Friday, 10 September 2021

Ruđer Bošković Institute Plasmonic Effect Research Shows Promise

September 10, 2021 -The Ruđer Bošković Institute plasmonic effect research described the property of nanoisland metal films of silver and copper which can be seen in various applications, particularly in green technology development.

Metal nanoparticles are submicron scale entities made of pure metals (e.g., gold, platinum, silver, titanium, zinc, cerium, iron, and thallium) or their compounds (e.g., oxides, hydroxides, sulfides, phosphates, fluorides, and chlorides), as explained by the Science Direct website.

When it comes to modern science, a particular interest in metals has now shifted to the Plasmonic effect. This effect is an interaction between free electrons in metal nanoparticles and incident light, as briefly explained by the National Institute of Technology Calicut physics department researcher Shamjid Palappra.

With this question raising curiosity among scientists worldwide, it was impossible for the Ruđer Bošković Institute (IRB) in Zagreb and their optics laboratory to not dive into the subject themselves.

As IRB reported, Matej Bubaš, Vesna Janicki, Stefano A. Mezzasalma, Maria Chiara Spadaro, Jordi Arbiol, and Jordi Sancho-Parramon authored a research titled ''Tailoring plasmonic resonances in Cu-Ag metal islands films'' which was then published in a respected Applied Surface Science journal.

IRB's optics lab collaborated on this research with colleagues from the Lund Institute of Advanced Neutron and X-ray Science (LINXS) in Sweden, and two institutions from Catalonia in Spain, the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology and ICREA.

''The plasmonic response of Cu-Ag metal islands films is being investigated. Films are obtained by the subsequent electron beam deposition of Ag and Cu using different fabrication conditions: the deposited mass thickness, then comes the substrate temperature, and then the post-deposition annealing in the vacuum. The optical properties of the films are investigated by spectroscopic ellipsometry and then correlated with the structural characterisation results obtained by electron microscopy,'' explained the abstract of the research concerning the metal island combination of silver (Ag) and copper (Cu).

''Overall, it has been shown that Cu-Ag island films are compelling systems for plasmonic applications, as their optical response can be widely and easily tuned by adjusting the fabrication conditions,'' the abstract summarised.

IRB's press release clarified the research goals, stating that the scientists described how plasmonic properties could be adjusted for the preferred types of radiation, be it infrared, visible light, or ultraviolet radiation. These descriptions and setup possibilities of nanoisland plasmonic properties bring with them a plethora of applications.

''Devices that use plasmonic effects already upgraded their diagnostics and spectroscopy, while research in the direction of upgrading the conversion of solar energy and manufacturing catalysts that would turn toxic compounds into useful ones carry great potential for the development of new green technologies,'' pointed out IRB's press release.

Developing green technologies and turning toxic compounds into useful ones is not a new thing for IRB, as TCN previously reported.

Learn more about Croatian inventions and discoveries from Tesla to Rimac on our dedicated TC page.

For more about science in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 20 April 2020

Croatia Celebrates Catalan Sant Jordi, Literature and Roses Day, for First Time

Zagreb, 20th April 2020 – How to foster a reading culture during the pandemic?

In order to foster a reading culture, especially during the self-isolation time, the Delegation of Catalonia to Southeastern Europe invites Croatian citizens to read some of the best Catalan writers translated into Croatian, revealing the roots of historical love between Catalonia and the written word.

During this years’ Croatian Book Night 2020 manifestation, an annual national programme aimed at the popularisation of reading and promotion of books, marking World Book and Copyright Day (23rd April), Croatian writer and editor Kruno Lokotar will present the most relevant Catalan writings translated to Croatian language through four videos. Videos will be posted on Delegation’s official Facebook page ( from 20th to 23rd April 2020. During this period, Croatian citizens will have the possibility to take part in the contest and win some of the Catalan writings presented (Words for a Lapidarium, translated and selected by Tonko Maroevic; The Times of Doves, a novel written by Mercè Rodoreda, the most important 20th century Catalan author; Without fear, a book written by the most radical European nun, Teresa Forcades).

