The Young Photonics Congress is a scientific congress where the spotlight is on high school students presenting their research projects.

Discover the world of photonics with flash talks by ICFO researchers and research projects by young scientists!

march 12, 2021 – online

10:00 – 11:00: Introduction and Flash talks
We will open the conference with a brief introduction to photonics and ICFO, followed by ICFO research projects explained in first person by ICFO scientists. All talks in this section will be in Catalan or Spanish.
11:00 – 12:45: Project presentations
This section will have the structure of a typical poster session of a scientific conference. All projects will be presented at the same time: attendees will be able to discover the different projects and ask questions to the authors in small conversation groups.
12:45 – 13:00: Closing remarks

Flash talks

Ckick on + for more information

Javier Argüello Luengo

Javier Argüello Luengo graduated in Physics and Mathematics from the Universidad Complutense of Madrid (UCM), and continued his postgraduate  studies at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (Waterloo, Canada).  He is currently a ´La Caixa’ PhD fellow based at the Theory of Quantum Nanophotonics group at ICFO, led by Prof. Darrick Chang. His research interests focus on experimental proposals for strong light-matter interaction, and its use in analog quantum simulation. He collaborates with the outreach department at ICFO and the student association QuinteScience.


LisA Saemisch

Lisa Saemisch started her physics studies in Germany over 10 years ago and moved to Barcelona in 2014 for an internship at ICFO, in which she developed an imaging system for a very cool quantum gas experiment. The great community at ICFO, the many hours of sun, the sea, Barcelona and the local culture made her stay here, continuing her Master and her PhD studies at ICFO in the molecular nanophotonics group. She has been researching on the interaction of many single molecules with many different very-small antennas and will defend this work in less than two months to obtain her PhD.

Guillermo Gerling

Guillermo Gerling studied Chemical Engineering and, after working in a company for a few years, he decided to focus on renewable energy and obtain a PhD in photovoltaics solar energy. Since 2018, he has been working as a researcher at ICFO, developing transparent solar cells for applications in windows and buildings.

Claudia Valdés

Claudia P. Valdés studied physics in Colombia where she continued with a master’s degree in the area of optics. Between 2011 and 2014, she completed her PhD in ICFO in the medical optics group, developing a technique for imaging blood flow using lasers. She returned to Colombia where she alternated her work as a specialist in microscopy imaging in a company and a research project in medical optics. In 2019, she returned to ICFO as a researcher in the Super-Resolution Optical Microscopy and Nanoscopy group, to participate in the development of a device to obtain high-resolution images of the retina.



Click on + for more information (all abstracts are in English)

Josep Amigó - En la recerca de la llum

Escola Ipse – Barcelona (2 bat)
Tutora: Maria Trillas Jané
In our current society, driven by science and research, the nature of light it is rather well known. Nevertheless, discovering its true nature was a great ordeal for physicists, and it took them several centuries to finally do so. Thus, the theoretical part of my research projects makes a journey throughout the history of optics. Even so, the project is focused in the main three branches of physics that somehow allow to explain the nature of light: the wavelike motion, the electromagnetism and quantum physics, being the latter the one that describes it more accurately.
Then, it moves on to prove the wave nature of light. To do so, I have experimented with the phenomena of diffraction, trying to emulate the experiments performed by Thomas Young back in the nineteenth century. I have accomplished the double slit diffraction as well as the single slit one, using household objects such as cardboard or razor blades. Measuring the patterns obtained from the single slit experiment, I have got the chance to determine how the different variables (width of slit and distance to screen) influence the results. Furthermore, I have observed other cases of diffraction along with various optical phenomena, such as birefringence and thin film interference. Those and some other phenomena had let me study further properties of light.
To sum up, light has many ways to interact with its surroundings while showing some of their properties. In my project, I have been able to observe the wavelike nature of light thanks to diffraction.

Gina Arnau Torner - The future possibilities of solar cells

Escola Frederic Mistral – Tècnic Eulàlia – Barcelona (2 Bat)

Silicon solar cells are electrical devices that convert the energy of light directly into electricity. However, they have some limitations: their efficiency has been stuck for some time and they are very expensive and complex to produce. Nevertheless, a few years ago, the scientific community developed a new photovoltaic cell based on two new materials that could change this scenario: perovskite and graphene.
But why and how could this new solar cell revolutionize the industry? Understanding and comparing the operation and the limitations of both types of solar panels to be able to answer this question has been the main aim of this project.
The first step has been understanding how a current silicon solar cell works. Then, I have had to gather information about the structure, applications, and properties of perovskite and graphene. Afterward, I’ve had to comprehend how these materials could improve solar cells. Finally, I have done some experiments, such as the synthesis of graphene through the Scotch tape method or calculating the efficacy of a photovoltaic cell based on perovskite and graphene, to better understand what I have been researching.
After completing my work, I’m now able to answer the initial question: why and how could a perovskite-graphene solar cell revolutionize the industry? They will change the industry because they are cheaper and easier to create. While their efficiency is still similar to the silicon’s solar cells, they have achieved it in around ten years, while the silicon solar panels needed around thirty years. In addition, they can also work well in diffuse light. Finally, their properties, such as flexibility and transparency, will enable to create new technologies (flexible solar cells that could be attached to clothes, windows, furniture…).

