Institute of applied physics "Nello Carrara" (IFAC)

Research activities

The Institute enjoys advanced scientific expertise in many areas of applied physics and ICT that allow it to develop valuable research.

A large part of these skills is represented by enabling technologies (corresponding to KETS = Key Enabling Technologies of EC), that are pervasive technologies of interest in many fields of application, such as the study of optical, optoelectronic, photonic, spectroscopic properties, the propagation of EM fields, microwaves, etc..

These in turn also give rise to activities aimed at applying these technologies in broader and more interdisciplinary fields of research, through the design and development of innovative devices and instruments, as well as via methods of computational processing that are valuable products themselves, for the processing of data produced by these devices or obtained from external data bases.


Commissions and Modules

IFAC reflects its multidisciplinary profile in its current affiliation to 16 Commissions for as many as 6 Departments:

o Dept. DIITET (Engineering, ICT and Technologies for Energy and Transportation): 44.21% - 6 Commissions
o Dept. DSFTM (Physical Sciences and Technologies of Materials): 27.11% - 3 Commissions and 1 module
o Dept. DTA (Earth System Science and Environmental Technology): 18.79% - 3 Commissions
o Dept. DSU (Humanities and Social - Cultural Heritage): 3.89 % - 1 Commission and 1 module
o Dept. DSCTM (Chemical Science and Technologies of Materials); 3.64% - 1 Commission
o Dept. DISBA (Bio-Agrifood Sciences): 2.33% - 1 Commission and 1 module


=> Dip. DIITET

ICT.P10.005 - Stefano Baronti - systems, processing methods and applications for aerospace remote sensing: the activity concerns the design of innovative aerospatial instrumentation and the development of advanced methods for the processing of remotely sensed data. The data that are processed are acquired by instrumentation developed by IFAC, acquired directly by IFAC satellite receiving stations or provided under agreements with the international space agencies. The data processing methods are related to compression, quality assessment, calibration and validation, atmospheric radiometric and geometric corrections, restoration, multi-resolution multi-sensor fusion, automatic change detection, extraction of parameters of practical interest both biophysical and environmental.

In addition to numerous research collaborations, both national and international the research unit interacts through agreements and contracts with both the Aerospace Industries (Selex ES, General Company for Space - CGS, Sitael) that with space agencies ( ASI, ESA, CNES, JAXA), public bodies (European Community - JRC, Dip. Productive Activities, Dip. Environment of the Tuscany Region, Ministry of Heritage and Culture, etc.), SMEs (FlyBy) .


ICT.P10.016 - Laura Burzagli, Daniele Andreuccetti - Creation and development of intelligent environments for the improvement of quality of life and safety of citizens, required by innovative paradigms of social life such as SMART CITIES. The activity relevant to the quality of life of people deals with design and development of methodologies and services customized and optimized in terms of accessibility, usability and acceptability for both the aspects of content and interaction, in different fields of applications, such as info-mobility, domestic life or food. The adaptation process requires an accurate and complex processing of data coming from user profile, user behaviour and context of use. The activity relevant to safety is represented by the research on the physical methods for the assessment of human exposure to electromagnetic fields in living and working environments. In this context, instrumental chains, intervention procedures and methods for data processing are developed; specialized databases are designed and managed and solutions are implemented for their use in conjunction with GIS tools; measurement campaigns in the external environment and in public and private companies are executed; numerical dosimetry methods are developed and applied; support is given to health and environmental protection institutions.

The activity of this research group is carried out through the involvement in projects, contracts and agreements with public and private organizations and companies at both the national and international levels, such as: , Indesit, AB Medica, ARPAT, ENEA, Italcertifer SpA - Gruppo FS, ENI SpA


ICT.P11.016 - Simonetta Paloscia - Optical-microwave synergy for the study of the Earth's surface and atmosphere: The research line is aimed at the data fusion and synergistic use of the information derived from remote sensing in the optical/infrared and microwave domains, for estimating the geophysical parameters of the Earth's surface and atmosphere. The research line takes advantage of the well assessed expertise of two research groups in the development and the "in field" use of instruments for remote sensing in the two spectral domains and in the spectral analysis and interpretation of data acquired by the respective sensors operating from ground stations, high altitude platforms and satellites. This knowledge enables the design and implementation of measurement techniques with combined payloads, and the development of data fusion algorithms and synergistic inversion techniques for generating innovative products for a wide variety of applications (eg. In agro-hydrology, climatology and global change analysis, air pollution monitoring, forecasting and management of natural disasters).

