The Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Madrid (ICMM) is an institute of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC) (Spanish National Research Council) founded in December 1986, that belongs to the Area of Science and Technology of Materials, one of the eight Areas in which the CSIC divides its research activities.


Our mission is to create new fundamental and applied knowledge in materials of high technological impact, their processing and their transfer to the productive sectors at local, national and European scales (the true value of materials is in their use), the training of new professionals, and the dissemination of the scientific knowledge.

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Forthcoming Events


Quantum Computing with Spins in Silicon
Prof. Jason Petta  read more


Bioinspired structural design of ceramic based functional materials
Žaklina Burghard  read more

Tunable Visual Detection of Dew by Bare Artificial Opals

Francisco Gallego-Gómez, Miguel Morales, Álvaro Blanco and Cefe López

The photonic properties of artificial opals directly depend on the atmosphere (air, usually) filling the voids in the constitutive dielectric material. Here, a novel use of bare artificial silica opals (direct and inverse) is presented for straightforward water dew detection, in which the stop-band exhibits a drastic change upon soaking of the voids. In particular, the opal reflectance drops to one?fifth within 100 ms scale, so the fading of the opal structural color upon dew formation is evident for the naked eye. Moreover, the stop-band redshifts up to 60 nm, leading, by convenient selection of the stop-band wavelength, to perceptible color change. Due to the porous nature of the opal, the dew formation in the opal voids is shifted to lower saturation pressures compared to an open system. This is experimentally demonstrated by controlled reduction of the pores size, so that the advancement of the dew point temperature is tuned between 2.5° and 6.3°. The outstanding color change together with the easy fabrication (without postprocessing) and selectable size (from miniature to large-area) make artificial opals cost-effective and versatile visual dew detectors. The tunable advance of the opal response over the actual dew point is practical to adequately anticipate and prevent dew formation in neighboring surfaces. Furthermore, opals might serve as useful probe systems for the study of fundamental phenomena such as condensation of vapors in porous and particulate media.

Adv. Func. Mater. 2018

Evolution of the reflection spectrum of 250 nm silica direct opal upon increasing air RH for two different opal temperatures: a) Topal = 26.0 °C and b) Topal = 20.0 °C. Insets: 2 × 3 mm2 optical images of the opal. Air temperature was kept constant at Tair = 22.0 °C.

ICMM-2018 - Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, 3, Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain. Tel: +34 91 334 9000. info@icmm.csic.es