Júlia Yong Bausà Dewald - Estudi de la llum. Una aproximació de la Teoria Ondulatòria

Institut Joan Coromines – Pineda de Mar
Tutora: Inma Arocas
Study of Light is a work that defends the idea that our society doesn’t really know about what’s light or its daily applications. The main objectives I set at the beginning of the research were (1) solve the hypothesis raised, (2) analyze the fundamentals of light, (3) see and make a hologram and lastly (4) put into practice the scientific method. We know that light has two theories that explain its behavior, corpuscular theory and the Huygens one, which after a while was able to demonstrate the ondulatory behaviour with Young’s experiment. In this, Thomas Young shows us for the first time the interference diagram and points out the dual identity that some entities may have. The Ondulatory Theory has many applications, but one that fascinated me the most was the holographic one, that throughout the work I’ve been able to research and know about the technique.
The practice part of this work consisted of (1) a study on the knowledge that people had about the subject and (2) the part of the construction of holograms, with which I’ve been able to draw some interesting conclusions and apply the previous learning of the theoretical part. I have concluded that it exists a “disinformation” by people about light, but we do find applications in our daily lives although we are not fully aware of it.

Maria Jie Bolós Gago - Escoltant els colors

Escola Virolai – Barcelona (2 Bat)
Tutor: José Luis Touron
How does a color sound like? How do we know we are looking at the same reality? What depends on the subjectivity on which we look at the world? My project came up from this question by realizing that the reality we set as exchangeable and true in many cases is subjective. This idea brought me closer to the final product of my work.
Colors and sound, two different concepts we say without even thinking about it. Both of them can be subjective depending on the observer and the benchmark, without questioning us that perhaps what we are seeing is not an objective reality. My main objective for this project was to convert colors into sound by using technology and see the diferent ways to relate each other. To make this project come alive I used a RaspberryPi, the sensor TCS34725, the sonic pi editor(OSC) and python. Besides the application of the technology, as you can imagine, I used synethesia to relate colors to sound so we can say that my project also have a subjective part since I created my own relationship between them. During the project I started to see different applications my project could have as a product or service.
After innumerable failures and problems I reached my objective, to translate color into sound with my own relation between them. Would you dare to create your own association?

Carla Caro Villanova - Quantum annealing: an insight into its current potential

Aula Escola Europea – El Prat de Llobregat (2 bat)
Tutor: Jordi Mazón Bueso
The research question of my investigation is “To what extent do current quantum annealers outperform classical computers?”. Quantum annealing is an emerging technology that promises important progress in the quantum computing sector. The possible applications it has are problems where low-energy states are useful. For instance, optimisation problems in which the solution will be the minimum energy configuration or probabilistic sampling problems with many low-energy samples. In this investigation I focused on formulating optimisation problems and solving them in D-Wave Systems’ quantum annealer. Concretely, I have solved two new problems of chess, that had not been solved with quantum annealing before, and a common travelling salesman problem, that gives some insight into the potential real-world applications of quantum computing. Furthermore, the main focus of the investigation is the implementation of a support vector machine algorithm in D-Wave’s annealer. The first step was to formulate the problem as a quadratic unconstrained binary optimisation problem using a specific encoding. Several adaptations had to be made in order to overcome issues of physical embedding and connectivity limitations. These implied the use of sampling techniques, so, in the end, my proposal of a quantum support vector machine was a combination of optimisation and sampling. Finally, the classification performance of this new quantum approach was extremely successful and it will probably outperform classical algorithms sooner than we expect. After this investigation, I genuinely believe that this new upcoming field of quantum information opens another perspective to the computational problems that will exceed the classical computer’s performance.

