Meet the Team: IMM-CNR

FreeHydroCells is a multi-partner European collaboration between project lead University College Cork (Ireland), and AMO (Germany), CEA (France), CNR (Italy), RWTH Aachen (Germany), BARDS Acoustic Science Labs (Ireland) and UCC Academy (Ireland). The project is funded by the EU’s Horizon Europe programme.

In this edition of our Meet the Team series, we speak to Dr. Giuseppe Suriani of the Institute for Microelectronics and Microsystems at Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche. He tells us about how the organisation’s expertise plays a leading role in the FreeHydroCells project workplan.

Introducing IMM-CNR

Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (National Research Council) is the largest research council in Italy. As a public organisation, its remit is to support scientific and technological research. Based within CNR, the Institute for Microelectronics and Microsystems (IMM), with over 220 personnel, develops cutting-edge processes and technologies to create micro-nano devices and electronic and photonic sensors for applications in numerous sectors, such as energy, environment, bio-medicine, agritech, space, telecommunications, transport, neuromorphic and quantum computation. The IMM’s activities range from basic research (synthesis, modelling, characterization of advanced materials and processes) to enterprise innovation (prototyping, technology transfer to companies, promotion of start-ups).

IMM operates out of six Institute sites around Italy, which are based in:

  • Catania (Headquarters)
  • Agrate Brianza
  • Bologna
  • Catania (University)
  • Lecce
  • Roma

Thanks to the know-how in micro and nano-manufacturing and the infrastructures present across the Institute’s sites, IMM’s activities span materials science, process development, device manufacturing and systems integration.

IMM supports research activities with funding from national and international projects in collaboration with research centres, companies, public institutions, and universities. In particular, IMM participates in public calls for relevant European grants, such as the ERC and Horizon Europe programs. The Institute’s activities are supported by the Italian Regions of Sicilia, Emilia Romagna, Puglia, Lombardia and Lazio. These initiatives go well beyond pure economic support. These regional organisations are currently conducting analysis to identify the research demand necessary for further developing local economic activities. Consequently, several Technological Districts have been established for this purpose. IMM is for example a member of the Technological Districts “Micro and Nanosystems” in Sicily, “High Technology Network” in Emilia Romagna and “Innovaal” in Puglia. The role of IMM also includes the training of Bachelor, Master, and PhD students, in collaboration with neighbouring universities. Additionally, IMM engages in outreach activities, with the aim of disseminating research results to school students at all levels, and to society more broadly.

IMM-CNR's role in FreeHydroCells

The IMM-CNR group contributes to FreeHydroCells through extensive characterization activity of the materials and devices prepared by the consortium. This is done by using a combination of structural, optical, and electrical measurement techniques for the evaluation of workfunctions, band offsets, band-gap, interface states, PEC characteristics of the TMD and TCO materials and interfaces, and of the TMD/TCO junction devices prepared by the consortium. In particular, the group will perform the following characterization activities:

  •   Optical measurements such as reflectivity / transmissivity / external and internal quantum efficiency, Raman, and FTIR.
  •  Electrical measurements as DC measurements, small-signal AC techniques for the electrochemical characterization of the PEC devices such as EIS and for the characterization of semiconductor heterojunctions and dielectrics such as hi-lo frequency C-V, G/ω-V conductance method, etc.
  •  Chemical and nanostructural characterization techniques by XPS and TEM/STEM. In particular, IMM’s TEM / STEM facility has a strong focus on the characterization of semiconductor nanostructures.

In addition to characterization activities, the group plans to perform synthesis of novel TCO materials with the aim of tailoring workfunction, band gap and offsets, conductivity, etc. Several TCOs will be studied and synthesized trying to optimize the interfaces with the materials of the devices and the electro-optical coupling with the ultra-thin TMD layers embedded in TCO.

Getting to know the IMM-CNR team

The IMM-CNR team working on FreeHydroCells includes:

Dr. Salvatore Lombardo
Research Director, IMM-CNR

Salvatore A. Lombardo received a B.S. (cum laude), as well as a PhD in Physics from the University of Catania, Italy, in 1989 and in 1994, respectively. He joined CNR in 1994, and in the period 2001-2006 he was Senior Scientist at the CNR-IMM Institute. He has held the position of Research Director of this Institute since 2007. Salvatore has also spent various periods as visiting scientist at Cornell University, IBM-Research, and STMicroelectronics. His research interests are in the field of semiconductor devices and electronic materials. He was involved in the coordination of several national and European research & development projects, and of scientific collaborations with institutions in the USA, Singapore, and Israel. Salvatore is now responsible for the laboratory of photonics Beyond Nano facility at CNR-IMM, and is currently involved in numerous national and EU research projects. He is author of 11 US patents, 10 review articles, and of about 250 scientific and technical papers published on international journals, with about 6850 citations and H index of 37.

Dr. Giorgia Franzò
Senior Researcher, IMM-CNR

Giorgia Franzò is a senior researcher at the Institute for Microelectronics and Microsystems (IMM) within Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) in Catania, Italy. She received her master’s degree and PhD in Physics from the University of Catania in 1992 and 1996, respectively. In 1999 she joined the National Institute for the Physics of Matter (INFM) in Catania, before moving to CNR. Her research interests mainly focus on Si-based micro-photonics and in particular on silicon nanostructures (with and without rare-earth doping), rare-earth compounds, and Si nanowires. She is author of more than 180 papers in International scientific journals and holds 2 patents. The pioneering character and the impact of her research activity is demonstrated by the huge number of citations (more than 9500) and her h-index (42).

