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Institute of inorganic methodologies and plasmas




The CNR – IMIP (the Institute of Inorganic Methodologies and of Plasmas of the italian National Research Council) was established recently (January 1st, 2002) as one of the 108 new Institutes resulting from the reorganisation process undertaken by CNR in the last years. Four of the previously existing CNR institutions were incorporated in IMIP, namely, the Institute of Advanced Inorganic Methodologies (IMAI) in Rome, the Institute of Special Materials (IMS) in Potenza and the Center for the Study of the Chemistry of Plasmas (CSCP) of Bari. Their research activities were in a considerable extent devoted to similar scientific subjects, as shown later on by a brief descriptions of each of them. The new institute is located in Rome at the former IMAI and has two geographically distinc departments located in Bari and in Potenza, respectively, and a research section in the university of Rome "La Sapienza". IMIP is organized on the following four main research lines:

1) Dynamics, kinetics and modeling of non-equilibrium systems
2) Spectroscopic and diagnostic methodologies
3) Preparation, treatment and characterisation of functional materials
4) New catalytic materials of industrial and environmental importance

and is characterized by the presence of multidisciplinary competences, both experimental and theoretical, in molecular dynamics, plasmas and laser chemistry and physics. IMIP has also expertise in the preparation and characterisation of innovative materials, that are relevant for applications in many fields, as for instance, ambient (sensors, innovative spectroscopic techniques, new catalysts for pollution problems),aerospace (species in the upper atmosphere, phenomena in the reentry phase of space vehicles,electrical thrusters), industry (sensors, optoelectronics, scientific equipments, protective coatings, heterogeneous catalysis), energetics (characterization of hydrogen plasmas for microelectronics and fusion applications), cultural heritage (non-destructive diagnostic methods).
The staff of the institute, including scientific, technical and administrative personnel, comprised 45 positions and 14 non-tenured personnel (13 university scientists and 1 administratives). In addition, about 20 positions are given to graduate students, doctorate students and postdocs. Several scientists from abroad work usually at the institute each year.
Description of the former institutions grouped into IMIP.
The IMAI in Rome was founded in 1969. Its research activity was mainly concerned with:
a) the study of matter both in the gas- and in the condensed phase using advanced electronic and optical spectroscopic techniques;
b) the theoretical investigation of the many-body effects in the optical and electronic spectroscopies and,
c) the synthesis and the characterisation of inorganic materials with particular properties.
A large part of the research activity required the development of ad-hoc instrumentation. This led to the aquisition in IMAI of a noticeable know-how for what concerns the construction of innovative spectroscopic equipments, the realisation of specific softwhare for their automatic control based on personal computers and the definition of new spectroscopic methodologies. Fundamental photophysical and photochemical processes in the gas phase were investigated through studies of spectroscopy, dynamics and kinetics of molecules and of radicals in excited or fundamental electronic states, studies of multiphoton IR absorption mechanisms, both in presence and in absence of collisions, and studies of intensity emission in radicals. Concerning the elementary processes, an experimental study has been made of the interaction mechenics between electrons and synchrotron radiation in the range of the soft X rays and atoms, molecules and surfaces. The electron-electron coincidence spectroscopic techniques allowed a detailed investigation of the role of the electronic correlations in the single- and multiple ionization processes in atoms and molecules and the production of electron couples from surfaces. The relation between electronic structure and chemical reactivity in various molecular systems has been studied both through the sistematic measurement of the Auger spectra in gas phase and by using electron-ion coincidence techniques in order to follow the fragmentation of the double ions generated in the Auger decay. Optical spectroscopies, in particular Raman and IR, were used to study surface dynamics and adsorption of molecules on metal surfaces, in connection also with the elucidation of the SERS (Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering) phenomena. Studies were extended to material properties, heterostructures and epitaxial layers of semiconductors. The theoretical study of the many-body properties of materials for optoelectronics was focused on the structural and electronic properties, the optical response at interfaces and low-dimensional systems and the non-linear optical effects for the realization of advanced devices. As far as the preparation and characterization of materials is concerned, attention was focused on layered inorganic ion-exchangers, on their intercalated compounds, on oxide bronzes and on perovskites, whose catalytic activity was evaluated through test reactions. The activity on material preparation and characterization was in the last decade implemented with a research line devoted to the vapor phase deposition technology of super hard thin diamond film and to the study of the nucleation and growth mechanisms. The research on diamond film encompassed various field of applications (coatings, sensors, secondary emission, detection of high energy radiation). A research activity was also started to study porous materials, in particular porous silicon, which are suitable for various applications. Efforts were devoted to improvement of preparation and post-preparation treatments to stabilize and optimize the properties of single layers and multi-layer systems based on porous silicon. A research activity on the investigation, by peculiar spectroscopic methods, of marbles that are of relevance for the cultural heritage conservation problems was also activated. Several hundreds of papers published on the most important journals in the fields of interest have been produced by the institute activity. Several papers appeared on books and as review articles. Each year papers have been presented, also as "invited", in the most relevant international conferences and many researches have been asked to act as referees and to participate to Conference and Journal commitees. Applications have been made for international patents.
The IMS, namely the previous Institute for Special Materials, was founded in 1993, but was in operation since 1990. At the beginning of 2002 the Institute was transformed into the Potenza territorial section of the Institute of Inorganic Methodologies and Plasmas. At present the personnel at this territorial section consists of eight researchers and three technicians. The Institute was leaded by prof. Anna Giardini who directed the research toward the applications of laser methodologies for the production of innovative materials and for the detection and destruction of environmental pollutants. The main part of the scientific activity was focussed on the optimisation of laser ablation, plasma CVD and sputtering deposition processes of various materials to obtain thin films with functional and structural properties relevant for technological applications. In particular the attention was devoted to superconducting materials, either high-temperature or low-temperature transition superconductors, hard coatings, oxide layers for optical coatings and carbon-based nanostructured thin films. Morphological, structural and chemical film properties, as well as transport characteristics, were investigated by using several diagnostic techniques, available in the Institute or within collaborations with external laboratories. Efforts have been dedicated to the development of a very high resolution (sub- Doppler) IR spectroscopy system, based on supersonic jets combined with multipass techniques. This system was used to determine the rotovibrational constants of freon molecules, required for the assignment of the atmosphere absorption bands. Moreover an integrated LIDAR fluorescence apparatus has been set up for monitoring water (sea, lakes, rivers) surface pollution, identifying the organic material in industrial exhausts, and analysing heavy metal containing soils. Diagnostics such as optical emission spectroscopy and time-of-flight mass spectrometry were exploited to investigate process dynamics and to identify reaction intermediates. Furthermore, intra and inter molecular interaction forces and physical-chemical properties of van der Waals clusters were studied by multiphoton ionisation techniques combined with supersonic beams. Theoretical modelling was used to explain the nucleation and growth mechanisms of thin films. The IMS research activities have been partially supported by the European Community funds. The researchers have published about 160 papers on international journals and about 60 papers on international conference proceedings.