Marta Díez Asensio - Creació d’una xarxa neuronal artificial per a la detecció de quatre malalties pulmonars

Institut Josep Lladonosa – Lleida (2 bat)
In November, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), on the occasion of the celebration of the International Day of Radiology published the following headline: “Two-thirds of the world’s population does not have access to diagnostic imaging” and continued “Between 70% and 80% of diagnostic problems can be solved through the basic use of X-ray and/or ultrasound examinations”. Given the important statistics supported by the headline, I proceeded to read the article. Firstly, the technical details of the statistics studied were presented, which showed that the most affected countries were South America, South Africa and some Asian countries. And then, at the bottom of the publication, a study carried out by Swiss researchers was mentioned. These researchers presented a medical radiology device adapted to the economic and environmental conditions of the affected countries. These devices would facilitate the implementation of medical resources in underdeveloped countries. In this research, a deep convolutional neural network is constructed for the diagnosis of four lung diseases (edema, tumor, cardiomegaly and pneumothorax). The model is designed to analyze X-ray images produced by the radiological medical device mentioned before. To do this I study the physical characteristics of these devices and add to the AI model the specifications needed which will be responsible for producing a medical diagnosis by analyzing these images. To make the model I use the Chest X-ray 8 database. This dataset contains about 100,000 X-ray images of 32,000 different patients. For the verification of the results the results produced by the deep convolutional neural network, the diagnosis made by three expert radiologists are compared with the modelo. In addition, by means of ROC curve measurements, the area under the ROC curve and the implementation of heat maps, the program predicts a CI (confidence interval) which acts as an indicator of the veracity of the model. The results obtained by this model are highly satisfactory. It is estimated that they are 95% correct in the diagnosis of the four diseases studied.

Ariadna García Zaera - Build your own Michelson Interferometer

Institut de l’Arboç – L’Arboç (2 bat)
Tutora: Sònia Pérez Mendez
The project presents all the steps to build an interferometer similar to the one used by A. A. Michelson to determine the speed of the Earth relative to the ether.
As an optical part we used: two mirrors, a beam splitter or a half-silvered mirror, a converging lens (f’ = 15 mm), a divergent lens (f ‘= -50 mm) and a green laser.
The entire optical part is fastened with supports made in a 3D printer and these supports on aluminum squares.
One of the mirrors is static but the other is mobile. Its mobility is controlled by a motor that allows the mirror to move distances of the order of nanometers.
The resulting interference pattern consists of circular fringes where darkness and light alternate as a result of the constructive and destructive interference that is formed.
We have found that the interferometer is a very sensitive device, changes of only a few hundred nanometers can result in visible variations in the interference pattern.
We were able to determine the wavelength of the green laser used and see how the difference between the mirror distances affects the formation of constructive or destructive interferences, therefore, we were able to put into practice the interference equations studied in 2nd of BAT.

Albert Jiménez Isábal - Quantum cryptography at the service of the citizens

Escola Mare de Déu de Núria – Barcelona (2 bat)
Tutor: Albert Pesquer Ruiz
Implementation of an authentication system with BB84 protocol in the elections to a university faculty.
Within this investigation project, we study the possibility to implement quantum key distribution protocols (QKD) in order to make the elections to a university faculty safer. In the theoretical part of the project, we have familiarised ourselves with several incidents of electronic vote fraud. Furthermore, we have realised that the current classical cryptography methods (RSA, elliptic curves) are not safe enough to protect the integrity of the vote. This has motivated us to design a method to implement the quantum cryptographic protocol BB84 to ensure that the electronic votes will be preserved. In order to study the viability of this project, it has been used the QKD Simulator © app, with which we have simulated the influence of certain initial parameters in the effectiveness of the protocol BB84. In particular, we have followed the variation of magnitudes such as the information leakage or the estimated error, depending on two parameters:
  • Bias in the selection of bases
  • Initial number of qubits
With the results of these simulations, we have plotted scatter charts and obtained regression lines, which show the variation of the initial parameters as a function of the independent variables (bias and initial number of qubits). Finally, we have obtained a simple phenomenological model, which plots the security of the protocol, depending on the initial parameters.
Therefore, with these results we have designed the following measures that could optimise the QKD protocol:The technical staff should carry out checking communications with disparate biases (0.1 and 0.9) alternatively. It has been demonstrated within this project that this maximises the error produced by the hacker. Thus, it is more likely that he will surpass the barrier of 11% and he will be detected. In the protocol QKD, the staff should use an initial number of bits superior to 1036 photons.

Marc López Alonso - Evidències experimentals de la relativitat

Sagrada Familia – Gavà (2 bat)
Tutor: Daniel Parcerisas
The theory of relativity was published by Einstein in the early 20th century. This theory is analyzed and an attempt is made to remove the limit in order to find an error in it or to reinforce it.
The objective of this work is based on attacking a small part of the theory to show that it is correct. To do this, as TimePix particle detectors are available, muons (particles that travel practically at the speed of light) were recorded with the detector and the dilation of space and time was demonstrated using various equations.
For It, first we need to investigate the background to this theory to know how it came about. Then we must familiarize ourselves with some concepts of the theory, such as the Lorentz transformations that help us understand the dilation of space-time.
Finally, it is interesting to see other phenomenal that shows that the theory is still valid. For this, we interviewed an expert in gravitational waves who is currently working at LIGO, Alicia Sintes.
Before demonstrating the muon experiment, it was necessary to do a little initiation practice to the detector and in the Pixet Pro super program. In the experiment several setbacks arose, since it was not taken into account that the muon does not deposit all its energy in the detector.
Finally, the dilation of space and time is demonstrated, and it was possible to reach the conclusion that thanks to physics we can advance a lot, but we still have much to discover.

