Institute of applied physics "Nello Carrara" (IFAC)

Research activities

The Institute's planning reflects a broad multidisciplinarity, developing projects in the Project Areas of as many as 6 CNR Departments, but with prevailing weight in the DIITET (Department of Engineering, ICT and Technologies for Energy and Transport).


The research activities of IFAC are organized into 10 research groups, each with a staff of about ten units, including research and technical personnel:

=> Application Macro-Area: Space, Aerospace and Earth Observation

1) IFAC-SADVS: Survey of the Atmosphere and Dynamics of Space Flight; Contact persons: Ugo Cortesi / Alessandro Rossi

Research themes:
o Atmosphere: development, implementation and use of direct and inverse models of radiative transfer in the atmosphere for the simulation and analysis of remote sounding observations of atmospheric composition and temperature. Applications to the analysis of data acquired in operational missions for the monitoring of stratospheric ozone, of greenhouse compounds and of the terrestrial radiation balance, of air quality.
o Space debris: study of the dynamics in Earth orbit (mainly in low orbit) in order to identify trajectories for the removal of satellites at the end of their operational life. Study of the influence of the mega constellations of satellites on the long-term evolution of the space debris population. Study of the effectiveness of the currently applied mitigation measures for the reduction of the debris population.

Main collaborations
o Companies: FlyBy, Space Dynamics, Deimos-ES, Epsilon-GR, BLR-UK, LuxSpace-LUX, Airbus
o Research Centers: INO, ISAC, INAF-FI, UNIPI, UNIPD, POLIMI, UNIRM1, CNRS, CSIC, BIRA-IASB-Brux, KNMI-NL, FMI-SF, ECMWF-UK, Oxford Univ, Southampton Univ, Thessaloniki Univ

2) IFAC-METEMW: Methods of remote sensing with microwave sensors for monitoring the earth's surface; Contact person: Giovanni Macelloni.

Research themes:
o Hydrogeological Cycle: development of ground, airborne and satellite microwave sensors, for use in measurement campaigns and related data collection; electromagnetic modeling for emission simulation and backscattering from natural surfaces; maps of biomass, soil moisture and water vapor from satellite, sea wind measurement, management of alluvial events.
o Cryosphere: Monitoring of Polar Areas with microwave radiometers on site and from aircraft, estimation of the temperature profiles of the ice cap, maps of snow thickness on mountainous reliefs.

Main collaborations
o Companies: e-GEOS, Eurac, Thales Alenia, Wavecomm, Pasquali
o Research Centers: UNISI, INGV-RM2, IBIMET, IREA, IRPI, CNIT, Ohio State Univ, FMI-SF, CESBIO-FR
o Agencies: ASI, ESA, ENEA, JAXA

3) IFAC-TATTO: Aerospace Technologies and methods of active and passive Optical Remote Sensing; Responsible: Valentina Raimondi

Research themes:
o Design and prototyping of optical band aerospace systems for Earth observation and LIDAR systems for field measurements; development of advanced techniques and methods for data processing at all stages ranging from the acquisition to the use of information by end users.
o Application sectors: fundamental research in the observation of the Earth's surface, study of the environment with optical field instruments, diagnostics and documentation of cultural heritage with remote sensing tools.

Main collaborations
o Companies: Leonardo-Finmeccanica, SITAEL, Aerospazio Tec., SAITEC, FlyBy, Durazzani, Tesifer, Promel, CERTEMA
o Research Centers: UNIFI, UNISI, INFN-FI, IREA, IMAA, Waseda Univ-JAP
o Agencies: ASI, ISPRA, ESA, JAXA

=> Application Macro-Area: Health, Well-being and Safety

4) IFAC-SENS: Photonic sensors for biomedical, environmental and agrifood applications; Responsible: Francesco Baldini

Research themes:
o Design, construction and testing in real conditions of micro-optical, fiber-optic sensors and micro-optical platforms for direct absorption / reflectivity / fluorescence / Raman spectroscopy or via transducer for the measurement of parameters of environmental, industrial, agro-food and biomedical interest; wavelength modulation sensors for the measurement of deformations and temperature of extended structures; multivariate data analysis software for the qualitative and quantitative evaluation of contaminants and nutraceutical indicators.
o Applications: agrifood, for the detection of the quality and contamination of food products through optical spectroscopic techniques and data analysis; biomedical diagnostics through the development of point-of-care devices and theranostics with the development of optical nanoprobes to be conveyed inside the cells.

Main collaborations
o Companies: Datamed, Cecchi srl, Aerospazio Tecnologie, Cons. GRINT, Probe-UK, Chip & Shop-D, Verifood-IS
o Research Centers: IREA, IFC, INO, ISOF, UNIFI, UNIPI, UNIRM2, Harbin Univ, Vrjie Univ. Brussels, Fraunhofer IWS, IPHT-Jena, INESC-P, Univ.Polit. Madrid, Stuttgart Univ, Tubingen Univ, Tech Univ Munich
o Agencies: Ist. Tosc. Tumors

5) IFAC-BNLAB: Biophotonics, Nanobiophotonics and Optoelectronics for appl. biomedical and industrial; Responsible: Giovanni Agati

Research themes:
o Biophotonics: Raman spectroscopy techniques enhanced with plasmonic platforms (SERS) for the early diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases; advanced multiphotonic and photoacoustic microscopies; localization with confocal microscopy of polyphenols in plant tissues; mapping of plant biomolecules using optical fluorescence sensors.
o Nanomedicine: synthesis and functionalization of plasmonic nanoparticles for tumor theranostics; light-sensitive implantable devices for controlled drug delivery.
o Optoelectronics: Development of innovative solid-state Yb3 ion laser systems; laser techniques for biological tissue repair; LED technologies for photocoagulation of abrasions and scarring.