It is worth to mention the fact that UNESCO declared 23rd April as World Book and Copyright Day following the convincement of Catalan editors in 1995. However, this day is even more special in Catalonia because on this day Catalans celebrate Sant Jordi, Literature and Roses Day, throughout the world famous initiative “Books and Roses”. The initiative whose aim is to connect books, roses and love is globally spread manifestation which is celebrated in more than 50 countries all around the world every year.

People exchange books and roses as an act of gratitude. The roots of this celebration trace back from the mixture of history traditions. On the one hand, Sant Jordi has been patron saint of Catalonia since 15th century, and on the other hand the celebration relies on the famous legend about Saint George and the dragon (the knight defeats the dragon, who terrorized the village and the princess, and after killing the dragon, St. George gave the princess one beautiful red rose) as well as on the old medieval tradition of visiting Sant Jordi chapel in Palacio de la Generalitat in Barcelona, the place where the fair of roses or fair of the lovers had been usually held. That is the reason why Sant Jordi is also the patron of Catalan admirers. On the day of Sant Jordi more than 1,5 million books and 6 million roses are sold in Catalonia. Although this year’s Sant Jordi celebration will be held far from the libraries and bookshops, it will not minimize the significance of this globally recognized day neither the importance of the message it transmits.


Thursday, 16 January 2020

Plenković: Catalonia Not Topic of Croatia's EU Presidency

ZAGREB, January 16, 2020 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has told the former President of the Government of Catalonia, Carles Puidgemont, that the issue of Catalonia's status should not be dealt with by the EU heads of state and that it should be resolved in Spain, the Spanish news agencies EFE and Europa Press have reported.

Puidgemont addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday, calling on the Council of the EU, which is currently chaired by Croatia, to support dialogue between Catalonia and Spain.

"During the discussion it was mentioned that we, as the presidency, had requested dialogue. That issue was not considered, particularly not at the level of the Council nor is it part of the activities of our presidency. That is a matter that needs to be resolved in Spain," Plenković said while answering a question at a news conference.

The Council of the European Union is an EU institution where ministers from the 28 member-states coordinate policies.

In his address at the European Parliament, Puidgemont said that Catalonia was a European internal issue that would be present during Croatia's six-month presidency, which was why it was necessary to find a political solution through dialogue and negotiations.

Puidgemont was indicted in Spain for incitement to rebellion after he organised a referendum in 2017on the independence of Catalonia, an autonomous region with a population of 7.5 million. The Constitutional Court had banned the referendum. A Supreme Court judge on Friday asked the European Parliament to strip Puidgemont of immunity so that he could be extradited to Spain.

A former vice-president in Puidgemont's government, Orio Junqueras, was sentenced in October 2019 to 13 years in prison for his role in the failed attempt at gaining independence for Catalonia.

In May 2019 Puidgemont and a former member of his government in charge of healthcare, Toni Comin, were elected to the European Parliament, which first withheld their accreditation but in December 2019 accredited them in line with a ruling by the Court of Justice of the EU in Luxembourg. This week they took part in the European Parliament's session for the first time.

More news about relations between Croatia and Spain can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 22 December 2019

As Barcelona Seeks Independence, Some 1992 Catalan Help for Croatian International Recognition

December 22, 2019 - As the sentiment of self-determination blows from London to Barcelona, a look at the Catalan factor in Croatia's road to international recognition in 1992.

One of the things I enjoy about living in Croatia is the constant level of learning about its fascinating history, both ancient and much more recent. My arrival in Croatia from Somaliland in 2002 was very accidental and due to a Croatian National Tourist Board video, and while I have learned a lot about Croatia since then, there is still so much to learn, even about the first decade or so of independence prior to me buying a house in Jelsa. 

It was a big surprise, for example, to learn which sovereign nation was the first to recognise the newly independent Croatia back in 1991. I am sure every Croat knows the answer well, but how many others do?

The answer is Iceland. 

Not long before I moved to Croatia, I found myself watching a movie in a Mumbai hotel room called Shot Through the Heart. It was a story of two Yugoslav marksmen who were expecting to achieve Olympic glory for Yugoslavia at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. Apparently based on a true story of two Sarajevo friends, one Muslim and one Serb, their Olympic dream was shattered when war broke out and they found themselves shooting not at a Catalan target for Olympic gold, but rather at each other. 