Oriol Morros Vilaseca i Alejandro Nuñez Navarro - BK-SHOOTS

Oms i de Prat. Fundació Catalunya La Pedrera. – Manresa (4 ESO)
Tutora: Gemma Vilaseca
Our research project shows how to create and program a system with an application with Arduino, Android and light for tracking, directly, basketball shots in individual. The app allows for online matches where multiple users can play along.

Marçal Muñoz Salat - Criptografia

Vedruna Gràcia – Barcelona (2 bat)
Tutora: Cati Cepas
This research project is about cryptography, starting by their beginnings and easiest methods passing by the modern cryptography seeing the current methods that protect us and arriving to the quantum cryptography, possibly the future of our personal computers. I have had the chance to do a practice about quantum cryptography. I went to an investigation center named ICFO where they showed me the functioning of one of the protocols. I created by myself a cryptographic key through the quantum.

Leonel Fernando Nabaza Ruibal - El potencial del grafè per a la dessalinització de l’aigua de mar

Institut Antoni de Martí i Franquès – Tarragona (2 bat)
Tutor: José Guerrero
The present research aims to show that an efficient and economical way to obtain drinking water from saltwater is possible through graphene oxide filters. Both graphene and graphene oxide are presented as promising materials for the construction of desalination membranes, as they allow gravity filtration.This could reduce energy consumption compared to other systems currently in use.
On the one hand, it was necessary to know the characteristics and properties of graphene from the analysis of scientific publications, with emphasis on the properties of graphene oxide that make it suitable for desalination. On the other hand, the current state of desalination was studied, from reverse osmosis plants to the processes that take place.
Subsequently, in an ICFO experiment, graphene samples were obtained by
micromechanical exfoliation of graphite and its characterization through a
Finally, the ability of graphene oxide to improve homemade filters was tested by experimental practice.

Daniel Rodríguez Ruiz - La física te puede curar

Sagrada Família – Gavà (2 bat)
Tutor: Daniel Parcerisas
This project is about the relationship that physics has with medicine, for this we have done several researches to see what applications physics has in the field of medicine today. To achieve this we have explained the physical basis that is needed and then explained the applications it has in medicine. We have investigated the filter capability of some masks by detecting the radiation they accumulate in them thanks to a particle detector called Timepix, and we have analyzed x-rays of various organic objects and tissues. We have interviewed an ICFO researcher to learn more about the professional-level research projects being carried out today Thanks to this project we have concluded that many advances have been made in medical and physics research but that much remains to be known related to these two sciences.

Marc Silvestre i Claros - Computació quàntica

Sant Nicolau – Sabadell (2 bat)
Tutor: Hernán Pino Quintana
My work is about quantum computers. My goals were using quantum computers just with the knowledge of a 16 years old student.
In order to do that, my teacher has explained to me the matrix and Dirac’s notation, whereas I have also searched about how classical computers work. Learning quantum mechanics has been an important point at the beginning of the project too.
Once I learned all these subjects, I started calculating basic codes and sent them to real quantum computers in order to do some practices. Then, I searched the teleport protocol and I calculated all the algorithm too. The next part of the work was calculating other codes that I created and comparing real results with the maths results, where I saw loads of differences. That was really annoying for me, so thanks to my teacher I got into touch with some experts. One of them explained to me a way to give the results taking into account the errors of the computers at that time, which improved a lot the results.
Lastly, I have been thinking about using them, because it is great to know all this staff, but then it is much better using real quantum computers. As a result, I have been working in solving some problems of the biology class, the genetic ones, using them.
To sum up, I have learned a lot and I have been able to use and understand the basic states of quantum computers. I have enjoyed a lot these months and I want to learn more about this, since it is really interesting and it looks to be so useful for the future of computing. I try to read some news about it, such as the last the scientists that achieved the teleportation of particles at more than 20km.

This activity is co-funded by the European Regional Development Funds (ERDF) allocated to the Programa operatiu FEDER de Catalunya 2014-2020, with the support of the Secretaria d’Universitats i Recerca of the Departament d’Empresa i Coneixement of the Generalitat de Catalunya for emerging technology clusters devoted to the valorization and transfer of research results (QuantumCAT 001-P-001644 and GraphCAT 001-P-001702).

Share This