Condensed Matter and Functional Materials (CMFM)
Research in Condensed Matter and Material Science has a long tradition in Parma, dating back to the years 60s of last century. The Institute of Physics, then Department, contributed significantly to the development of the field in Italy, and its members founded the CNR MASPEC Institute, now IMEM, one of the strongest Applied Physics CNR institutes nowadays. In present days this original tradition is developed along four main lines, employing a total 17 faculty members (Professors and Research Associates).
Few crystal properties deviate drastically from the prediction of classical mechanics. The spin itself is instead entirely the result of relativistic quantum mechanics and it is at the origin of the most surprising properties that matter displays. Magnetic moments may be ordered, as in magnets, coherently paired, as in superconductors, or dynamically fluctuating. Chemist master molecular nanomagnets as the ideal playground to test theory. Nanotechnology allows us to design material with new spin based functions. In PaRMa we apply a variety of theoretical, computational and experimental approaches to exploit the spin degree of freedom. We also focus on promising new technologies, from greener magnetocaloric fridges and quantum computers based on magnetic and superconducting devices.
In the area of condensed matter physics, semiconducting materials have been a major subject of investigation for the past six decades. The discovery of new semiconductors as well as the understanding and tailoring of their physical properties led to new generations of advanced electronic devices that greatly influence our daily life: computers, cell phones, optical telecommunications, LED signs, medical equipments, fuel injection in cars, etc.
The semiconductor team is presently working on different aspects of semiconductor physics and technology: thin film solar cells, wide bandgap semiconductors for power electronics and UV optoelectronics, transport properties in different regimes of temperature, illumination and electric and magnetic fields.
Carbon is a building block of organic chemistry, and biological tissues as well. These are the realm of chemistry and life sciences. Diamond has long been the prototype hard carbon-based material. In recent years mankind has learned to obtain new allotropes of carbon for new engineered materials, such as fullerenes, carbon nanotubes, graphene and a wide variety of derivatives, with a full fledge of new perspectives for applications. Our group is exploring them under several aspects, notably as candidate materials for batteries and for hydrogen storage. These two latter topics are crucial for future greener energy policies.
Vibrations are fingerprints of molecules and of solid state compounds. These fingerprints tell us about the material properties, in many diverse situations. Our group exploits these techniques with diverse aims: for the identification of technological compounds newly obtained by material scientists, in the investigation of matter of geological interest, and in the analysis of manufacts of historical heritage relevance.