The CSCP (Centro di Studio per la Chimica dei Plasmi, Plasma Chemistry Centre) of Italian C.N.R. (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, National Research Council) started officially in 1970 in Bari (Italy), following the pioneering work of Professor Ettore Molinari in plasma chemistry. He supported both the experimental as well as the theoretical approach to plasmas, founding the two main guidelines successively followed by the directors of the Centre, Professor Francesco Cramarossa (from 1970 to 1989), Doctor Mario Cacciatore (1989-1990), Professor Mario Capitelli (1990-2001). At present the personnel at this territorial section is composed of twenty researchers, three technicians, eight university associated professors and a large number of undergraduated and PhD students.In the field of experimental approach the interest has been centred on the developing of plasmochemical methodologies for deposition, material processing and plasma spectroscopic diagnostic. Excellence results have been obtained in the field of semiconductors, oxides, polymers and biomaterials. In particular, important results have been achieved in the fields of plasma etching with applications in microelectronics, plasma deposition of microcrystalline and amorphous silicon for photovoltaic and electronic applications, deposition and processing of gallium nitride for optoelectronics, polymer plasma processing for coatings and for biomaterials of medical interest (methodologies of surface characterization have been developed in this field).In the field of plasma diagnostics, results of fundamental as well as technological importance have been obtained concerning the determination of non-equilibrium vibrational distributions CO via IR emission spectroscopy, of atomic and metastable species concentrations via LIF spectroscopy, and of electron energy distribution function by means of Langmuir probes. Rate coefficients of elementary processes have been determined by the developed techniques.The theoretical approach has produced results in the field of both microscopic and macroscopic description of plasmas in applications of technological interest, ranging from nuclear fusion to aerospatial problems, from microelectronics to environmental studies. Implementation and application of numerical codes for classical as well as quantal molecular dynamics have been developed for obtaining cross sections and rate coefficients to a large degree of detail concerning chemical species of interest in plasma phase and in gas-surface interaction. In particular, complete sets of cross sections have been calculated for electron-molecule, atom molecule and molecule-molecule interactions, and important results have been achieved in the field of atomic recombination on various surfaces. These dynamical data are used in global plasma kinetics models based on classical kinetics, Boltzmann equation, Monte Carlo methods, particle-in-cell, and DSMC (Direct Simulation Monte Carlo). These studies have produced interesting results in particular in the characterization of multipolar plasmas for negative ions generation and parallel plate RF plasma (this last with “particle in cell with Monte-Carlo collisions” method), in plasma vibrational kinetics, in reentry conditions for aerospatial vehicles, in the characterization of expansion plasmas through nozzles of various geometries, in the characterization of electrical thrusters, in the determination of thermodynamical and transport properties for one- and multi-temperature plasmas.
The researchers at the Centre have produced about 600 papers on prestigious international journals, an equivalent number of papers in international congresses, often as invited participants. Some of them have published as editors books with many authors, are authors of reviews, have organized international congresses. Many researchers belong to the advisory board of international publications and to international commitees of important conferences all around the world.It is noteworthy the international activity of the Centre, which has produced important collaborations with scientific groups from France, United States, Russia, Denmark, Germany, Czech Republic. Particular activity has been dedicated by the Centre to financial support external to CNR, with significant fundings from MIUR, ASI, ESA, ENEA, EU, DARPA.


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