The film has been shelved in the back of my head for years until recently when I heard about a Catalan delegation visiting Croatia as part of Catalan diplomatic efforts to secure support for their bid for autonomy from Madrid. As TCN reported at the time, neither Croatia's President or Prime Minister met with the delegation from Barcelona (unlike Slovenian President Pahor), but they were warmly received by Varazdin County Prefect, Radimir Cacic, who spoke at length about the areas of interest for economic cooperation. 

"But you do know about the small but significant Catalan contribution back in 1992 as Croatia was trying to establish international recognition, at the Barcelona Olympics?" asked a friend when the topic came up over a beer. 

I little like the Icelandic recognition, I had no idea, but memories of the two sharpshooters in the movie came back, as well as a thought that it must have been quite an impressive diplomatic effort to not only get Croatia recognised by the Olympic family, but also competing under its own flag both at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, and the Barcelona Summer Olympics, where every Croat will tell you their newly independent country won silver in the basketball against the 'Dream Team' from the USA - watch the final below. 

It turns out that the speed of Croatia's acceptance in the family was helped along by a great friend of Croatia, International Olympic Committee chairman, Juan Antonio Samaranch, a Catalan. The Croatian Olympic Committee was only formed in October, 1991, and just four months and seven days later, Croatia was welcomed into the Olympic family, before it was granted a seat at the UN. Things moved even quicker after that, with an invitation to the Olympic Games after being accepted into the IOC, a record timeline. 

The first appearance of Croatian sportsmen under the Croatian flag, which was led by the first President of the COC, Antun Vrdoljak today a member of the International Olympic Committee (since 1995), will have a special place in the history of Croatia at the Olympics. In addition to the basketball silver, Croatia also came home with two bronze medals in tennis, thanks to Goran Ivanisevic and Goran Prpic. Watch Ivanisevic reflect on the medals of 1992 below.

And the Samaranch effect did not end there, as Visnka Staresijna noted in a recent article on the subject in Slobodna Dalmacija:

A few years later, under the auspices of Juan Antonio Samaranch, a sculpture of our Drazen Petrovic was erected in the park of the Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne. It was the first sculpture of an individual athlete to be erected in an Olympic park.

Croatia expressed its gratitude, as Samaranch became one of the first recipients of its highest State honour, the Grand Order of King Tomislav. The Grand Order of King Tomislav is the highest state order of Croatia. It is usually awarded to top foreign officials for their contribution to the improvement of Croatia's good standing internationally as well as achievements in developing international relations between Croatia and their respective countries. It is awarded by the President of Croatia.

Mr. Juan Antonio Samaranch, president of the International Olympic Committee, which included the Croatian Olympic sport into the great worldwide community of the Olympic movement, contributing to the international recognition of the sovereign and independent Republic of Croatia. His merit has enabled Croatian athletes to represent their nation for the first time in history in the Olympics in Albertville and Barcelona, thus permanently joining the global Olympic family. With this extraordinary act, the Republic of Croatia was included in the International Olympic Committee before being invited to be a member of the United Nations.

The path to Catalan independence may or may not succeed, but if it does, I wonder what little historical nuggets young Catalans of the future will learn about the origins of their independent State, such as the Iceland love and Catalan Olympic support that are now part of independent Croatian folklore. 

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Catalan Foreign Minister Visits Zagreb, Discusses Independence Effort

ZAGREB, November 16, 2019 - Catalan Foreign Minister Alfred Bosch said in Zagreb on Friday the Spanish authorities' response to the question of Catalonia's independence was a huge historic mistake because instead of dialogue they chose repression, the imprisonment of political opponents.

Last month, Spain's Supreme Court convicted nine Catalan officials to prison sentences ranging from nine to 13 years for an uprising, for using public money to organise in 2017 an independence referendum which was banned by the Constitutional Court, and for unilaterally proclaiming an independent republic of Catalonia.

The response not just by the Spanish government, but by the executive and legislative authorities, the judiciary, the army, even the monarchy, it's a big historic mistake, Bosch told reporters in Zagreb during a working visit.

Instead of sitting at the table and talking about politics, they chose repression against the people, he added.