The collaborations on which the planning capability is based are extremely wide and deal mainly with space agencies (ESA, NASA, JPL, JAXA, ASI), as well as large companies (such as Selex ES), SMEs, and national and international entities.


SP.P01.035 - Roberto Pini - Laser and optoelectronic technologies for biomedical and industrial applications: The research line has many years of experience on laser technologies, both with regard to devices such as to industrial processes. These skills are on the optical and opto-electronic systems, with emphasis on the innovative laser systems for material processing, biomedical studies and laser-material interaction. The recent activity concerns applied research aimed at meeting the demand for industrial innovation and is achieved through feasibility studies, prototypes and patents, in order to favor industrial transferability of technologies in the short-medium term.

The contexts in which these activities are conducted are institutional projects, networks and consortia, private contracts, public-private competence centers (such as the Public-Private Center IFAC-El.En. for Biomedical Applications of Lasers, based at the Institute). The primary role in technology transfer has been recognized and formalized by the Region of Tuscany, which gave to the reaserch line the role of coodinator of the Regional Innovation Pole OPTOSCANA for Optoelectronics and Space (2011-2014). The Pole OPTOSCANA currently includes about 100 companies and more than 40 research laboratories.


SP.P06.011 - Valentina Raimondi - Instrumentation and methods for active and passive optical remote sensing: the main objective is the development of novel methods and instrumentation for active (lidar) and passive remote sensing in the optical spectral region (visible and IR), with particular reference to aerospace, environmental and cultural heritage applications. Research and development activities include the implementation of lidar systems and compact optical instrumentation for in-field operation, the design and development of prototypes of hyperspectral and high spatial resolution systems for Earth Observation. Instrumentation development is complemented by an intense research concerning the use of novel elettro-optical technologies (LCoS, Spatial Light Modulators, etc.) for aerospace applications and the development of methods for environmental monitoring and for spectroscopic diagnostics on the cultural heritage, with special reference to optical fluorescence spectroscopy techniques. Further activities concerns the execution of field measurement campaigns, CalVal activities and data correction (geometric, radiometric and atmospheric), also by the management and use of dedicated calibration and validation test sites.

The activity is carried out in the frame of several national and international projects with contracts issued by space agencies (ASI, ESA), Tuscan Region, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, National Programme for Research in Antarctica. It also takes advantage from several national and international collaborations with other research institutes, with large companies (SELEX ES, ElEn, SITAEL, CGS) and several SMEs.


SP.P06.012 - Marcello Picollo - Integrated spectroscopic instrumentations and methodologies for the diagnosis and monitoring of Cultural Heritage objects and environment: the activities of this research group are focused on the study and development of instrumentation that works in the UV-GHz spectral range applied to scientific analysis and monitoring of artworks and environment. More specifically, the team of researchers have developed innovative analyses and methodologies to study artists' materials used in artworks, and to evaluate their state of conservation; they have improved/created spot and imaging in situ devices to support conservation and restoration processes. The team's activities also include developing procedures for elaborating hyperspectral imaging data by means of multivariate analytical methods. Furthermore, the invention of specific software for processing, accessing and disseminating the acquired hyperspectral imaging data permits the sharing of useful information on the composition, structure and state of preservation of artworks.

Instrumentation, methodologies, and competences of the group are applied in the CH field and made available to conservators and curators working at conservation laboratories and museums as well as rendered accessible to geologists, physics, chemists, and engineers in order to spectrally characterize artistic and conservation materials. These devices and competences are also used in different teaching projects involving national and international Ph.D. students, undergraduate and graduate students, junior fellows, and interns. In addition, the group actively collaborates with colleagues working in national and international research institutions and museums. Finally, the group is dynamically involved in consulting activities, sharing their knowledge and expertise with both public and private institutions and firms.


=> Dip. DSFTM:

MD.P03.001 - Silvia Soria Huguet - Materials and active devices for telecommunications and sensors: Our activities are dedicated to the design, fabrication and characterization of devices based on light confinement and include: 1) whispering gallery mode microresonators for applications in biochemical sensing, delay lines and filters for optoelectronic RF oscillators, parametric generation of classical and quantum light; 2) characterization of glasses doped with rare earth and / or photorefractive materials for white light generation through parametric conversion and development of integrated optical amplifiers and sources in the visible and near infrared; 3) fabrication and characterization of optical fiber nanotips for biosensing applications; 4) development of supercontinuum sources based on microstructured optical fibers for applications in microscopy and spectroscopy.