Dr. Stefania M. S. Privitera
Senior Researcher, IMM-CNR

Dr. Stefania M. S. Privitera is a Senior Researcher at IMM-CNR in Catania. She obtained a PhD in Physics at the University of Catania, Italy in 2002. After completing a postdoctorate at IMM-CNR, in 2004 she joined STMicroelectronics as staff member in the R&D department, working on design and characterization of electronic device. Since 2011 she has been a staff research scientist at IMM.  Her expertise includes optical and electrical characterization of materials for electronic devices, with a particular focus on chalcogenide materials for electronic memories, and materials and devices for solar fuels (hydrogen and ammonia).

Dr. Maria Miritello
Senior Researcher, IMM-CNR

Dr. Maria Miritello is a Senior Researcher at CNR since 2009. She obtained her PhD in 2007 from University of Catania, Italy. Her research activity is focused on the development of innovative nanostructured materials with particular emphasis on the control of synthesis techniques and on advanced structural, chemical, and optical characterization. Her main applications fields of interest are energy, photonics, and environment. In FreeHydroCells, she develops TCO thin films and their integration in the TCO/TMD heterojunctions for the development of the project’s multijunction PEC cells. Maria’s full profile is available on ORCIDLinkedIn, and the IMM-CNR website.

Dr. Giuseppe Nicotra
Senior Researcher, IMM-CNR

Dr. Giuseppe Nicotra is a Senior Researcher and the Head of the Sub-Ångstrom Electron Microscope LAB at CNR-IMM. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Physics, and a PhD in Materials Science. His research primarily involves working on electron microscopy, and he has been applying Energy-filtered transmission electron microscopy (EFTEM) in studying Si nano particles since 2001. More recently, his research has focused on the topic of growth of SiGe on Ge virtual substrate and atomic characterization of epitaxial Graphene through Cs corrected STEM. Giuseppe is also the Coordinator of the EU project ESTEEM3’s Italian team, and is the author of over 60 international scientific papers. His full profile is available on LinkedIn.

Dr. Giuseppe Suriani
Technologist, IMM-CNR

Giuseppe Suriani received a bachelor’s degree in Electronic Engineering and a master’s degree in Microelectronic Engineering (cum laude) from the University of Catania, Italy, in 2005 and in 2007, respectively. He began to research in the field of Photodetectors (SPAD, SiPM) and Electronic on Plastic in collaboration with IMM-CNR and STMicroelectronics. Giuseppe has also worked for the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV), carrying out scientific research on Designing and prototyping of a smart device for volcanic ash detection and monitoring. Giuseppe has good knowledge and experience in water treatment, Solar Photovoltaic field and also in Technology Transfer (TT) activities and Startup Ventures. He has been co-founder and CEO of eRALOS3, an Italian high-tech startup. Today at CNR-IMM he is a Technologist – Project Manager and he deals with TT, innovation, projects and planning in general. In FreeHydroCells he deals with TT, dissemination and communication activities, and is a member of the project’s Impact Committee. Giuseppe’s profile is available on LinkedIn.

Dr. Gabriella Milazzo
Researcher, IMM-CNR

Gabriella holds a PhD in Materials Science from the Università degli Studi di Catania, Italy. She has been at CNR-IMM since 2011, working on deposition and characterization of catalysts for solar fuel generation. She is currently developing new deposition techniques for 2D TMD materials. Gabriella’s full research profile can be found on her Google Scholar page.

Dr. Roberto Corso
PhD Student, IMM-CNR

Roberto Corso is a PhD student at University of Catania and IMM-CNR since 2020. He obtained his Master’s degree in Physics from University of Palermo in 2020. His PhD research program is focused on the development, characterization and testing of innovative Si-based photovoltaic systems. Within the FreeHydroCells project, Roberto collaborates to the characterization and investigation of 2D transition-metal dichalcogenide films for photovoltaic and photoelectrochemical applications. You can find Roberto’s research products on his ResearchGate profile.

Dr. Vittoria Anastasi
PhD Student, IMM-CNR

Vittoria Anastasi was born in 1994 in Bronte, Catania, Italy. In 2022 she obtained a Master’s degree in Chemical Science, developing expertise in UV-Vis, IR, NMR, and mass spectroscopy. In May 2023 she started a PhD in Material Science and Nanotechnology at the University of Catania and at CNR-IMM. Her focus is on the deposition and characterization of 2D nanomaterials for innovative photovoltaic applications within the European project FreeHydroCells. Vittoria’s full profile is available on LinkedIn.

Dr. Giuseppe Tranchida
PhD Student, IMM-CNR

Giuseppe Tranchida was born in 1997 in Catania, Italy. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Industrial Chemistry in 2019 and his master’s degree in Chemical Sciences (Materials Chemistry and Nanotechnology curriculum) in 2021 at the University of Catania. In November 2021 he started a PhD course in Materials Science and Nanotechnology at IMM-CNR and at the University of Catania. His research involves the synthesis and structural, morphological, electrochemical and catalytic characterization of heterogeneous nanostructured catalysts. Giuseppe’s full profile is available on LinkedIn.

Dr. Salvatore La Manna
PhD Student, IMM-CNR

Salvatore received his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry of Materials at University of Catania in November 2019. After work experience at IMM-CNR as research fellow, he started a PhD programme in Materials Science and Nanotechnologies at the University of Catania in November 2021. He is currently working at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Catania, and at IMM-CNR labs. His main scientific interests are focused on the optimization of innovative materials for photovoltaics. In particular, his research activity involves the synthesis, engineering and characterization of Transition Metal Oxide thin films, used as selective contacts, and Transparent Conductive Oxides. More information is available on Salvatore’s research profile.

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