It was wrong to seek a solution in the judiciary, to put people in prison or force them into exile, to suspend the Catalan government or parliament, which are legal, legitimate and constitutional. That's a huge mistake. It's a colossal mistake to sentence nine people to 100 years in prison. It won't solve anything but only make the situation even worse, Bosch said.

He said Catalonia was not imposing anything, neither a Catalan republic nor independence, but the possibility that people decide on their future democratically.

People must be able to decide on their future. We are in the 21st century, not the Middle Ages, Bosch said, adding that as long as Madrid stuck to its strategy, it would only be making an even bigger mistake.

The Catalans want a referendum and to agree on that with the Spanish government, as it was done in Scotland, he said.

The solution from this dead end is in democracy and respect for human rights, he said, adding that now, after the election, when the government will most likely continue to be run by socialist Pedro Sanchez, there is a chance.

Sanchez needs a majority, so he must talk, he must admit that dialogue is necessary. Let's sit down and talk, Bosch said.

The Catalan issue is a European issue. Europeans are for a democratic solution and dialogue; we have seen that over the past three years. The public is behind us. We also have the European Court of Justice decision that there should be no political prisoners in Spain and that Catalan members of the European Parliament should be there, he said.

The ECJ ruled three days ago that Catalan separatists have the right to use the mandate in the EP and that as MEPs, under Article 9 of the relevant Protocol, they have immunity from serving prison sentences.

Bosch praised the ruling and said Europe was not just the European Commission but the EP and the ECJ as well.

The European Commission is the club of European governments and governments stick together, helping each other, he said.

After the Catalan officials were sentenced, the Commission would not comment on the convictions, saying it remained an internal matter for Spain that should be resolved in line with the constitutional order.

More news about Croatia and Catalonia can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Catalonia Representatives Visit Croatia, Ignored by Officials

ZAGREB, May 15, 2019 - The Minister of Foreign Action, Institutional Relations and Transparency of Catalonia, Alfred Bosch, visited Croatia's northern Varaždin County on Wednesday, expressing great interest in the region and possible cooperation in industry and trade, while his host, County Prefect Radimir Čačić expressed surprise that state officials would not meet with the Catalan official, who is heading a Catalan government delegation on a working visit to Croatia.

After meeting with Čačić, Minister Bosch said that there was a lot of room for cooperation, particularly in industry and trade. The talks also focused on health tourism, spas and education.

We are interested in cooperation in education, particularly secondary education. The achievements of Varaždin County in that area are inspiring. We can cooperate in all these areas and will continue talks. I am certain that we will reach certain agreements and utilise those opportunities, Bosch said.

Čačić underscored the possibility of cooperation in the car industry and mentioned in that context the SEAT car industry, which is headquartered in Catalonia, and the Boxmark company, which operates in Varaždin's business zone.

We are certain that we will identify opportunities and achieve cooperation of common interest, Čačić said, adding that communication was being sought with Catalonia's health system with regard to health tourism.

Čačić added that Catalonia "is incomparably more interesting to us than we are to Catalonia, as it has a population of 7.6 million people and a per capita GDP that is three times higher."

Čačić did not want to speculate why the president and prime minister would not meet with the Catalan delegation like Slovenia's President Borut Pahor and many others, who met with Bosch before he arrived in Croatia.

The Catalan delegation will be in Zagreb this evening where it will attend a concert - "Catalonia, Harmony," which will be held ahead of a panel discussion where Bosch will present the programme of the Catalan Delegation to Southeast Europe, called European Dignity, with emphasis on the future of human rights in Europe and on culture as the backbone of dialogue, respect, democracy, peace and development in building a free, open and inclusive Europe.

The Catalan government has a representation in Zagreb which covers almost all of Southeast Europe and maintains relations with Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania, Bulgaria and Greece.

The representations, which Spanish media outlets refer to as "embassies of Catalonia", were closed in the autumn of 2017 when the Spanish government took over direct rule over the province, which is one of Spain's 17 autonomous regions.

After pro-independence parties won last year's elections in Catalonia and formed the government, Bosch, a member of the Catalan Republican Left party (ERC) became the Minister of Foreign Action, Institutional Relations and Transparency of Catalonia.

The Delegation of the Government of Catalonia reopened its office in Zagreb in March. "Zagreb is an important city in this region, it has a favourable strategic position," Bosch told Hina in an interview in March.