The group, as well as having collaborations with other research centers and universities, is involved in national and international projects funded by the Ministry of Education and by EDA, in particular the project MIUR-FIR Sens4bio and EDA-Hippomos. The latter includes among other things the study of pre-industrial prototypes in collaboration with large companies such as Thales R & T and Selex ES


MD.P03.037 - Francesco Baldini - Photonic sensors. The activity of this unit is related to the study, design, realization and characterization of photonic sensing devices. These devices are based on guided wave technologies as well as on spectroscopic techniques (absorption, fluorescence and Raman) with or without the use of chemical/biochemical transducers developed ad hoc at IFA labs. The unit is divided in three subunits.
The subunit "biophotonic diagnostics" is focused on chemical and biochemical sensors for biomedical applications for both invasive and not invasive applications. The subunit "optical fibre gratings" is focused on the design, realization and characterization of long period gratings (LPG) and Bragg gratings (FBG) fabricated on photosensitive fibers laser writing. The subunit involved in "food safety and quality" is implementing innovative instruments for absorption, reflectance and Raman spectroscopy and chemometric data processing for analyzing the most common foodstuffs. Quality and safety indicators can be qualitatively and quantitatively detected, also for preventing counterfeits and commercial frauds

The unit is active in several European and national R&D projects. It coordinates the EC-FP7 project Nanodem (optical biochips for immunosensing of transplanted patients), is partner in EC-FP7 project Hemospec (detection of markers for eary monitoring od sepsi), and is participating to many national projects such as Flagship Nanomax-ncoder, PRIN and FIRB, PON and MIUR-Cluster Agrifood projects.


INT.P07.001 - Roberto Pini - Biophotonics and Optoelectronics for industrial innovation: The research line comes from experience gained in the research and development of systems and laser and optoelectronic technologies in biomedicine and industrial applications, as well as in the techniques of photo-physical and microfluorimetry for biomedical and environmental applications. The working group conducts fundamental research in the field of biophotonics, with particular reference to innovative microscopic techniques and minimally invasive laser therapies, in association with the development of laser- activated plasmonic nanochromophores for nanomedicine techniques. This is supported by an applied researches on optoelectronic devices for uses as sensors for biomedical and food industry, aimed at meeting the demand for industrial innovation, which is realized through feasibility studies, prototypes and patents developed within European projects, regional projects and research contracts.

Significant projects are carried out within region programs in collaboration with leading companies in the Tuscan industry sectors of nano- and laser technologies, and in Europe through 4 ERANET projects on laser applications in nanomedicine and microsurgery, advanced microscopy for ophthalmology, and LED techniques for wound healing. The research group coordinates the Tuscan cluster within the European Network CSA "OASIS" on Biophotonics.


MD.P03.038.003 - Angela Pirri - Laser innovative devices and materials , and advanced spectroscopic techniques: The module is effective in the study and development of innovative solid state Yb3 ion laser sources and laser systems for processing different materials. Optical and spectroscopic sensors are also developed for industrial, environmental and safety applications.


=> Dip. DTA:

TA.P06.002 - Ugo Cortesi - Active and passive technologies for atmospheric sounding: the research group develops observation method for vertical sounding of the atmosphere, aimed at 3D- characterization of its composition and temperature. The group operates in the field of implementations of new instruments, both active and passive, in the submillimeter, infrared and visible-ultraviolet, in performing measurement campaigns from ground-stations, airborne (stratospheric aircraft and balloons) and space-borne platforms and in development of models and algorithms for data processing. Another activity concerns astrodynamics, space debris and planetary sciences. It is devoted mainly to the study of the orbital dynamics, long term evolution and impact risk of artificial (spacecraft and space debris) and natural (e.g., Near Earth Asteroids) bodies in the Solar System.

The Group works in several programs of the main space agencies, e.g. ASI, ESA, DLR, NASA and JAXA, and cooperates with a large number of national and international research centres. Collaboration is also active with national enterprises as CGS, Selex ES and Flyby.


TA.P06.016 - Simonetta Paloscia - Microwave Remote Sensing of natural surfaces with active and passive sensors: The research line is focused on the development of techniques and methods for the generation, integration and interpretation of remote sensing data and images of the Earth's surface. The activities are based on the use of active and passive microwave sensors installed on ground and airborne platforms and satellites. Key points of the research line are the technologies based on SAR sensors, the image processing with commercial and 'in-house' software, the modeling of the interaction processes between electromagnetic radiation and natural surfaces and the methods for estimating the bio-geophysical parameters and for classifying the natural surfaces. Another important activity is the study of the cryosphere for the extraction of the physical parameters and the study of their temporal evolution in order to analyze the climate trends and changes.