Main collaborations
o Companies: EL.EN., CSO, Colorobbia, Light4Tech, NANESA, Cabro, SACMI Imola
o Research Centers: UNIFI, INO, LENS, SSSant'Anna, ISTEC, IBBR, UNICATT, UNIPG, IPHT-D, ICFO, Miami Univ, Austrian Inst. Tech, Tel Aviv Univ
o Agencies / Bodies: Reg. Tuscany, AOUCareggi, AOUPisa, ASL10-FI, ASL4-Prato, Pole Optitech-F

6) IFAC-MIPLAB: Laboratory of microdevices for photonics; Responsible: Stefano Pelli

Research themes:
o Study of devices based on tunnel mode optical microresonators for the realization of biological sensors, of delay lines and filters for radio frequency optoelectronic oscillators, of classical and quantum parametric light sources, of photoacoustic transducers.
o Development and characterization of rare earth doped and / or photorefractive glasses with applications in frequency conversion for white light generation, improvement of photovoltaic cell efficiency, realization of amplifiers and optical sources integrated in the visible and near infrared spectrum.
o Realization of supercontinuous sources in microstructured optical fibers for applications to microscopy and spectroscopy.
o Development of THz sensors for the characterization of plasmas and the environment.

Main collaborations
o Companies: Leonardo-Finmeccanica, Aerospazio Tecn., Thales
o Research Centers: IFN, Centro Fermi, FBK, POLITO, POLIBA, CONACYT-Mexico, CSIC-S, FZK-D, ANAS-Azerbaijan, CNRS, NRC-Canada

7) IFAC-DAPPA: Data processing, from the study of the physical phenomenon to the application; Responsible: Laura Burzagli

Research themes:
o Design of ICT services to support people in different contexts, based on the aspects of personalization and optimization in terms of accessibility, usability and acceptability.
o Definition of procedures for the assessment of human exposure to electromagnetic fields; development of measurement and numerical models for estimating field strengths, characterization of sources, processing of measured data, extraction of protectionist parameters and numerical dosimetry; critical analysis of safety regulations.
o Theoretical analysis and experimentation of diffractive phenomena in order to obtain super-resolving devices (Toraldo pupils), modeling related to tunneling phenomena in cryogenics.

Main collaborations
o Companies: ENI, Trenitalia, ITALCERTIFER, LUBE, New Changer

=> Application Macro-Area: Cultural Heritage

8) IFAC-LASBEC: Laser techniques for cultural heritage and industrial applications: Responsible: Salvatore Siano

Research themes:
Experimentation of new technologies for the study and conservation of works of art, applied to sculptural and pictorial masterpieces, in collaboration with the main national restoration centers:
o Advanced diagnostics, such as LIPS (Laser Induced Plasma Spectroscopy) and 3D microscopy for archaeometric studies and material characterization.
o Conservative restoration: original development of laser systems for cleaning works of art in stone, metal and painted surfaces.

Main collaborations
o Companies: EL.EN., Petrologic Sinergy, Opera Duomo-FI
o Agencies / Bodies: Opificio Pietre Dure, Sopr. Archeol. Tosc., ASTER

9) IFAC-SABEC: Integrated spectroscopic instrumentation and methodologies for diagnostics and monitoring of cultural heritage; Responsible: Marcello Picollo

Research themes:
o Development of innovative analysis techniques and methodologies for the study of the materials constituting the artistic artefacts, for the diagnostics, documentation and analysis of the state of conservation of artistic and architectural artefacts and the related degradation phenomena.
o Design and optimization of dedicated instrumentation to support conservation and restoration interventions and for monitoring the museum environment.
o Techniques for processing and interpreting remotely sensed microwave, multifrequency, multiscale and multitemporal images.

Main collaborations
o Companies: LEGNODOC
o Research Centers: ISTI, IVALSA, ICVBC, Nova Univ-P
o Agencies / Bodies: Tuscany Region, Opificio Pietre Dure, FI Museale Polo, Soprint. FI, Nat. Gallery of Art-USA, NICT-JAP, Louvre-F

=> Application Macro-Area: Infrastructure: Neutronics

10) IFAC-MADSON: Neutron and optical spectroscopy for the study of functional and disordered materials; Responsible: Lorenzo Ulivi

Research themes:
o Study of the characteristics of functional materials using diffraction and spectroscopic techniques, both optical and neutron, in close correlation, also developing theoretical models and simulations.
o Applications to hydrogen storage, non-destructive diagnostics of materials for industrial metallurgy studies.
o Design and construction of neutron instrumentation, to be installed at the international sources, ISIS al RAL (Didcot, UK) and ESS (Lund, S)

Main collaborations
o Companies: General Electric
o Research Centers: UNIPD, KINGDOM, RAL-UK, Institut Laue-Langevin-F
o Agencies: ESS-S