology Review
MIT Technology Review is a journal which was first published in 1989 by Technology Review Inc, an independent media company belonging to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The awards to innovators under 35 is organised annually.
In this year's edition, Spain presented over three hundred candidates. Of these, only ten were selected, including Gonzalo Murillo. The European edition was celebrated subsequently, where the winners of the five participating countries - France, Belgium, Poland, Spain and Germany - all met in Barcelona. Among these, only three were awarded special mentions. Gonzalo Murillo wins the Most Novel European Innovator.