More news about relations between Croatia and Catalonia can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Catalonia Opens Regional Office in Zagreb

ZAGREB, March 3, 2019 - The Delegation of the Government of Catalonia has recently reopened its office in Zagreb with an aim of establishing and developing relations not only with Croatia but also with other countries in southeast Europe in a bid to ensure the recognition of Catalonia, the current Minister of Foreign Action, Institutional Relations and Transparency of Catalonia, Alfred Bosch says in an interview with Hina.

"Those are delegations of the Catalan government. People such as Eric Hauck (the Catalan envoy in Zagreb) are representatives of the Catalan government in certain regions, and Hauck covers southeast Europe," Bosch says in the interview published on Sunday. "We want Catalonia to be recognised as a country. We would like to have the relations with all countries in the world.".

The Zagreb office is supposed to be the place for establishing the relations with Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania, Bulgaria and Greece.

Those offices to which Spanish media outlets refer as "embassies of Catalonia" were closed in the autumn 2017 when the Spanish government took over the direct rule over this 7.5 million-populated region, which is one of 17 autonomous regions in Spain.

After pro-independence parties won the last year's elections in Catalonia and formed the government, Bosch, a member of the Catalan Republican Left party (ERC) became the minister of Foreign Action, Institutional Relations and Transparency of Catalonia.

In his capacity as the minister, Bosh continued reopening the Catalan offices, including the one in the Croatian capital city.

"Zagreb is an important city in this region, it has a strategically suitable place," said Bosch who praised the Croatians for pro-Catalan sentiment. In his opinion, Catalonia has a good image in the eyes of the Croatians. In this context, he said that he perceives the Dalmatian coast as very akin to Catalonia, particularly owing to the climate, scenery, food.

The Spanish government has warned that those offices cannot develop political relations, with an explanation that in political terms, Catalonia is represented by Spanish embassies.

This prompted Bosch to raise the question whether anybody from the Spanish embassy in Zagreb had ever enabled someone to get acquainted with a real state of affairs in Catalonia.

"It is our duty to tell you what is going on here, in the society and among the people. We want the whole world to get an opportunity to be get an insight with our real life. When we did not have these offices, it was difficult to explain what we did," Bosch said underscoring that in the political reality "there are political prisoners and people in exile".

Recently, a trial started in Madrid against former Catalan officials who are charged with rebellion. Bosch says in the interview that this "a trial against democracy as it is based on accusations against the Catalan government of holding the referendum."

"This is a political farce, revenge and punishment against those who set up ballot boxes enabling the Catalans to decide on their future," Bosch says. He also insists that the court proceedings are pointless.

"The positions of the Spanish and Catalan governments are far away, however wee need to talk." He also insists that the Catalan path is peaceful, democratic and civic.

In reference to the trial which started on 12 February, the Spanish Ambassador to Croatia, Alonso Dezcallar de Mazarredo told a news conference in the Croatian capital that former Catalan officials were accused of rebellion, sedition and the misuse of public funds.

The trial will not decide on the future of that region or any ideology but only whether a breach of law occurred, the Spanish diplomat said at the news conference he held on 12 February.

Ambassador Dezcallar underscored that the actions of the defendants have triggered a constitutional crisis.

"Catalonia's future is not being decided here. Secessionist parties will probably exploit this trial as an instrument of propaganda. They are already claiming that Spain's judiciary is not independent and that they are political prisoners and that they have a right to go to referendum," the ambassador told the press conference then.

He underscored that the officials are not being tried for their ideas, because there are a lot of people who are calling for Catalonia's independence and are still free.

"They aren't in prison because of what they believe in but because of what they did," the Spanish diplomat said.

They are indicted for rebelling against Spain, disobedience and misuse of public funds to organise a referendum that had been banned by the Constitutional Court, according to his explanation.

The ambassador underscored then that according to the Economist Intelligence Unit index, Spain is among the 20 most advanced democracies in the world.

More news on the relations between Spain and Croatia can be found in the Politics section.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Croatia Does Not Support Catalonia's Independence

Although many people in Croatia believe that Catalonia should be able to do what Croatia itself did 25 years ago, the government does not agree.