The passing away of Gian Paolo Brivio

The memory of the Department of Materials Science
Prof. Gian Paolo Brivio

We sadly learned that Gian Paolo Brivio, theoretical condensed matter physicist and Senior Professor of our Department passed away. We remember him as a colleague, teacher, and above all a friend.

Gian Paolo Brivio graduated in Physics with honors, from the University of Milan in 1973, under the supervision of prof. Giorgio Benedek, emeritus professor of our university. After four years of post-doc with T.B. Grimley at the University of Liverpool (UK), he returned to the University of Milan as a research fellow and then, since 1976, as professor of Physics. He has been associate professor of Structure of Matter since 1986, first at the University of Milan and then at the Department of Materials Science of the University of Milan-Bicocca where he held the position of full professor of theoretical condensed matter physics from 2000 to 2018.

Gian Paolo has been a passionate professor at the Department of Materials Science since its foundation with a strong engagement in the scientific education of young scientists and in the development of their career. In 2004 he became coordinator of the PhD in Materials Science (cycle XX) until its conclusion with the XXVIII cycle, when the Department established the PhD in Materials Science and Nanotechnology (in which the Doctorate in Nanostructures and Nanotechnologies merged together) that Gian Paolo Brivio directed until 2017. In 2006 he was the promoter of the foundation of the European network of the doctorate in Physics and Chemistry of Advanced Materials (PCAM) which currently includes fourteen other European universities ( and promotes internationalization through the exchange of students and teachers. Within the PCAM, Gian Paolo Brivio organized and directed some summer courses at the Centro Majorana in Erice and at the Donostia International Physics Center (DIPC) in San Sebastian, where he was also remembered with great esteem and affection for the important collaborations started there.

As an internationally esteemed theoretical physicist, Gian Paolo Brivio focused his research on theoretical problems in surface physics and materials science,  including the modeling of dynamical processes (sticking, scattering, desorption) and, more recently,  the study of  adsorption processes by means of electronic structure calculations based on density functional theory. In the last two decades he has also investigated adsorption of organic molecules on solids with an emphasis on magnetic effects and spectroscopic properties including the life-time of excited states.

He has authored over 120 articles in important international peer reviewed journals including an article in Reviews of Modern Physics on adiabatic molecule-metal surface interaction (1999). He presented the results of his research in invited and contributed talks (over 130) to international conferences and in seminars at various institutions in Europe, the USA, Canada, China and Japan.

He was a visiting scientist at the Freie Universität in Berlin, the Department of Chemistry of the University of Munich, the Max-Planck Institut für Strömungsforschung in Göttingen, the Physics Department of the University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada), the Department of Chemistry of Princeton University (NJ-USA). Since 2015, Prof. Brivio has been Honorary Professor of the University of Southern Denmark.

We will fondly remember his tenacity and his inexhaustible commitment dedicated to the PhD students who absorbed most of his daily work, his extremely calm and respectful tones in any discussion, his kind and polite manners, his spontaneity.

The whole Department participates in the sorrow of the family of Gian Paolo Brivio.