Foundation and development
The Department of Materials Science was founded in February 1997 as one of the three Departments of the former Second Faculty of Mathematics, Physics and Natural Sciences of the University of Milan, which co-founded the Bicocca University of Milan in 1998. The choice to create a Department of Materials Science arises from the experience of the School of Specialization in Materials Science established in the Università Statale by a group of physicists and solid state chemists who felt the necessity of bridging the gap accumulated by our country as compared to the rest of Europe in the field of new materials, a critical and essential area for the technological growth and production of the nation. Therefore, since its foundation, the experience of Materials Science in the Milan area identifies three pillars of development: training, research, and interaction with the productive world. Consistently, the Department supports a strong synergy between its three missions, a choice that allowed over the years a growth which is both qualitative and quantitative (from 29 members at its foundation to the current 40 Professors, 25 Assistant professors, 10 technicians and 2 technologists as well as several post-docs and PhD students). This allows the Materials Science degree course not only to survive the many difficulties related to the educational reorganizations of the last two decades but also to grow and to seed other successful teaching experiences.
The Department offers a wide educational program, consisting of three three-year degree (Bachelor degree) courses, a Master degree course and a research doctorate. The Department is responsible for the three-year degree courses in Materials Science, Chemical Science and Technology, and Optics and Optometry, all of which have a programmed maximum number of students, which offer a total of 300 places each year for new first-year students. In addition to the three-year degrees, the Master degree course in Materials Science (which has been fully taught in English since the 2017/18 academic year) and the Ph.D. in Materials Science and Nanotechnology. The Department guarantees to all courses large and modern laboratory facilities, to guarantee an updated and high quality training.
The Department of Materials Science focuses its research activity in the field of functional materials. Over the years, also stimulated by the extraordinary growth of nanotechnologies worldwide, the Department has extended the research of bulk functional materials towards the nanosciences and their technological applications.
Within the spirit of the Materials Science, departmental research benefits from the simultaneous presence of skills in the chemical area and physical area, and the close link and continuous exchange between experimental and theoretical-computational research. Departmental research covers a wide range of topics, from materials for energy to electronics, from nanomedicine to optics and optoelectronics, from functional polymers to sensors. The Department also includes state-of-the-art research laboratories for the preparation, characterization and analysis of materials, together with advanced scientific calculation infrastructures.
The quality of departmental research is witnessed by a dense network of international collaborations and by the ability to attract resources for research through national and international competitive projects, which guarantee the Department a total annual budget of more than 5.5 millions euro.
In 2018 the Department of Materials Science received from the MIUR ministry the qualification of Department of Excellence.
Following the mission of Materials Science, the Department pursued the development of scientific, technological and training relationships with local industries, extending over the years the interchange with the world of industrial manufacturing beyond national borders. The Department also takes part in initiatives to exploit the results of research, as witnessed over the years by the foundation of 4 spin-offs (companies initiated by university staff) as well as in the filing of 68 national and international patents.
As a service center, the Department of Materials Science provides companies and individuals with analytical, measurement and characterization services (third-party activities).
Another important activity is Public Engagement, throughout the continuous attendance to the main events of scientific dissemination both at local and national levels, and with an intense and qualified publication activity. Beyond these activities, the Department has a well-established tradition in the college counseling for high school students both at the local university level and at the national level, through the project "Piano Lauree Scientifiche" (Scientific Degrees), in which the Department has the task to coordinate the counseling initiatives for Materials Science in Italy.
The Department of Materials Science has a strong international projection of its research and training activities related to the intrinsic characteristics of R&D in advanced materials.
The Department is a fundamental component/coordinator of three European networks for research and training:
- KIC Raw Materials (eitrawmaterials.eu) dedicated to R&D of innovative materials for the saving and replacement of rare and / or strategic elements for European industries;
- PCAM - Physics and Chemistry of Advanced Materials for the training at European level of Ph.D. experts in Materials Science;
- 4PHOTON – Novel Photon Emitters, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Initial Training network for the training of PhD students in quantum photonics.
The Bachelor and Master Degree Courses offered by the Department are also strongly oriented towards internationalization. The Master Degree Course in Materials Science is taught in English and together with the Degree Course in Optics and Optometry offers the possibility of obtaining a Dual Degree with a foreign university. The Bachelor Degree Course in Chemical Science and Technology is accredited by CHEMISTRY EUROBACHELOR®, for the recognition of the qualification at European level that can be used for the application to the II level degrees in European university and to demonstrate the possession of a European educational standard during the search for employment in chemical industries or public institutions.
In addition, the Department is involved in QuCAT, a joint laboratory for the development of advanced materials with the South China Normal University of Guangzhou (PRC).
The strong internationalization of the Department activities is also evidenced by its involvement in numerous European and international projects, both in research and advanced training.
Every year the Department hosts an international community of Visiting Professors and Visiting Fellows that actively collaborate in the Department’s research and training activities.