Dr. Joan Vila Comamala

Joan Vila-Comamala


Paul Scherrer Institute
Forschungsstrasse 111
5232 Villigen PSI

I was born in a small village in the North of Barcelona (Catalonia). When I was little I wanted to understand how things work and I ended up by studying Physics to very soon discover that only spherical cows in vacuum can be completely explained. Later during my PhD work at ALBA Light Source (from 2004 to 2008), I grow interest in X-ray Imaging and Microscopy while working on the nanofabrication of diffractive X-ray optics. I became an expert user of electron beam lithography to pattern the nanometer sized structures that are required to diffractively bend and focus the X-ray beams. During my postdoc time (from 2008 t0 2012), I worked at the Paul Scherrer Institut in Switzerland and at the Advanced Photon Source of Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago in USA. I was developing the state-of-the-art Fresnel Zone Plates for high resolution Transmission X-ray Microscopy. From 2013 to 2015, I was part of the team at the I13 - X-ray Imaging and Coherence beamline of the Diamond Light Source  working as a Beamline Scientist . From 2015 to 2020, I worked at the TOMCAT group at the Paul Scherrer Institut and ETH Zürich (Switzerland) developing laboratory X-ray phase contrast grating interferometry to implement a new tool for medical diagnosis and pathology. In 2020, I joined the X-ray Optics and Applications group of the Laboratory for Micro- and Nanotechnology at the Paul Scherrer Institut as tenure-track scientist. 

During my professional career, my scientific research interests have become split in two. I had the opportunity to combine my passion for Nanotechnology and Lithography to create and fabricate nanometer sized structures with X-ray Imaging and Microscopy while using large scale facilities like Synchrotrons and X-ray Free Electron Lasers. During my Phd and postdoc time, I developed a zone-doubling technique for the fabrication of state-of-the-art Fresnel zone plates enabling unprecedented high resolution in transmission X-ray microscopy. During my years at the TOMCAT group, the focus of my research was on implementing the X-ray Phase Contrast Imaging techniques originally developed in Synchrotron facilities using laboratory table-top X-ray sources. In the future, this technology will enable the broad use X-ray Phase Contrast Imaging for medical diagnosis and pathology by obtaining full three dimensional images of soft-tissue biopsies. In my current position, I am engaged in developing state-of-art X-ray optics for synchrotrons and X-ray free electron lasers.

Selected Publications

L. Romano, M. Kagias, J. Vila-Comamala, K. Jefimovs, L. Tseng, V. A. Guzenko, M. Stampanoni. Metal assisted chemical etching of silicon in the gas phase: a nanofabrication platform for X-ray optics, Nanoscale Horizons 5 (2020) 869-879 [DOI]

J. Vila-Comamala, L. Romano,V. Guzenko, M. Kagias, M. Stampanoni, K. Jefimovs. Towards Sub-micrometer High Aspect Ratio X-ray Gratings by Atomic Layer Deposition of Iridium, Microelectronic Engineering 192 (2018) 19-24 [DOI]

M. Zdora, J. Vila-Comamala, G. Schulz, A. Khimchenko, A. Hipp, A. C. Cook, D. Dilg, C. David, C. Grünzweig, C. Rau, P. Thibault, and I. Zanette. X-ray phase microtomography with a single grating for high-throughput investigations of biological tissue, Biomedical Optics Express 8 (2017) 1257-1270 [DOI]

J. Vila-Comamala, A. Diaz, M. Guizar-Sicairos, A. Mantion, A. Menzel, C. M. Kewish, O. Bunk, C. David. Characterization of high-resolution diffractive X-ray optics by ptychographic coherent diffractive imaging, Optics Express 19 (2011) 21333-21344 [DOI]

J. Vila-Comamala, S. Gorelick, E. Färm, C. M. Kewish, A. Diaz, R. Barrett, V. A. Guzenko, M. Ritala, C. David. Ultra-high resolution zone-doubled  diffractive X-ray optics for the multi-keV regime, Optics Express 19 (2011) 175-184 [DOI]

J. Vila-Comamala, S. Gorelick, V. A. Guzenko, E. Farm, M. Ritala,  C. David. Dense high aspect ratio hydrogen silsesquioxane nanostructures by 100 keV electron beam lithography, Nanotechnology 21(28) (2010) 285305 [DOI]

J. Vila-Comamala, K. Jefimovs, J. Raabe, T. Pilvi, R. H. Fink, M. Senoner, A. Maassdorf, M. Ritala, C. David. Advanced thin film technology for ultrahighresolution X-ray microscopy, Ultramicroscopy 109 (2009) 1360-1364 [DOI]

K. Jefimovs, J. Vila-Comamala, T. Pilvi, J. Raabe, M. Ritala, C. David.  Zone-doubling technique to produce ultrahigh-resolution X-ray optics, Phys. Rev. Lett. 99 (2007) 264801 [DOI]


Full list of publications is available on my ResearcherID profile: