Functional Materials

Description of activities:

Using bottom-up, top-down and hybrid approaches, new materials also with nanometric microstructure are developed: magnetic materials, hybrids organic-inorganic, carbides, carbon allotropes, oxides, semiconductors, etc. with innovative functional properties for applications in the fields of magnetic materials, biomedicine, catalysis, photovoltaics, concentrating solar power, advanced thermoelectric, sensors and coatings. The new systems are produced as bulk, thin films, heterostructures, nano / meso porous structures, nanoclusters, nanoparticles, nanocomposites and complex fluids. Preparation techniques involve chemical synthesis, deposition from solution (spin coating, Langmuir-Blodgett, spray-coating) and in vacuum (PLD, sputtering, evaporation, etc.).
The characterization techniques available allow to study bulk and surface properties: structural, microstructural and morphological properties (XRD, XPS spectroscopic techniques, chemical composition analysis, microscopies such as AFM, SEM, FE-SEM, EDS etc.) chemical, physical and functional properties (magnetic, transport, optical, plasmonic, electrochemical) and phenomenological processes (corrosion, wear, ageing, etc.) that involve both surfaces and interfaces.
The activities of preparation and characterization are supported by a well-consolidated theoretical activity. This activity focuses on the modeling of organic and metallo-organic semiconductors of type n and p, for the realization of OFET prototypes, of 2D materials, oxides, semiconductors and their defects, nitrides and magnetic materials. For this activity, the researchers employ HPC resources of the CINECA consortium or the in-house computing resources on which DFT codes such as Quantum-Espresso, VASP, CPMD and Orca, are installed. They also developed multiscale calculation methods applied to transport in complex systems such as organic or inorganic and hybrid devices with applications in the field of photovoltaics, optoelectronics and bioelectronics.

Keywords: functional materials, magnetic, electrical and optical properties, optoelectronic, photovoltaic, solar, synthesis, theory, chemical-physical characterization





  • Laboratory equipped for the cultivation of microalgae;
  • Chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology laboratories;
  • Laboratory for the study of photosynthesis;
  • Biosensors laboratory.


  • Atomic absorption with graphite furnaces (THGA-AAS, Perkin Elmer AAnalyst 800) for the determination of heavy metals and metalloids even in trace;
  • Atomic absorption coupled with hydride generation system for the specification of compounds such as arsenic, selenium in fractions of ppb graphite (FIAS.HG-AAS, Fias400 coupled to Perkin Elmer AAnalyst 800);
  • Inductive coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) for multi-element trace element detection (Agilet 7500);
  • ICPMS coupled column separation system (LC-ICPMS) for specification of metals and metallorganics.
  • Microwave digester for high temperature and pressure acidic digestion of solid material.


Deposition systems:

    • MWCVD system customized from an ASTEX S-1500 CVD system (2 kW power, 2.45 GHz frequency) with a programmable automation controller National Instrument Compact RIO for 24/7 deposition.
    • Hot-Filament CVD custom system, up to 4” wafers.
    • PLD system, ArF or KrF (193 or 248 nm) pulsed laser source (Lambda Physik COMPex) (Fig 3.5, right). High Vacuum chamber, Temperature up to 700°C.
    • Fs-laser PLD system, Ti:Sapphire pulsed laser source (Spectra Physics Spitfire Pro XP, 800 nm, 3 mJ, 100 fs) having variable repetition rate, in the range 1-1000 Hz. High Vacuum chamber, Temperature up to 400 °C.
    • Material characterization techniques:
      • SEM Cambridge Stereoscan 360 with EDS.
      • AFM Quesant Resolver 250.
      • VTEC Spectral Photoconductivity (200-1300 nm range)
      • RAMAN SPEX-Triplemate in back-scattering geometry (laser wavelength 5 nm)
    • Technological processing:
      • Leybold Z400 RF and DC Sputtering deposition technique for device
      • Mask Aligner Karl Suss MA6 + Spin-coater Suss Microtech Lab. Equip.
      • Delta 10 TT/BM for photoresist deposition
      • Wire Bonder Kulicke & Soffa mod. 4123
          • Device characterization.
            • VTEC (Vacuum & Temperature Electronic Characterization), P≈10-9 torr, 77 K<T<1300 K, with Picoammeter HP4140B, dual-voltage-source (±100 V), Keithley 6517A (Electrometer), 487 (Picoammeter), 2440 (Sourcemeter), 6220 (DC Current Source), 2182 (Nanovoltmeter), 617 (Electrometer), 3390 (Arbitrary Waveform Generator), Solartron 1255, 1260 Impedance/Gain-Phase Analyzers (10 μHz – 32 MHz), HP4192A Impedance Analyzer (5 Hz – 13 MHz)
            • Optical bench with  Newport 180 – 1400 nm monocromator and Xe and deuterium lamps.
            • Angelantoni climatic chamber ACS Challenge 250, -40°C<T<+180°C, 10%<Humidity<98%
            • Yokogawa DLM2052 oscilloscope (2,5 GS/500 MHz)
          • Uv-Vis Spettroscopies (transmission and reflection),
          • FTIr,
          • XRD,
          • GloveBox,
          • Electrochemical measurements (cyclic voltammetry etc)
          • High vacuum film deposition.
          • Spin-coating film deposition.
          • Langmuir-Blodgett.
          • Spray coating.
          • Chemical synthesis laboratory (hydrothermal synthesis, soft chemical synthesis, high temperature solid state synthesis, Schlenk techniques), UV-vis, FT-IR-ATR characterization,
          • Chemical Laboratory equipped with the main spectroscopic characterizations (FTIR, UV-ViS).
          • Thin film deposition apparatuses (evaporator, LB, Spin coating)
          • Management and use of the following experimental apparatuses:
            • Hysteresigraph (AMH-300 Electrophysical Laboratory; Hmax = 2 T, RT <T <500 K) for measurements complying with IEC 60404-5, ASTM A977, IEC / TR 61807
            • VSM Vector Magnetometer (MicroSense) for measurements as a function of temperature (77K -770K), magnetic field (Hmax = 2T) and angle (0- 360 °, polar 0-90 °) on specimens with different geometry ( discoid for thin films; cylindrical for powders and liquids); option for 4-point resistance resistances (range from 1 to 10k with a variable current of 0 to ± 20 mA.
            • Quantum Design SQUID magnetometer for measurements as a function of temperature (4K -400 K) and magnetic field (Hmax = 5.5T)
          • Raman Spectroscopy and Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) providing complementary information on the composition of the artifacts and that can be applied directly to the sample without pretreatment. It is possible to obtain a superficial or stratigraphical analysis or of a section of the sample.
          • X-ray diffraction for structural characterization.
          • Optical microscopy for morphological characterization of the surface of the cultural  good.
          • Chemical laboratories
          • PLD deposition system (Lambda Physik, KrF, = 248 nm; pulse width = 17 ns) capable of operating under UHV condition and controlled atmosphere (O2, N2, Ar).
          • Oscillator Vitara-T 500mW 80MHz with pulse width 20 fs (FWHM)
          • Legend Elite Amplifier, 4 mJ, 1kHz, 35 fs  
          • OPA Opera-only, 240-20000 nm, 40 fs, 5 to 380 microJ
          • Transient Absorption Spectrometer, IB Photonics, FemtoFrame II
          • Up-conversion Fluorescence Spectrometer, Halcyone, Ultrafast Systems (in use by UN Tor Vergata)
          • Line of generation of higher harmonics (up to 90 eV, 35 fs) (in commmissioning)
          • Flight Time Mass Spectrometry (TOF) with VUV source of gas-phase systems and liquids or volatile solids
          • PES, XPS , NEXAFS, Mass Spectrometry with Synchrotron Radiation (Gas Phase Photoemission beamline to Elettra)
      • Non-commercial set-up for the study of biological interest systems (proteins, enzymes etc) in gas phase with electro-spray source and possibility of Electro Spray Deposition in air or deposition in UHV through soft-landing technique (under construction).


  • Compositional characterization of materials surface: ESCA (XPS, UPS, AES).
  • ESCALAB MkII Spectrometer (Al / Mg double anode source, 5-channeltrons, Ar + ion source and electron source);
  • Spectrometer ESCALAB 250X (monochromated Al Kα source, 6-channeltrons for spectroscopy, XPS microchip multichannels, HeI and HeII source, Ar + ion source and floodgun);
  • Structural Characterization of Materials: XRD, XRF, Micro RAMAN and FT-IR Spectroscopy with FT-IR Microscope.
  • Diffractometer XRD Siemens5000;
  • Micro Raman Renishaw RM 2000 Spectrometer (equipped with Leica Optical Microscope);
  • Morphological surface characterization: SEM electronic microscopy, AFM and optical microscopies.
  • Cambridge 360 SEM microscope (equipped with INCA 250 spectrometer);
  • FE-SEM LEO 1530 microscope (equipped with INCA 450 spectrometer);
  • AFM Dimension 3100 Digital Instruments Microscope;
  • Optical microscope Leica MZFLIII (equipped with Leica DFC 320 digital camera);
  • Optical properties characterization: UV-visible spectroscopy and spectrophotometer.
  • UV-Vis spectrophotometer JASCO V 660 (equipped with dual monochromator and diode photomultiplier)
  • Horiba Spectrofluorimeter Fluorolog 3 (with 450W Standard Xe lamp as excitation source, dual monochromator, both in excitation and in emission, a sample holder for cuvettes and a photomoltiplier detector (PMT)).
  • Characterization of thermal properties: DTA and TGA analysis.
  • StantonRedcroft STA-781 Thermal Analyzer.

ISMN has laboratories equipped for the synthesis and growth of advanced nanostructured organic and inorganic materials and for the deposition of thin films:

For chemical synthesis

  • Chemical Laboratory equipped for the synthesis of nano materials, inorganic and organic systems and for the fabrication of nano and mesoscopic structures by means of chemical synthesis methods, even in inert atmosphere through the use of a Glovebox system and several Schlenk lines. In addition, the laboratory is equipped with Spin Coater apparatus for the production of thin film from solutions.
  • Chemical Laboratory equipped for the synthesis of ceramic materials from combustion in solution and high temperature ovens;

For the production of thin films:

    • 5 MHZ Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition (PECVD), RF up to 250W for carbon-based coatings (Diamond-Like Carbon based) and plasma modification of the surface properties of organic and inorganic materials. The apparatus is equipped with gas lines for nitrogen, oxygen, argon, hydrogen and methane and a separate line for low boiling liquid precursors, sample heating up to 200 ° C and pre-chamber for sample treatment
    • Metal Organic Chemical Vapor Deposition (MOCVD) apparatus for deposition of thin oxide films (TiO2, SnO, TixSnyO), equipped with different Bubbler Lines for evaporation of organic precursors, heating up to 800 ° C and samples pre-treatment chamber.
    • Elettrospray device equipped with a TREK MODEL 610E voltage generator, a HARVARD APPARATUS pump 11 Elite syringe pump and a Mightex high speed camera for thin films production and deposition of nanoparticles on suitable substrates.