The research line overall, in addition to the development of innovative techniques and methods, is aimed at giving an answer to the need of connection between the CNR research activities in the field of Earth observation and the end users, with particular regard to the applicative purposes of the National Space Plan and to similar national and international initiatives of the main space agencies (ASI, ESA, NASA, JPL, JAXA).


TA.P06.028 - Giovanni Macelloni - Development of methodologies for the observation and the monitoring of the Cryosphere by using ground-based, air-borne and satellite sensors: The purpose of the activity is to develop innovative methodologies that starting from ground, airborne and satellite data , mainly acquired by active and passive microwave instruments, are able of providing information on the physical parameters that characterize the cryosphere, in order to their insertion in global climate models. The information produced are also useful to the description of the hydro-geological cycle at both global and local scale, contributing to the estimate of water resources and potential risk's situation (e.g. landslides, avalanches, floods). Of a particular interest the capability in the development of advanced microwave instruments able to operate autonomously in extreme environment such as polar or Alpine areas which were used in recent years in experimental campaigns in the context of national and international projects.

The activities are carried out through several collaborations with national and international institutions within projects funded by international (in particular the EC, and Space Agencies ESA and NASA) and national (Italian Space Agency , the National Antarctic Program, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tuscany Region) organizations.


=> Dip. DSCTM:

PM.P03.018 - Salvatore Siano - laser processes and analytical techniques for the knowledge and conservation of cultural heritage: In the field of conservation, research is aimed at the development of laser techniques for the conservation of cultural heritage and of devices for noninvasive archaeometry. The techniques involve the set up of laser cleaning of artworks with pulsed Nd: YAG and Er: YAG lasers, as well as the development of accessories for beam delivery and process sensors. In the fields of analysis and diagnostics, techniques as LIPS, 3D microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, THz imaging, diffraction and neutron tomography, fluorescence and X-ray diffraction, are developed.

Important partners of the research group are restoration centers such as. Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence and the Superintendence for Archaeological Heritage of Tuscany. Clients are companies in the restoration field and museums. The group has actively participated in the project FP7 CHARISMA recently concluded and will be a partner of the new European infrastructure IPERION CH of H2020.


=> Dip. DSU:

PC.P03.016 - Salvatore Siano - Integration of advanced photonic techniques for reading materials and for the conservation of the material heritage: The research line develops and uses portable analytical instrumentation (3D, LIPS, Raman, XRF/D, THz, Fluorescence Imaging , FTIR ), while carries out material analysis by neutron spectroscopy in large scale facilities. In the conservation field it develops methodologies based on laser irradiation, in combination with other innovative treatments (nanotechnology). Also conducts archeometallurgic studies and characterizations of painting techniques and degradation in a wide variety of artifacts .


PC.P01.007.001 - Roberto Carlà - Techniques and remote sensing methods for the identification and understanding of the Archaeological Heritage: The module studies the integrated use of remote sensing techniques, DTM, GIS and statistical and heuristic models for the characterization of the environment and identification of unknown archaeological sites and artifacts.



=> Dip. DISBA:

AG.P04.037 - Giovanni Agati - Optical methods for the agro-food sector: this research activity concerns the development and application of new spectroscopic techniques to control non-destructively the physiological state of crops and the quality of their products during the different steps of the entire agricultural and food-processing chains. Particular attention is devoted to the definition of maturity indices and of nutraceutical compounds indices.

The research group participates to the ERA-Net SUSFOOD "Sunniva: Sustainable food production" Project and to the MIUR-PON "FingerImball" (sugar confectionery products) and MIUR-CLUSTER Agrifood "Safe&Smart" (detection of toxic compounds in food) Italian Projects. Active international collaborations are ongoing, particularly with the Harbin Engineering University, China, for the detection of adulteration of soybean oil.


AG.P04.028.002 - Roberto Carlà - Methodologies for the use of remote sensing data for monitoring agro-forestry: The module aims at developing methodologies for the use of data acquired from airborne and satellite sensors of last generation, for the evaluation of geophysical parameters and information useful to study the agro-forestry processes and the natural ecosystems. Particular attention is paid to techniques for the identification and characterization of forest areas affected by natural fires and the impact that these have on the environment.