2020 Annual Report of the Department of Materials Science: now online

Interview with the Head of the Department on the results achieved in 2019 and on future objectives
Copertina relazione annuale 2020


The Annual Report of the Department of Materials Science is available online. Here you will find the results achieved and published (scientific publications, awards, funded research projects) as well as the resources for the Research, Training and Third Mission activities in 2019.

The Head (Chairmen) of the Department, Prof. Alessandro Abbotto, describes the activities during 2019 and their main achievements.


What are the results achieved by the Department of Materials Science in 2019?

grafico del numero di pubblicazioni in funzione dell'impact factor

This year the publication of the Annual Report coincided with the lock-down period following the SARS-COVID-2 outbreak and, unlike usual, reflecting on the objectives achieved, recording the scientific production and the results achieved by the degree courses in 2019 led everyone to compare the current moment with the previous one and how, in just a few weeks, our way of working has radically changed, from teaching to research - explains Alessandro Abbotto. - During this period, with the laboratories empty and the research activity almost dropped to zero, we appreciated even more the results published in the Annual Report. Indeed, in 2019, over 150 articles were published in international peer-reviewed scientific journals, some of which of very high quality and impact factor (Nano Letters, Nature Materials, Advanced Functional Materials, Advanced Materials, Angewandte Chemie Int. Ed., to name a few).

Our Degree courses have also achieved remarkable targets in 2019 - continues the Chairman. The BS Course in Materials Science has seen a 49% increase in enrollments compared to the previous academic year. Similarly, the MS in Materials Science has significantly increased the number of students in the first year (+ 50%). This international course has recorded more than 30% enrolled students coming from abroad. The Degree Course in Optics and Optometry reached the important milestone of 500 graduates in 2019. I recall that the employment of graduates in Optics and Optometry, only 1 year after graduating, is ca. 90%, a highly remarkable achievement. The Degree Course in Chemical Sciences and Technologies has reached almost the maximum possible of enrolled students (96 out of 100 permitted), and has recently obtained a very high evaluation score from the Ministry  of University and Research Quality System, with the MS degree resulting the best degree of our University among those assessed by the Ministry Committee.

An important result achieved by the Department is in terms of faculty and researchers hired in 2019 thanks to both the "Department of Excellence" funding obtained in 2018 and some special recruiting plans. These plans allowed us to also hire a few researchers from abroad. In particular, during 2019, 15 faculty and staff members have been hired, including 4 full professors, 3 associate professors, 8 researchers and 4 technicians.

What is the progress of the "Department of Excellence" project?

logo FLEXILAB Dipartimenti di Eccellenza

The project, started in 2018, in addition to giving us the possibility to hire faculty members as well as numerous research fellows and graduate students every year, has collected and organized the efforts of many research groups in the Department towards the challenging and highly important topics covered by the project, that is, the development of innovative materials and technologies for sustainable energy and transportation. The first 11 scientific publications originated by the project in 2019 are proof of this. Thanks to this funding we have set up a new laboratory from the ground up, FLEXILAB, equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation and a clean room. This facility will be completed during 2021 and the beginning of 2022. In 2019 we also organized the first dedicated workshop of the project where we illustrated the scope and the progress of the project to the University faculty and staff and to the external stakeholders. As soon as the COVID-19 outbreak will permit, a second workshop will be organized where the members of the International Scientific Committee have been invited to present their research activities in the frame of the project’s topics.

What are the main targets for 2020?

The current COVID-19 pandemic emergency has tremendously affected the manufacturing and research activity of Italian Industry and has obviously significantly affected the research and teaching activity of all Italian universities. I am confident that our Department will maintain during this year a high standard of research, comparable to the previous years. I see this all the time thanks to the efforts and contribution of all the members, faculty and staff, of the Department. I recognize that there could be a drop in the quantity of scientific production due to the forced stop of the laboratory activities for almost 3 months (with publication outputs expected mainly in 2021) but not in their quality. During the most dramatic moments of the health emergency the Department has played a key role towards emerging society needs, developing some activities such as the production and distribution of the hydroalcoholic WHO-recommended handrub formulation to health structures and other important public institutions and bodies, as well as the development of high performance personal protective equipment (PPE), in particular respiratory protective devices. The emergency “stage 2” has just started (beginning of May) and the research laboratories are repopulating in these days, although in reduced form. We are all invited to face a new and complex challenge during 2020. We do not know yet how our normal research and teaching activity will result and be developed during this year. However, I am sure that everyone will contribute the best. The experience and the dose of creativity that animates the whole faculty and the staff of the Department will be the trump card to emerge in research, teaching and other activities also in 2020.